Every Picture Tells a Story

“Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t it?” So sang Rod Stewart back in the early ‘70s. Well, yes they do. Just look at the Facebook phenomenon. And since this is a real estate blog, look at the impact of the Internet on consumer behavior. Over 95% of consumers go online to look at…you guessed it, pictures of houses and other information, long before they even consider talking to a real estate agent. Given this trend, it amazes me that real estate agents, as a whole, still underestimate the power of pictures.

Agents have fun, and that includes me, posting and mocking “Bad MLS Pictures.” For sure we all get a good laugh. Agents still stare in disbelief at listings that have only a single photo. Really, someone is going to get paid for that? Some agents, on the other hand, fully understand the power of pictures when it comes to luring potential buyers to the property. They hire professional photographers; use Photoshop enhancements, etc., to make their home pictures stand out. That is all well and good, but yet there is one more thing that the vast majority of listing agents do not understand—even the best photograph in the world tells a more complete story if it is accompanied by just a little text information.

Here in the Phoenix, AZ metro area we are blessed to have an MLS system called flexmls. There is a terrific feature in this system that allows agents to write a caption for any photograph they upload to their listing. For some reason, very, very few agents take advantage of this feature. To me, it is the most important aspect of the entire listing. It takes me an average of 4 to 5 hours just to upload and write captions for photographs for any listing I take. You never know what photograph is going to push the buyer’s button and prompt them to come and visit the home. So each picture needs to “tell a story.”

Let me provide a few examples of what I am talking about. Start with the first photo, which should always be the front of the house. Agents who use the pool or kitchen to start out with don’t understand how annoying it is for consumers to not see the front first. “What are they hiding,” my buyers ask me. So let’s get back to the front photo. Ask yourself, if you were looking at the photo with a prospective buyer, what would you say? You can point out the model name if you know it. Is it facing north/south? What attracts you to the home from the curb? How about a kitchen photo? You could point out the features they may not notice right away. Does the refrigerator convey? Well say so, don’t make the buyer guess. You can also use emotional tugs like “ummm, what smells so good.” You want the buyer to imagine themselves in that kitchen making their favorite dish.

Surrounding neighborhood photos are also important. Selling a home also means selling a neighborhood or lifestyle. Also consider who your target audience is. I had a recent listing in a popular 55+ community called Sunbird Golf Resort that attracts a lot of snowbirds from colder climates to AZ. Here is an example of a neighborhood photo and the accompanying caption—

 21Rec Center Landscape

“Is it cold where you live? Imagine being able to take year-round walks surrounded by Cactus Gardens and manicured desert foliage. The only question is, how can living in a place this wonderful be so affordable? Well come see for yourself. The Sunbird Golf Resort lifestyle and a top notch Pinehurst model bursting with upgrades and conveying items awaits you. See you soon!”


My promise to any potential home seller is that my creative writing doesn’t stop with the one paragraph Public Remarks. Rather, each picture in my listings is an extension of the remarks, forming an illustrated marketing brochure in the process. I suppose that’s one of the main reasons why my listings get showings and sell quickly. Anyone looking at the listing online is drawn in, and informed by, the “story telling” pictures!

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