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Motivating your vendors to get ready for the photography

How much are you spending advertising properties that are tough to sell?

At Doctor Photo we edit many thousands of photos every month, so we see enough images to know that a lot of people don’t know how to present their properties in a way that will help optimise their selling price.

In my Property Photography Masterclass, I talk about a TV program I used to enjoy several years ago. A guy called Andrew Winter hosted Selling Houses. He’d turn up at a property that had been on the market for a year or more, and the conversation would go something like this…

Andrew: “So, I see you mend motorcycles in your kitchen, there’s a full-size trainset in your master bedroom, and you probably have some fish in that tank, somewhere, but I can’t see them because the water’s so green. Do you think these factors are helping you find a buyer?”

Owners (crestfallen): “Probably not”.

Andrew: “And what has your agent said to you about that?”

Owners: (much more animated now) “They’ve said NOTHING!”

The next step in Andrew’s process was to call the agent in and get them to comment. He’d ask what they thought; the agents would identify the presentation failures. Andrew would then ask what they had said to their clients about those. Of course, the agents would always say they’d said nothing, and because of that, they’d look pretty silly.

You know the rest – Andrew would get the owner to spend a small amount of money decluttering, maybe change a threadbare carpet and possibly wash down the paintwork – a couple of weeks later, they’d have their sale!

And that’s the way it is for the majority of houses for sale today where their presentation is less than perfect, and they’re looking for top dollar. Those are the properties that can stay on the market for months, absorbing your energy and (your) money – and all because you lack the courage of your convictions – but the story could be very different when you have a strategy!

If you have houses on your books that you know are/or are going to be challenging to sell because the owners don’t understand that they have a part to play, then you need to take control and motivate them to take positive action themselves. If you don’t, you could end up not selling for a year or more – trying to find a buyer at the vendor’s price (because that’s what next door’s pristine property achieved). And when you fail, you’ll get the blame. Rightly, in my opinion!

I know that last sentence will have annoyed many of you, but the fact is that you are meant to be the property marketing expert handling (probably) your clients’ most valuable assets. If you fail to help them to get their act together and explain why they have a part to play then, IMHO, you’ll be failing.

I was in your shoes for 37 years. I know many agents fear losing an instruction because they’ve ‘told the emperor he’s not wearing his clothes’. But experience should tell you that trying to sell poorly presented houses for the same price as their neighbours’ pristine  properties, is mostly a fool’s errand.

So, how do you get across to a vendor that they might need to help themselves to achieve their optimal price?

First off, you need to explain that the images you use to show the market have to be great. The better they are, the more clicks you’ll get on Rightmove. Rightmove says that pro-photos can quadruple the interest in a property. BUT, pro-photos of clothes hanging on a washing line, or washing up in the sink or clothes strewn all over the bedroom won’t help anybody. Thing is, many vendors don’t think about this stuff, and they’re left wondering why nobody wants to view their home.

I have photographed for some of the biggest country house names in the UK, I ask my agents to provide their clients with my pamphlet filled with tips on how to prepare. The most important part of this is found in the top right-hand corner of the cover page. It explains that top-notch presentation and photos will likely positively impact their selling price. If I were to redesign this today, I’d make that section larger. You can pick up a copy here to see what I mean, and you’re welcome to plagiarise it to your heart’s content.

Alternatively, you have a couple of choices. I came across a lady in one of my Masterclasses who works on the Isle of Wight. She happily spends 5 or 6 hours on each listing, tidying. She’ll take along flowers, change cushions and bedding and declutter until she’s confident she can take some fantastic photos to help attract the best buyer. Full credit to her – but most agents work under too much time pressure to take that extra care. And fees aren’t what they used to be. And who’s to say that the client won’t change their mind about moving once you’ve made it look amazing?

Another option is to sell the idea of hiring a house doctor. There are several companies around, and there will almost always be a local person with ‘an eye’ for design who would love to help. The owner will have to spend a bit, but the rewards most times get reflected in the optimised selling price.

If all else fails, then you can try sending your cluttered images to us at Doctor Photo. Here are some examples showing how we can get your properties looking better where the circumstances would otherwise be against you.

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