… then you’d think that you’d try and have a half-decent set of pictures when selling what’s likely the biggest asset that you own.
In general, I think that U.S. real estate agents have figured this out. Most of the houses we looked at had been professionally photographed, some so well that they looked much better online (and in print) then in reality. Indeed, since we had one weekend to make a home purchase decision, those photos had largely been the basis for deciding what to see and what to skip (our agent helped a lot too).
By contrast, it doesn’t seem to have dawned on Canadian real estate brokers that this is actually important. Our broker walked around for 5 minutes with a point and shoot, getting some basic shots of each room. Even the Canada/Toronto MLS system offers pitifully low resolution pictures. Sure, some high end properties will have a decent set of photos taken, but this is typical:
These are just examples pulled off the MLS; there are plenty that are even worse (some bathroom shots have a full reflection of the agent in them, snapping a picture). In any case, watching our agent do things, I quickly offered to take some pictures myself and send them to him later in the day. Now, I don’t know the first thing about real estate photography, but even attention to the most basic of details produced something a little better:
My shots are far from professional, but even obscured by these ridiculously small image sizes (you can click to enlarge mine), I think that there’s at least some visible differences! I was already of the impression that real estate commissions are disproportionately large in comparison to the value added (much of which, especially on the selling side, is just access to a closed, limited database). The fact that this part of the selling process was apparently just worth 5 minutes of the agent’s time certainly didn’t win me over. Fortunately, he was much better at negotiation and other aspects of the transaction than he (or any of his peers) are at photography.
By contrast, a better-than-average but not so terribly uncommon shot on Zillow.com in one of the areas we were looking at, for a mid-end home, was the following:
This shot is clearly better than anything I took in our condo, and illustrates just how much I don’t know about taking good interior architecture shots. Indeed, the only fault I find with the U.S. listings is that they tend to use a somewhat excessive (for my taste) amount of HDR, though I’ll take the output any day over my own shots… and over pretty much any of the shots I see in Canada.
Finally, it was sort of funny – since my D7000 was being repaired for oil spots on the sensor (which have since returned… grrr…), I was lugging around the full frame Nikon D3 on our home finding trip. My real estate agent commented that she used to use a D3, before switching to just having a professional come in to get shots for the listing. But at least that goes to show that when she was doing the photos herself, at least she was trying to get the best possible results!