Real Estate and the Power of Professional Photography

 This modest kitchen plays with the light beautifully.

This modest kitchen plays with the light beautifully.

So the time has come has it? The time to sell the beloved family home or cottage, or perhaps even the newly renovated flip house. That's what brings you to these words is it not? You are about to put the FOR SALE sign out on the front lawn and wait for the buyers to line up at the door ready to cut you a cheque. Well, I'm here to tell you that it isn't that easy. Just because your dinner guests rave about how lovely your flooring goes with your backsplash, or how envious they are of your location, this doesn't mean that they are going to line up as soon as they catch wind of your intentions to sell. The odds are in the current real estate market that you will be listed for some time, from several months or even a year or two, depending on the value of your home. Can you wait that long? Have you a newly acquired second mortgage that makes things a little tight? Do you have a job waiting in Toledo that requires you to depart our raging Alberta climate toot sweet? Regardless of your influence, background or destination, everyone selling a home wants the same thing. Sell quickly and for the best dollar! (Not too quickly, ling-ling the Siamese hairball has another four months of mousing school.) How does one achieve the highest dollar in the shortest amount of time? Well, like all things worth doing it might take some lube. Lubrication helps things get to where they need to go easier and helps things get out of tight places a little smoother. So here a my thoughts on what can give your home sale the slipticity it needs to get where it needs to go.

 Showing the environment in as natural a light as available is always favorable.

Showing the environment in as natural a light as available is always favorable.

1. PHOTOS ARE KEY! You need to market your home online, no, that doesn't mean a sign on the clothes line out back, it means you need to market on the INTERNET! The internet is where over 95% of buyers first look for a new home or property. So, you need to be there with bells on. It is no secret that the internet is the place to market, you knew that before I mentioned it. You've been aware of it for years. Realtor.ca has been a favorite destination for home shoppers for decades ( previously located at MLS.ca) there a buyer can search their preferred area, price range as well as a host of other criteria that can really narrow the results down to but a select few. Yay for you if you are one of those chosen few, you now have a potential buyer looking at your home from the comfort of their toilet. Nice. In a world where first impressions are often all you get before someone swipes your home off of their screen forever you really need to make that first shot hit home. How? you ask. How pray tell do I make that first impression a good one? Huh, funny you should ask. Good quality Real Estate Photography will trump average photography every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME! It's no secret. So choose your photographer carefully. If you are one of those who fancy's themselves a photog and fells like you can just do it yourself (you and your trusty Canon Rebel) then go ahead, do it yourself and see. Trust that first impression to a just okay photo. It's not blurry so hey, it's good. Well, for as little as a couple hundred bucks you could save yourself thousands on the selling price just by resisting the urge to publish what you think is a fantastic and artistic picture of your athletic shoe and your treadmill. You are trying to sell a home, show the home and it's potential, without the distractions. Weather listing on Realtor.ca (with the help of a REALTOR) of going it your own you need to have quality photography. Do not let your inner voice talk you our of it, and don't let your REALTOR get away with it either. Frankly, if you do go with a Realtor and they are not using a professional photographer, just keep looking, they clearly do not have your best interests in mind.

 While not a feature of the home exactly, this image does show the potential atmosphere.

While not a feature of the home exactly, this image does show the potential atmosphere.

2. Choose your photographs very carefully! You have one shot at a first impression with your buyer so don't screw it up. You need not show every angle of every room, you are trying to have the buyer contact the Realtor or you the private seller, the photos are the hook, the seller is the fisherman. Present the home in the best way possible in the photographs, highlight the best features, show of the place, but maybe leave out the crawlspace/inside garage/utility room unless they are exceptional. Sure have them on file and if a buyer would like to have a look, go ahead and show them, just don't start with them. My point, show off the third nipple on maybe the fourth date.. Don't open with it. Sometimes, less is more.

 This image is a compilation of seven images. Its a little work but it's worth it.

This image is a compilation of seven images. Its a little work but it's worth it.

3. Do I list with a Realtor or do I go it on my own? Well, to answer this one you need to ask yourself a question. Do you have a buyer lined up? If yes, then hey, sell it on your own. If no, then you might consider a Realtor. Realtors spent their years building a client base and crawling to the forefront of a very competitive profession. Do not take for granted the potential to sell your home quickly that a Realtor possesses. This is all they do and could very well have a buyer for your home already in their contacts list. Just make sure you get the right one. When choosing a Realtor do some research for yourself. Don't hire one because they drove your son home from soccer practice once. If you look for the most successful Realtor in your area, chances are they up there because of experience and effort. The Marketing plans of each Realtor will differ, pay attention and do the homework. Only sign with those that respect your property as much as you do. Make sure the marketing strategy is up to snuff. It's okay to touch on trendy marketing gimmicks and trends, but the real solid foundation is in quality photography, and a strong online presence. Do not move forward without making sure those two needs are satisfied.

 Sometimes mood is key. Fire added digitally afterwards.

Sometimes mood is key. Fire added digitally afterwards.

4. Can I just sell it online myself? Absolutely you can, if you know the in's and outs of online marketing. But you do lose very valuable tool mentioned above. Realtor.ca. You will not be able to list on the very popular service, AND most likely Realtors who represent a potential buyer may not even know that your home is on the market because of it. Sure you could use the other popular online markets like Facebook but relying on the finicky algorithms of the worlds biggest gathering of sheep to sell your house seems a little bit iffy. I have personally watched several homes listed on Northern Alberta Real Estate https://www.facebook.com/groups/realnorth/ drop in excess of 30 thousand dollars and still not sell. No professional photography, no professional home staging, no realtor... No selling.  I am not saying it cant be done, but it needs to be done correctly and it will take some deal of luck.

Professional Real Estate Photography only takes a couple of hours (depending on the size of your home) and makes all the difference in the marketing value. The best realtors know it and invest their own money into it with no guarantee that they will even sell the property before the contract expires. I have yet to meet a Realtor that is easily separated from their money, but the good ones know a proper marketing strategy is only as strong as the photography at it's foundation. My advice, however you wish to market your home, you must be online, and to stand out online you need great photos. Bottom line, start with a great foundation.

Back Forty Photography is located in Athabasca, Alberta and specializes in Real Estate Photography in Northern Alberta.