Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Problem with Pictures

In this day and age, a good majority of house hunting is done without leaving the house. With more and more access to listings at their fingertips, buyers are surfing the list of possible homes on the Internet and making some decisions without even stepping foot inside the properties. Although this new technology is a great tool, I would like to offer some advice to help you eliminate the possibility of missing out on your dream house.

If the home has everything you want... 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, perfect location, etc.... but the pictures on-line are terrible, DON'T rule it out. Instead, place the listing into the "Maybe" pile. Have your agent do the same. The next time you go out on a home tour, have that home added. It doesn't hurt to at least take a look in person, does it? You may "waste" some time (What, a half-hour at most?), but you at least know it is definitely not a contender.

Yet, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Have you ever gone into a house and said the words, "Oh, this looked so much better on-line"? It is a phrase I hear all the time when escorting buyers through potential homes. There are agents out there that have a good eye and prowess with a camera. They can really make a clunker of a house look good on film. Unfortunately, talent in photography is a two way street.

There are some people that just don't have the skill with a camera, so it is possible that the pictures they snap may be not up to par. Dark shots that make it hard to decipher what exactly you are looking at or pictures of non-important features of the house like the staircase to the basement are common. Color imbalances that make a paint color look wild and crazy can deter a potential buyer. Even photos taken with a camera-phone can make the house look unappealing to the average person.

Including these homes in the property tour is a practice I tend to employ when putting together an itinerary. Some times the houses are indeed not what they are looking for, but more often than not I am told that the houses really surprised my buyers. "I wouldn't have considered this house from what I saw on-line, but I really like it", is something I hear quite often. Would you be surprised to hear that roughly half of those people wind up placing an offer? On a house that they nixed from pictures on-line? It's true.

There are some instances though, where what you see (or don't see) on the websites is accurate. An unfortunate truth when talking about photos on-line deals with the lack of pictures. If there is a listing on the Internet without pictures of the interior, that is often a giant red warning flag. There are reasons for this. It could be a brand new listing and the photos haven't loaded yet. In other instances, the agent wants to get the best pics, so they give the seller time to clean and stage their home or the agent is waiting for a nice sunny day to maximize the interior light. The absence of pictures can also be at the owner's request or the property is being used as a rental and the agent has yet to been given access to shoot the interior.

These are all possible reasons for not having pictures on-line, but I find the biggest reason is that the interior is so unappealing for one reason or another, the agent feels it would be a detriment to take any inside shots. Think of it this way, if you have a great house, wouldn't you want to showcase it? Wouldn't you take as many pictures as possible to entice more people to come and see it? You can't sell a house that nobody comes to see, right?

Should you avoid a property if there aren't any pictures on-line? No, you should still look at it, just be cautious. You never know what you will find. There are always exceptions. In fact, I just closed a deal last week where there were no pictures on the website and it even stated in the listing that the place needed work. Combined with the extremely low price, we set up a showing but were weary of what we were going to find. Upon going in, we discovered a perfectly fine home and exactly what my client was looking for!

So what am I trying to say with this passage? Basically, the point I am making is the only way you should rule out a potential home is to see it first hand. The Internet is a great tool, but nothing beats being there in person. Pictures tell a story, but is that story fact or fiction? Check it out, step foot on the property, and determine that for yourself.

Well, I have to wrap this up... I have more of Rochester to sell! Until next time, Roc and Roll!

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