If you’ve read my series on the Three Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Photographer, you know that professional quality real estate marketing photography can make all the difference between a purchase and pass. If you haven’t read that series, make your way over there right now. I’ll just wait here.
Now let’s talk about what actually happens from a marketing perspective when a prospective buyer looks at the listing photos. We’re going to go into the mind of a buyer for a few minutes here while we analyze differences in reaction between a well composed photo of the property versus just a quick snapshot—and the huge difference it can make to a purchaser.
Let’s be honest, the photographs are not the first thing a buyer looks at when analyzing a listing. The location is. Then the price. Then the amount of rooms. But, once the buyer has determined that a house meets the main criteria they’re looking for, they turn to the photographs to see if actually visiting the home is worth taking the time for. When the photos are well laid out, simple, and instructive about just what the buyer will be looking for, it goes a long way to show the potential purchaser that your listing is something they want to take a second look at.
So how do you best present the home in your real estate marketing photography to pique the buyer’s interest?
We start by keeping the photos simple so that the buyer can process the images more easily. If an image is cluttered, shows too much, is presented in a strange or bizarre way, is otherwise too visually overwhelming, or resemble anything on the Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs website, a buyer will react negatively and move on. Why? Because they’ll have trouble processing it, leading to negative emotions and an overall feeling that we can summarize as: “what is so wrong with this home that they’re trying to cover up with their bizarre photography.”
While simplicity may seem like a great goal, it can actually be a contentious point between some photographers and real estate professionals. Between ultra-wide angles, highly over-processed HDR images (that make the beauty of natural wood cabinets look like they came straight out of a nuclear reactor), simplicity can often be lost by the desire to make the property look overly showy or full of glitz and glam. Almost like living in Donald Trump’s over-the-top penthouse. Personally, I’m a proponent for tighter shots and a more natural look—much like you’d find in a high-end home magazine—but I shoot according to my clients’ tastes.
Make It Easy for the Buyer to Picture Themselves in the Home
This is pretty common knowledge these days, but real estate marketing—especially the photography component—should make the buyer feel like he or she belongs in the house. That’s why stagers are so important for multi-million dollar listings and why exceptional real estate marketing photography is paramount.
Buyers all know your listing has vertical walls and horizontal floors that run perpendicularly to those walls. At least I hope your listing has vertical walls and horizontal floors. Beyond that, potential buyers know the world outside the home is not a huge bloom of white light, or that the darkened hall closet is not some black abyss that will swallow up their pets or small children. Yet many non-professional real estate photos have just those features: walls that stand at a diagonal (or worse, are curved and sloped like they belong in a funhouse), completely blown out windows, and shadows that rival those found on the dark side of the moon.
So even though the buyers all know that those are just errors in the photographs, they know those features are strange and out of place. And what happens when confusion sets in? A feeling as though the house is just not worth looking at, let alone purchasing.
Coherence is King in Real Estate Marketing Photography
Once the photographs have been taken, processed, and sent, that’s when the real fun begins. Using those photographs as part of the marketing plan for the home. The first step in using the real estate photographs properly is to show them in a coherent way, keeping in mind that anything that seems out of place could throw off the buyer and make them move on to another listing.
This begins with uploading the real estate marketing photographs in a way that makes sense. Start with the front of the home since that’s exactly what the buyer would see the first time they visit the house. But here’s a chance to really spice it up in a sea of other listings that also start with the front of the house: present the front of the house in a unique way with an elevated shot or a stunning twilight shot. Just make sure you also include a regular front of the house picture too.
After the buyer gets a feel for the front of the home, use the photographs to welcome them inside. Entryways, foyers, and front door shots always work great to ease the buyer inside as though they’re walking into the home. From there, present the home as it appears, gently guiding the buyer from room to room until they are ultimately taken into the backyard and presented not just with a few of the home from the back, but with a view from the yard (if there is one, that is).
Pulling It All Together
While real estate marketing photography can go a long way to presenting a pleasing first impression for a potential purchaser, you need to make sure that the whole listing works as one to really draw the buyer in. Exceptional copy can really highlight a listing and quickly bring it to the top of a buyer’s short list. While I’m certainly no English teacher, here are a few tips I picked up from writing advertising copy for a few years between undergrad and law school.
- Use first-person plurals to help buyers put themselves into the home. Writing the copy from the “we” perspective not just makes a buyer feel like he or she is home, but makes them feel more comfortable with your tone, whether they know it or not.
- Use that active voice. This is a great habit to get into and way too many people slip into passive voice if not checked. I know from firsthand experience that passive voice is a huge problem in the legal industry, so let’s try to nip it in the bud in the real estate industry.
- Be specific. Not talking in generalities adds credence to your statements.
- Metaphors and similes are your friends. People like to compare one thing to another, and if you’re able to compare something they know to a feature of the house, all the better. Just try not to be too cliche.
- Ditch the adverbs. I’m guilty of not following my own advice here, but skip most (if not all) of the words that end in “ly” since they kill the flow of most sentences are are not all that necessary. And yes, I know I tend to use adverbs here and there in my own writing…but c’est la vie.
With all of this information in hand, it’s time for you to get out there and sell some houses. And if you need some excellent real estate marketing photography to highlight your next listing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.