Home truths: Your home through muck-tinted specs
Would you employ an estate agent who actively damages the prospects of selling your home?
Consider that I recently took 20 properties in Dublin as presented to me randomly by a popular sales portal - in the price bracket €300,000 to €350,000. I then judged the pictures which appeared for each property under five categories. I concluded that more than two thirds of the photograph selections shown online (65pc) actively damaged, rather than enhanced, the prospects of selling that property.
The categories I judged under were:
1 Brightness - were the pictures bright enough to see the rooms properly? If two or more of the main rooms had photos which were underexposed (much too dark), then the photos failed the brightness test. Twelve out of 20 of our Dublin selection failed because two or more main room pictures were too dark - that's a whopping 60pc. Most potential buyers will look at the pictures attached to that 60pc of properties and think "this is a dark house - I don't want a dark house". Most buyers don't realise the photographer, and not the house, is at fault and fully expect your home to look as it does in the pictures. Showing your home through muck-tinted spectacles repels rather than attracts buyers.
2 Composition - were the pictures decently composed? I wasn't looking for David Bailey-type creations here but I failed a property if two or more pictures of main rooms had cut off important parts without reason or appeared chaotic in their composition. In the case of the Dublin properties, nine out of 20, or 45pc failed.
3 Focus - were the pictures in focus? You don't show people holiday snaps in which the faces of you and your family are blurred, do you? If two or more shots of main rooms were out of focus, the property failed. It's obviously vital when selling a home to ensure potential buyers can see the rooms clearly. Seven out of 20 shoots included two or more main pictures which were fuzzy and out of focus. That's a 35pc failure rate.
4 Overexposure - did the pictures suffer from overexposure? This occurs when light from windows is not accounted for by the snapper. It leads to white streaks, bars or balls of light blanking out large parts of the picture. It's often referred to as 'burnout' or 'whiteout'. If a picture of a room is composed of one quarter of blank white space, which obscures important details, then it's badly taken. If two or more pictures of main rooms had burnout, then the pictures failed. Overall the selections attached to seven out of 20 properties (35pc) failed.
5 Minimal staging - did the photos include rubbish or debris which should not be in the pictures? This includes cars obscuring the property; piles of clothes or laundry; unwashed dishes; scattered toys or items which should have been removed for the shoot. While the agents or the photographers who took the pictures cannot be blamed for vendors refusing to tidy up; rubbish and debris affects the quality of those photos. In Dublin, four out of 20 homes (20pc) had two or more pictures which displayed inexcusable amounts of debris or rubbish.
Just seven out of 20 properties in the €300,000 to €350,000 passed on all categories - that's just 35pc. This doesn't mean the photography was brilliant in those cases - rather the pictures served their purpose and did no active damage to the prospects of selling the home. It also means that 65pc of photo presentations jeopardised, rather than enhanced, the property's sale prospects... in my view.
For a regional taster I picked Laois as my snap survey sample - for no other reason than it is neither wealthy nor poor and is literally "middle Ireland." This time I searched for properties in the €150,000 to €200,000 category - slightly above the average price range for Laois.
Eleven out of the first 20 properties that emerged from the search had two or more main rooms in the dark. That's 55pc. Laois's amateur snappers were better composers than their Dublin counterparts - six out of 20, or 30pc, had too many shots which were badly composed. So 70pc were up to scratch on composition for the purposes of showing a house. Next came focus - 25pc of the test group of Laois homes had two or more main-room pics which were blurred. But when it came to burnout, the rooms in Laois's homes for sale were streaked blind - 15 out of 20 homes (75pc) failed. Laois homes were tidier and better staged for pics - three homes featured eyesore rubbish or debris (15pc). Overall, however, just 10pc of the pictures presented for Laois properties passed all five test categories. It means that 90pc of picture presentations for Laois properties for sale were flawed in some way or other and could, in my view, damage the prospect of selling these homes. Why?
Smart phone cameras is why. Too many agents use them and they simply don't have the capacity to shoot interiors to a marketing standard. A professional photographer can cost as little as €100-€200 for a good job. Against the above results, this outlay could add thousands to your home's value. Skinflinting on pictures costs it. And that's the big picture.