By Margaux Pelegrin
I live in Philadelphia where snow has become a four letter word.
February is traditionally the beginning of our ‘spring market’ and yet here we are at the end of the month and nothing feels like spring! Each week brings a new threat of yet another snow storm – keeping kids home from school, parents on the brink of insanity and buyers behind their computers trolling the Internet for new listings instead of walking through streets to look at properties.
While the winter weather is no doubt to blame for decreased inventory and sales, many popular real estate websites are reporting a 25% increase in traffic from December. But cold weather troubles aside, a lot of buyers are starting their home searches on the web, which means our web presentation of listings is more important than ever.
With that in mind, here are some tips to optimize your listings’ web appeal.
Use Quality Photography
This is the often the first impression a buyer has of a listing, so photography is of utmost importance. Unless you are using a high quality camera (and have some experience using it!) you should hire a professional real estate photographer to get quality hi-res images that will look fantastic when blown up on wide monitors.
Choose Your Content
Just as important as how you photograph is what you photograph. Photograph key features such as kitchens, gardens and bedrooms, but leave out the photo of a rusted water heater or the close-up shot of the toilet.
Clean It Up
It is important you become an active participant in the photo shoot. Move laundry out of the frames, take dirty dishes out of the sink and make sure the bed is made. A tip: The closer a room can get to looking like a page out of Pottery Barn, the better it will resonate with online viewers. Often we recommend our sellers have fresh flowers available for when we take photos, which can be a wonderful prop to brighten any room. And no pets or people please! If the property is vacant, photograph at key angles, provide a floor plan or consider having the property staged.
Vivid imagery can help intrigue a buyer, but overdoing it can lose the attention of the buyer and fail to highlight key features. A good balance of imagery and facts will leave the buyers wanting more. My team will often be inspired by luxury home descriptions from the real estate section of The New York Times but if you’re really struggling or have writer’s block, consider hiring a copywriter.
Check the Details
Once you have all the pieces together take a last look at the listing to make sure the photos are in an order and have visual appeal. The lead photo should be of a property highlight like a beautiful façade or picture perfect living room – not the garage or powder room. If you have any photo touch-ups that need to be done try a photo-editing site like Pixlr or an app such as Snapseed. Last but not least, make sure you check the property description for spelling and grammatical errors. And always remember: Great listings are as much about attention to detail as they are about the home itself.
So until the weather warms up, consider enhancing your online listings by using the tips above. Think of them as snow-day activities that are sure to make business heat up.
Margaux Pelegrin is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®. Email her at Margaux.Pelegrin@gmail.com or find her on Twitter @MargauxPelegrin and on Facebook www.facebook.com/maryonthesquare.