The Internet is the world’s largest marketplace where you can buy anything from groceries to cars, and even homes. The web is also the starting point for buyers looking for a home. While it is highly unlikely a person will buy a home online without seeing it first, research shows that the Internet is where 90 percent of homeowners will begin their search. And they are not just looking on their computers. Research from a study conducted jointly by the National Association of Realtors and Google shows that about 89 percent of potential homebuyers will use their mobile device in their search at some point.
How important is the Internet to home sales? In that same study mentioned above, the research showed that searches for homes increased 253 percent over a four year period. Other studies have shown that the large majority of millennials, those between the ages of 18 to 35, use the Internet exclusively to look for a home. Even seniors, about 75 percent of them according to realtor.org, will begin their home search online.
Searching for the right property online is convenient. You can look at listings in your pajamas at 2 a.m. You can open an app on your smartphone and use GPS to show properties near your location. You can use the “Big3” real estate sites Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow, or choose from a variety of excellent local real estate sites.
It’s also inconvenient to search for a new home in person if you are moving to another city. You can be on the East Coast and look for a home in California without having to put on your shoes. Real estate sites also provide important information such as school districts and ratings, the value of surrounding homes and tax information.
However, the main reason people go online first to look for new homes is to look at photos. This is the first look at a home’s curb appeal, and for this reason many agents now employ professional real estate photographers.
A study was done by Old Dominion University in 2010 that emphasizes just how important a good photo is to real estate agents. They were interested in how long viewers spent looking at the photos. Researchers used an interesting approach, tracking the viewer’s eye movements to capture data. According to this study, 60 percent of viewers will see the photos first, with the description lagging behind at 20 percent along with the real estate agents comments, also at 20 percent.
How long were people looking at these photos? The Wall Street Journal analyzed the report from Old Dominion University in an article and revealed that the exterior photo, the one designed for curb appeal, kept a viewer’s attention for about 20 seconds. Pictures of the backyard, bedrooms, living room and kitchens were viewed on average between seven to eight seconds.
Dr. Michael Seiler, the founder and director of the Institute for Behavior and Experimental Real Estate, summed up the importance of the main photo. In an article in the Wall Street Journal he said that without an eye-catching primary photo the battle is lost before it begins, concluding by saying you have two seconds to grab people’s attention.
The importance of photos as a marketing tool has led to the growth of the professional real estate photography industry. Professional photographers can enhance the features of an amazing property and downplay the less desirable ones, increasing the chances that your listings will get all the attention they deserve.