Judging a property by its photograph may prove expensive when you discard poor photos without knowing if they represent excellent real estate opportunity for you. PJ Wade suggests a time-saving, better way to choose property.
If you spend hours on the internet trying to find your dream home by searching through photos or video of properties, you may be overlooking important flaws in this superficial approach to evaluating real estate.
The big question is: What percentage of time are you incorrect in your decision to discard a property based on a photograph?
Judging a property by its photograph may prove expensive when you discard poor photos without knowing if they represent excellent real estate opportunity for you. Just ask yourself, how many selfies does it take to achieve a great and, therefore, accurate picture of you?
Even when you eventually find photogenic real estate to visit, how many better choices or better bargains did you miss out on because you did not approve their visuals?
• Have you studied photography and earned the advantage of knowing how to evaluate second-rate equipment or poor photographic technique that results in failure to present a home’s good bones or reveal a hidden gem worth a closer look? Even a good photo may present poorly as an online image through bad decisions regarding lighting, resolution, cropping, coloration....
• What percentage of properties are discarded because the photo is unappealing? Listing photos are not intended as works of art. Was this a drive-by photo where the photographer did not get out the car because they had so many photos to take? Was it raining or snowing that day? Just like people, houses have a “good side” and a “bad side.” Which side is in the photo?
• Do you have a magazine or Instagram pic in mind that you are intent on matching? Houses that are beautiful from the curb earn high-value ratings relative to their location, but buyers still need to physically explore inside to fully appreciate the complete package.
• You can’t live in a photograph or even a video. Ideally, a photograph or short video of a property should reveal all the benefits of the buildings and the land. In reality, most photographic representations fall short of this goal. Some are more successful that others, but none are a substitute for experiencing “the big picture” first-hand: the feeling of being there, the volume of rooms, the acoustics of the building, the effects of daylight, the flow through the building…the reality of inspecting the property yourself. In addition, street-face photos cannot reveal interiors that are in marked contrast to facades: a house with a renovated, ultra-modern interior may maintain its historic exterior.
• What percentage of the time are you attracted by a great photo of a house, which you later discover has “a lot of ugly” going on outside the photo i.e. beside the house is a high-rise building, auto body shop, shopping mall, night club…? Or, did you discard a property which, invisible to you, had wonderful green space around it? Since location is the most important value factor in real estate, how
can a photo of a property in isolation enable you to fully evaluate its location value without knowing context?
The above list of flawed reasons for discarding properties based on photographic representations explains how you may allow your lack of knowledge, on many levels, to limit your ultimate success identifying desirable real estate. Select only the “pretty pictures” and you may inadvertently eliminate properties that would be ideal and perhaps less expensive purchases for you and your family.
The Smart Approach
We’re not advising that you view every listed property. Instead, work with experienced real estate professionals who’ll process listings, visit properties using your criteria, and, therefore, save you time by selecting the best prospects for you to view.
Describe what you’ll want in a new home and the professional will converse with you to clarify that description for you and for them. Buyers are often surprised when these conversations reveal how much they had not realized about what they thought they wanted and needed.
Search out a professional who makes it their business to know area product from the outside in. They’ll share their insider view, so you won’t miss out on what could be your dream home. This informed culling of properties will save you from having to view too many properties that are a poor fit for your needs and dreams.
“This house was a big surprise inside; from the outside, it looked much smaller,” is a common buyer observation. Most buyers, particularly first-timers or first-time-in-a-long-time buyers, are not experts at architecture or construction, nor have they inspected as many properties as experienced real estate professionals.
Your secret weapon is your real estate professional who makes it their business to keep up-to-date viewing area listings. They understand the advantages of knowing the whole property and its entire potential, not just its street face. They appreciate the difference between a real estate dream and a home that’s a dream to live in.
Professionals are also aware of smart buying strategies based on poor photos or less inspiring facades. For instance, if you’d like to invest in the best location your budget will allow, there may be advantages to viewing properties in choice neighborhoods with less attractive street faces. When there is value in the location, interior, and backyard, over time the curb view can be improved on, increasing property value in the process.
Online buyers of clothing who rely on photos alone discover that it’s the fit that makes the difference—something only first-hand experience (trying the garment on) settles. Real estate is like that, too. Make sure it fits in all the important ways before you buy.