Several times a week we get questions from someone using our Phoenix home search. The questions vary wildly, from requests to see a home, general real estate related questions, and inquiries about the sellers motivation. (Note: if you are a buyer, we’re not going to get into our seller’s motivation. Why would we potentially compromise their negotiating position?)
But the most asked question we get is:
“Are there any photos available?”
Followed closely by:
“I’d like to see more photos please”
I don’t get it. Oh, I understand perfectly why the home searcher is asking the question. What I don’t get is why there are no (or few. Or bad.) photos of the home for sale.
Our MLS ((MLS = Multiple Listing Service: the database used by real estate agents and brokers to enter and search homes for sale)) allows unlimited photos to be uploaded. That is not to say that there needs to be dozens and dozens of photos in the MLS. There are only so many angles at which to shoot a bathroom. But is it unreasonable to expect photos of the exterior, all the rooms and maybe even a few of the surrounding neighborhood?
At this moment in time, there are currently 45,085 active single-family homes listed in the Phoenix area MLS. 2,970 of them have a grand total of zero photos. None, zilch, zip, nada. Another 6,201 only have one picture — that’s a full 20% of the home listings in Phoenix with one or less photos. 60% of the listings have six or fewer photos.
Why is this important?
It’s not rocket science folks. Lots of people search for homes on the internet. Depending on whose numbers you choose to believe, 80 – 94% of home buyers conduct internet searches for homes. Cliche as it may be, a picture really is worth 1,000 words. What follows is my advice, for what it’s worth, for each segment of the real estate purchasing population.
Real Estate Agents & Brokers
Have you ever watched a home buyer search for homes? Try it. Note how they blow past the listings with no photos. Virtually every buyer I’ve watched or talked to just ignores listings with no photos. Watch and notice what happens when they see the primary listing photo and it kindles their interest. See the disappointment when they click for more pictures and there are none? Know what happens in that situation? Yep, they move on to the next listing, rarely giving your listing a second thought.
Don’t just ask, demand that your agent supply sufficient high quality photos to properly showcase your home. View your homes listing on several real estate search sites and work with your agent to ensure your home is represented as best as it can be. Curb appeal used to be the big thing. These days “web appeal” may be just as, if not more, important in getting your home sold.
If your agents balks at the idea of photos,
find another agent arm yourself with a little data that supports the more photos the better. Here is a report and some data compiled by Point2 Agent, a leading real estate website provider that shows the impact the number of photos has on how often listings are viewed. And here is a graphical representation of that data, courtesy of Point2:
Where you search for homes online can make a difference. While ultimately the number of photos is in the hand of the listing agent, different home search sites may display different numbers and/or sizes of photos. Realtor.com offers a miniscule 4 photos, unless the listing agent pays handsomely for more. The Century 21 site seems to limit photos to six. RE/Max offers more photos, but they aren’t very large. Personally, I think an individual agent’s web site in the city you are looking in generally offers the best option for viewing home photos. But even that can vary greatly depending on which search provider the agent is using.
Also, while the importance of good photos seems obvious for the out of area buyer, try not to just ignore lists with few photos. The fact is, most people will be ignoring these homes. If you pay attention to them, you may be able to discover a few hidden nuggets. That’s hard to do if you are out of area, but you may want to keep a few of these in your back pocket and at least do a drive by viewing when you get to the area and are actually looking at houses.
I wish we could respond to every person that asks about listing pictures. But we can’t. I used to try to call listing agents but just got frustrated with the number of unreturned calls and eventually realized that if there are no photos in the MLS, there likely aren’t photos on the agent’s hard drive either.
I don’t understand this few/no/poor photos mentality. At all. Digital cameras aren’t that expensive. Don’t know how to take good photos? Take a class. Take hundreds of photos and you’ll get lucky. Hire a professional. Do something. To ignore listing photos is to ignore your clients best interest.