The Evolution of Real Estate Marketing
Over 90% of the people who buy homes these days will not find them while out for a Sunday drive, or by seeing the “For Sale” sign after taking a wrong turn on the way to their doctor’s, or by spying them in the newspaper or in the little printed piece they picked up outside a restaurant; no, they will see them online for the first time. This is a complete departure from the days a couple of decades ago when my hard-working mother stayed late at the office to put together printed showing lists for her buyers. In those days, REALTORS° were the Masters of the Real Estate Information. They had access to the multiple listing service, the general public did not. Many showing days started with the franchise’s “House du Jour”; because the agents owned the info they could steer the buyer toward their own listings. But no more! Today, there is so much information on the web that many buyers have done much of their research before calling an agent. Buyers show up with lists of homes they’ve found online, a revolutionary change from the way your parents found the home you grew up in.
The Importance of Presentation: Photos More Important Than Ever
This access to information has other implications; in a time when there are thousands of listings in even the smaller markets, the focus is on first impressions. The internet seems to encourage attention-deficit-disorder. When a home buyer does a search and 50 homes are displayed matching the criteria, it’s almost too easy to click through them willy-nilly. The homes that get the longest looks are those with the best photographic presentation.Having spent most of my adult career in advertising, this comes as no shock. If McDonald’s will spend $50,000 hiring a professional photographer with a full kitchen, a food stylist and a small army of assistants to shoot a Big Mac which sells for $3-4, how much time and effort should go into producing images of the largest investment most people ever make, where much of their net worth is tied up?And yet, when I surf the internet looking at homes, I see under-exposed, over-exposed, out-of-focus, poorly framed, and LAZY photos. What’s a lazy photo, you ask? It’s one where the toilet lid is up, no lights have been turned on, where there are dirty dishes in the sink, where there are clothes strewn on the floor, where the yard hasn’t been mown or the hedges trimmed.
How Is Your Home Being Seen?
If you are a REALTOR°, think about the poor first impression these images make. Is this how you want your inventory viewed by buyers? If you are a seller, with a home on the market, take the time to go to www.realtor.com and see how your home is being represented. Not every agent is a professional photographer, but if your home went on the market in February and it’s June, ask them to replace the exterior shots…yellow grass and bare trees are not a turn-on AND THE SEASONS HAVE CHANGED!
The way buyers shop for homes has undergone a major upheaval which continues even now; sellers and REALTORS° need to accept this new reality and use the world-wide-web to their advantage. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is truer than ever, and a bad picture may be worse than none at all.