By Brendon DeSimone
SEATTLE (Zillow) — Before the days of the Internet and online real estate listings, a buyer’s first impression of a home for sale was often the “drive by.” Agents would see a listing in their real estate book and call or fax a buyer with the address. The buyer would go to the address and drive by to get a first look. Or, if a buyer was just starting to look, he would read a brief description of the home in the Sunday paper and decide whether to attend that day’s open house.
Either way, curb appeal mattered because it was usually the first glimpse a potential buyer would have of a property. If there were weeds, dead grass, peeling paint or rusty nails that stood out, the buyer’s first impression of the home was tarnished — no matter how great it looked inside. That’s why real estate agents worked closely with sellers on curb appeal before going on the market.
Curb appeal will always be important, but today, buyers are busier than ever and may not have the opportunity to do a drive by (unless they’re seriously interested). Instead, the first impression buyers most often get of a home is from the photos in the MLS listing, which they get automatically in an email from their agent, or the pictures that accompany an online listing. With limited time and countless listings to review, buyers will move on quickly if photos don’t reflect well on a property.
Properly lit, high-resolution photos are the only type of pictures that should be used in a home marketing campaign. Like any other sales effort, it’s important to put your best foot forward. If an agent takes property photos with a smartphone, it’s often a red flag to buyers. Smartphone pictures are fine for informally sending photos back and forth between agent and buyer, but they can’t measure up to the quality of pictures taken by an experienced photographer with a good camera.