5 tips for upgrading your listing's online appearance

As more and more homebuyers begin their home search online, it's critical to nail digital showings

Modern homebuyers and sellers are developing higher expectations for the digital tools available to them. More than 44 percent of consumers now look online before they start the homebuying process, and 90 percent of real estate firms have websites (including property listings in most cases) to assist in this increasingly digital process.

The problem is that digital showcases are inherently limited:

  • Space is distorted: Depending on how the home was photographed, there may be certain types of perspective distortion in play. Rooms may look smaller or larger because of the angle or lens on the camera, which can lead to incorrect expectations.
  • The environment can’t sustain interaction: You can’t reach out and touch a photograph. Touching and walking through a house is a totally different experience.
  • Context is hard to achieve: Depending on how you’re presenting the property, it may be hard to show it in an appropriate context; for example, you might not be able to show off a fully built home before it’s constructed.
  • Lighting and color can influence opinions: Subtle details, such as the lighting or colors in a specific room, can influence a buyer’s opinion; showing the property in person gives you more control over these variables.

So what can you do to improve digital showings?

5 strategies for improvement

Try using these strategies to make the most of a digital showcase:

1. Improve the rendering

You can start by using better software, which can support faster, more detailed 3D renderings. With better software in place (and, ideally, better hardware to run it on), you can simulate new constructions in a lifelike environment, complete with accurate lighting and textures. And you can simulate the details of an interior shot of an existing home as well.

The little details, combined with fast renderings, will enable any homebuyer to make a more informed decision and move through the process faster at the same time.

2. Use digital showings as a conversation starter

Digital showings should always be the first step of the process. This is the phase where prospective homebuyers are researching and discovering their wants and needs.

Each digital property should be a learning opportunity; what does the homebuyer like or dislike? After each round of digital property viewings, make sure to have a conversation with your clients, and come up with a new round to match their latest requests and insights.

3. Highlight the most important features

With each property you send for review, take a moment to consider the most important features. Is there a recently renovated kitchen that ties the home together, or a finished basement that adheres to your client’s most ambitious wish list?

Make sure the photos of these features are at the front of the showcase, and call attention to them. It’s a simple tactic that can make digital showings more powerful.

4. Use photos wisely

It’s tempting to stuff as many photos as possible into the digital showcase, and there are some advantages to this: for instance, it gives buyers the fullest possible perspective on how the property looks.

However, it may be better to show fewer photos if those photos show a clearer picture of the property overall and pique the client’s interest enough to move to a live tour.

5. Consider 360 photos or virtual tours 

Video tours are a fantastic introduction to any property because they give prospective homebuyers a simulated experience of actually touring the house. Similarly, virtual tours and 360-degree photography can provide an immersive experience that’s as close as possible to a live tour.

Visiting properties

It’s ideal to keep visiting properties, even if your client wants to make the process as screen-bound as possible. Touring a property in person presents homebuyers with a vision and an experience that currently can’t be perfected in a digital landscape.

When moving from a digital showing to an in-person showing, make sure to set the right expectations; you may need to clarify that some rooms weren’t pictured or that the previous photos were taken during a different season.

Preparing your homebuyers for a slightly different vision can help you nail the first impression — and ultimately finalize the home sale faster with a happier homebuyer.

Larry Alton is the CEO of Alton Enterprises in Olympia, Washington. Follow him on Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.