Dear Ginny WTH,
I have for years been putting up as many photos as possible on my web site, as well as online listing sites such as Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, etc. I sometimes wonder if putting too much information online can actually discourage people from viewing the house in person. What is your opinion?
Ansel Adams, San Francisco
I think you make a good point. Too much information can be overwhelming and sometimes force people into false opinions. So how do you give just enough information that is formatted and displayed on the page so that it can be digested easily, but not so much that the home is filtered before given a chance which in that case you lose the opportunity at not only that sale, but potential others that you could have shown the prospective buyer?
It’s tricky for sure. You want to capture the interested consumer’s information as it realtes to your listed properties and other IDX listings you display on your site but you can’t really withhold anything because the info is ubiquitous.
You can control the data in your own listed properties, but you can’t control how many pictures or the words used on the IDX listings. There’s yet another balance to strike on how you treat IDX listings and how you treat your own listed properties. I think it is perfectly okay to call out your listed properties on your web site, in fact I think it’s a must.
Let’s start with the IDX listed properties. Let’s just suppose that most properties today in the MLS have at least six associated photos. World is that a fair assumption?
Consumers want to see photos. You can’t skimp on them. I’d say 10 to 12 is the right number. After that you’ll lose me in details.
Do you show all photos in thumbnail version? How do I see more or larger photos? There are hundreds of ways to display property photos, from static point and click to elaborate slide show presentations, as long as it’s one click to see more or all and one click back to the property listing details, most photo displays are adequate. Wait there is one photo display system that should be eliminated forever and that’s the hover. Where you put your mouse over the picture to make it bigger and then it covers the other pictures and if you move too quickly the picture goes away. Argh!
As far as property details are concerned, again the consumer definitely wants to know all the details that IDX allows you to show as well as enhanced copy. I recommend that all agents enhance their listing details to reflect real ad copy. It’s still quite common to see property detail pages with typographical errors, abbreviations and ‘notes’ large and in charge for the public .
For your listed properties I recommend that you enhance them further, with additional copy, a virtual tour or special online talking tour, just something extra that highlights your listings to the public. That serves you in multiple ways. With your seller: Look Mr./Mrs. Seller I showcase your home on my web site with an online brochure. It also tells the browsing public that you have listed property and obviously treat it specially.
I wouldn’t try to hide any information that was already in the public domain. If you do, the consumer can sense that you are either withholding or you must not have the details. Neither are a good reflection on you.
I’ll never forget the branch manager who would place property listing ads in the local weekly news publication without the price or address, just city name. Now granted this was a few years ago when the market was hot, but even then. No price or address? When I busted him on it he proudly said, “That’s what gets the consumer to call.” I don’t think you could get away with that today.
The information is out there, just frame it up better than the others and you’ll win the heart of the consumer.