Poor quality pictures deter would-be buyers so it pays to get them right, says Sheree Foy
It was Frederick R. Bernard, who published a piece in Printer’s Ink commending the role of graphics in advertising with the title “One look is worth a thousand words”. That was almost 100 years ago and at times we seem overwhelmed by images in social media from Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat but images hold great value when selling your home.
There’s no doubt that there is a degree of intimacy and directness about photographs that estate agency prose just cannot match. I would argue that photography matters more than ever, but the relentless commoditisation of photos is a clear and present danger. Every mobile phone or device has a camera, but that doesn’t make the owner the next David Bailey. Owning a tennis racket doesn’t make you Roger Federer either.
So don’t be afraid to talk photography when you are negotiating terms with your estate agent. It doesn’t matter whether the photographs are in the negotiated percentage agency fee or agreed as a separate fee (usually £100-300 for a modest home), but ensure the photographer is top notch and always ask to see previous work.
Your photos are there to tell a story; a story about the lifestyle available in your lovely home. Pictures are critical in standing out from the jumble of hundreds of property descriptions on the web or in jumping off the shelf in the agent’s office. There are no prizes for being complacent.
However, it is also possible to overdo the number of photos - less is always more. Just remember that sinking feeling you get when you notice that you are looking at image 23 of 56. A maximum of 10-15 photos is enough for most people’s short-term memory, including three “wow” shots and a “killer” shot for your thumbnail and brochure front.
Get creative. Try night shots for that cosy feel or double exposure to bring the garden outside into the home. I had the photo below taken as a double exposed image - one image focussed on the crisp interior and the other image focussed on the garden.
There is a long list of common mistakes when it comes to property pictures and I see them almost every week. Watch out for the van parked in front of
the home; blinds or curtains that have forgotten to be drawn; a kitchen so sterile that food preparation seems an improbable dream; photos of your downstairs toilet; the children’s football boots from last night’s practice. It can be amusing at times, but not when you’re trying to sell your home.
Be fussy - if it’s not right, ask for your home to be shot again. Remember, you are the customer.
It helps to look at your favourite glossy magazine. Just pause and look at the photography. Advertisers know that great photos really matter and that they catch the eye and pull the reader into the text.
You can also incorporate video footage of your home on property portals and agents’ websites. Increasing broadband speeds means they are becoming more mainstream, although there are still traps for the unwary. Photos display a carefully choreographed set of images of your home, while videos tend
to display everything. An iPhone recording which judders around your home with a description as profound as “this is the kitchen, now we are moving into the living room” just doesn’t make the grade. You are selling your dream home, not showing off student accommodation. A video really has to be done well so it’s better to use a professionalwho will edit footage and add commentary or background music.
The newest kid on the block is drone photography, though a camera on the end of a pole can often does the job. Drone photography comes at a cost. But for the right house, it can transform the impression of space and grandeur.
I am confident that presenting your home properly with good photography, sharp description and maintenance sorted with the right finishing touches can improve the value of a property by five per cent. So don’t be afraid of spending on photography.
Sheree Foy, Property Consultant, Source Harrogate – The Property Finders, www.sourceharrogate.co.uk