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  • Writer's pictureDebbie DeMarais

Curb Appeal Becomes Internet Appeal: Maximize Online Real Estate Listings

Last week, I showed you how to arrange your home to appeal to buyers in the age of COVID. The second piece of the pandemic real estate puzzle is making sure your home has a compelling online presence.

In the “before times” you could often rely on the in-person charm of a property to help sell it to interested buyers. But these days? The vast majority of the homebuying process is happening virtually. That means buyers are doing their shopping online before they see a home — if they ever see the property in person at all. Sight-unseen sales are sharply on the rise. According to a survey conducted by Redfin last year, 45% of buyers put in offers on their new home without ever seeing it in person.

Thanks to the shift towards working from home, more people are moving away from big cities and making other cross-country moves. Your online presence not only appeals to buyers in your local market, you’ll be reaching potential buyers from across the country (and even across the globe).

Stylish Santa Fe living room with kiva fireplace and bright red front door
For the majority of buyers during COVID, the first online photo of a property listing is their first impression.

Non-negotiable: Good photography and 3D tours

Step aside, curb appeal. Online photos are the new first impression. Using a good real estate photographer to capture your home is critical for generating real interest. Despite the recession driven by the coronavirus, the real estate market is strong. High-quality, professional photos are your best bet for getting a potential buyer interested in your home. I encourage everyone to make sure their real estate agent brings in a pro for the photos.

Once a buyer swipes through the photos, their next move is to take a 3D tour. What used to be a quirky add-on to a real estate listing is now practically a requirement. According to the New York Times, Zillow reported a 152 percent increase in listings with 3-D Home tours from 2019 to 2020. Listings with virtual home tours attract more traffic compared to listings without them. And most importantly, the virtual 3D tour is a shift that probably won't be going away any time soon.

A 3D home tour allows potential buyers to simulate standing at different points throughout the house (indicated in the example below by white circles on the floor). They can navigate from point to point to simulate walking through the room, and each point offers a 360º view as if you were actually in the space. In addition to all that detail, some 3D tour platforms allow you to access an interactive floor plan view and use a virtual ruler to measure spaces!

Open concept living room as seen in a virtual tour
3D home tours simulate the experience of being in a room and looking around from specific vantage points.

To add another level of appeal, aerial drone photography can capture views, property surroundings, and landscapes that interior shots can’t convey. This can be especially effective for generating some WOW-factor if a property has a larger lot size or offers impressive views.

But here’s the catch

A good photographer can capture the lighting, the angles, and the mood that presents your home in the best possible light. A 3D tour can give buyers an experience that’s as close as possible to actually walking through your home. But a photographer can’t make a cluttered room look open or give an empty room a sense of function. A 3D tour can’t make an outdated room look modern, or four blank walls and a floor look like an office. Many people assume a photographer will be able to edit the way a home looks, but in reality, liability issues prevent them from altering your home at all...

Winter chamisa in front of stucco walls of Santa Fe home
Stylish living room seating arrangement focused on hardwood coffee table
Instagram and AirB&B have raised the bar for online photos, and a good real estate photographer knows that.

That’s what a home stager is for

In order to look its best for the cameras, the rooms in your home should be arranged to maximize their potential. In a furnished home, a home stager will banish clutter and overly personal items so the buyer is not distracted. They’ll make sure rooms are staged to suggest practical, functional uses, such as the work-from-home and distance-learning mentioned in my previous post.

In the case of a vacant home, a home stager will bring life to the photos and the tour. They’ll populate the rooms with furnishings and décor that create an inviting, appealing look—one that helps the buyer envision themselves in the home. Even if you don’t stage every room in the house, staging the public areas, like the living and dining rooms, and at least one bedroom (preferably the primary bedroom) can go a long way towards capturing a potential buyer’s attention.

Master bedroom suite with neutral tones and calming blue-green paint color
Ideally, a whole house would be staged, but if one must prioritize choose the living, kitchen/dining, and a bedroom.

Don’t miss out on the good offers

Yes, the housing market remains strong despite the pandemic. But with our new realities, the way people buy real estate has shifted. Not optimizing the way your home appears to the online buyer is simply an invitation for your home to be overlooked.

Hire a professional home stager and you’ll ensure your home looks great in photos and on your 3D tour. The cost of staging is relatively low, and the returns it yields is high. An attractive online presence is the best way to generate competitive offers and sell your home during COVID.

Image Credits: All of the above images, and the 3D tour for the featured property in this post, were provided by the talented Aram Noah Herrera of Airs Cloud Virtual Tours.

Want to generate the most interest for your home? Ready to make your listing stand out from the crowd? Professional home staging is the way to go. In addition to offering my full suite of staging surfaces in the Santa Fe area, I also provide online staging consultations for occupied homes. Contact me and let’s talk about making your home look its best online.

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