For BuyersFor SellersReal EstateReal Estate MarketingReal Estate TipsSeattle real estate April 20, 2010

Photos Don't Tell Everything About a House, Go See It

Beautifully staged and photographed room

Professionally staged and photographed-photo by Layne Freedle, Staging by Pam of Staging for Charisma

Professional photography and staging are, without question, necessary to sell a home in today’s marketplace. We have our stager and photographer ready for our sellers when they’re needed.  I wouldn’t list a home for sale without professional staging or photography.

Empty room with a poor photo

The Same Room Unstaged and Not Professionally Photographed

There are many other good real estate agents who believe the same thing as there are a lot of blog posts about horrible house photos. This is not a new idea, but one that’s taken a strong hold among good real estate agents.

There are, of course, some homes which show beautifully and don’t need the staging, but we all know, even if we don’t admit it, staging and photography are necessary marketing tools to get a home sold.

Sometimes we forget, great staging and photography are only the start.  They’re not the complete story.  You’ve got to get out and see the house “in the flesh.” This advice, by the way, is both for Realtors and home buyers.  You can’t do an effective market analysis as a real estate agent or fall in love with a house as a home buyer unless you see it, smell it, and hear what’s going on in the neighborhood.  You need to “touch” the house in a variety of ways to determine its true value.

I was reminded of this very thing yesterday when my business partner, Angie Bondurant, previewed a home that’s strong competition to an upcoming listing.   The home looked gorgeous online, which it should in order to attract the most buyers, but two things were not apparent until Angie went to see the home.  It smelled and it was dark.  A smelly house, whether it’s that “old” smell, food smell, dog smell or something else, can be a total turnoff to a buyer, even if the home is gorgeous.

A dark house is the kiss of death in Seattle.  Of course, it rains 24/7 here as the world thinks, so light, airy homes are popular.  (In reality, there are a lot of gray days in Seattle, but it doesn’t rain all the time by any means)  A bright home is always a plus in this climate.

This home ended up with two strikes against it, both of which had to be experienced by seeing the home.  It was dark and smelly.  Granted it was finished beautifully and this will help it to sell, but the other factors may limit it’s market time and final sales price.

So besides the amount of light and odors, other things to consider that aren’t apparent when you see photos online:

  • How loud are the neighbors?  Come visit the neighborhood a few random times.
  • How loud is road noise with or without the windows open?  Stop by during rush hour.
  • How big are the rooms, really?  Wide angle lens accentuate room sizes in photos.
  • Check out the backyard for its true size.
  • What do you see from each of the home’s windows?  From the backyard?

What else should be experienced when viewing a home?