The photograph can be a real estate professional's best friend. It can highlight the best features of a property, as well as draw in potential clients and stir up additional interest.
However, the photo can also ruin a listing. There is a fine line between quality images and poor ones, and an unattractive image could be a big reason why a house is stuck on the market for an extended period of time. It doesn't matter if the photos are of foreclosed houses or brand new constructions - an ugly snapshot is all a prospective buyer needs to keep on looking.
Why one photo can be a bad sign
A multiple listing service is the go-to for real estate agents and homebuyers. These sites have the largest collection of listings, including a number of images. In some cases, a property may only have one photo attached - which could be a bad sign.
Jeff Dowler, California-based Realtor and ActiveRain contributor, wrote about one experience he had where an attractive photo was masking an ugly situation. He a found a property that sounded great - good neighborhood, traditional sale, no red flags - but had only one photo on the MLS. In all fairness, the image was attractive. It was a nice shot of the front of the house, with quality curb appeal.
Dowler explained that the photo did plenty to draw in potential buyers. But when he and his clients appeared for an open house, they saw the group in front of them leave after only one minute. Soon, the problem became apparent - a massive collection of clutter. The house was full of junk, including the backyard. Several bedrooms were locked because people were sleeping in them.
In this case, the one photo was in the best interest of the seller. It hid all of the flaws, and brought in people who might have been able to see past the downside. However, when buyers see only one photo, it could immediately raise the question about what isn't seen - and that could be a problem.
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Professional photos fetch more money
The better the photos, the more money sellers are likely to get. According to a recent Redfin study, high-quality real estate photography will help acquire a higher sales price and a quicker closing date.
The study looked at homes priced between $200,000 and $1 million over 22 major markets. When comparing those with professional-looking images taken with a digital single-lense reflex camera to those without, the former performed much better at the end of the day.
Redfin reported that homes priced between $400,000 and $499,000 with professional photography sold for an average of $11,200 more. For all homes analyzed, the average price increase ranged from $3,400 to $11,200. Even better is the finding that these same properties actually sold much faster that their amateur-photographed counterparts. Million dollar houses sold four days faster, while those in the $400,000 price range sold 21 days faster.
Moreover, DSLR-photographed properties in that same price range sold within six months 64 percent of the time, compared to 46 percent for those with more amateur images. The best possible photographs also meant these homes sold above their listing price 44 percent of the time.
A real estate agent may want to advise their clients to hire a professional photographer prior to listing. Or, the agents themselves could pick up a DSLR camera and take attractive pictures of the houses, in order to attract clients and reach for the best possible sales price.