Change those Exterior Listing Photos!!! Pronto!

Obviously, ALL of my clients are currently "sellers", but what is often ignored is that they are also "buyers" on the flip side. They have made the decision to list for sale, so obviously they have to start their search for their new home. So, they also fit the demographic of "buyer" when I am working with them. So, I have a first-hand chance to always be researching and asking them questions. This information I get from my clients is invaluable, as it represents what the BUYER, in the current market is looking for.

Whenever the seasons have noticeably changed in Alberta, and the topographical landscape has been visibly altered for a period of time, I start hearing the same themed comments from my clients.

A common question I ask of my clients goes like this: "So, as you have been doing your search for your new home, what are some of the things that prevent you from being at all interested in a particular listing?"

Lately (and this is a normal response when seasons change), my clients have been offering a very helpful answer. And, keep in mind, this answer is common from client to client. They mention other items, but always focus on this one:

"We notice MLS listings, and the listings on many Realtors'® sites, do not have the official listing-date posted. So, as a buyer, because the length of time a listing has been sitting without selling is of interest to us, we are left guessing. When we see green grass in the exterior photos, yet we are into December, all we can do is assume that it is an old listing. We immediately wonder why it has not yet sold, and have to assume that something is wrong with it. Is it way over-priced? Are there pricey structural issues? So, we simply ignore those listings, and keep searching. We don't have the time to dig deeper into any potential issues."

Exterior Photo of House for Sale in Edmonton, AB - Seasonally Inappropriate when Snow now covers the ground everywhere

So, the key point here is that the exterior photo on listings automatically tells the savvy buyers today WHEN the property was listed.

I am writing today because, here we are on December 05, with our permanent snow-blanket on the ground in Edmonton and area. I just looked back in my day-timer, as I know exactly where I was on THE day of the first snow this year. I was cleaning a foreclosure condo. The day was OCTOBER 25!!! And, I know that since that day, we have not been quite warm enough for all of it to melt.

  Season-appropriate Photo of House-exterior - Listed for Sale

So, the problem with this is that any listings out there on the internet (MLS and your Site) with bare grass showing are now quite dated in the buyer's eyes. This exterior photo tells the buyer that the listing is 41 Days old.

The moral of this story is that because buyers make their decisions on their "short-list" based on emotions and because they are very visually driven throughout the purchase process, by simply changing out the exterior photo on your listings to ones with snow on the ground right now, you can re-capture the attention of these same buyers. This is almost visual trickery, but VERY effective. People with photographic memory will simply scan pages of listings, waiting for a listing that is not familiar. So, changing up the exterior photo grabs their attention enough for them to at least click on it and read further.

I have had Realtors® react to this suggestion saying how the almost immediate influx of new calls on these listings almost seemed miraculous.

This may be something for you to try, provided you have the time to run over to your properties to take that new exterior photo. I almost guarantee you will see a difference!

 

Rhonda Wilson - CCSPTM
Owner/Operator of
Revealing Assets
Home Staging and Decluttering Services
http://www.RevealingAssets.ca
RevealingAssets@shaw.ca
780-913-5589 
We transform properties into highly
sought-after products that sell in half
the time and for 7-10% more money.
Through personal experience, extensive
research and training, and a compassionate
approach, we De-clutter living/work spaces for
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Comment balloon 55 commentsRhonda Wilson • December 05 2010 05:00PM

Comments

Great Article, keeping listing photos up to date is the best thing for everyone, especially the seller.

Posted by Mary Macy, Top Agents Atlanta Metro (Top Agents Atlanta Metro) over 7 years ago

A very interesting point. We change photos here in the mountains often to show the fview or the fall colors

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros (AllMountainRealty.com) over 7 years ago

A very interesting point. We change photos here in the mountains often to show the fview or the fall colors.

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros (AllMountainRealty.com) over 7 years ago

Hi Rhonda, I agree that the primary photo should be reflecting what the property currently looks like, but since winter photos don't show the flowering trees and bushes or how nice the lawn looks in spring and summer, I think it is also nice to include a photo from the warmer season - just not as photo number 1.  You can caption it something like: Here's what your home will look like in the spring!

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 7 years ago

Rhonda, you are right.. Photos should be 'dateless' visually too. It's easy enough for the listing agent to drive by and take a new shot of the front when the season changes.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 7 years ago

Thank you, Mary, for your compliment!

"All Mountain Realty", mountain landscapes do change so dramatically with seasons. Beautiful!

Susan, yes, the primary photo NEEDS to be season-appropriate. But, many of my clients understandably want potential buyers to see the full spring/summer potential of the property. So, yes, adding additional yard photos from the milder seasons is a great idea, as long as, like you say, they are captioned adequately! Great comment!

Janice, this is exactly what I am getting at. Many Realtors(R) will tell me that they will update that primary exterior photo as long as the seller pays them extra fees. But, like you say, a person can easily tie a stop at the property into their daily agenda to take that photo. Thank you for your comment!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 7 years ago

Rhonda,

 

This is often overlooked, and without anyone having to look at the days on the market the picture is a dead giveaway.

 

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 7 years ago

Hmm... not sure I agree. Even though I see where you're coming from I still want to put the house's "best foot forward" and in my opinion, the cold snowy weather doesn't always help.

Still... thanks for sharing!

Posted by Tre Pryor, Realtor, e-PRO - Louisville (REMAX Champions) over 7 years ago

Rhonda - We change our pics as soon as the season changes as well. But hopefully we sell them before we have to do that.... lol A good reminder nonetheless... Thanks

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Keller Williams Valley Realty) over 7 years ago

I am in the process of changing photos - love it when we have fresh snow and blue skies...it's rough when we are slushy, melty and gray. Everything looks drab then...I have one professional photographer who shoops in a blue sky, but a sunny day is still helpful when you can get one! Great post!

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Haven - Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 7 years ago

Great listing photos make all the difference, I have blogged about this several times :)

Posted by Ryan Case, 877-828-0710 (SCA Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I agree that current photos will do a lot to "freshen-up" listings in the eyes of buyers.  It's so true that buyers will skim through looking for listings with a photo that a.) Looks good and shows the property attractively, and b.) they haven't seen before.  If the season has changed, so should the photo(s). 

Posted by Joshua Vensel (VENVISIO - Real Estate Photography - Atlanta, GA) over 7 years ago

Preach it sister!  I have gotten many expired listing from this type of situation.  You simply must remember that sellers need to think that you are working for them everyday and not updating photography is not a good example of that. 

Posted by Heather Littrell, ABR,GRI,SRES Cabarrus County NC (Keller Williams) over 7 years ago

Rhonda - Good points. We often change or update our listing photos or descriptions to keep it fresh for the buyers. It is important to make sure all stats are current to attract most buyers possible for our sellers.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Interesting point but I am not 100 percent I agree with this position in every situation.  I can see many cases where taking photos with snow can instantly lose the personality of the home especially when the home has character and features that simply won't show up when you reshoot them with snow.  I certainly understand your point about keeping a new and fresh look though.

Posted by Sam Miller, Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist (RE/MAX Stars Realty) over 7 years ago

So that's what it's like to have seasons...

Here, we get 10 months of summer with a cold snap from about today through the middle of February.

Posted by Chris deLambert over 7 years ago

Rhonda, I completely agree to keep those external photos fresh. It is a more accurate depiction of the house too per the right season.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago
Rhonda, Thanks for the reminder. Regards, Leah
Posted by Leah Henderson (Asset Realty, Inc) over 7 years ago

Rhonda, nothing says "old listing" quicker than a picture of a home with snow outside, in July. I have seen it and had the same reaction. Thanks for the reminder. I will  update photos for my listing.

Posted by Craig Snead, Real Estate Investor (Quality Home Investments, LLC / Dearborn Heights, MI) over 7 years ago

Oh my goodness. Thanks for the reminder. I need to take care of this right away!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 7 years ago

Thank you, everyone, for your positive feedback and responses!! Cheers, and Happy Holidays to all!

Also, thank you to whomever is behind this becoming, officially, my FIRST FEATURED BLOG POST!!! I am giddy like a little school-girl! Thank you!

Tre, yes, putting the property's best foot forward is KEY. And, yes, the snow does tend to cover some features up. But, this is why I wholeheartedly support still including those fair season photos, just not as that front "catch" photo.

I also sometimes suggest to my clients (sellers) that if they can gather up a few of their favorite summer/spring yard and exterior photos, they could certainly leave that collection out on the counter or table for buyers to view when they come in. I have actually had some clients create a nicely done scrap-book with these photos.

Chris, so you only have two distinct seasons? We have four here, and each one is very obviously symbolized by the state of our foliage/grass/precipitation-type. So, we do have to be careful up here.

I am so pleased that this post served as a reminder for some of you. I know that Realtors(R) have a LOT on their plates at all times, and that you all wear MANY hats, so reminders come in handy sometimes.

 

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 7 years ago

Rhonda, I agree with you on so many points! Snow can be very tricky. Think spring: it might be the last snowfall of the season that you caught, (and it happened in march), but it looks "old" as soon as April! And April pics with tired brown grass are also not helping, especially when come May everything greens up beautifully. (months are approximate of course, and depend on the climate zone) I would suggest to take a new picture for just outside / front of the house, when seasons change. Or if the previous one was taken right after huge snowstorm, I would retake it when some of this snow melts or is cleared up. 

And it shoudln't take much time: just drive by the property, check if the sign is nice and clean, and visible in the snow...

Posted by Anna Tolstoy (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Hi Rhonda - I would use both photos -- one that shows the house as it is now, and another that gives the buyer an idea of what it will look like next spring and summer.

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) over 7 years ago

Rhonda,

 Obvious but also oblivious to some Realtors. Realtors need to think as salesman and think about how they can put the house they are trying to seel in the best light.

Posted by Robert Amato (Bob Amato of Empire Home Mortgage Inc) over 7 years ago

At least in Atlanta, we rarely ever have snow.  I still remember one appraisal I had done in the summer.  One of the comp photos used by the appraiser had snow on the ground.  It was obvious she just used a photo from MLS.

Posted by Rodney Mason, FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,FL,GA,TN (On Q Financial) over 7 years ago

Anna, I agree completely that season changes/landscape changes are, indeed, tricky. But, like you say, it doesn't take much additional time to simply swing by the property, and grab that one current exterior photo.

John, exactly the point I am making. I completely encourage sellers and Realtors(R) to include spring/summer photo(s) inside the listing, but just not to use them as the primary "catch" photo on the front page of the listing.

It is definitely beneficial to have these fair-weather landscaping photos on hand. Sometimes, buyers are worried that there is landscaping in place that may be too much for them to maintain, but they cannot see this through a blanket of snow.

 

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 7 years ago

Here, on the coast of NC, where we have warm season grasses that turn brown in the winter, exterior shots during the "green" seasons are ALWAYS preferable.  After all, our warm climate is a big factor in the decision to move here.  If I list a home during the winter, I always take new pictures as soon as spring arrives.  If I list during a holiday season with thematic touches on the door or in the yard, I'll retake those after that seaon ends because they do telegraph a negative message.  One of the most interesting aspects of being active on AR is the opportunity to see and understand that many practices are regionally different. 

Posted by Beverly Femia, Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 7 years ago

Especially liked #4 comment suggesting that you include both! We are experiencing an inconvenient (but picturesque!) snowfall, and I'm going to go out and re-shoot some exteriors. Thanks for the timely reminder.

Posted by Jan Stevens (Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the reminder!  We've just last night gotten our first significant snowfall, and new pics are definitely needed as we're getting into wintertime in Ohio!

Posted by Rhonda Abbott, Wadsworth & Greater Akron, OH (Howard Hanna) over 7 years ago

I agree that the pictures should be spectacular and current, but the seller has to realize that it is very easy for the buyers agent to access the listing history and it is their obligation to provide that information to their buyers.

Posted by Susan Peters, The Better it Looks the Better it Sells (Dove Realty Inc.) over 7 years ago

I remember having to take listing photos last year after a bad frost here in Florida turned all the grass brown and killed quite a bit of vegetation.  These pictures really didn't represent what the property would have normally looked like so as soon as things greened up again, I was out and took new photos!

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 7 years ago

Being in Florida I think a large number of agents don't think about the pictures when they should.  I have seen new listings in July that have pictures of Christmas decorations - when I research the history of the listing I find it expired and when they relisted the home the agent just used the old pictures again.

Posted by Terry McCarley, REALTOR, SRES, CDPE - Cape Coral, FL (REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL) over 7 years ago

Great points, Rhonda.  I also think it shows the SELLER's you are an active agent and actively working on their home.  It shows you don't just put it in MLS and forget it!! 

Mind you, we don't have those issues here in Scottsdale, AZ, but the interior photos of the Christmas tree in the family room will date the listing every time. 

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) over 7 years ago

We're a little luckier here in California. We always have green grass unless it is a bank owned property. You can have the snow ... all of it :)

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA (Safe Haven Realty) over 7 years ago

We used to do this all the time & it's a great idea.  I do it but then we have agents out there who take pictures of toilets as a homes features :-)  They can barely focus a camera!

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 7 years ago

Rhonda,  this is a great reminder.  We are in California, so we don't have such an extreem change of seasons, but a snow covered home, to us is pretty attractive!

Posted by Denny and Denise Rockwell, Real Estate Professionals, Staging & Design (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties) over 7 years ago

Very interesting post. I've heard it both ways from clients. Some don't like the fact that the landscaping is covered with snow as most of the distressed properties in Reno have dead grass. They think the listing agent and seller are hiding things.

Posted by Ricky Beach, Reno Broker/Salesperson/Realtor (Keller Williams Realty Group One Inc.) over 7 years ago

Really good post and I have never thought of it in those terms.  We are required to put in a List Date here.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 7 years ago
Great insight. As buyers use the Internet more and more to even screen what they will see - it is up to us as listing agents to know what buttons we need to push to get buyers interested. Thanks.
Posted by Pat Vredevoogd Combs over 7 years ago
If you are in an area where the seasons do drastically change, having two exterior photos such as Winter and Summer (1 as the main and the other with the remaining listing photos) it helps buyers see what the place will look like during each season of the year.
Posted by Marjorie Ann Watson over 7 years ago

Even when the seasons haven't yet changed, if things are slow taking a picture from a different angle or different side of the house can "freshen up" a listing and get people to notice it again.

I think if agents want to add photos from other seasons they need an introduction, such as: "From the Seller's Photo Album."

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 7 years ago

Rhonda:  We agree. Seeing snow in a listing photo in June just doesn't do it for me. Get your camera, get in the car and take a new photo!  Carrie

Posted by Carrie Sampron, ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R (Home Smart Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Great idea for the wintry places, Rhonda-- here in the Phwenix Metro area, a photo make in August looks pretty much like one made in January, so no extra effort for me!...

Posted by Denver Johnson (West USA Realty, Mesa AZ) over 7 years ago

Excellent point Rhonda.  I have to say, after reading all these comments from agents who live in "always warm" locations, I'm jealous!  I'd never even thought about that advantage.

:)

Posted by Virginia Kail, American Way Real Estate, Homes and Land for Sale (Investments, starter houses, luxury homes,farms, acreage) over 7 years ago

Rhonda, A good reminder....Thanks! Here in Nanaimo we change from sunny summer to rainy winter....snow is a bit of a novelty! But, having said all that, a change always makes things look new again!

Posted by RhondaHeaslip NanaimoRealEstate (RE/MAX of Nanaimo) over 7 years ago

Great article. On my first listing, I made sure to change the photo in the spring when I was able to take a beautiful shot with irises prominently displayed, and not too long after that, multiple offers came in. Now that was serendipitous, but a recent display certainly assists in a homes sale.

Posted by Bill Dandridge, GREEN, ABR, GRI, EcoBroker (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU) over 7 years ago

You are absolutely right!  I have planned 2 hours of my day tomorrow to do just that on my 12 listings!  Thank you for the positive reinforcement.

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS) over 7 years ago

Well, in Southern California we only have two types of weather...

Great!

And

Gorgeous!

Sorry, no reason to change pix here...unless we have an earthquake and the house falls down!

Posted by Tom Waite, So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments (Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker) over 7 years ago

Great input Rhonda, and so true!  Thanks for the tip!

Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) over 7 years ago

So right on. We know the first impression is the only one we get.  Surely, we need to show as fresh as possible if the lisiting has passed from Spring to Winter.  I ask my clients and Realtors show the beauty of living at the property through seasons if the sellers have them, in any case.  But this reason is a great time to change up the listing and create new interest.  When a listing VT shows different season exterior shots, they become more interesting and can keep them looking at it for longer and longer is going to get a showing booked.

Wonderful thoughts!

deb

 

Posted by Deb Harshman, REALTOR & ASPMaster Stager, The Selling Advantage (Long and Foster - Christie's International Real Estate & Owner of Staged Home Decor) over 7 years ago

I think that is a great idea.  Iintend to use it.  Real estate is slow here in New Jersey.  We need all the help we can get in order to market our listings successfully.

Posted by Kathleen Koulouris (Re/Max Associates) over 7 years ago

Virginia, #44, you read my mind.

This is why I LOVE Active Rain. Years ago, we would never have been this connected to other professionals all over the place. So, it is really neat to see others' responses when they say, like Tom #48, things such as,

"Well, in Southern California we only have two types of weather...

Great!

And

Gorgeous!

Sorry, no reason to change pix here...unless we have an earthquake and the house falls down!".

I Love reading about different areas of our continent, yet I then wonder why I still choose to live up here in 4-season, snowy cold-land.

Thank you so much for all of your responses, and Happy Holidays!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 7 years ago

I primarily list vacant large acreage parcels of land and I would not dream of only showing winter photos of the properties. With my listings I have both green summer photos as well as photos with wheat colored grass that we have in the winter. Representing the seasons is a good thing and gives the buyer a better idea of what they might expect. Since this is a high desert area in southern Arizona many people have no idea that the area becomes incredibly green in the summer with wild flowers. I do add captions saying what season they represent. Perhaps it is different with houses where you have snow.

Jacqueline Drake CRS

Posted by Jacqueline Drake CRS, Southeast Arizona land, farms & horse properties (Jacqueline Drake Realty) over 7 years ago

This is a good post because now that properties are sitting on the market well over 6 months to over a year, the seasons have been changing and prospective buyers are trying to "assume" by the pictures of days on market!!

Posted by Sandy McAlpine, Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC (RE/MAX EXECUTIVE) over 7 years ago

We do have DOM posted but changing up photos is a good way to renew attention.  Margaret C

Posted by Margaret C. Taylor, St Marys/Calvert/Charles MD Real Estate Agent (Century 21 New Millennium MD) over 7 years ago

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