One of the best things in my line of work is “Key Delivery Day”.

One of the best things in my line of work is “Key Delivery Day”.

Just left an early morning signing joined by a lovely young couple with whom I helped purchase their first ever home. I gotta say, it’s a great feeling to be there for someone at the very beginning of a new chapter in their lives!

So, it all went easy as pie right?

Well, of course it worked out for them in the end. After all, I take pride in my track record of helping clients get their “win”. But easy? Not so much…

You see, after some 60 days into the journey, this lovely young couple was growing frustrated with the process of shopping for a turn-key home in the sub $350k range in PDX proper. And who could blame them? The fact is, looking for an appealing 3bed/2bath house in that price range (that doesn’t need more than just a little elbow grease) is getting increasingly difficult within city limits. Maybe not white unicorn difficult, but we’re almost there. Thus, it was decided that expanding their search would only be pragmatic.

So, where to look?

He, a few years removed from growing up in his childhood neighborhood in Lake Oswego, and she, having just left the cozy confines of campus life in Whittier California, realized that deciding on where to focus next would require a little consideration and compromise. After all, this was going to be home base for a while. So for various good reasons, Beaverton, Tigard, & King City became our primary targets. And for a couple of folks working in the tech sector, this was just a logical progression for them. So with that decided, the hunt was back on. Westward we would travel.

We looked at many properties. At one point, they almost bought the wrong house (for them). But then, on our way to another listing, we saw it. The perfect home. The perfect price. The home of their dreams. This was it. This was the one!

How could I have missed “the one”?

Well, the simple answer was that I didn’t. You see, I had actually e-mailed them this listing. And not just once, but two times in fact. So how did they manage to overlook this little gem (you’re no doubt wondering)?

Turns out it was the online pictures. Shot at weird angles, in low light, and with a smartphone no doubt, they just didn’t represent the true essence of the property. Simply put, they were terrible. And so, the lovely young couple looked right past the home. Unfortunately, I suspect this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Folks, it’s nearly 2018 and contrary to what you might have heard, a buyer’s first impression is no longer that special moment when they first pull up to check out the view from the street. In fact, more often than not, they’ve already checked out your place from front to back online, and for all you know, may have decided to cruise right by.

Most buyers spend weeks stalking listings on Zillow, making Pinterest dream boards, texting must-see homes to their agents, and also, judging. So, what’s one key difference between a home deemed a HILF (home I’d like to finance) and one doomed to be mocked by shoppers on social media?

It’s definitely the photos! In fact, photos are the new curb appeal of the digital age, and those shots have to be good. I mean really good!

I can recall at least a dozen times this past year, when during the course of a conversation with a prospective client, the subject of who they might consider using to market their home came up. I’ll admit it, I love this part! You see, among the many other value propositions I bring to the table, one area I always excel in is presenting my client’s properties to the public in the very best light possible. Basically, I only utilize beautiful photos and compelling ad copy (aka marketing) for my listings. This means that a $229,ooo condo gets the same basic love as a multi-million dollar estate for sale. It’s proven to be a good investment. This is not always the same ethos my competitors follow. Here’s when I’m glad we’re occasionally graded on a curve.

So, what if that same person was thinking about traversing the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route? Perhaps at one time or another you’ve given this some consideration as well? Well, there are a multitude of logical reasons why I don’t endorse it, but if someone’s dead set on going it alone, I have a few tips for them:

1). It doesn’t matter how many camera lenses your smartphone has.

A familiar style of image used all too often by agents, novices, and limited-representation brokers.

To get a great photo, it helps to have the right stuff. A full-frame camera, fast glass (prime lenses), professional image editing software, and an experienced eye for lighting and composition are among the most important tools a pro photographer adds to the equation.

Oh so much better!


2). Unique decor & quirky personal tchotchkes aren’t always photogenic.

Whooo… thought this image would help sell their home?

Hide away your kitschy ceramic owl collection and the throw pillows embroidered with your family’s crest, because while all those personal items may make your house feel homey (to you), they might not translate well online. A real estate professional with an objective eye can be a good resource to lean on if you’re unsure of what to include/exclude in property images, but a professional home stager is even better!

The rule of thumb is that marketing photos tend to look best with the least amount of stuff as possible. Make that possible by storing away everything personal (even wall art) before your photo shoot. And don’t forget the small kitchen appliances and, yes, even your bathroom toiletries.

Just remember, you want your house to convey a model home feel, because the goal is to have a buyer envision themselves living within the space (so you can move out).


3). The low-down dirt (really shows)!

Time to call Stanley Steamer!

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the sensors in today’s modern cameras capture everything. On the other hand… Well, you get the picture.

A missed stain on the kitchen floor, dust on the mantel, slight discoloration in the carpet, it’s all going to show in the photos. Now back in the old days (say like circa 2007) your average real estate photographer may have been willing to edit those blemishes out of the shot. However, with the Truth in Advertising rules in place these days, your house just needs to be as clean as possible. Seriously, we want to be able to eat off those floors, soldier!


4). It isn’t only the weather on the big day that matters…

A suitable image to use for a $1,800,000 listing?

You’ve had the foresight to check the weather; clear skies on the day of your shoot. But what about the day before? If your yard maintenance crew comes on Monday afternoon, and there’s a storm later that evening, maybe it’s a good idea to reschedule your Tuesday photos. After all, you’ll want the yard in perfect condition for the shoot.


5). Little things can make (or break) the photo…

A Million dollar shot!

Okay, the ceramic pigs are in storage, the house is spotless, and there hasn’t been a stormy day in weeks. You’re ready to go, right? Not so fast. The day of your shoot, do a final sweep and look for anything you might have missed. During your run-through, pay extra attention to blinds, curtains, bedspreads, and shower curtains, making sure they’re photogenic.

Oh, and the bathroom. Don’t forget the bathroom. Make sure toilet lids are closed, surfaces are clean, and the toilet paper rolls are fresh. These little things can make a big difference.

This is just one agent’s professional opinion. It’s not the only one.

-Chad Meier

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.