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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

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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