The internet has revolutionized many facets of our life. It's made many things easier, quicker, and more efficient - shopping included. Buying clothes and electronics can be done easily online with a click of a button. Photos and online reviews can help the buyer make a decision without even having to step foot in a store. Typically the products that are marketed the best, sell the best. But if you take the time to venture into a store, sometimes you can walk away with a good deal. It's no surprise that this parallels shopping for real estate.
When real estate buyers go shopping, many make the decision to see a property (or not) based solely on the MLS photos. On one side of the spectrum, you have the listing agents who will provide professional photos of perfectly staged rooms with flattering angles, giving a property that show home appearance. They are doing what they should be doing but will often generate a lot more interest, and consequently more offers and higher selling prices. You are unlikely to find a deal here. On the other side of the spectrum, you have the listing agents who include really unflattering photos of the unit or no photos at all. This is where deals are found!
Here's an example of an investment property I purchased last year. When I go deal hunting, I look for listings that include photos like this (Yes, these were the photos from the MLS listing - I kid you not):
I wouldn't blame anyone for skipping over seeing this unit. In my early days I did as well. However, because I knew the building, researched the floorplans, and used some of the other resources my realtor license allows me, I knew there was an opportunity here. If you can look beyond poor lighting, bad photography, and ugly furniture and get a sense for how the unit could look, there just may be a diamond in the rough waiting for you. As an agent, I always try to encourage my client's to see these types of places in addition to the "perfect listings". You never know what a unit actually looks like until you see it in person. More often than not, clients are shocked at how it actually looks! And due to the lack of showings from it's terrible online presence, I often secure first bidding rights, avoid bidding wars, and am able to negotiate pricing down. I've found many great properties for myself and for my client's by doing this.
Here are some photos of the same unit (from above) with better lighting, photography angles, and modern decor. Thank you Home Staging and Decor by GiGi!
Not bad, right? I'm certain with these 4 photos alone, the interest generated would have been vastly different. Instead, I negotiated the seller down way below market price, had no competition, and came away with a steal. The listing agent couldn't understand why his listing wasn't getting any showings since the condo was located so centrally downtown.
Hmm.. me neither. Can't wait for his next listing.