Web Appeal is the New Curb Appeal – Why Real Estate Photography Makes a Difference in Selling a Home

A lovely home surrounded by palm trees exudes the Seminole County lifestyle in Chuluota (at 1001 Native Court).
A lovely home surrounded by palm trees exudes the Seminole County lifestyle in Chuluota (photo courtesy VHT Studios).

The Digital Age Challenges Home Sellers to up the ante with stunning photos

A guest post by professional real estate photographer Michael Erard

Selling a home can be a stressful experience, and it can be hard to get the edge needed for a successful sale. In the digital age, most buyers start their search on a popular real estate web site or on their favorite social network – any place they can get not just the basic information but also see what the home looks like before making an appointment. That means pictures, pictures, pictures – web appeal is the new curb appeal.

Today’s web-savvy consumers are accustomed to being dazzled by sharp, colorful, professional photography. The most effective way to boost curb appeal and capture attention is through stunning, high quality photographs that tell a home’s story, fuel buyers’ imagination and move and motivate them to act.

Winter Park’s Suzanne “Susie” Giambruno, a Coldwell Banker Previews Agent, has experienced firsthand the impact of captivating photography in her 11 years of marketing real estate.

“Ninety two percent of buyers start their search online. If someone clicks on my listing, beautiful photographs make a great first impression – it’s my equivalent of a first showing. If the photography is not good, they will go to the next home. It’s a professional service that more agents should take advantage of.”

Buyers want visuals when shopping for a new home. Ask any homebuyer what they look at first when researching property listings online. The answer is pictures. In modern real estate, “photos are everything.”

“More than ever, selling your home is a beauty contest on the web,” Giambruno says.  “So having the best photos and videos is a must to draw prospective buyers to a listing and entice them to spend more time looking at it.”

A wide angle view makes potential buyers feel like they are standing right in the middle of this spacious kitchen, overlooking the lake. (Location: Chuluota)
A wide angle view makes potential buyers feel like they are standing right in the middle of this spacious kitchen, overlooking the lake. (Location: Chuluota; photo courtesy VHT Studios)

The quality of the images can have a significant impact on sales price, too. Professional photography increases the perceived value of a home by nearly 13 percent, according to a consumer survey by VHT Studios. On a $500,000 home, this equates to an increase in perceived value of $65,000.

Yet many real estate agents are still snapping quick, poorly thought out photos with inexpensive cameras or even cell phones. Giambruno says it’s a disservice to sellers, who deserve to have their most expensive asset presented in the best possible light.

“Without high quality photographs and now, aerial photos and videos that capture views of the beauty surrounding a home, consumers will just move on to listings with gorgeous images,” she adds.

“With professional real estate photography, my photos are automatically uploaded to more than 725 web sites. And I can use these images to create beautiful brochures, ‘just-listed’ cards, open house materials, ads and handouts. It’s a no-brainer.”

In a shot that speaks to nature-loving buyers, the photographer was able to emphasize the almost invisible glass walls, making the divide nonexistent between the home and its surroundings. (Location: Longwood)
In a shot that speaks to nature-loving buyers, the photographer was able to emphasize the almost invisible glass walls, making the divide nonexistent between the home and its surroundings. (Location: Longwood; photo courtesy VHT Studios)

Consumers look at pictures first and form an immediate opinion of a listing based on whether or not they like what they see. Even if a home is lovely, a poor photo may result in no showings, which often forces sellers to lower their price. That’s where professional real estate photographers like me come in.

As a real estate photographer with experience photographing thousands of homes in Central Florida, I have personally seen time and again that a real estate shoot is one of the toughest types of photography. Small rooms look even smaller in photos, while large rooms tend to lose some of their grandeuer. Having the right camera,  lenses and lights, and the skills to make the necessary changes are critical. Simple things like lighting can change drastically from room to room, and knowing how to achieve color balance and manage lighting and flashes takes experience.

There’s a wasteland of unappealing property photos on the web. Standing out amid all the clutter helps attract attention and sell properties faster.  Here are some tips to consider:

Five Tips for Boosting a Home’s Web Appeal

  1. Before choosing an agent/broker, look at their website and evaluate their property photos. Does the website use full-screen, professional-looking photos? If the photos are small, blurry, grainy, crooked-looking or poorly composed, choose another agent/broker.
  2. Do the photos in the agent/broker’s listings make you want to visit the homes? Are all the rooms shown in the best light possible, as if they were on display in a home and garden magazine?
  3. How many photos are posted for each listing? Listings with a single photo are going to get fewer showings than listings with photos of all key living spaces.  At the other extreme, cramming too many pictures in a listing is equally bad.  Buyers will quickly get bored looking at seven different angles of the living room.
  4. Unless you’re an excellent photographer with a high-quality digital camera, don’t take your own photos. Instead, ask your agent about the credentials of the photographer they will use for the listing.
  5. Ask to see photos of your home before they’re posted online.  Compare them to photos of properties similar to yours. Which home would you visit first?   If photos of your home don’t stack up, ask for a reshoot with another photographer.

 

Michael Erard is passionate about photography. Erard has spent 11 years photographing more than 10,000 homes for professional Florida realtors who rely on VHT Studios, the nation’s largest real estate photography, video and multimedia company. To learn more, contact info@vht.com.