Do pictures and Virtual Tours really matter?

My answer is YES.   When it comes to marketing Real Estate pictures DO matter…  But I sell Wisconsin Real Estate Photographic Services and Virtual Tours so you might suspect I might be just a little biased.

Is my opinion based on self interest or on facts?

Let’s look at some facts and see what your opinion will be based on those facts.

In the upper left corner of this post is a graph known as a histogram… this one has red bars.  The resolution isn’t very good so you can’s see the numbers but what is shown is pretty dramatic.  This graph is from REALTOR.com and it shows the number of ‘hits’ a listing received over a nine week period begining in the middle of April 2008.

This isn’t some listing from some far away place in some market different from Southeastern Wisconsin.  This is a listing right here in the Milwaukee area entered into the Greater Milwaukee Area MLS.

The property was listed in the middle of April but the sellers really weren’t quite ready yet.  Even though the listing needed some cleaning and painting and staging, the sellers and the REALTOR… especially the REALTOR… rightly thought the best thing to do was to get the property to the spring market as soon as possible.  The sellers thought that the work would be finished in a week.  A couple of exterior pictures were taken, the property went into MLS and then uploaded to REALTOR.com.

Well, the interior cleaning, painting and staging streched from a week to three weeks.  In the first three weeks with just a couple of pictures in MLS and on REALTOR.com the listing generated around 50 hits per week as the graph above shows.  Not bad if you don’t know any better.

After the cleaning, painting and staging were completed I photographed the property, then uploaded the maximum number of images to MLS and REALTOR.com along with a large Virtual Tour.  The number of ‘hits’ jumped dramatically.

In the first week with the maximum number of photographs and a Virtual Tour, there were over 200 hits– four times as many ‘hits’ as with just a couple of photographs.  In the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth week the number of ‘hits’ on the property by consumers was never less than 300 per week.  The more pictures… the more consumer interest.  The more consumer views the greater chance you’ll connect with the consumer who wants to buy the property.

Do pictures make a difference?  From the example… the facts above… the answer is yes.

Here’s another set of facts…

Below is another graph; this one summarizes the results of a study Point2 Technologies did in 2008 analyzing the effect of photographs and Virtual Tours on Real Estate Consumer behavior.

It’s plain to see that Listing Views, Consumer Interest and Prospects Generated increase with the number of Photographs.

Do pictures make a difference?  From this set of facts the answer is yes… again.

Just to be clear on what these facts DO say and what these facts DON’T say…  Your listing will get MORE activity; more meaningful activity as the number of pictures increases.  That fact is clear.  What these facts don’t say is that a poorly maintained, over priced listing will sell.

The sale of a listing is a partnership between the Seller and the Real Estate Agent.  The Seller provides the pricing… with guidance from the Real Estate Agent…and the Seller provides the condition of the property.  The Real Estate Agent provides the Marketing.

Have you ever had a beautiful listing priced to market and had little activity and an expiration in 90, 120 or even 180 days? The facts should tell you that you failed to get as much market exposure as you could have with MORE pictures.

Properties for sale– well over 100,000 active listings– entered by Real Estate Professionals into the Point2 Agent website network over the first quarter of 2008 were included in the Study. The Study covered economic regions across every U.S. state, every Canadian province and several other countries around the world.

The sample of listings was analyzed based on the number of photos that each listing included. The number of photos was then plotted against three key variables:

Views – how many times a listing was viewed online;

Interest – how many unique visitors interacted with a listing, such as going beyond the initial set of photos to view the listing’s virtual tour… and, 

Leads – the number of unique visitors who went on to contact the listing broker or agent.

So here’s the question again. Do pictures make a difference?  From this second example… the second set of facts above… the answer is yes again.  

But let’s be clear on what the facts DO say and what they DON’T say.

Will more photographs cause your poorly maintained overpriced listing to sell?  The answer is no.  But if you have a beautifully staged listing priced to market you WILL get more attention and your chances of selling that listing increase dramatically because of the increased exposure.

Mark Jay
Order a virtual Tour (414) 771-7713