Monday, January 28, 2013

When The Photos Hurt The Cause......

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Everywhere except in real estate advertising, where many of the photos seem to do more harm than good. This needs to change in order to generate home sales which are not due to foreclosures or short sales.

Today, I decided to randomly look at a pair of advertisements for homes in big cities priced at $259,900. One such home is in Houston, and the other in Minneapolis where two agents with two separate companies each have the responsibility to advertise for a buyer of a quarter-million dollar home.

This Houston home, which is advertised online via the Houston Chronicle, has a primary photo which is clearly reduced in size compared with the space allowed, as well as making it smaller than other properties in the same area. (Already one strike against this ad!)

The little bit of copy about this home says it is “free standing”, yet the (reduced) photo shows the home as practically right up against a similar looking home next door. It appears that had the photo been taken from the right side of the home instead of the left, it would have shown the corner in the background and actually LOOKED as though it really is “free standing”. In other words, the photo destroys part of the copy instead of reinforcing it.

In addition, the copy tells of “additional flex/gameroom space”, yet fails to provide any information about the size of this room or area. Thus, a potential buyer has no idea whether or not a home theater, pool table, etc. might even fit in this space. A look through the interior photos provided either did not show this “space” or showed it as a functional area instead of “additional” space as promoted via the copy.

Then, the “fenced back deck patio” stated in the copy does appear within the photo spread. However, the photo shows two uncomfortable looking chairs up against a wall next to the A/C unit. That description only would have left a lot more to the imagination. The photo hurt the cause big time.

To sum up, these photos say “nice compact space in the big city” while the description says “spacious”. Anyone looking for a home priced at over $250,000 has enough intelligence to notice the conflicting information. And then move on to explore other homes available in the same price range.

Next, it was on to the frigid north to check for the same priced home in Minneapolis. The first advertisement I found, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for a home there priced at $259,900, was, according to the web site “Updated on Dec. 11”. It was January 25th when I found this ad.

Granted, that “updated” information being on the page was probably not the fault of the advertiser, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable. But there’s more about this ad which is the fault of the advertiser. It’s the height of winter in the Twin Cities. Yet, the primary (and only) photo of this home shows bright sunshine, leaves on the trees and bushes, and green grass. In January in Minneapolis?

Before reading any of the copy, the readers of this prominently placed ad already know this home has been on the market for months and no one has bought.

I thought I’d give the advertising copy a chance anyway. And then the second sentence starts with “Built in 1946…….”. Let me get this straight. Out of all of the selling points of this home, the best the advertising agent could muster up is that this home is more than 66 years old? No matter how old this photo is, there’s nothing in it to have you think this home was worth more than $250,000 many years ago either.

Remaining copy points out a “finished basement”, “patio”, “corner lot”, and a “view of downtown”. Yet, the outdated photo provides zero proof that ANY of these selling points exist.

This is not to say the home is not worth that price or close to it. But it is to say that the right photo would have made a huge difference. Why not use an interior photo to show that finished basement? Or, use an exterior photo from a clear day showing the view of downtown?

Instead, the advertiser uses an outdated photo and highlights the age of the home within its ‘first impression’ time.

Neither of these two homes are labeled as foreclosures or short sales. Nor are they rehabs. Investors and flippers are not likely to look at these homes. Actual potential buyers (who would live there) are. If and when the photos and the copy match up, there might be some activity on these.

(The links to these ads:)

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