As the end of the year comes to a close, many of us start thinking about the New Year and what it hopes to bring both personally and professionally. For some, it means a new start; others it means new opportunities. Whatever the new year brings, one thing is certain; it means many people will start to get the “itch” to list their home for sale in time for the spring market, with the intent to either upsize or downsize. Likewise, some will start looking for their dream home now that the weather is starting to warm and the holidays have passed.
According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Report: Real Estate in a Digital Age, in 1981, 22% of home buyers used newspaper ads to find a home, while 8% used friends as an information source. In 2016, 44% of home buyers began their search online first. Since that report was published, it is reported that over 90% of home buyers now use the Internet to search for their home.
Because of how highly digitalized today's society is, that figure should not be surprising. Home buyers have apps readily at their fingertips that let them search for their dream home by type, age, price, size, and location. They also offer home buyers the ability to compare and contrast homes by selected features and amenities.
Some online listings have even gone so far as to offer virtual tours of a home so viewers can get an idea of it without having to actually visit the home in person, thereby saving time. And all of this is usually done before the home buyer ever connects with a real estate agent.
This same report also found that millennials make up the largest group of first-time home buyers at 66%, and the majority (99%) of them started their search online. To note, this group also indicated that what is displayed online – great photos and detailed information - determined whether the home was actually seen for a live showing.
So, then what does all this mean for a home seller looking to list, say in the spring?
They need to make a great first online impression!
It's no secret we form first impressions about people within a matter of seconds of meeting them, and even more so, you never get a second chance to make that great first impression. Therefore it stands to reason prospective home buyers will be doing the same when it comes to your home. Most home buyers will be forming split second decisions about your home based upon what they first see online. In other words, home buyers will be sizing up your home's web appeal.
In the past, the home buying process was simply about curb appeal – what a home looked like on the outside. Today, however, home buyers are looking at “the total package”; going beyond what the outside looks like. Home buyers are looking at things they care about like the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, and even closets.
They also have higher expectation of homes than in the past. Today's home buyers want homes to be move-in ready. They want homes that do not require immediate updating, maintenance or repairs upon moving in. This is especially true of most, if not all, millennial home buyers.
Therefore, in order to attract home buyers to view your home, you need to start by making the photos enticing (in addition making the necessary updates and repairs, of course.) Your home's best features need to be showcased. The photos should also tell your home's story and create an emotional connection to buyers.
All of your photos should be taken professionally – and not by an amateur, or worse yet, a realtor. Remember, if the photos do not show well, the home will likely be passed over with a simple click of the mouse, with little chance of consideration for an in-person viewing (and/or subsequent offer) thereafter.
Before listing your home for sale, here is a sampling of what a homeowner should do to prepare for photo day. Keep in mind this list is not complete as each home has unique features and needs which may require additional attention. Likewise, some of the exterior tips, for example, may be seasonal, depending on your location.