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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

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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