Photos are worth 1,000 words (and a lot of money too)

We “dog food” our real estate search product at Estately (we use it like a consumer): I subscribe to a couple of daily email alerts, a constantly updating RSS feed showing properties as they come onto the market near my house, and I subscribe to a feed of my saved homes to see when they sell.

Today two properties came on the market (welcome to Seattle prices, out of towners!):

$720,000 3 Beds / 2.25 Baths / 15 photos / 1,412 sqft / $509 per sqft
$729,000 0 Beds / 0 Baths / 0 photos / 1,700 sqft / 2,400 sqft lot / $428 per sqft

I didn’t even look at the second property – really, what’s the point? Like most buyers, I’m driven by emotion. I click through photos pretty much as fast as they load until one catches my eye, I linger, something about the property gets past my reptilian complex and I actually consider the details. Good agents know this on both sides; they take fantastic, eye catching photos or hire a professional to do so. Some of our Agent Match clients have found that they overlooked a great property with bad photos until they were dragged there by their agent and at least one was pleased to find that bad photos and staging could cost a seller upwards of $25,000.

If you are a consumer selling your house, dog food it. Subscribe to a daily email of new homes for sale for a month or two before you list your house and see what catches your eye. It’ll make “decluttering” easier.

If you are a realtor who works with sellers, dog food it. Sign up for a daily email from your company’s website. If your listing doesn’t look good there, you’ve lost a lot of the buyers who are currently in the market. You missed your chance to catch their eye and they’ve moved on to Craigslist. Maybe you can have a second shot at impressing them there.

6 Interesting tidbits from around the web

  1. Seattle is doing a lot of recycling and New York is listening. Did you know that it will soon be illegal to throw away food scraps? At Chez Ward we feed food scraps to the red worms in the bin so we don’t have to pay the city to haul our scraps away and then pay again to get them back.
  2. The DOJ released a website all about real estate commissions yesterday (beware the Inman paywall tomorrow!). We can argue all night and day about whether agents as a whole are “worth” 2.5-3%, but I’ll tell you this right now: some Realtors are and others are not. The DOJ says that an amazing 70% of home sellers negotiated the commission with their agent. Maybe the DOJ should set up a site on divorcing commisions or the frickin’ health care system, where rates have gone up a lot more than a few percentage points a year. OK, maybe this warrants its own post.
  3. Only “20% to 25% of the homes shown on the Internet (depending on your information source) use home tours and/or multiple photos … It indicates apathy, arrogance, negligence and many other bad words.” No points for trying; all extra photos must make the process of selling the house better, not worse.
  4. Apparently banks are even less rational than sellers about home values in a slow market. Teresa Boardman:

    “They often hire Realtors, but banks make lousy clients … Buyers need to understand that when making an offer in a bank owned property it can take weeks to get the offer presented and then accepted, or rejected. They don’t seem to negotiate offers like other sellers do, they just accept, or reject and wait for a better offer.

  5. Huzzah is a real word. Wikipedia says so.
  6. Lowell Elementary school ranks better than any other school in Seattle (using standardized tests scores). I learned this while ironing a bug out of Estately’s new Seattle real estate page. And I think I just broke the rules.
  7. Bonus: the past tense of help is holp. Anyone who says otherwise is decimating the language.

Changing the World One Banana at a Time

It appears that Rain City Guide has gone to bananas

The following photo baffled me when I first saw it.

How to explain someone linking to Rain City Guide with this photo?


With my curiosity peeked, I noticed that Ed Kohler posted the photo from his Flickr account… Hmm… Who’s Ed Kohler?

Ed is the man behind the the WhereToLive site (which is a decent map-based home search) and the Colorado Home Stop site (which is one of the best map-based home search interfaces I’ve been fortunate to play with!).

Ed emailed me last week to let me know about his Denver-area home search tool and despite my interest, I never got around to talking about it. But on the theory it is never too late, here are some of the features I really like:

  • Lightning fast
  • Photo scroll bar (Mac-style) at the bottom of screen that is connected to the map and highlights listings on map on mouse-over
  • Micro icons get bigger with zoom
  • Like Windermere‚Äôs maps, they bring every thing on one page, and aesthetically, it is much cleaner than the Windermere maps
  • Clean Trulia-style filters
  • Pull-down neighborhood search
  • Right-click functionality for zooming
  • Ability to compare homes without leaving the map

The moral of the story is that if you really want to get my attention, simply post a photo of a banana with Rain City Guide written on it and then let me discover it! I’m assuming that Ed is one of the monkey’s behind the banana site, and if so, it looks like he may be willing to help others out with a personalized banana!

Snow is Seattle's Kryptonite

And it snowed a couple of inches last night. It’s the not-quite yearly snow that sticks around through the morning, wreaking havoc on the commute and closes schools.

It’s also the day when people with SUVs spin out because they don’t realize that four wheel drive doesn’t actually help you stop any sooner. Tomorrow, the conversation at many work places will turn to “why people in Seattle can’t drive in the snow,” a conversation that always omits our hilly terrain and slushy snow.

My recommendation to new Seattle residents: live on Capitol Hill or in Queen Anne. The slight increase in elevation from sea level means more snow and the steep streets are impassable when we get a half inch, so can play hooky and enjoy the snow days guilt-free.


Photos that tell you something

Further to Galen’s post on photos, I like shots that tell you something. We have a 15 photo max, so that usually leaves room for more than just the obvious. Photo number one MUST be an EXTERIOR shot, per mls rules. And NO PEOPLE allowed. They seem to be Ok with pets…until they get one of those Boing-Boing shots. That will make for a “New Rule”.

This one of Soze (So-zay) saved me from the many calls I usually get, asking if the condo association permitted dogs :-)[photopress:tr.jpg,full,alignleft]


This photo brought 20 people the first day, and two offers. At least half of the people who came to the first Open House said the free standing archway photo grabbed their attention and prompted them to come.