How homes are bought and sold these days has irrevocably changed. With so much technology at our fingertips, over 95% of buyers are shopping for homes on their smartphones or tablets before they even contact a realtor. We have dubbed this speed dating for houses because sellers have literally seconds to impress potential buyers before they click on the next listing. Presentation and marketing are vital to a successful home sale as these two elements are key to getting savvy buyers off their devices and into see the properties that catch their attention.
Professional photography and pictures of smartly staged rooms in a listing are instrumental in increasing buyer interest and traffic. If a home has sat for too long on the market, we often are asked to play detective and figure out why it hasn’t sold. Over 90% of the time, it comes down to a home’s presentation. Realtors will tell you that price is the only important factor and that any home will sell – it just needs to be at the right price. If you are leaving your home in as is condition then this often means countless price reductions and thousands of dollars in lost equity for home owners. In contrast, if your presentation and photography are maximized then buyers will clamor to pay market value – or above – for your property. In fact, according to the 2015 NAR survey, professionally staged properties were shown to increase a home’s value between 10 – 20%.
So what do the pictures of your listing say about your home? Are they good enough to impress those savvy buyers who will pay MORE money for a home that is move in ready and which features a modern design style? Well, here are some do’s and don’ts which can either entice a buyer to visit your property .. or make them shop your competition!
Don’t Post Listings with a Lack of Pictures or only ONE exterior Photo
This is one of the key things NEVER to do with a listing. True or not, if a buyer can’t view pictures of the interior of your home they are going to assume its in terrible shape and move on! Without pictures to represent your home, its natural to assume that there is something wrong if photos aren’t present. In a visual world, great listing photos are an essential element to attracting the quantity and quality of buyers you want.
Don’t feature Pictures of Seasonal Decorations
Nothing says “I’ve been listed for sale too long” better than pictures of Christmas trees in homes in February or March. Buyers are always looking for the hot, new listings and even if your home just came on the market, seasonal decor of any kind can make it appear stale. If your listing does feature pictures with seasonal decor, ensure you take down the decorations right after the holiday and then have new photos taken!
Don’t feature Pictures of Cluttered Spaces or Rooms with Dated Decor Schemes
Your online pictures are the windows to your home’s soul. If that soul appears chaotic or very personalized, you’re going to lose out on the majority of your potential buyers who are searching for neutral, modern spaces. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression so make sure that all the photos of your home showcase bright, spacious modern rooms which buyers can appreciate. Pack up all your collections, lighten and brighten with some paint and work with a stager to professionally stage your home. This way buyers will be jumping for the chance to visit your home!
Don’t make Buyers play the Guessing Game!
Nothing confuses buyers more than pictures of rooms or areas which are undefined. Unless of course they are shots of your floor, your mouldings, your countertop or your staircase. Undefined rooms or awkward spaces actually detract from your home’s overall value for buyers – because they can’t figure out a use for it! So don’t post pictures of these areas, instead showcase the rooms which WILL draw buyers in, which are defined and well staged. As to pictures of architectural elements of your home, its better to show these things as part of an overall picture as opposed to snapshots of them individually. If you have gorgeous wood floors, a picture of that room with the light streaming in, the furniture arranged to highlight the gleaming wood is far more effective.
Don’t Include Pictures of People and Pets
As cute as your dog, cat, baby, best friend or neighbour is – they don’t belong in your home’s online photos. Buyers are going to be more interested/amused by these cameos than they will be by your home – and its not going to entice them to visit. So save those pictures for display in your new home and opt to showcase professional pictures of all the rooms in your home so that buyers can instead appreciate the elements which come with the property!
DO invest in Professional Pictures and Virtual Tours
We learned early on in our staging career that professional pictures was the best way to showcase a home online. A professional photographer has the right equipment, experience and talent to take those great shots which look like they came out of a magazine. As buyers are shopping for a lifestyle upgrade, professional pictures of a modern, bright home are going to attract them in droves. Additionally, virtual tours are also a vital part of a home’s strong online presence. Done right, they show buyers everything they need to know about how rooms connect and flow with each other so that they can get a great sense of the home without even visiting!
Do Invest in Professional Property Staging to Maximize your Home’s Presentation!
Home staging isn’t decorating – it’s a real estate marketing tool that tangibly increases a home’s value through careful and strategic staging. From adding the WOW to forgettable spaces to arranging the furniture around architectural selling features and bringing in furnishings to stage empty rooms, the power of home staging can’t be undervalued. In this visual real estate world, working with a professional home staging company is vital to a successful home sale.
Don’t feature Pictures of Principal Rooms Without Furnishings
Vacant homes are a tough sell. We’ve written blog posts on this topic because without staging (and adding that personal touch with great furnishings) a vacant home appears empty and undesirable. Without furniture, buyers can’t get a sense of how big the spaces are and will instead fixate on elements which need fixing, updating, painting or replacing. If your home is going on the market vacant, invest in some key staging so that when buyers shop online, they get a great first impression! One last note, leaving one item in a large room or doing what we call ‘vignette staging’ only makes the home appear more unloved and doesn’t do justice to the space.
DO Turn ON the Lights!
Again, this one should be self explanatory as to why its so important. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the lights should be on when you’re taking photos of your home. Additionally, open those blinds and draperies to let in all that gorgeous natural light. Buyers are attracted to bright, airy spaces and they will rush through a home without bothering to notice all it has to offer if it is dark because they feel uncomfortable. Lots of natural light and ensuring key selling spaces are well lit with layers of lighting levels is key to making buyers feel at home.
Do add the WOW Factor!
Rooms that have been either de-personalized to the point where they have no memorable features or have never been decorated, often prove to be forgettable for buyers. Yes, de-cluttering and de-personalizing is part of the preparation process but we often see this being taken too far. Often this happens when sellers are given generic home staging lists or if the home owners never got around to really furnishing and/or decorating the home. These are key things a professional home stager will address so take the time to have a consultation done before your home goes on the market to get property specific recommendations and advice on how to add the WOW factor to your home and increase it’s overall presentation and marketability!
Pictures tell buyers a vital story online and with how accessible listings are online, its more important than ever that the first impression buyers have of your property is a great one. We work with a professional photographer who does amazing virtual tours and this is one of the top things we recommend to our clients after staging their homes. Remember, buyers have what we call model home mentality so magazine calibre pictures will garner your property the interest and visits it deserves!
For more information on Kitchener Home Staging, contact Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. We are a multi-award winning home staging company and we have successfully staged hundreds of homes in the Waterloo region. Visit our website or follow us on Facebook to see examples of our work and learn more about our services. To contact us directly, call us at (519) 804-STAGE.
- Is Your Kitchener-Waterloo Listing Stigmatized? (decoratingdivas.wordpress.com)