Only One Chance to Make a First Impression

We've all heard that saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  It is never truer than in real estate!  And these days, it can mean the difference between a sale and no sale.

Here's the scenario:  you list your home for sale with the Realtor of your choice and when you sign the listing agreement, the real estate salesperson takes some quick photos with their cell phone so he or she can “get it on the MLS right away.”  You're eager to get started with the process, so this seems like a great idea.

Flash forward to 5 days later:  your home's listing is on the MLS with the handful of cell phone photos to represent it to the home buying public.  Your agent says that it's been viewed over 100 times online.  But there are zero appointments for the first weekend.  None.  What's going on, you wonder? 

Here's what happened:  the photos are of such poor quality.  Your listing agent didn't consider the lighting, the best angles, that your kids' toys were all over the living room.  The toilet seat is up, the window shades were down.  The home wasn't “staged” to its top potential.  You know what I'm talking about – we've all seen “those” photos online too.

And the buyers who've seen these initial photos – because they instantly get emailed or notified as soon as there's a new listing that meets their criteria – well, they aren't interested.  They can't look past the lousy photos to see the most appealing attributes of the home, the things you loved about it when you bought it.

Once these bad photos are out there, you often don't get a second chance.  What sellers don't realize is that in this world of instant digital distribution, those photos will be immediately disseminated to hundreds of web sites where consumers go to look for homes.  Once they've decided that the home isn't for them, based on the pictures they see, they often won't look at that listing again, even if the photos eventually get upgraded.  That most important initial window of opportunity has been missed.

 Don't fall victim to the agent wielding the cell phone camera!! (or even the “real” camera, who still doesn't take the time to assure quality photos).  Insist that your home be showcased and photographed properly right from the start.  Those photos will be your first – and maybe only – chance to make that ever important first impression with the potential new owners of your home.

 By Gail Fattizzi, Executive Director of Westchester Real Estate, Inc., Lic. Real Estate Broker