Category: Photography

Furry Friends

If you’re selling a home where pets reside, keep in mind that your potential buyers might not share your same love of furry friends. And its important to not let little things like pet hair, litter odor, or anything get in the way of your sale! What can be done? I’d recommend two stages of clean up.

Stage 1:  The Photos. This is more light clean up. Be sure your pets are out of the pictures, vacuum couches if pet hair is visible, and set aside any visible signs of pets such as toys, food trays, etc.
Stage 2: The Open House. Now comes the deep cleaning.  Make sure you thoroughly vacuum every inch of your home. Anyone with pet allergies will instantly be able to tell there’s a pet in your home. Remove any visible signs of pets, including the pets themselves. Clean all linens, sheets, etc., anything that could collect hair and dander. Rent or borrow an air filter a few days before buyers arrive to remove allergens from the air.

Simple tips like these can make a world of difference to your buyers. Don’t overlook the details, and you’ll be on your way to SOLD.

Photo Faux Pas?

Is your home or apartment more cozy than the pictures convey? You have to think… Why are they buying the house? What are they looking for in the house? And do your pictures show the best possible image of your home to buyers? If you’re having trouble with your digital photos, MSN Real Estate has comprised a list of 6 tips for drawing in buyers through your photos online. This is especially applicable to anyone using Craigslist or the TourVista Craigslist templates.

  1. Lighten up your subject – don’t take photos at night or try to use dramatic lighting. The clearer and the more professional looking, the better the photo.
  2. More is better – take as many pictures as possible. The more you show, the more your buyer will feel better about wanting to see the house in person.
  3. Get a clear shot – clean up your house or have it “staged” for the photos – clean area, no clutter, no trash outside, etc.
  4. Go Pro – If you can’t seem to take great pictures on your own, consider using TourVista’s Professional Services.
  5. Give it your best shot – borrow a friend’s camera or try to rent one from a local shop.
  6. Edit – using Flickr or Photoshop to edit your photos can make a world of difference.

Paying attention to buyer turnoffs

When you pay attention to the details of your real estate listing, your buyers will too. But when you don’t pay attention to the details, they may end up standing out in a bad way. A few quick care chores to your home such as: touch-up paining, cutting grass, doing the dishes, or hiding the old lawn furniture, can have a lasting impact on your buyers and the way they view your home – or themselves in the home. Don’t cheat yourself when it comes to the value and beauty of your real estate listing. Putting your best home forward will not only bring buyers in the door, but it will ultimately lead to a buyer who will stay (in the door). And this article:  Pay attention to buyer turnoffs in your home. will help you anticipate what your buyers are looking for from the moment they walk in.

TourVista’s suggestion: When it comes to your virtual tours and Craiglist adds, do your touch-ups before your photo shoot! Don’t take pictures of a leaking gutter, hole in the wall, or missing woodwork from a door. Take the time and a little extra money to always make sure you’re putting your best home forward. A little love = a buyer loving your listing.

Should I Hire a Professional to Take My Real Estate Photos?

Sometimes point & click camera’s don’t cut it.  See the difference for yourself between my hand held point & click and my professional quality Nikon digital SLR camera with wide angle lens.

Click on the photos below to launch the slideshow comparison.  Once the slideshow is launched, click on the right side of the photo to view the next, or the left side to view the previous photo.

The equipment you use can make a big difference to your end results.  A wide angle lens can help your photos stand out.  However, not many (if any) point & click cameras you would carry around have the option for a wide angle lens.  I used the exact same camera angle in all these shots with both cameras zoomed all the way out…see for yourself.  A tripod can also really help, but I’m sure most people don’t carry one around with them, nor do they have one for their point & click camera.  It’s a really useful tool in creating professional quality photos.

Another item setting professionals apart from those who do it themselves is editing software.  At TourVista we use HDR technology (High Dynamic Range) to get a more vivid feel for what the image really looks like in person versus the single exposure setting you would take with a personal point & click camera.  Using editing software such as Photoshop or online editors like can save you when you’re underexposed or shots are tilted.  But learning how to use them is a major time commitment you should be prepared for if you want your shots to turn out great.

#2: Now accepting huge photos

Some of TourVista’s users were uploading really large photos (3000 x 2500 pixels) for their virtual tours and these photos were too large for to process, resize and display.  We’ve fixed this issue and the website now accepts very large photos.  Yay!

Photography tip: if your photos are meant just for the Internet, there’s no need to make them so large. Really large photos are bad because they:

  1. use up your camera’s memory card quicker
  2. take longer to transfer from your camera to your computer
  3. take up more space on your computer
  4. take longer to upload to

If your photos are meant for print (fliers, magazines, etc.) then you should take them at a large size (a.k.a. large resolution).  But if just for the web, 1600 x 1200 pixels is plenty large.  TourVista will resize your photos to 800 x 600 pixels anyways.  This is the largest photo size the website currently allows, as shown on the virtual tour slideshow.

Which is better for online real estate marketing – photos or video?

It’s all about providing useful information.

This is obviously a tricky question and a matter of much debate today. Which is better for showing potential customers an online preview of a home: photos or video? As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Both have some strong arguments for and against, and at the moment I believe the correct answer is that it comes down to personal preference.

Let’s examine Photography.

For marketing homes online, it’s hard to go wrong with some quality photos from the best angles of the home. Some of the main advantages of photos are:

  • You get high resolution for the relatively small file size.
  • The digital photo output is easily manipulated for the web and rarely needs much editing.
  • Cameras have been around for awhile now. Remember blowing on the film that came out of your Polaroid or when you got your first Kodak? If you choose photos to create your tour, odds are you are much more likely to be able to shoot some great shots on your own than if you choose to create your own video. Bob Sagat might like your home video, but I’m not sure potential buyers out there will.
  • Affordability and high quality of a professional photographer. There’s been a need for professional photography for a long time, they are much easier to find than professional videographers.
  • Digital cameras are abundant and affordable. If you don’t already own a decent one, it’s not hard to get your hands on a good one, and you know professional photographers will be equipped with some of the best!

Nevertheless, still photography has some major shortcomings when showing off a property. We’re not talking about showing images of artwork or sweeping views of beautiful landscapes. Home shoppers want to find out as much as they can about the honest truth of a home before dedicating their time to viewing it in person.

  • Photos are static, stationary. One photo will give you one view. But rooms have many views from many angles you would have to supply several photos per room to accomplish what video can.
  • Sometimes a photo of a room can feel misleading or distorted. Haven’t we all seen the photos with a nice telescopic or wide angle lens that shows some grand living room or entryway, only to arrive in person and wonder where the home we looked at online has gone? In order to effectively market properties there is a need to show them in the best light to entice viewers, but beware of manipulating or deceiving potential customers to get them in the door. This can foster resentment and ill will and ultimately lose the sale.
  • Depending on your choice of equipment, angle, and number of photos per room, there’s only so much that you can effectively show with photos.
  • Professional photographers can be overpriced. I’ve seen amazingly detailed, beautiful photos created by some photographers, but they can charge over $300 for their real estate shoots. With the quality you can get these days using your own affordable personal equipment, it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money per shoot. Why not do it yourself? My mom is creating a website using her iMac and it looks like she paid someone $3,000 to build the site, create the media, and weave it all in to a great looking site. The tools are out there today for us to grab hold of and do it ourselves including digital photography!

Let’s take a look at what video has to offer.

Using video to show a home online has some inherent advantages over photos, but it’s still in its infancy on the web. People are continually becoming more comfortable with what video has to offer them on the internet. This is clearly illustrated by the explosion in numbers of users of sites like YouTube.

We are a society that grew up around television and we know that video on the internet, like TV before it, can give us much more information in a shorter period of time than still photos or plain text you’d find in newspapers, magazines, and books. Here are some major reasons for using video:

  • A video tour more closely shows the images of the way we would see them in person. We move through the home walking and turning our heads, we don’t stand in the middle and spin around, or go from room to room opening our eyes, taking a peak, closing our eyes, moving the next and opening them again.
  • Multiple continuous angles and perspectives of each room – not just one or two.
  • A more honest reflection of what the home looks like if you were there in person. It’s much harder to hide or conceal with moving video images with photos you can easily show only the angles & views you want.
  • More information! Video can capture 30 frames per second, so after 5 minutes (600 seconds) video will give users 18,000 images! A video walk-through gives us a similar feeling to being there in person.

Some major drawbacks exist today in terms of video quality being played back on the web. Some people are still using dial-up to access the internet.  It doesn’t make sense for these people to download a 5 minute video that could take hours!

  • Thanks to much more data being packed into a video file, it has to be compressed significantly in order to be effectively broadcast on the internet. Much of the quality is lost in this process.
  • It can be difficult to create a high quality video due to the simple fact that you are moving. There are many devices out there that can help stability, but this is a major concern. Viewers don’t want to watch your own personal Blair Witch horror flick!
  • Video can be more expensive. Typically the tools required to shoot a high-end video are more costly than what can be acquired for photography. A high-end HD digital camcorder along with stabilizing equipment can easily cost over $2,000.
  • Video editing skills are usually required. It’s tricky to shoot a great video walk-through on your first try. Either due to awkward moments or a not so graceful step or even backtracking across a room you’ve already shown there are many reasons to want to edit your video. And this takes some practice!
  • Real estate videography professionals can be very hard to find in your area. Wedding videographers are more readily accessible, but have they gotten on board with shooting real estate video tours yet?

Right now it’s clear that if you get a fuzzy, wobbly tour that takes too long to download, viewers won’t watch your video. Pictures don’t have this worry. They load so fast that a viewer can easily browse 10-20 in a matter of seconds.

However, if video can overcome its issues of quality and size then I think it is clearly the better medium to showcase your home to buyers who are viewing online. Whether that day has come or not is up to you to decide, but as internet capacity expands, memory cards hold more data, high-quality camcorders become more accessible, and high-speed internet more commonplace, video is poised to take online real estate marketing to the next level.