Ok, you’ve rolled up your sleeves and handled all of the groundwork. Now, it’s time to list your home for sale. This is the point at which your real estate agent really needs to shine. The majority of the workload now falls on them to get your home through to as many home buyers as possible.
One of the biggest myths that permeates the real estate industry is that houses will sell themselves. While a well-priced, thoughtfully-staged home is a good start, keep in mind that there are many other options for buyers out there as well. It’s important that your home is elevated above the competition, and that its advantages are showcased far and wide.
Such differentiation starts with the visuals, as that’s the first thing most home buyers will look for on a listing. Ironically, this is the area that many listings get completely wrong. Either the visual elements are really poor quality, or they’re lacking certain things altogether. This does a great disservice to the listing. First impressions are the most important. In the case of real estate, this is almost always in the form of listing photos and videos.
Home Listing Photos: The Terrible, the Average and the Great
Let’s start with home listing photos and what differentiates terrible photos, from average photos, from great photos.
Nothing is worse than a listing that has terrible photos. This falls into two categories. Either the photos are all poor quality, or the listing has almost no photos at all. The purpose of photos is to showcase the home’s best features, and help buyers get a feel before they visit.
Not having any photos obviously prevents you from accomplishing both of these goals. Likewise, having shoddy photos that are at bad angles, with bad lighting, or missing entire areas of the house really doesn’t help the listing shine either. Not only that, but it gives the buyer a bad taste from the start. If the listing is that unprofessional and sloppy, then it’s reasonable to assume that the home itself is unkempt and probably has issues.
Strangely enough, the two above scenarios occur a lot more frequently than you might think. Often, the homeowner isn’t even aware of how bad their home’s photos are.
Next we have mediocre photos. I would say that the majority of listings throughout the United States have photos that fall into this category. Average photos do a good job of capturing the home in its entirety and also effectively showcase the best features of the home.
However, these photos don’t help separate the listing from the crowd of other homes on the market. While they may be high definition, they’re missing the post-production techniques that help turn every photo into a masterpiece.
At the end of the day, that’s what you want, right? You want prospective buyers’ breath to be taken away as they scroll through each photo of your home. You want their heart rate to elevate as they imagine standing in front of the home with a “SOLD!” sign next to them. You want them to be emotionally invested in your property before they’ve even scheduled a showing.
Which now brings us to great photos. Great photos not only capture what makes the home amazing, but amplify these strengths even further. It’s similar to how car dealerships will take photos of their vehicles. They’ll use very specific lighting, very specific angles, and even will turn the wheels just so. Everything is calculated to showcase the vehicle in the best manner possible, and it’s no different with your home.
Here’s an example: instead of your listing’s main photograph simply being the exterior of the home during the day, imagine that it’s taken during a dramatic sunset, with your landscape’s lighting in full display. How much better is that going to look? Granted, the sunset has nothing to do with your home. However, it creates a more beautiful image, that subconsciously improves prospects’ opinion of your home.
A great realtor will know the types of photos that garner the most positive attention from buyers and will make these photos the basis of your listing.
Home Listing Videos: Virtual Tours and Walkthroughs
While photos are a crucial piece of the listing puzzle, videos are equally important and should not be neglected. Even so, per a report from the National Association of Realtors, 90% of home listings as of 2019 did not include any videos.
This means that video provides an excellent opportunity to differentiate your listing from the rest of the crowd. Videos add a lot more context to the listing’s photos, because it’s easier to understand a home’s layout from a video than a series of photos.
There are two types of videos that should be included with your listing: a virtual tour and a virtual walkthrough. Each has a different purpose and a different impact on prospective buyers.
The Virtual Tour
When most people think of a virtual tour, they think the primary purpose is to give the viewer a good feel for the home’s layout. This is actually not the case—that’s the purpose of the virtual walkthrough. A virtual tour is primarily to showcase the home’s features in a dynamic fashion.
As such, a great virtual tour should be in high definition video, shot with great lighting, and with video stabilization so that the viewing experience is smooth and professional. It can either include narration, or have a text overlay that emphases the various features as the video pans each area. Personally, we always include some soft background music in our videos to make the viewing experience as enjoyable as possible.
Sometimes we will even include someone in the video performing everyday activities to help buyers see themselves living in the home. This could be someone sitting back on a couch, pouring themselves a glass of water in the kitchen, or viewing the sunset off of a second floor balcony.
For the most part, these videos should aim to be no more than 5 minutes in length. Anything longer will cause most viewers to lose interest, which means they’ll likely miss important aspects of the home you wanted to show off.
The Virtual Walkthrough
The purpose of a virtual walkthrough is to provide the viewer with a great feel for the home without needing to schedule a showing. It’s technically not a video—it’s a series of 360-degree photographs. However, because it creates a “moving picture” of sorts, I include it in the videos category.
If you’ve never seen a virtual walkthrough before, think of Google Maps’ street view. Essentially, you’re able to click through the home as if you were walking through it. You can move around in whatever direction you want and look in all directions with each step.
A great virtual walkthrough will include every room and the exterior of the home. This way you can walk up to the home’s entry, and then tour the interior and back yard just as if you were there in person. Many virtual walkthroughs even work with VR headsets, allowing the viewer to really immerse themselves in the experience.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling your home in a hot or cold, crowded or uncrowded market. Your goal should always be to maximize buyers’ attraction to your home at every step. Your first and most impactful opportunity to do this is on the listing itself.
As such, ensure that photos are plentiful and of the highest quality. Similarly, make sure you’ve included both a virtual tour and virtual walkthrough. This way, you leave buyers with no other choice than to fall in love with what will hopefully become their new home.
If you have any questions about optimizing the listing photos and videos for your home, please let me know in the comments. You can also contact us if you’d like to discuss specifics of listing your home in more detail.