Just like the photo on your business card gives a first impression of yourself, the photos of your listings give the first impression of your property for sale. Quality photos of houses for sale can make a world of difference in the amount of interest in a property and the amount of showings. Studies have shown that the more photos a property has on an on-line listing, the more clicks it receives. Of course, quality here counts a lot! You want viewers to keep clicking through your photos and to not get sidetracked by another, better-looking listing. Below are some basic photography tips for the do-it-yourselfer.Focus, focus, focus! Most digital cameras will self focus. Just lightly press down the shutter button and you’ll most likely notice your camera doing half the work for you. Once your camera is focused, keep a steady hand and quickly capture the shot.Try every angle. Sometimes the slightest difference in angle can make a big improvement in the overall shot. Move around the room and take a variety of shots from different angles to capture different features in the frame such as a grand foyer staircase, fireplace, swimming pool or landscape.Lighting is your best friend. Try taking pictures with and without the flash. Try turning on more lights in the house. You’ll quickly see which way is going to look best so you can proceed with your photo shoot. Try opening draperies and be sure to come prepared with a few basic light bulbs to replace any burnt out bulbs in table or floor lamps. A picture always looks better if the lamps are actually lit.The first photo of your real estate listing needs to be as fantastic as possible. This photo is typically an exterior shot of the home taken on the best possible day filled with sunshine. Remember to only show your home and crop out the neighbors’ houses on either side if needed. Spruce up the yard, mow the lawn, put away the garden hose, toys and lawn ornaments, close the garage door, remove all cars and trash cans from the driveway and open all the blinds inside the house. Finally, try to take the photo from the opposite side of your driveway. This trick lessens the amount of unsightly driveway pavement in the photo. The photo above is a great sample of an exterior photo that draws people in to want to see more.Next up are the interior photos. Not every room needs to be represented by a photo. For example, a small bathroom is probably not something you need to take a photo of unless it has amazing tile work or a designer look. The most important rooms to photograph include the kitchen, living and/or family rooms, dining areas and the master bedroom. Other possibly rooms to feature would include a home office, secondary bedrooms and possibly a luxurious master bath or a spacious master closet.Other highlights to include would be a basement, especially if it’s partially or fully finished and of course any significant outdoor spaces such as courtyards, swimming pools, golf course views and professional landscaping. Extra photograph opportunities would include impressive community features such as gated entryways, ponds, fountains, walking trails and children’s play areas.By following these tips it’s easy for anyone to capture a home’s best features including experienced Realtors or homeowners trying to sell for sale by owner. Remember, as with anything practice makes perfect. If your photos don’t turn out as expected, pick another day and try again. You’ll be amazed at the difference in quality of photography done on an overcast day as compared to a sunny day. For even more impact try a night-time exterior photograph of a home with beautiful exterior up-lighting or even a photo of a crackling fireplace on a snowy day. Putting a little extra effort into taking the best photographs possibly will ensure your listings stand out from the crowd.
Whether you are buying or selling a property, choosing a real estate agent may be the most important decision you make. Good real estate agents can save you a substantial amount of time and money. They can also ensure that the buying or selling process is an enjoyable and memorable experience. Here are some tips for choosing a real estate agent:1. Ask Friends/Family for Referrals
Ask family and friends for their advice on local agents. This way you will be sure to find an agent with a good reputation.2. Consider More than One Agency
There is an array of agents that will kill for your business. That is why you should interview as many agents as you can. Compare agents with regard to their knowledge of the area, experience and qualifications. Also, ask for references from previous clients.3. Choose an Agent that Knows the Importance of Customer Care
While interviewing different agents you will be able to establish their level of customer care or how far they will go to satisfy the customer. Look at things like their attitude towards returning phone calls and their willingness to meet with you.4. Choose an Agent that Handles Homes in Your Price Range
When you opt for an agent that deals with homes in your price range, you will be sure to end up with an agent that will give his or her best effort. Some agents deal only with high-end properties and are used to high commissions. They are more likely to attend to these properties first.5. Choose an Agent that Respects Your Time Schedule
If you will not be able to view properties during office hours, you need to find an agent that is willing to do business after hours or over weekends.6. Look for an Agent that You Can Communicate With
Communication is vital when buying or selling real estate. Make sure that you choose an agent that understands your needs and that communicates them well. You will be best off if you choose and agent that registers a high level of comfort with you or with whom you are compatible with.7. Choose an Agent that Provides Multiple Services
It will be a bonus if you can find an agent that can handle the buying/selling process as well as other additional services like arranging property inspections or who can refer you to a trustworthy real estate attorney.8. Choose an Agent That Can Negotiate
Negotiating skills is an essential quality of a good real estate agent. Make sure you choose and agent with impeccable and proven negotiating skills.9. Choose an Agent with Lots of Resources
Ask agents where your property will be advertised. Make sure that the agency uses print advertising (newspaper/magazines) as well as other promotional material such as brochures. Also check if the agency makes use of the Internet for advertising their listings.10. Follow Your Instinct
Choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and whom you trust. You level of comfort and satisfaction will let you know if you’ve met the right agent.
I decided to write this post because if I had read something similar to this when I was first starting out in Real Estate, I would have saved myself a lot of time, headaches and stress. Without getting into my personal real estate agent horror stories, here are my 5 tips for selecting the best real estate agent:1. Make Sure they are Full Time AgentsWithout a question this is one of the most important aspects in selecting a great realtor. I’ve come to notice that a lot of people think that real estate agents make a lot of money and that it is a short cut to becoming well off. So as a result, a whole bunch of people get their realtor license for the wrong reasons. They have “hopes” of getting a 5% commission on a $1,000,000 house ($50,000). The truth is, being successful at anything requires a lot of hard work and dedication no matter what business you are in. Real Estate is no different – in fact, about 20% of realtors do 80% of all real estate transactions (within a particular geographical area).2. Help Without ActionA realtor, much like a lawyer or a doctor must have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, not everyone gets his or her license for the right reasons. If the realtor you are communicating with expects you to sign a commitment agreement right away (even if they tell you they are required by their broker) I would be seriously alarmed. Like in any successful and harmonious relationship, there has to be the right fit first. In order to determine if there is a fit to work together or not, your potential realtor should be willing to help you a little bit (learn the market, see some comps etc.) without any contracts or expectation of you to take action – ever; no-pressure type of relationship. Great full time realtors know that that is the best way to attract business and long term success. Meanwhile amateurs and likely not very serious agents will feel more confident in themselves if they “locked” you up legally. Sadly, many clients out there will feel obliged to the realtor under the terms of the agreement.3. Area ExpertDespite the claims you might see on the front page of newspapers that might be something along the lines of “Canadian Real Estate Market is Down”, any savvy, experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent will know to ignore that. Every market (ex. Toronto) also has many sub-markets (ex. Down Town Core, Harbor Front, The Annex, etc). All of these sub-markets have different trends and fundamental factors affecting the rise or fall in the price, supply and demand, or properties available at a given time. Throughout GTA there are hundreds of different submarkets. Great real estate agents know that being an expert in only a few close by sub-markets will yield them better quality clients and a much more successful business. Their clients will also be much happier because their agents will be able to give them expert advice. Meanwhile amateur agents will help clients almost anywhere just to get a deal done. In other words, throw pasta on the wall and hope that something will stick! Do YOU want to be their client?4. SpecialtyMany people might find this a silly thing to do, but I like to compare realtors to doctors. A realtor without a specialty is much like a general walk-in clinic doctor, not that there is anything wrong with that. But if you are having sight problems, an eye specialist will be able to give you much better advice than a walk-in doctor. Not only do specialists have much better knowledge, but they also have the right tools to help you. The same goes for realtors. Are you in the market for a condo? Then you should be looking for a realtor who specializes in condos. Are you trying to be an investor? Then you need to be working with a realtor who specializes in working with investors. Realtors that specialize in condos within a particular sub-market are different than realtors specializing in working with investors for rental properties. Real estate agents who work with investors know exactly what type of properties cashflow, how much that cash flow will be, and where to look for these types of properties. Condo specialists will know exactly which buildings in the area have lower maintenance fees vs. condo prices vs. sizes of each unit.5. ChemistryChemistry? Why in the world would this be relevant? Lets face it… we are slowly shifting away from a suit & tie corporate environment and transitioning into “Apple-Google” like business culture. Not to say that these top companies are not corporate, but the culture overall is just much more laid back, relaxed and fun. This is why they are able to attract the best and most talented programmers and employees all around. The same goes for realtors. Make sure you have the right chemistry. Be sure that the relationship and process is fun, easy going enjoyable and all at the same time professional.