August 14th, 2011
Link to Sister Article Getting your Home Noticed/Achieving the Best Selling Price
It is most definitely the case that some UK estate agents are catching up with the importance that property marketing, design and professional photography play in achieving the best result for sellers… see these chaps: http://www.domusnova.com/ by way of example.
But as an intelligent vendor you will realise that even brilliant marketing will not alone send you laughing all the way to the bank. It might seem obvious, sadly for many it isn’t, but (with the possible exception of homes that are being sold for refurbishment) every seller needs to make sure that their house has been properly prepared for marketing (I’ve placed a link above where I’ve expanded on the reasons) – just as you would clean and polish your car if you were selling it.
And your home absolutely has to be prepared correctly for the photography because it will be those images that will either attract or put-off your potential buyers. Think I’m exaggerating about the quality of photography by UK agents, there’s even a Twitter site dedicated to it – take a look here: http://twitter.com/#!/BadEstateAgents.
Now take a look at how the Aussies present their properties online :http://www.mcgrath.com.au/ John McGrath’s reputation has extended worldwide. We should really be learning from what he’s doing and from what other leading Aussies and New Zealanders are doing – because that’s what we’ll be doing in 5 or so years from now. Take a look at the quality of their photography for an idea of what professionalism in property marketing looks like.
So, what kind of preparation is needed if you want to achieve the best possible selling price?
First, The Blindingly Obvious – apologies but it’s clear that not everyone sings from the same hymn-sheet when it comes to preparing to sell – (sadly)
- A positive attitude to selling will help. If you’re going to sell and if you want the best price, then it’s a good idea to stop thinking of your house as just a home and start thinking of it also as a ‘product’ that you’re going to put to the market.
- If you want to be sure that you’re presenting your property optimally, seek outside professional advice – perhaps from a home-stager.
- Starting on the outside – gardens should be neat, weeded and, if you have lawns then ideally they should be stripey, (especially for the photos)
- Your front door should be in good shape – your eventual buyer will be gaining their second impressions of your property right there. First impressions will have been gleaned from the marketing!
- Where possible the rest of the decor should also be clean and well presented
- Watch out for repellent smells – especially animal odours
- ‘Land mines’ (as I call them); more readily recognised as animal poo, should be removed from gardens
- Windows should be clean. Interior and garden should also be clean and tidy
- There’s a fine line between charming objet d’art and clutter. You need to be on the right side of that line. Consider putting belongings into storage if necessary.
- Private papers, newspapers, almost anything made of paper needs to be out of the way – unless it’s Country Life/Horse and Hound or Viz (if your market is pop-stars)
- Same for plastic – particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. Washing up liquid bottles, bad; Molton Brown bottles in the bathroom, very good.
- Towels – neatly folded and nice colours – if you don’t have those then you’re better not to have them out on display
- Beds can be attractively dressed for not a lot of money
- Dining table could be laid for the photos – if not a full dinner service then, perhaps, a bottle of wine and some glasses.
- If you have a country property, a few vegetables in a basket, or a cottage loaf and some peppers etc etc will help set the scene
- Ditto garden tables – Gingham tablecloths, coloured glass, jugs of squash, nice bottle of wine, glasses etc – all can make for excellent lifestyle photos.
- Carpet stains – ideally there shouldn’t be any
- Light bulbs should all work – especially for the photos. Dud low-voltage downlights really stand out like a sore thumb when they’re not working
- If you know that you’re not going to be around when the photographer calls to photograph an exterior, then curtains are best left open
Another Way You, as the Property Owner, Can Help Yourself
Don’t rely on the estate agent being good at photography. Very few are. That’s not a slight against agents, it’s an observable fact – see the Twitter link above. Agents are mostly sales people – very few are also photographers.
Only a very few agents will have the courage to say this to you. Mostly they will not want to place themselves at a disadvantage by telling you that it’s a good idea to spend money up-front on your property’s photography. If you put yourself into their shoes you’ll understand their reluctance – they know that there’s always an agent who will claim to be professional at marketing property, who will then take bad photos on his compact snapper, or send someone really cheap to do the job for them – but the result will almost always be that their photos will not do justice to your property and you won’t, therefore, attract the attention that’s necessary for you to achieve the best price. For most people, you’re selling what’s likely to be your most valuable asset. Kelloggs don’t sell Cornflakes in brown paper bags, they use brightly coloured boxes – so why would you risk marketing your valuable property (even if it’s ‘just a small flat’ worth £50k, or £100k or £250k, (all of which sums make your flat more valuable than Cornflakes)), with photos that make your home appear like the bottom deck of Noah’s Ark following a nasty storm?
Property photography done well requires the right equipment, lenses that are designed for the job, knowledge of how to take the best photos and, most importantly, how to process them. Photos straight out of the camera are rarely at their optimal. Most agents do not know how to process photos so that they look the best they can look. Why would they?
Aussies and New Zealanders are largely now in the mindset that professional property marketing is just as much an investment as their homes are. Hopefully this little article will have made you aware of why that is, and what you can do to make sure your home gets noticed, so that you won’t miss out on the best price when you come to sell.