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We used to tell homesellers they had approximately 60 seconds to sell their home. The critical minute started the moment a buyer showed up at their curb. If prospective homeowners liked what they saw from the street, they would head inside. First impressions were everything, so we worked diligently with sellers to make that first minute count.
Those days are gone. Now sellers have a fraction of that time, and the decision-making process happens long before buyers decide to actually visit. In fact, if buyer wannabes do not like what they see on their mobile devices, they will never even turn down your street. It’s “swipe left” and move on.
Originating in the online dating world, “swipe left” or “swipe right” has moved into real estate. As buyers search for new digs, if they like a property, they select it as a favorite and return later to browse the details. If they don’t like what they see? It’s on to the next profile.
Time required to make up their mind about any given home? Approximately 10 seconds.
With such a short amount of time and only one shot to win a second look from a prospective buyer, strategically-minded listing agents understand that the images posted online are critical. With current buyers spending so much time watching HGTV, tastes have shifted dramatically, and the desire for move-in ready homes has exponentially increased.
If a seller wants a buyer to “swipe right,” their home should closely resemble the properties buyers are seeing on HGTV. Pictures need to be high quality, and for the optimum effect, homes should be beautifully staged. Additionally, because millennial buyers are attracted to interactive viewing experiences, virtual reality-optimized 3-D tours are extremely beneficial.
Here are our top five tips for real estate agents looking to capitalize on their 10 seconds:
1. Educate sellers to the new reality
Extensive coaching may be required to help sellers understand how dramatically the buying process has changed since they bought their home. The classic seller argument, “We want to give the buyers the opportunity to upgrade the home the way they want to,” is dead. Homes that are effectively prepared will reap significant rewards.
2. Make sure the home’s key areas sizzle
Buyers are looking for updated kitchens and baths with solid surface counters, beautiful tile, gleaming floors, dual-pane windows and the like. Today’s time-stressed buyers do not have the time, energy or even the knowhow to fix up a home. They will gladly pay a premium for gorgeous move-in ready properties.
3. Effectively stage the home
It has been proven that staging makes a huge difference — leverage it effectively. Sellers must understand their home needs to visually match the tastes of the buyers, not the sellers. Furnishings should match the current styles in the primary furniture galleries in the area.
4. Hire professionals to take pictures
Keep your smartphone in your pocket. Pay the extra money to have 30 or so beautiful HD magazine-quality shots. A 3-D tour (such as Matterport) is a huge plus. A short video can be used to highlight the home’s key features.
5. Strategically order the pictures on the MLS
Start with one shot of the outside, then show the key areas of the house next. Bedrooms, hallways and other miscellaneous shots come last. You want buyers to see the highlights right at the beginning to hold them on the home’s profile as long as possible.
Don’t like the new reality? Sorry, this genie is out of the bottle. Listing agents who understand and help their sellers play by the new rules are the ones who score big. Becuase you only get 10 seconds, make sure those seconds count.
Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team. Follow him on Twitter.