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“My Listing Isn’t Good Enough for Pictures”

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I thought we all agreed

As I sit here, working on some training material, I am listening to my wife go through the ritual of scheduling showings.  I’ve never been a fan of being a Selling Agent and typically stuck to strictly Listings.  It’s coming back to me why – the poorly written and maintained listings just sit me off every time.  Tonight the biggest issue in her stack of listings, is that there are very few with photos.  The buyer’s desired price range yields a number of REO listings.

I made the mistake of mouthing off on Twitter about my desire to sit for a few minutes, with agents who have no photos in their listings…I may have mentioned a wiffle bat, too.  I usually take for granted that many of us think similarly in RE.net.  Not always, but often.  I thought that we all agreed that you simply were not providing good service to a Seller, if you didn’t have a photo.

Several twits came across and said that their MLS requires at least one photo to enter the listing.  Sadly, our MLS does not make such requriements.

One follower commented “is it possible the houses are so trashed that photos would be a disservice?”

I suppose that I had never had a listing that was so undesirable that I couldn’t find at least 10-15 good photos, none-the-less one. If I did, I must have listed it as land and put up a graphic of the survey, or something.

Now, I’m thinking…

Knowing what I know about consumer behavior and the overwhelming percentage of people who won’t even look at a listing without photos; is there ever a reason to not post photos? (not rhetorical, I’m really asking)

What say you?

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Matt Wilkins

    April 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I personally take the attitude “the buyers wants to see a preview of the home before viewing it whether its good, bad, or ugly”.

    I am seing REOs where the photos used are from the most recent interior BPO inpection. At least this is better than no photos at all or letting the MLS pull a past listing photo (which in my local system could be from as far back as 1997).

    Another issue that goes hand in hand with lack of photos and is as if not more frustrating: more and more listings in my local area that have completely inacurate data (bedroom/bathroom count, # of levels, showing instructions, etc.). OK enough about that.

    I think this post brings up a subject that has been talked about more and more lately: Do listing agents/brokers seem to change the level of the bar based on the type of client and sale?

  2. Thomas Johnson

    April 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

    This is part of the grand scheme. Turbo Tax Tim at US Treasury is now in control of the housing market. He has banks stuffed full of toxic assets which if they were accounted for would cause severe discomfort to his Goldman Sachs masters. The scheme is to slow down housing activity as he shucks and jives the global bank balance sheets. Banks are not shedding their foreclosures as they would if this were any kind of real market. To wit: tried to close a short sale recently? If they let the house sit, they don’t have to own it. If they don’t own it, they don’t have to realize the loss. The pitiful marketing of foreclosures with their goofy prices also prevents bonafide sellers from selling, as buyers see all these shorties and reo’s with artificial prices and are unwilling to buy anything at the real price. So they make 3, 4 5 offers on bogus listings and that buys Turbo Tax Tim more time. The only buyers cleaning up in all this are cash buyers. Cash will not be ignored, as it sponges up some of the trillions that have been pumped into the system.

  3. Benjamin Ficker

    April 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I think if your listing is not “pretty enough” for photos, then your target audience is different. If its a fixer, your market is probably investors who would want to see everything wrong with it. Or if it is not necessarily a fixer, just cosmetics, your first time buyer who wants to put a little elbow grease in to something, would be ecstatic to see that this fits perfectly in to their plan. There is a market for every type of home, and photos that sell to that market.

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    April 26, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Matt: As usual, we agree. I do think this is one sign of the broader issue. Does the type of listing change the level of service? OK, I know it does; but should it.

    Thomas: Uh, ok… I’m not sure how to respond.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    April 26, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Benjamin: So, you’re saying that a photo of a bad listing may still make it attractive to a certain niche of buyers? I agree…

  6. Steve Beam

    April 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    TRUE- Photos sell homes. REO, short sale or normal sale photos save time. It saves un needed showings, it saves other Realtors huge amounts of extra searching time and it saves buyers time. One photo isn’t that tough, is it?

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    April 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I haven’t had a listing that was so bad I couldn’t take a decent photo of it. I agree that people want pictures. It’s sometimes hard to find 30 photos…which is what our MLS allows – but if worst comes to worst, I do a few of the neighborhood.

  8. Missy Caulk

    April 27, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Consumers like photos.
    Consumers pass over listing w/0 photos.
    Consumers find a home on our IDX site that has no photos and call us for more photos.

    Is that our job if it is not our listing to go take photos?

    Frustrating to have to tell them that is all the listing agent provided.

  9. Lisa Sanderson

    April 27, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Sometimes I think that these listing agents feel that if they just get people to come through the door, somehow they will overlook the bad condition. Silliness. It is what it is, post as many photos as possible to attract the *right* buyer.

    I, too, have wondered about the different level of service given to foreclosure listings, and have also wondered if the marketing of these was turned up a notch would the sale prices be different? But I guess the agents handling these listings are doing such a huge volume of them that it is difficult if not impossible to do them right. Also, the cut rate fees being paid probably affect the level of service too.

  10. Alan May

    April 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    There’s always an image of the property that could be published, even if it is a dump. (a close-up of the entry… the yard… the view from the deck.)

    I’m sorry, there’s just no excuse for a listing going ‘live’ without a bevy of descriptive photos.

    Matt is right, buyers want to see pictures of the property… TO DETERMINE whether or not they’re going to even bother viewing it.

  11. Carrie

    April 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Well, what about a listing that looks GREAT from the outside, but the inside is full of junk? Not trashed at all, but if you take pictures of the inside, it’s going to look trashed unless its seen in person.

    Obviously you’d post a pic of the outside, but do you post pics of the inside hoping that people will schedule a showing in spite of all the stuff, or not post a pic hoping they’ll just think you’re a lousy agent who won’t post more pics?

    We have a listing in this situation – it’s a rental, so it’s not a problem of convincing the owner to clean it up… We have to work around the tenants.

  12. ines

    April 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    I have plenty of examples where photos could actually hurt a listing. And I’m one who is very thorough about photos, staging, moving stuff and making sure spaces show their best possible angle.

    I have one listing right now that is tenant occupied and full of boxes and a total mess and the house is gorgeous. I’m waiting for her to move her mess before I photograph – for now only have a couple of photos of the facade.

    I have another listing occupied by an older lady who refuses to let me move stuff to photograph and it is beyond cluttered – only gets a facade photo.

    They are not REO’s and they represent me – I give my clients instructions when I take the listings and if they don’t cooperate, then I usually try to make the most of it and sometimes even cancel. Those listings represent our team and the way we market properties.

    Am I making any sense here?

    I do keep a library of photos though in case someone insists on seeing the unfinished product and at that point I e-mail them.

  13. Melina Tomson

    April 28, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    If a home is so trashed, that is a different buyer anyway, and there is no harm in putting up trashed photos. Those buyers are looking for trashed so they don’t care.

    It’s those nice homes with clutter or crappy home decorating, but the home itself is nice that are the difficult ones. I probably wouldn’t take the listing unless they cleaned it up, or if it was a short term problem like in the scenario Ines talked about.

    I personally think there are very few situations in which no/few photos makes sense.

  14. Nannette Saunders

    May 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    It is so easy to take the pictures and even videos. Including a video of the neighborhood is a great way to market the ugliest house in the neighborhood for the buyer looking for a great opportunity for instant equity. Many of the REO’s on the market today offer this opportunity. Not finding a way to market a property is no excuse especially when there are so many resources out there to help.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
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    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
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    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
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    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
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    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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Business Marketing

Video is necessary for your marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!

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video content

As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.

Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.

The promotional angle

One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.

First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.

Audience matters

What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.

Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.

It’s all about strategy

However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.

Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.

It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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