No Real Estate Listing Photographs, You're Not Serious?

It's No Joke

What you see on the Multiple Listing

Too many online listings lack important elements of Internet marketing. For starters, textual content is usually minimal at best: less specs end up on the web than end up on fancy printouts, leaving web listings with the bland 3 bed, 2 bath2 and hardly anything else about the rest of the home. And some listings with descriptions look undecipherable, full of word abbreviations no normal buyer cares to untangle. At a bare text level, too many agents continue to treat the Internet like a newspaper ad, conserving type as if it cost per letter, when a web-page ideally could hold hundreds of words.

And most mysterious of all, almost four in ten listings lack photos. Not even one.

It's a mystery, since most real estate agents claim to own a digital camera. And they seem to have no problem making printouts with photos, or mailing postcards with multiple images. Yet, on page after page of Internet listings, Joe Consumer finds nothing but bizarre boxes stating ?Too new for photo? or ?Photo Missing.?

Too new for a photo? What do you say to that? That you didn't have time to take a photo the night you took the listing contract (i.e., the night you were hired)? That it's the office administrator's job to upload it to the web site? That it's too hard to upload a photo? Give me a break. If those are your excuses, let's hope nobody tells your sellers. For every listing without a photo, the only explanation is: The listing agent failed to do their job!

How does this happen? Listing agents obviously arrive at presentations with lots of color images - photos of the company, their photo on a personal resume, glossy photos of past consumers. And the bottom line argument of any listing presentation is mostly; ?Hire me because I'm the marketing expert.? So what's the deal with Internet listings without the most important marketing element - the photo ?

In fact, some sellers already promote their properties online better than many agents. Browse any for-sale-by-owner web sites, where listings with any photos most likely have multiple photos. Why? Because the sellers bought the same camera you did; they just have the motivation to use it. Click, click, click and they can add a dozen photos faster than many a REALTOR. They can do it in real time, within seconds of purchasing an online ad.

Oh, sorry, you already knew that. It's been a major concern lately, that sellers can create attractive, compelling marketing pieces online just like the professionals can. Why, then, would they possibly need you - especially when any ?preview? of your work reveals 40% of listings without a single photo? Looks to them like, for four in ten sellers, you couldn't be bothered to do the marketing right.

Internet listings without photos get no clicks. None. Not even a quick glance. Buyers don't take the time to click text-only ads, just like they never read text-only classifieds in the newspaper. Ever see a listing sheet without a photo? Didn't think so. So why do we see so many photo-free listings online?

Well, it's not because of hard technology, that's for sure. Agents can upload photos into company pages in seconds. And it's not lack of hardware: most agents with photo-free listings on the web don't have any problems using their digital camera to print photo-full flyers. It just seems like 40% of agents are not doing their job.

Oh, well, the photos get up there within a few days, you say? A few days in an on-demand world is almost as bad as never. Unless you are hoping your sellers will forget their home is for sale for a few days after they hire you, ?a few days? is just a poor excuse, isn't it? A few days?. Harrumpf!

Not you, you say? Your listings have photos. Well, don't congratulate yourself just yet. Even if you have a photo or two on every listing, when other agents in your company fail to upload photos, your company's web site will still look partially empty. Any prospective seller who previews your photo-lacking company site may not invite anyone to make a presentation. So it's not just your photos that are important; it's a company-wide competitive issue.

Heck, if your competitors are smart, they'll use this fact when comparing themselves to you in a presentation. Imagine a competitor previewing your company site, determining how many listings lack photos, and then mentioning those stats as a powerful comparative statement when they compete for the same listing. We do it all the time in this industry. We have this feature, they don't; they do this to market the home, we don't. Well, what about, we have almost twice as many photos per listing on our web site as they do. Will that make a difference to you, Mr. Seller, when choosing someone to market your home online?

You bet it will. Mar 15, 2011

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