Having moved in the last two years and as someone who studies housing, I have recently seen a lot of online pictures of homes for sale. The pictures should help a potential buyer make a decision about a home: does it have the features one wants? But often, one finds pictures that are completely unhelpful: they are taken at a bad angle, highlight some of the worst things about a home, or really don’t offer much information at all. Here is one example of a picture I found on Redfin.com for a home for sale in Downers Grove, Illinois:
Perhaps the back door couldn’t be opened because the home is a foreclosure. But really, can’t the photographer open the screen door and take a picture of the back yard (which has a nice deck and swimming pool – though it does back right up to a set of townhouses) that actually shows its good features?
This is not just an isolated shot. While there is a picture of the living room, kitchen, one part of the bathroom, and the basement, one of the seven pictures total also features the laundry room:
Of all the shots I could have in order to assess whether I might want to purchase what looks like a nice house, seeing the laundry room doesn’t help much. And it appears the seal of the door into the room is coming off.
I don’t mean to pick on this particular house; this is a problem for many houses listed online. I have heard of realtors using photographers to get the best shots – I bet this makes a difference in the long run. Since much of homebuying seems to be about impressions (at least in the initial whittling-down phase online), these kinds of bad pictures don’t help.
(A side note: I would be interested to hear from realtors on whether these online pictures make their job easier or harder. On one hand, it limits their corner on information – now the average consumer can do some of the searching themselves while the information available to the average homebuyer was more limited before. On the other hand, perhaps this is a more efficient use of realtor’s time as homebuyers already have whittled down their list of options before asking the realtor to show them homes. This could be an interesting research project.)