Home truths: Teen selfie rules will sell a house
'So let me get this straight. The message lands and you have just 10 seconds to see it before it vanishes forever... right?"
"Yea, pretty much," (says he without looking up from his smart phone nor slowing his frantic twin-thumb typing).
"And each and every time you send a message there has to be a picture or a photo or a clip attached to it, right?"
"Yea, pretty much," (camera shutter sound).
"So what do you have to do? Take a picture of yourself every few minutes - of yourself just sitting there on the sofa?"
"Yea, pretty much." Sits up, makes a daft face (shutter sound), sits back down.
"So you could take, what? How many? Maybe 40 or 50 pictures of yourself each day?"
"Emmm…. pretty much."
"And they're gone after 10 seconds. Do you not think Whatsapp or Viber can do far more stuff... and that they're much more useful to refer back to?"
"Yea, pretty much," (shutter sound).
"So why use Snapchat?"
(He stops texting, peers into space for a second.) "Emmm I guess just cos everyone uses it really," (shutter sound).
"Why don't you all go on Facetime or Skype where you can see one another live and won't need to keep taking pictures? Or how about this: just meet up together in a room, sit opposite one another, look at each other and talk?"
(Chuckles to himself, shutter sound).
"You're not watching this film at all are you?"
"Yea, pretty much." (Doesn't look up)
"No, you're not!"
"Am so!" (shutter sound).
The 'selfie' has become so absolutely virulent among the youngers (and some adults of surprising ages) that my 14-year-old son and his mates photograph themselves almost as often as they draw breath. Some will self-snap themselves more than 50 times a day. And online trends follow them - not their parents.
By osmosis, tweens, teens and twentysomethings have all become top class photographers, stylists and picture editors. Some women as mature as their 50s are at it. As a result, the online community is increasingly zero tolerant of badly taken pictures - unless that is, you're trying to be deliberately 'old skool.'
But when it comes to selling houses, the exact opposite is the case. The inept use of smartphones to snap property by both estate agents and insistent owners, has seen the standard of home photography deteriorate beyond belief on property portals - the first point of contact for buyers. In fact the standard of pics for online advertising has become so bad that I believe anyone capable of applying the same basic principles of the tweenie Snapchatter can sell their home for a few thousand euros more on the basis of putting fewer people off at the first fence - that first online viewing. Internet photos are a home's visual CV. Get them wrong and less people come to view. Less viewers mean less competition and a lower price. The mistakes are:
* No styling - Snapchatters won't send if one hair is out of place. So why snap your house in disarray? I'm not talking showy stage furniture and flowers (although it helps) but simple tidying. Piles of clothes on the floor, dishes by the sink, bins in the front. General detritis and front doors obscured by bushes.
* No Light Control - Snapchatters don't send 'shadow' selfies. The house may be bright and airy but if the exposure is wrong then the online viewer will believe it's dark and dreary. And if you snap an interior when the sun is low in the sky, the light streaks through the rooms, causing overexposure and 'burnout'. This means pictures with big white blobs and streaks and dark shadow lines obscuring the detail.
* No Sun - Snapchatters love sending 'sun' selfies from resorts when they are tanned. While it might seem obvious, try to pick a bright sunny day in which the sky is blue for pictures. Ireland is a damp country with a grey sky and few colours in the built environment. Most buildings look desperately grim without sun.
* No Focus - Snapchatter don't do fuzzy selfies. Too many home pics are out of focus - suggesting the owners don't care. By association buyers assume they haven't cared for the house either.
* No Composition - You wouldn't send a selfie with your head chopped off so why take pictures with half a dining-room table showing and half a lamp hanging into it? Good pictures of interiors achieve two things - first, they are functional and show all of the room; second they achieve composition. Items should not be chopped in and out around the perimeters. If your home is cream and white and beige, it needs colour injected for the photos - so a big a bunch of flowers and a bowl of fruit won't go astray. Think Snapchat rules for house snaps and sell your home for more. A tween tell you how... pretty much.