PROPERTY NEWS - Summer is traditionally the busiest home-buying season in South Africa, but serious buyers are active online all year round, and may well look through hundreds of listings before they decide on a few properties that they would like to view in person.
What is more, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, they will often decide in seconds whether they want to keep looking at your property or move on to another possibility, based solely on your listing photos.
"These days, if the visuals don't catch their attention, most potential buyers won't even bother to read the description of the property, even if the price is attractive."
Consequently, he says, it is more important than ever to make sure that your listing is accompanied by great photos or videos that will make it really stand out from the competition - even if you have to hire a professional to take them.
Tips from top photographers to make your home shine online:
• Make sure the first photo is a really good, level shot of the exterior, showing as much of the front of your home as possible, with no cars or walls blocking the view. This is the "first impression" photo, so it should be clear - and show off a home that is not only in good condition but "dressed up" and ready to welcome potential buyers. You don't want an overgrown garden, chipped paint or dirty pool to put them off - probably for ever.
• Show off your home's best features. Do you have beautiful stone kitchen counters? Don't hide them in the listing photos under blenders, toasters, coffee-machines and cutting boards. Similarly, you don't want to distract viewers from a newly renovated, fabulous bathroom with a clutter of scented candles, flowers and piles of magazines. And if you have a beautiful view from your sitting room, deck or balcony, be sure to make the most of it and photograph it in good weather.
• Don't be boring. Popular wisdom says you should present your home dressed in neutral shades so that potential buyers can imagine their own belongings in the space. But beige and grey photos won't get much attention, so don't be afraid to make up your bed with gorgeous luxury linens and pillows before you photograph your bedroom, for example, or to set the table to show off your entertainment area.
• Don't allow your agent or photographer to snap a mess. Even in children's bedrooms, potential buyers don't want to see toys lying all over the place, because it makes it look as though there isn't enough storage. Of course piles of dishes or laundry are also off-putting, as is a crammed and disorganised garage, so you may have to do some tidying up and decluttering before any photos are taken.
• Don' put your pets in the frame. Some people don't like the thought of animals in the house while for others, seeing your pets can be a sad reminder of their own pets that are no longer around. In any case, they are likely to distract people from what you really want them to see, which is how attractive your home is.
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says other ways to make your home memorable include a birds-eye view video, especially if it is a large property or one with an exceptional location.
These days, such images are relatively easy to capture by drone.
"Also very popular are night-time shots with all the interior and exterior lights on to make the home look glamorous, warm and welcoming -and 'seasonal' shots that show off great features like a cosy lounge with fireplace in the winter, or a sunny garden with a pool in summer," he says.
"And lastly, when it comes to interior photos, discard any that make your home look dark and mysterious. Most potential buyers are after light and bright and spacious, so it's best to take the inside photos during the day using as much natural light as possible."
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