Archive for category Technology

Worth a thousand words?

OK, more geek-speak. This is about the photos that agents (or FSBO) have on their sites. I know this has been discussed to death, but I have a few more pointers that may help. A photo can be worth a thousand words, but are those words the ones you want to be saying?

Having a background in graphic design and working on many a photo shoot (and taking a few pix myself) there are some basic rules to follow.

1. Have a good camera. The days of the throwaway camera are gone. Invest in a good digital camera.
2. Know some good image editing software. From my design days, I use Adobe Photoshop. I don’t expect anyone to go out and buy this very pricey program, and learn how to use it. But there are good (free) programs that you can use for basic photo editing. By editing, I mean lightening up a dark photo, sharpening up a slightly blurring photo, doing some minor color correction. As I am very comfortable with the software, sometimes I will do something like remove a trash bin that is showing, or taming a reflection on a window.
dualbath1.jpg Notice the plug hanging in the center. dualbath1re.jpg A little editing, no more plug and a better crop help.

stairut.jpg Original photo staircase.jpg Same photo with minor color correction.

3. For interior shots, use natural light, usually in the morning or early evening. Do not take photos during high noon. You will get glaring sun and harsh shadows.

kitchencu.jpg Beautiful soft light.

4. For exterior shots, especially 2-story homes, try to get yourself off the ground. Stand on the bed of a pickup truck (or I have stood on the roof). This help the house appear from eye-level, not like you are lying on the ground. The house does not appear to be looming.
Exterior, taken from the bed of a truck

5. Try to imagine yourself as a buyer. Nowadays with so many buyers doing their initial ‘shopping’ on the internet, the photos on the listing can make or break it. Haven’t you all had clients immediately say “NO!” to a showing because they didn’t like what they saw online?
6. No one wants to see corners or rooms, or part of a vanity or island. Get a wide angle lens for your camera and get as much of the room as possible.

partof-island.jpg Nice lighting, but it is only showing a part of the island. Show the whole thing.

7. If there is something worth seeing in detail (custom woodwork, detail on a cabinet, etc) get a close-up of it. (On most digital cameras there is a Macro setting)

corbeilut.jpg What are we looking at? corbeildetail.jpg The beautiful corbeil (with a slight color correction).

detail.jpg Detail of the island detailcrop1.jpg Detail with a crop on top and on side.

lightdetail.jpgShowing the light fixtures in the kitchen.

8. Make sure the pix are of the home, not of the things in the home. How many photos have you looked at and you don’t remember anything about the house, but you remember the photo of some guy wearing a leopard print thong? Make sure the house is the primary subject of the photo.(I don’t have any photos to show as an example)
9. In your copy, write something memorable and emotional. I can see it is a kitchen, tell me how as a buyer I can see myself baking cookies and preparing family dinners in that kitchen. You want to create an image in a buyer’s mind of them in that kitchen. “Can’t you see your entire family gathered around the spacious kitchen island, anticipating the wonderful meal prepared by you in your new kitchen?”
kitchen.jpg

10. Make sure the exterior photo is taken with room on either side. If you cut off one side, the viewer will wonder what you are hiding. An unsightly shed? An overgrown bush? A dent in the wall? Don’t let them imagine, show them.

3cc.jpg I added the sky to an otherwise gloomy day picture.

11. Use a tripod. I don’t know of anyone who is steady enough all of the time to take perfect photos. Plus, you look cool if you are walking around with a tripod.
12. If you are uncomfortable taking the photos and know you don’t have the time or the want to edit them, hire someone. Call the local college and talk to the photography department. They will gladly give you names of students who would love to do this. You get quality work cheap, and they get great pieces for their portfolios.

So try to remember some of these tips when you are taking your next photos. I looked at one house online where the agent took pictures through a fish-eye lens. If you don’t know what that is, it is an image that looks like you are looking through a bubble. Not too flattering!

kitchensp.jpg I created this one so you could see it. Lovely, isn’t it???

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Real Estate and Technology

I’ll admit it. I am a computer geek. From my days as a graphic designer, I always had to have the latest and greatest, the fastest and the slickest machine. And yes, I am a Mac lover. As designers, we all used Macs. I cannot switch over to the Dark Side and use a PC. I do when I have to, kicking and screaming all the way, but now that I am not doing much design anymore, I am definitely in the minority.

I attended a couple of great classes over the last few days. They were taught by the same woman, Amy Chorew. She was fantastic. We talked alot about the role that technology plays in real estate, and how under utilized it is by agents. The ironic part is our audience, our clients, they are using it at an ever-increasing rate.

These were some interesting stats that Amy shared with us from the 2006 National Association of REALTORS© Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

51% of first time buyers are between the ages of 25 & 34 years old
85% of buyers used a real estate professional
84% of first time buyers used the Internet to search for homes (compared to 79% of repeat buyers)
81% rated their real estate agent as very useful in the process
Median age of sellers: 46 years
Typical home is on the market for 6 weeks

These are some interesting numbers. It is good to hear that alot of buyers are using agents and realizing the importance of a good agent! But the Internet is a powerful tool and as agents, we need to grasp its potential.

With the age range of first time buyers between 25 and 34, this generation is what is driving the housing market. Generation X (and the fringe of Generation Y) is computer savvy, busy with jobs and families. They want to sit down at night after the kids are asleep and surf around and see what grabs them. They know how to find sites with homes and they know how to cull the information down to suit their needs. Don’t get me wrong, agents are still needed. We are necessary to point out some of the features, desirable and not-so-desirable of homes they may see on the Internet. I had a client and he and his fiancĂ©e were looking to buy. They were constantly sending me links to homes they found. One home they were particularly hot on and wanted to see it that day. I looked at the link and the first thing I noticed was it was septic. I immediately called my client and told him. He said, “Oh. I didn’t know what that meant on the website. We definitely don’t want to look at that one.”

We as agents definitely need to embrace the technology, but we also need to impress on our clients what we bring to the party as people, too.

HG

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