Friday, July 29, 2016

What You See Is Not Always What You Get

When I started my Exclusive Buyer Agency, I felt that Buyers were not getting the whole truth when they were shopping for a home, so I made it my mission to give them the truth.
As part of that commitment, and because the majority of Martha’s Vineyard buyers are not local, I felt they needed an accurate picture of the properties they were interested in. At that time the photographs that accompanied property listings were, in a word, abysmal.  It was commonly believed, and it still is among some old timers, that more and better photographs were counterproductive to the seller agent’s goal which was to sell real estate.  It just gave potential buyers a reason to reject a property before actually seeing it.

As I set out on my mission, I bought a really good professional camera, flash w/ auxiliary battery pack, and an 11mm wide angle lens, which is my go to lens today.  I started taking what I call “Scratch-n-Sniff” photographs of all properties I previewed.  I move very fast and don't have time for staging, lighting, etc.  All in all, I do a good job of accurately representing the property and explaining the layout.  I experimented with video and I have used Facetime, but I find the way I take my photographs gives my buyer clients a very accurate representation of a property.

Very soon after beginning this process colleagues would want to know what equipment I was using and my technique.  I was happy to share.  What followed was a HUGE improvement in the quality of property listing photographs. I wish I owned stock in Nikon.

And then a competition evolved among the larger offices. Who could take the glitziest photographs? Photoshop and Lightroom became common tools to embellish the photographs to the point that they became distorted and cartoon-like.

Businesses were born and now there are a number of professional real estate photography companies on Martha’s Vineyard offering still, video and drone photography.
I continued doing what I do, staying true to my original mission, keeping it simple stupid (KISS), and doing my best to tell the truth.  Over the last 12 years I have amassed a library of tens of thousands of images all cataloged and easily accessible.

I was reading an article about real estate photography in one of the professional real estate publications I receive and here are some excerpts I want by Buyer readers to think about. A survey by VHT Studios, a professional real estate photography company found that “professional online photographs increased a buyer’s perceived value of a listing by 11.5 percent when compared to listings with descriptions only. Adding an online video tour of the property increased perceived value by 6 percent.”  The article goes on to say that the ‘perceived value’ leads to more interest and multiple offers creating bidding wars which result in higher closing prices.I think another result of overly embellished photographs is buyers who get very upset when they make the effort to see the property and realize the property is not as nice as the photographs they saw.  Actually, one could argue that this is a breach of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, not to mention state and federal laws protecting consumers from false or misleading advertising.

One of my favorite slogans is “Get What You Want, Not What You Get”. Buyers seek me out and engage me as their Exclusive Buyer Agent because they know I will tell them the truth – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Ask anyone who has worked with SplitRock Real Estate and they will tell you --- the truth.

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