Make 'Em Look: Lift Your Listing with Professional Photos

Shira Rosenberg
August 27, 2013

Photographs are usually the first impression for a potential buyer. If you don't get their attention here, they likely won't bother to look further, particularly online where the attention span lasts about three seconds.

Poorly shot photos, no photos, or photos of a home that looks dirty, outdated or crowded can lose the buyers' interest before they even have a look at the listing details. But you can create impact quickly and cheaply by staging the property and then getting professional photographs of the space.

Why shell out for professional photographs?

Market research by Seattle-based brokerage Redfin Corp.shows that homes photographed with a DSLR camera get more page views and ultimately sell for a higher price.

According to their research, professionally photographed homes:

  • Receive an average of 61% more views than their peers across all price tiers.
  • Have a 47% higher asking price per square foot.
  • Have an increased likelihood of selling in the $300,000+ price range.
  • Stay on the market an average of 10 days longer across all price tiers.

( Redfin Research Center, September 2009)

What you photograph is also important. Viewers will want to see at least the kitchen, bathroom and living areas displayed online. But since the MLS® now allows up to 20 images, you might as well use them all to inspire viewers to visit or ask their Real Estate Agent for more information. Offering more photos also provides warmer leads, as you can filter out people who see things they don't like.

Stage first, then photograph

Staging the property can be a variety of things. It could be as simple as going around the property and cleaning up any loose items, removing family photos, touching up the paint and doing the dishes. Or it could be as complete as moving all of the clutter and excess items into a storage locker/bin, having a professional staging company clean the house, reposition the furniture, add accent pieces and make the property look like it is one of the featured properties in an architectural magazine.

Staging can form a distinct impression of the qualities of the propertyeven ones viewers might not have consciously noticed.

The whole point is to get potential buyers to visualize themselves living in the home. If it has been staged well, buyers can see the house beyond the immediate furnishings and get ideas of how their own possessions will look there. When that happens, they are halfway to creating an attachment to the property.

Staging and professional photography are especially helpful for properties that are smaller or have a closed floor plan, as the property may seem cramped or cluttered and the buyer may need help to visualize what can be done with the space.

If your property is tenanted, or staging and cleaning isn't an option, 2D and 3D floor plans are a great alternative. They give the viewer a spartan view of just the home, allowing them to visualize all of their furniture and colours filling the place.

In the end we all want to get the best price for our properties. The best way is to give potential buyers the visualization tools to see themselves living in the home you are selling.