This is why it’s important to see properties in person – we are less confident than ever that the online photos can be trusted. From the WSJ:
Real-estate listing photos have always accentuated the positive, but computer-generated imagery of the sort Hollywood uses has now become so cheap and prolific that home sellers are taking out walls, removing ugly paneling and even adding digital swimming pools.
At the same time, photos are more important than ever: Nearly every home search begins online and deals are often struck without in-person showings, particularly among investors who are putting photos through their own algorithms to price homes as they make an unprecedented move into the U.S. housing market.
The technology allows sellers to green browned lawns, stage rooms with virtual furniture like digital dollhouses and even perform full-blown HGTV-style makeovers with clicks of a mouse.
The hazards to buyers range from disappointment when they arrive for in-person showings to blown renovation budgets. That could prove an especially thorny issue for investors, who may need to retrain computer models they use to comb through listings for houses that are good candidates to turn into rentals or flips.
Risks associated with doctored listing photos could spread beyond sight-unseen buyers. Federal rule makers are considering a proposal to open up more of the home-appraisal business to computers that generate property values partly by scraping online listing photos to gauge condition and finishes.
The computer-generated images are so good these days that humans have trouble spotting them. That’s causing problems for regional broker cooperatives, known as multiple listing services, that serve as repositories for property listings and sales data.
At a recent conference for brokers in New York, an executive from property photo-editing firm BoxBrownie.com Pty Ltd. urged agents to post altered photos side-by-side with the originals. However, Peter Schravemade, the Australian firm’s strategic relationship manager, said that labeling augmented images has occasionally gotten agents in trouble while altered images without disclosures have slipped past listing-site overseers.
For $1.60 per image, BoxBrownie will punch up pictures of a house for sale, making dull skies blue, patching lawns and maybe popping photorealistic flames into fireplaces. It charges $2.40 to change wall colors and $24 to swap out flooring. Starting at $64, it will virtually renovate a room to produce a marketing image that looks realistic but nothing like the real thing.
“We’re like Photoshop on steroids,” BoxBrownie co-founder Brad Filliponi said of the popular photo-editing program.
The ease and extent to which images can be altered has brokers and the organizations that police listings wondering where to draw the line on augmented images.
The National Association of Realtors code of ethics requires agents to present a “true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations,” which extends to listing photos, a spokeswoman said. Donald Epley, a retired University of South Alabama real-estate professor who helped write national appraisal standards, said misleading photos are no different than fudging the square-footage or misstating the number of bedrooms in listings.
“This is a really new technology,” said Denee Evans, chief executive of the Council of Multiple Listing Services, a trade organization. “It’s just starting to bubble up questions as to where is that line.”
Home sellers have a lot to worry about: Will anyone want to buy their property for its full asking price? How long will it take to find a buyer? Is it really worth the expense and trouble of staging a home to boost its desirability with buyers?
“Heck yes” is the answer to that last question, according to an overwhelming number of buyer’s agents polled for a recent National Association of Realtors® report. About 40% of the agents surveyed said that staging had an impact on most buyers, while 52% said it affected at least some of the folks interested in the abode.
“Buyers’ expectations have changed and risen. They want to see the types of homes they see on TV in person,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of research.
Styling a dwelling with some well-placed furniture makes it easier for buyers to imagine the home as their own, according to 83% of the buyer’s agents surveyed. And home shoppers are more likely to visit a property in person if they liked what they saw in photos online.
A week ago these sellers had no expectation of moving any time soon, and certainly hadn’t done anything to prepare for sale. But we found the right house to buy, if we can only sell this one.
Let’s get on it!
Tuesday and Wednesday the ceilings were scraped, re-textured, and painted. Thursday and Friday the walls and kitchen were painted (two coats) and the bathrooms were tuned up. The painters stayed until 11pm last night, and came back early today to finsih it off.
Buyers started arriving at 11:45!
Here’s the play by play:
We already received one full-price offer, and others are interested. Richard will be there 12-3pm on Sunday!
Real estate shopping requires a buyer’s imagination. As a real estate professional, you want open-house guests to be able to picture the household as if they’ve already moved into the property. That’s why staging can make all the difference in the world, especially for an empty house, says Desare Kohn-Laski, broker-owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Fla.
If you’re having a tough time convincing sellers that staging a vacant home is worth it, here are four compelling reasons that Kohn-Laski shares with her clients.
Staging plants the idea that a home could be theirs. Buyers will make a good offer at first sight if the mood of a property says, “This could be your next home.” Whether it’s a townhome, condo, or single-family property, Kohn-Laski says it’s worth it to present a home in the best, most inviting light possible.
Staging puts room dimensions into perspective. This point is important for both listing photos and for showings. “Without anything in it, a buyer will be clueless in differentiating the size of a room even if you give its area measurement,” Kohn-Laski says. “But with some furnishings in it, there will be reference points to at least give them an estimate that this room is actually larger than the other one.”
Staging emphasizes the positive aspects of a home. Imperfections in walls, floor bumps, missing details in built-in cabinets, and small closets tend to get more attention when there’s nothing else to look at in a vacant home. It’s tougher for buyers to imagine the view from the couch, the dinners at the dining room table, or the cookouts on the back deck.
Staging curbs negative presumptions. According to seller’s agents, Kohn-Laski says, an empty house typically gives an idea of financial crisis, divorce, and personal problems. Staging dissuades negative assumptions about the sellers, she adds.
Staging a home with attractive furniture and artwork helps buyers envision the possibilities, and give a boost to the online photos, which stimulates more interest. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to home sales:
Staging enables resale homes to imitate the model-home look.
For buyers who wanted new, a staged resale home might be close enough.
A staged home compares more favorably to a non-staged home, and can compete with new homes.
HGTV shows have trained buyers to expect staging.
For those who want to ensure a good first impression, staging is an ideal option.
It may not be the grandest room in the house, but the bathroom is one of the most important when it comes to selling your home. Buyers want as many bathrooms as they can afford, and they want them pristine. So, if you’re getting set to host an open house, it’s time to spiff yours up! Here’s exactly what you need to do to get it ready:
Clean everything. You know this already: There’s nothing worse than walking into an open house and finding mildew, scum, hair (or worse) in and around the tub, toilet, and sink. Give your bathroom the kind of deep cleaning you’d usually reserve for when the in-laws visit. Ask yourself, “What would Martha Stewart think?” No rings around the tub, no soap scum on the shower door, no beard clippings in the sink. Use a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle to make mirrors sparkle—it’s an old-school recipe that gets fabulous results (just remember to wipe away streaks with either newspaper or a microfiber towel).
Hide your toiletries. That means toothbrushes, contact lens kits, loose makeup containers, hairspray bottles—anything that could clutter up your countertop goes into the medicine cabinet, under the sink, or wherever it won’t be seen.
Then put out nicer ones.Now is the time to break out those triple-milled imported soaps, or a nice handsoap and lotion duo. Think hotel bathroom.
These days it seems like everybody wants a tiny house. But what if your home isn’t adorably tiny? What if it’s just sadly small?
Don’t worry—it’s not your square footage that matters most; it’s how you present it. Even if you’re tight on space, you can fool buyers into thinking things are bigger than they appear—you just have to have some smart tricks up your sleeve. Keep reading for our experts’ savviest and sneakiest tips for seeing big returns on the petite place you currently call home.
1. Throw a reverse housewarming party
The less clutter, the bigger your home will look and feel to potential buyers. To get rid of your unwanted items, throw a party before your first open house, suggests Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving.
“Instead of having your friends bring a gift, have them pick one of your items and take it home with them.”
2. Go down to the bare minimum
Still feel like your home is full of stuff?
“Box up everything you don’t need on a daily basis and anything that’s smaller than a football,” suggests home staging expert Lori Matzke.
Sift through your glass cupboards and built-ins, and clean off your countertops.
“Leaving just the bare minimum will create the feeling of more space,” she says.
That goes for your beloved tchotchkes, too.
“A smaller space tends to favor a more minimalist design, so having all of your collectible figurines on display on the shelves, side and console tables will bring the room in rather than opening it up,” says Bee Heinemann, marketing director and interior decorating expert at Vänt Wall Panels.
3. Take your doors off their hinges
Remove all your interior doors, besides those that lead to bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets, suggests G. Brian Davis, director of education for SparkRental. “The farther the eye can see, the better.”
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