Ever looked at an estate agent’s window or searched for property on the Internet and wondered how the agent published that photograph? Estate agents could vastly improve their results by implementing home staging techniques and better photography when taking on new listings from property owners.
In today’s competitive market it is essential to present a home for sale or rent in the best possible light.
The importance of a first impression
Statistics show that potential buyers make up their mind about a property within the first 60 seconds of entering. They need to imagine themselves living in the house that they visit.
Every detail counts when offering a property so don’t provide a reason to discourage a buyer from visiting the property, give them an argument to haggle over the price or create a delay in the closing of the deal.
That is why now, real estate agencies who wish to progress have specialised people to carry out specific tasks such as writing and publishing articles on the Internet, website management, social media, real estate portals, blogs, video channels, etc., thereby achieving the best showcase for their business.
Today, we live in a world of images, so appearances are what counts and which make the difference in business, but this detail is sometimes lost on some professional real estate agents who instead of focusing on increasing their customer base and keeping customers satisfied, give every impression of wishing to scare them off, thus becoming a major contributor to their competitor’s success – who do work professionally in their area, by helping them indirectly to close more successful operations.
In today’s ever more expanding Internet, potential clients make their initial property search by browsing from home or the office, then contact relevant agents to investigate the properties of interest, having at all times to decide who provides the best overall service. The more professional agents will endure over time, those who form and train their staff, both at management and structural level, from the cleaning staff to the area of administration; all depend on the success of the company to ensure their jobs. Each and every member of the company should be trained to understand the importance of “quality customer service” and follow the same philosophy, but this is a subject for another article…
A story comes to mind, that of an auction where there was a very rare violin that nobody had noticed. When suddenly, a man stands up, cleans and tunes it, plays a beautiful melody and to the astonishment of the public, tenders start to rush in.
What changed the price of the violin? The answer is not only in the melody and the touch of an expert, but what they saw in the violin. The violin at first sight, was worthless but inside, had great potential. The same goes for a house. When a house is in disrepair, left dirty or messy, we tend to place little value. For the buyer, it’s the first impression that counts. Few people can see its true potential regardless of how it looks.
That’s why the Home Staging has become an indispensable tool in the housing market. The buyer wants to be sure they are paying a fair price for what they see. The seller wants to show what best he has to sell, but one thing is not always consistent with the other.
Here are some tips to assist and help you prepare a property for sale or rent in a way that will allow potential buyers or tenants to have an immediate reaction and to “fall in love with the house”. It should also help you to attract more potential visitors / buyers whilst also improving its value. It is very important that the agent transmits this to the owner making clear that it’s the only way to efficiently publish a property in order to capture potential customers and achieve a successful operation. To the contrary, an agent cannot do his job properly. This will also convey more confidence to the seller, a condition which will benefit both parties, ensuring that potential customers don’t waste their time pursuing properties through other agencies.
Tips to prepare the property before a visit by a prospective buyer / tenant (for owners and agents):
- Thorough cleaning – a dirty kitchen or bathroom gives a very bad impression. It is also important to remember to clean the windows (letting in more light).
- Lighting – Open curtains and turn on lights in darker areas.
- Depersonalise to create a neutral environment – by packing away personal items, toys, photos etc. It is important that the potential buyer can imagine themselves living in the property.
- Uncluttering – take away clothes and personal items to create the impression of space. Remove clothes hanging out for drying during a property viewing.
- Create a positive first impression from the entrance of the house.
- Use neutral colours – there are many different tastes out there, but it is best to have the property as neutral as possible so that the majority of visitors feel comfortable in the environment.
- A nice smell helps to give a good impression – Put scented flowers, candles or fresh air fragrances in rooms. Even use an air freshener in the vacuum cleaner.
- Pets – It is important to remember that not everyone likes them. If you have pets, ensure that the property is clean of animal hairs and aromas, and perhaps either remove them during a property viewing or leave them in the garden or on the terrace.
- Minor improvements or repairs - such as ‘touch up’ painting, repairs to flooring, etc.
- The outside – it’s not just the inside of the property that is important but also the terrace, patio and garden areas. If you have a swimming pool, whether it’s full of water or not, ensure that it’s clean, and if you have a lawn, that it’s recently cut.
These points can make your home look bigger, brighter, and more inviting and create a better first impression. Remember, you are trying to sell or rent a property, and not your home!
Perhaps the most important consideration is that of good photographs. And it’s not just about the camera, but the photographer behind it! Many estate agents fail miserably in this department. Whilst most agents perform this task in-house, some use professional photographers. If you’re going to do it yourself, keep in mind the following:
- Invest in a quality digital camera with a wide-as-possible lens, especially useful for kitchen and bathroom shots. Don’t use your mobile phone or tablet. Although mobile telephones take good exterior shots, their flash mechanisms let them down dreadfully and don’t illuminate interiors correctly. Furthermore, it doesn’t look professional turning up with just your mobile!
- Ensure that the property is presentable to be photographed and is in an orderly and tidy condition.
- Consider the best time during the day to take the photographs with good natural light and weather conditions (not the one day it rains when you live in an area that normally has potential for good, sunny weather).
- Take time to compose each photograph – don’t just snap away! Seek the best and widest angle in the room. Take time to move furniture around to show the room in the best light.
- Learn about camera exposure to help you take those difficult shots that are backlit from the outside with the ever-shining sun in Spain. Either close curtains or partially drop window blinds, or better still take an exterior exposure first followed up and combined with a strong flash to compensate interior and exterior light levels. Take time to read the camera manual to get the best out of it.
- Ensure that there aren’t any stray people or animals in the pictures.
- Bathroom shots: Close toilet lids and arrange shower curtains accordingly. Try not to include the door frames!
- Kitchen shots: Remove clutter from worktops, move waste bins and take away kitchen towels hanging from oven door handles and the like. And do ensure there is no washing-up to do!
- For exterior shots, try using the latest drone technology. Today, drones are used as a good resource for capturing images and videos that offer a totally new perspective. Get an angle on your competitors! They are not expensive and will show the property in a unique way whilst at the same time impressing the vendor.
- Gardens & pools: Remove watering hoses from lawns and cleaning or filter pipes from the surface of swimming pools. Arrange terrace furniture accordingly and add cushions, if available. Raise sun umbrellas. Remove children’s toys if scattered around the garden.
- When finally displaying property photographs on your website or portal, ensure you select the best photograph as your lead image, the one that will appear first in search results or advertisements. This is the first one that people will see on a webpage and will encourage them to click to see more.
If you use video,
- Ensure a steady pan of interiors and exteriors. Best to use a tripod.
- Invest in a halogen or LED lamp.
- Use an editing suite to cut-out or rearrange the takes.
- As a post-production tip, render the video afterwards to take out shaking. There are applications that will do this for you. YouTube offer it free whilst Instagram provide their latest toy that will make your iPhone video look like you shot it on a rig.
- Finally, if you add music to your video, add something light or chill-out.
Professionally produced property video:
Whoever or whatever you use, ensure that the property is projected in the best possible manner.
The truth is that the better you present the property, the greater the possibility of achieving a sale or rental – faster!
Examples of property professionally photographed:
So, with a small investment you could raise the profile of your properties and attract more potential visitors, buyers and tenants.