Post, share, like, comment, repeat. Virtual showings via Facebook live, an engaging tweet promoting the new listing and THE money shot on Instagram. Aerial photos and videos captured via drone. Property videos on YouTube and taking a tour in virtual reality. Are you ready? Your property is about to go viral. It’s 2017, and the way properties are being marketed has changed. As the world becomes increasingly connected through the use of technology, buyers can learn everything about a home and never physically see it–if they choose–before making a purchasing decision. With the use of social media channels, video, drones and virtual reality, the home search process has become highly accelerated which means as a seller, you only have seconds to make a first impression. The way you live in your home and the way you capture it for marketing purposes are two different things. Here are six tips to properly preparing your home for sale in the digital age.
1. Make sure that your home is completely prepared on both the inside and outside for all photo, video and virtual reality shoots BEFORE they are scheduled. You don’t want your home listed with images of a home that is in process of getting ready for sale. To a potential buyer, it looks like you aren’t really ready to let go of your home. Sellers need to understand that real estate listings are typically syndicated to NUMEROUS websites the minute they hit the local multiple listing service. This means that any photos, videos and virtual reality walkthroughs are replicated hundreds of times. While it is possible to change photos on a listing at any time, those new images may not update to all websites instantaneously. Each website has its own schedule for refreshing feeds, and images showing different property conditions can cause buyer confusion. So make sure that the pictures of your home do it justice.
2. Image is REALLY everything. Pictures captured using sophisticated camera equipment can be unforgiving. They will show every dust particle or rumpled blanket and make it look worse than before. Therefore, you need to truly clear the clutter from any space that is going to be photographed. This means no placemats on the dining table, an excessive amount of appliances cluttering the countertops and keeping decorative items –pictures, statutes, collections, plants (artificial or real) to a minimum. Home offices are often a culprit and even though you may have things in neat piles, the piles need to be removed for purposes of the shoot. Don’t forget the laundry room or garage. Stray power cords, power strips or cables may also be distracting. While you may not think these things would affect photo and video images, it may devalue the space and detract from some of the home’s best features. A large office with gorgeous built-ins will look small if it’s crowded with piles of paper and boxes. If anything, temporarily store those items in a space that won’t be photographed like an attic, garage, shed, or rent a storage unit.
3. Straighten, primp, fluff, repeat. Comforters and bedspreads need to be wrinkle free and pulled tight. Anything less will cheapen the look of the picture. Pillows on beds, couches and chairs need to be fluffed and arranged accordingly. Scan the beds for any stray sheets hanging down on the sides and tuck them under the mattress. All seat cushions should be flipped over and straightened out as if they were appearing in a catalog photoshoot. Make sure all furniture is positioned properly and any hanging artwork is straight. And before I forget.. do a light bulb check as all lights are typically turned on for a shoot. Those wall sconces that are rarely turned on may have gone dark. Also make sure that those light fixtures are dusted. It may not seem like something you really NEED to do, but it will make a huge difference in pictures.
4. Bathrooms – hide EVERYTHING for pictures. That means removing the toothbrushes, mouthwash, bathroom cups, hairdryers, make-up and whatever else from the counters. Don’t forget the shower and bathtub stalls – no one wants to see what brand soap you are using. Clear everything out of here, including from the shampoo shelf. Also, make sure the bathroom is spotless! No one wants to see soap scum and other build-ups on shower walls or bathtubs. It not only makes the buyer think you aren’t good at maintaining your home, but it also makes them think that there might be other things wrong with the house.
5. Landscaping, Trees, Roof and Driveway. This has become especially important with the use of drones to capture aerial images and video. An aerial image is often being chosen as the main photo in a MLS listing and therefore it is the FIRST image that a buyer may see whether on the multiple listing service or on other consumer websites. It is critically important that you invest time in making sure the exterior looks the best it can be. Landscaping should be trimmed so it enhances the home’s appearance and doesn’t hide it. Anything dead or drooping should be removed and replaced with something that will give curb appeal. Look up at the trees surrounding your home. When was the last time you had them trimmed? Aerial shots may make the home look consumed by trees vs. being complimented by them. Unless you live in a forest, this is not a good thing. And the roof? Any debris needs to be blown off prior to any photography or video activities. In fact, it is a good idea to arrange to have the roof and all walkways blown off right before the photography fun begins. A roof with shingles showing signs of age and/or fading may not be a good candidate for a drone. Lastly, a driveway with lots of cracks or uneven payment cannot hide from drone photography. The images it renders from the air may appear much worse vs. how things appear from ground level.
6. Outdoor Furniture, Exterior Light Fixtures, Summer Kitchens, etc. When was the last time these were really cleaned? I’m not talking about beating the cushions so the dirt and dust comes off. Dirty furniture, worn fixtures and a summer kitchen that hasn’t been cleaned since your last barbecue six months ago can dampen a spectacular outdoor setting. Pollen, dirt, dead bugs, rust and sun beaten cushions can make your outdoor space appear worn and not well maintained. If none of these items can be prepped to shine, you may be better off replacing them with inexpensive substitutes.
While all of this may seem like a lot of work, a little extra effort to elevate your property’s digital presence and create the idyllic setting of where your next buyer’s life will play out will go a long way with engaging them to make your home “the one”.