Seller Beware

It’s a tough time for sellers right now, at least for most of cities in the Bay Area.  So if you don’t have to sell right now, it might not be a bad idea to wait.  If you need to sell for whatever reason, make sure you hire a professional and responsible agent to list your house.  They may not get the price you want (because the market determines the price, not agents nor sellers) but they may get your house sold before the one around the corner from yours.

As a seller, you should at least ask the listing agent to give you a copy of MLS listing and the flyer they make to market your home.  Agents are only human, they make mistakes and no one knows better about your house than you do as the homeowner.  So double check the work your agent does for you, make sure the listing price is right, the schools are right, the square footage is right, and especially make sure the pictures look the best they can.

In today’s market, a house will sit on the market for more than 60 days for two big reasons – either it is overpriced or it didn’t get enough attention from buyers. 

Buyers are in the market to buy but they have a lot of houses to choose from and they have time to compare, so they are a lot more calm than in 2005.  If your home is overpriced, buyers have the time to figure that out and they are going to buy the best house in their price range.  Houses are still selling, and price can overcome any objections buyers might have such as ok schools, busy streets, outdated interior, etc.  Price is the key factor if you want to get it sold fast. 

On the other hand, 85% of buyers today start their home search online.  Even Realtors start their home search for their clients online.  Some people drive around to pick up flyers for homes they may find interesting.  So after they type in all the criteria for searching, the first thing they see on the MLS to decide if they want to make the effort to see the house are THE PHOTOS!!!  I don’t know how many times I hear buyers talk about how bad the photos are that they see on MLS – it makes them feel like they don’t event want to bother to see the house.

Although an overpriced house with great photos doesn’t guarantee the sale, you are not going to get the house sold if you can’t get buyers in the door to see the house.  As a seller, you should care who took the photos and how the photos turn out.  This is a basic concept of merchandising your home.  So when the listing agent wants to talk with you about a “price reduction”, you want to know if your house didn’t get sold because the price is unreasonable or because no one has come to see it.

Santa Clara County’s MLS allows each home to have 9 photos and a link to the virtual tour, so out of my curiosity I did a quick scan on current listings.  I searched listings located from Palo Alto to Los Gatos (excluding San Jose), in the price range from $600K to $800K, single family house that are listed more than 60 days on the market, and it came out to 82 listings.

Out of 82 listings, 13% have only a map (no picture at all), 9% have one picture of the front of the house, 16% have 2-5 photos, and luckily 62% have more than 6 pictures.  On top of that, 10% have a virtual tour, but only 5% the photos are really good.  Basically, we have 22% of listings that are not selling have only 1 or no picture at all, that is almost 1/4 of all listing — no wonder they are on the market more than 60 days.  However, only 5% of all photos are really good which is sad.  When I say “really good” I am not talking about professional grade, I am talking about the rooms look bright; I can tell the color of the sofa in the living room; and I can see how the house looks like from the front.

By comparison, there are 39 houses listed between 3/1 to 4/30 that are now sold or pending, 10% have only a map, 5% have one picture of the front of the house, 3% have 2-5 photos, and luckily 82% have more than 6 pictures.  On top of that, 13% have a virtual tour, and 21% the photos are really good.

Don’t believe me??  Let me show you a few photos from MLS that are currently listed and you will understand what I mean.
Example_2_2
Example_6
Worst

Example_1Example_4
Example_7Those just some of the photos and I am sure you have seen some of them too.  Can you believe the third photo from the top is a agent sitting inside of his/her car (did you see the side mirror), not even roll down the window (see the window sticker) and maybe taking the photo from a cell phone.  If you are a buyer or even a agent that are searching houses online, would you go see these houses or just skip it when the gas is $4+ per gallon?

– Sabrina

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