One of the first things I do for my clients is to set up automatic email delivery of listings, new or changed, that might meet their
new home criteria. And while some look fabulous and others look like hovels in their photos, they often bear little resemblance to the homes they are trying to depict.
A “good” virtual tour is an important part of any marketing plan for a house or a condo. Some agents go in with a point-and-shoot camera and start clicking. Others spend a lot of money on professional photography – my brokerage has a photographer on staff to make sure our listings look good. And while many virtual tours will give you some idea of what you’ll walk into, others are more of a tool to lure you through the front door.
And when it comes to housekeeping, we sometimes encourage the sellers to wait until they move themselves and their stuff out of the listing, then we bring in professional stagers. This usually makes the mousiest condo look wonderful. The idea is to make the place flirt until you pull out your checkbook and make an offer.
Here are some important points to remember as you begin your home search on-line:
- Some of the pictures are heavily photoshopped. During the editing process, there are flaws that can be brushed out. While many of the pros will not edit out flaws in the property, others think nothing of it. It’s one thing to bring some sunshine in on a cloudy day, but it’s something else to remove holes in the plaster or to do a virtual refinish on badly worn floors.
- The pros use wide-angle lenses that usually make the rooms look a lot bigger than they are. Expect almost every place you visit to shrink when you walk through the front door.
- Photos of “views” in condos may be taken, not from the unit, but from the roof deck on the top floor.
- Professionally staged homes are going to look a whole lot better than those with unmade beds, dishes in the sink, and clutter lying around waiting to be packed up or given to the Salvation Army!
Typically, the homes that are well-staged and professionally photographed are the ones that inspire bidding wars. They often sell for more – sometimes a lot more – than their asking prices.
One of the benefits of working with a full-service agent is that, most of the time, she will be able to preview listings that look promising. On my last week’s preview efforts, I found several units that had spectacular virtual tours, but the stager was barely able to squeeze a double bed into the master bedroom. Forget about a dresser! And another place that looked like a scary dump? The seller was planning to paint, refinish the floors and scrub the grime out of the state-of-the-art kitchen! They were just waiting for the tenants to move.
So, once we figure out your target price and neighborhoods, I’ll set up a daily search for you. And when we begin to look in earnest, I may add a few to the list you give me of homes you’d like to see – and the ones I add are more often than not the properties my clients buy!