What Realtors Can Learn from Match.com

I was 43 when I got married and being a modern woman, I met my husband online.  Prior to that, I had a lot of experience — both good and bad — with online dating sites.  The basics of any dating site are the same – you enter your search criteria then it pulls up a list of matches that fit your criteria.  You see a picture with a headline and then if you are interested, you click to get more information and look at more pictures.  You quickly find that the same people show up every time you search and so you scan through the familiar faces until you see someone new that piques your interest.

I am sure that I missed meeting some great guys because their picture did not appeal to me but let’s face it, first impressions mean a lot. 

This is the exact same process that most home buyers go through when they are looking for a house. In 2012, 90% of home buyers surveyed said that they began their home search on the internet.  Real estate search sites allow the viewer to search by parameters such as price range, number of bedrooms, etc and then pulls up a list of houses with a brief description and a “profile picture”.  If something interests them, they can see more pictures, perhaps a virtual tour and read more information about the house.  Active home buyers tell us that they pore over these sites regularly but once they have seen a house’s information and pictures, they don’t look at it again unless it made their short list.

The problem with many Realtors is that they rush to put the house on the market without making an adequate investment in getting great pictures.  I spoke with a Quincy, IL Realtor this week who said he was going to list a house but if it didn’t sell in 45 days, he’d have us come take professional pictures and add a real estate virtual tour.  45 days from now, the buyers who would have considered his house are going to have moved on and will be looking for new listings.  The first impression has already been made!

We often have Realtors add a Quincy virtual tour of their listing if the house doesn’t sell quickly but the real estate virtual tour is a small link inside of the overall listing.  You simply MUST capture the attention of the buyer with the initial photos in order to get them to view the virtual tour!!  We believe the virtual tour is a fantastic closing tool.  It is the tool that often gets a house off the “short list” and onto the “gotta go see this one now” list.  That’s why we provide high definition, professional still images for every one of our virtual tours.

Take a look at these statistics about home buyers from the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers —

Actions taken as result of Internet home search:

Walked through a home viewed online: 62%
Found agent used to search/buy home: 32%
Drove by/viewed a home: 76%

The reason that 76% of people will drive by a house they saw on the internet is that they want to verify the information they have read.  They want to see if the listing accurately represents the home.  They want to learn more and based on that information, 62% actually schedule an appointment to see the house.  It’s the same reason that online daters meet first for coffee in a public place — sometimes things aren’t exactly as they were portrayed in that profile picture!

Having professional vacation rental photographs and a virtual tour will not sell your house but it has been proven to get people in the door who are interested in buying your house.  The rest is between you and your Realtor!