One of the most important things you can do to make your home stand out, whether it is on the MLS, Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist or some other site, is to have exceptional pictures. Not just for bazillion dollar homes, either…
There are some challenges, like vacant houses or those that really could use some freshening, but still, pictures are the first step in selling your house. Video is nice… and virtual tours can add to the pictures… but in the end, having 5-10 great pictures, along with 15-20 good or better pictures (our local MLSs only accept 25 pictures) can be what gets eyeballs INSIDE your house.
Where the problems start are that few real estate agents take the time to learn how to shoot good pictures, or worse yet, they think that grabbing a few pictures with their phone will be just fine. I know, phones have come a long way… but that doesn’t mean that they take pro-quality pictures.
Even better would be to hire a photographer to shoot the home. Again, most agents just don’t feel that “this listing warrants that type of expenditure”. Oddly, I have had agents tell me that when we were talking about $1M+ homes… If they aren’t willing to hire a pro for a “seven digit home”, when are they?
Luckily, I have a background in photography… and I still have hired in pros to shoot some of my listings. It is simply too important.
But there is another problem that I run into… although not as frequently… that is manipulated images. A little tweaking is fine, and some HDR shots might even be appropriate (HDR is High Dynamic Range, allowing both highlights and shadows to retain detail). But, I see large areas of homes being digitally enhanced. In fact, there is a service that digitally adds furniture to listing photos.
Of course, there actually IS a place for digital manipulation. I have used a service that allows prospective buyers to “digitally remodel” a house. They could go into key rooms and digitally alter details like wall and trim colors, floor surfaces and cabinetry and counters. The big difference is that THEY started with a true representation of the room, and THEY made the changes. They weren’t presented with an unrealistic portrayal of the area.
Some common things that get edited that might be ok would be trashcans by the street (seems easier to me to move them…) or a reflection of the photographer in a bathroom mirror. But some things that cross the line… at least in my mind… are editing out power lines in the backyard, getting rid of stains on the carpet, cracks in the driveway and other defects which are factually accurate.
One direction that we have as REALTORS® is that we HAVE to honestly represent the property. And as real estate licensees, we aren’t allowed to hide or lie about defects of which we have knowledge. Advertising a proeprty should put it in its BEST light, but it should be honest, as well.