16 Ways to Get Your Listings Noticed: From Start to Finish
1. Create a POWERFUL Description
Once you’ve entered in the basics – address and price – it’s time to get started celebrating your listing. Click the Description tab in Edit Listing mode to add up to 2000(!) words of information about your listing. You want to choose accurate and inspiring words that call out all of the great features this home has to offer.
Buyers are looking for information, and you’re in a position to give it to them. Don’t give a boring description that leaves prospects in the dark. For more help, read our recent post How to Write Listing Descriptions That Sell.
2. Go BANANAS with Features
Also part of the Description tab is the Features area – an area that lets you checkmark any features your listing has. These features appear under the description on your site and are divided by category: Interior Features, Exterior Finish, Roof, View, Appliances, Cooling, Heating, Sewer/Water Systems, Lot Features, Extra Features and Buying Options. There are 163 options to choose from, so get clicking to let your buyers know exactly what your listing has to offer!
3. And BULLETED Highlights
The Highlights area of the Description tab allows you to call out in bullet form anything you didn’t find in the Features area. Examples of possible highlights include “New Roof,” “Refinished Wood Floors” and “Greenhouse.”
4. Include a Price HIGHLIGHT
5. And a General HIGHLIGHT
Write a General Highlight that grabs buyers’ attention without requiring much reading. Think of the General Highlight as your listing’s tagline. If you had just a few seconds to make an impression, what would you say? First time on the market? Move-in ready? Oversized backyard with a pool?
6. JAZZ it up
Thought you were done describing the place yet? Think again. Yes, all online buyers are looking for information, but not everyone processes it the same way. Point2 Agent creates more opportunities to make an impact on buyers by providing that information in many formats. You can use our Attach Audio Description option to attach an audio file that can be played when listing details are viewed. Uploading a quick voiceover can help you reach busy prospects who don’t want to take the time to read.
7. Add LOTS of Listing Photos
As of last year, Express, Professional and Elite Point2 Agent members are able to upload an unlimited number of photos for each listing. How cool is that?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: photos sell homes. With so many buyers beginning their property search online, that old saying “leave a little something to the imagination” does not apply to real estate. If site visitors can’t find the images they want on your listings page, they are likely to move on to another listing or even website that does show them what they want to see. So go picture crazy, OK?
One more thing, take a minute to rename and reorder pictures before you post them. Living Room describes the room much better than IMG_412.jpg; this is especially important if your listing is already vacant and the function of each room is not apparent.
8. Create a CUSTOM Virtual Tour
You can use our customizable Virtual Tour feature on any listing that has at least 5 photos. (Don’t have 5 photos or more? Read #8 again.) Virtual tours allow your site visitors to tour your listing in an enjoyable, automated visual format, instead of always having to click, click, click. You can select your preferred music, reorder photos and customize pan and zoom options for each listing. Already have a preferred virtual tour third party service? No problem, just upload it!
9. Go ROOM by Room
Click on the Rooms tab to add details about each room, including the dimensions, flooring, photos and brief description. This is a great way to call out rooms with multiple uses or additional storage. Relocating buyers love it, too, because it helps them get a feel for a listing that they can’t easily go see.
10. ATTACH Files
Give your listings a little extra credit by using the Attachments tab to attach documents that prospects want to see – and save yourself the work of sending out unnecessary emails. You can upload floor plans, information about the proposed development, approved remodeling permits… just about anything, really.
11. PRINT It Out
You’ve just put together a ton of information about your listing for online prospects. Encourage them to save or print that information by creating a downloadable Listing Brochure. Any visitor who accesses your listing brochure will be recorded in your Online Office.
Listing brochures aren’t just for online customers. You should also print out your branded brochures to use as part of your offline marketing campaign.
12. Make it SPECIAL
Want to take things a step further? Give your listing its very own site. A dedicated Single Property Website will make your listing stand out from the crowd. Sellers love seeing (and sharing) a single property site dedicated to their house, and buyers feel they add value to a listing, too. Express members get 1, Professional Members can have 5, and Elite members have access to unlimited single property sites.
13. Send It ANYWHERE You Want
Thanks to Point2’s listing syndication network, you can easily advertise your listing on over 50+ online real estate consumer sites, no further manual entry required. When you’re done inputting the details of your listing in Point2 Agent, click Save and Syndicate to select which partner marketplaces you’d like your listing to appear on. Choose Select All to send your listing everywhere or individually check the boxes next to each syndication partner, it’s completely up to you!
14. BLOG About It
If you are actively using your Point2 Blog (Professional & Elite members only), generating automated blog posts about your listing is a snap. In your Online Office, got to Edit Listing and select the General tab. Check the “Write a blog post” box under the listed date to prompt a blog post that tells your readers about your new listing. Check the box under the price fields to prompt a new blog post anytime the price changes. It’s that easy!
15. Tell Your FRIENDS
Last year we added social sharing options to Point2 Agent. Now you can share your listings directly to Facebook, Twitter and more, right from your Online Office. Posts are pre-formatted so you don’t have to do any extra work. From your My Listings page, click the Share button in the right column to tell all of your online friends about your new listing.
16. SHOW It Off
By now you have a gorgeous, detailed, well-marketed listing – way to go! Showcase all of your hard work using ShowHome, our iPad app designed to add a little style to the home showing process. Whether you’re taking buyers on a home tour or just browsing listings with a client in your office, ShowHome’s high resolution photo galleries, client feedback fields and branded PDF reports will give your listings a little extra gloss.
Phew! You did it! Your listing is totally optimized; you can read it, hear it, see it, watch it, find it, share it, take it home and showcase it. And you did it all with tools available in your Point2 Agent account. Nice work!
Understanding Exposure: Listing Interiors
The most difficult part of real estate photography is, without question, the listing interior. To make matters worse, the average listing requires at least thrice as many interior photos than exteriors. While some agents see listing interior photography as a frustrating, dreadful process, others see it as an opportunity. Opportunity lies in the inherent difficulty of shooting listing interiors, and the potential to stand out from the competition by learning to master this difficult process. Here’s a photo that I feel is similar to the average beginner’s attempt at a listing interior:
If you read my previous post on shooting listing exteriors, then you will be aware of how I initially analyze a scene before the shoot begins. What I see is a room consisting of bright, mid, and dark tones. In this case, the windows and reflections are very bright, the walls and area rug are mid tone, and the floor and shadows are very dark. You may find it easier to analyze the scene in gray scale:
Unlike the listing exterior photo, the dynamic range of light in this living room cannot be captured in a single shot. In other words, if I set my camera to expose in accordance with the average amount of light from the entire frame (i.e. full frame metering), I will overexpose my highlights and underexpose my shadows. That’s what has happened in the photo above. It’s true, there are some areas of the photo that are exposed correctly, but not all areas, and that’s really what we want to achieve here.
So, there are two ways that we can tackle this photo: 1) High Dynamic Range (HDR) Processing – What I would call the software approach – just bracket your exposures and combine them using specialized computer software. I wrote more about this in a previous post. 2) Use Off-Camera Flashes – What I would call the hardware approach – increase the amount of light inside the room so that it matches the intensity and color of light coming in through the windows. Additional photographic equipment is required for this option. If you’d like to learn about off-camera flash basics, read this post first.
I want to focus on option #2, and add additional light so that a well exposed photo can be obtained in a single shot. So we’ll need a couple of off-camera flashes, and a few other things, but I’ll get into the exact requirements and processes in my next post.
Also, bonus points go to those who were displeased aesthetically with the photo above: uneven curtains, cushion on floor, throw blanket on couch, messy tablecloth, awkward lamp, etc. As always, it’s important to run through a checklist to make sure your photos will look their best.
We observed a listing interior from a photographer’s perspective only to discover that a perfect exposure could not be obtained in a single shot. There was just too much contrast between the light entering through the window and the dimness of the interior. So, today we’re going to start looking at how to tackle these two conflicting exposures.
If you choose to shoot in the direction of an uncovered window, which is often unavoidable, you’ll have to concede to the brightness of the sun. You can minimize the intensity of light by shooting at a different time of day (dusk/dawn), during overcast, or by blocking the window with curtains, but it’s not always easy to reschedule shoots, and some windows are best left wide open. If you find yourself shooting in this kind of scenario, there are a few gear options to choose from (and each will vary from person to person): Option #1 – Full Control A full setup involves three or four strobes (flashes), a DSLR camera body, wide angle lens, some Pocket Wizards, light stands, reflectors/umbrellas, a metering device, gels, and a tripod. The advantage here is that you can really control where you add light, the amount of light, and the softness of the light. Furthermore, Pocket Wizards will allow you to set up wireless so you can position lighting where you want with minimal clutter. Proper light metering and color correction will allow for all-around consistency in exposure which provides maximum detail with minimal noise.
The downside to having full control is that the gear is pricey – I’d estimate about $4,500 minimum for everything, unless you were able to find some used items or opt for lower quality gear. The other thing is that all of the gear can be a bit cumbersome to lug around. A decent-size lighting bag and another camera/lens bag should be expected. Batteries, memory cards, clamps, filters, adapters, editing software and other random gadgets/gizmos can add up too.
Option #2 – Basic Control A basic setup involves two or three strobes, a DSLR camera body, wide angle lens, light stands, and a tripod. Gels are optional, but you might have to do a slight color correction afterwards if you choose not to use them. Instead of reflectors, light can be bounced off of ceilings, walls, or even sheets of paper. Pocket Wizards are best, but new flashes have built-in, infrared communication, so for simple setups that works fine. You may choose to pick up a commander unit if you want to avoid using on-camera flash. Also, a little trial and error will allow you to eliminate the light meter if you have to. It’s important to note that the quality of the photo will suffer after cutting out equipment, but sometimes it’s better to learn using the essentials, then add equipment as required.
The basic setup still allows us to get a nice wide view of the room, and target our light at dim areas in an attempt to balance the intensity of interior and exterior light. You might have a hard time getting perfectly balanced light in all areas of the room, but it will still be far better than using no lighting at all.
Option #3 – HDR (High Dynamic Range) Processing HDR for interior listing photos requires a camera with a wide-angle lens (not necessarily a DSLR), editing software, and a sturdy tripod. It is by far the least expensive of the options, but not always the easiest. HDR images require practice, and may suffer from noise, color inaccuracy, and/or tone issues.
There are some HDR real estate photos out there that are stunning, and others that look like quaint little homes from M83. I highly suggest tackling HDR photography only if you have a good eye for realistic color and tone.
Next, we’ll discuss setup and some issues to watch for while shooting.
I found the perfect dining area for a demo interior shoot. The room had bare windows, stainless steel appliances, reflective cupboards, and shadowy nooks – in other words, lots of obstacles. I even let the two dogs stay in the house, despite having to periodically call them over to me to get them out of frame. I limited myself to a DSLR camera with a wide angle lens, two strobes, two light stands, two umbrellas, and a tripod (more on gear choices here) – and here’s what I ended up with:
Listing Interior (Final Shot) – Two-flash setup
It’s not a perfect interior photo, but I think it’s pretty decent based on the difficulty of the area and the limited number of flashes. The image is well exposed except for a couple of dark areas and a few blown-out highlights. If I could, I’d add in one or two more strobes to better illuminate the cupboards, minimize shadows, and try to prevent light falloff. Most importantly though, I managed to balance the interior and exterior light. If you remember from Part 1 of this series, a common problem is when the interior and exterior light cannot be balanced, which was the case with this room. Here’s a shot taken without a flash, using full-frame metering:
Listing Interior – Without Flash
According to the camera’s metering system, the photo above is perfectly exposed. However, we can clearly see that the shot suffers from both over and under exposure that has rendered most of the visible areas useless. In order to compensate for this problem, we need to add light to the interior – which is exactly what I did.
So, here’s how I did it:
1) Select a Metering Mode As usual, I started by observing the scene and determining the areas that were both brightest and darkest. There was nothing I could do about the sunlight/window, so I decided to use it as my principle level of exposure. I set my camera to Spot Metering, which we discussed a while back, so that I could target the bright window area.
I spot metered my camera to the window and manually configured the settings to f8 for my aperture and 1/200 second for my shutter speed to allow for a decent depth of field. I metered the shot at 200 ISO. Here’s what I ended up with:
Listing Interior – Spot metered to windows.
Now, this photo may look absolutely terrible, but it’s exactly what I wanted/expected. The exterior light is no longer overexposed, and it gives me a point of reference for my interior light requirements.
2) Add Strobe/Flash #1 Now that we have a reference point, it’s time to add the first light. I set up the first flash to the left of the camera, and I bounced the light in an umbrella. Bouncing the light softens it, and makes for less distinct shadows. The light stand was erected as high as I could get it, and angled down on the dining area. I initially set the flash to 1/2 power, but increased the strength after a couple of test shots. A light meter would eliminate the need for trial and error, but we’ll get into that another day. Here’s one of the test shots:
Listing Interior – One-flash test shot.
On the positive side, the interior and exterior light are closer to being balanced, but there are a few reflections, and dark areas that require attention. Sometimes you just have to tweak the placement of lights and continue doing test shots to get it just right.
3) Add Strobe/Flash #2 Once you get the first light in a good location, it’s time to add the second into the mix. I didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver, but I found a good spot at the end of the room to the right of the camera. Here’s the basic floor plan with camera and flash placement:
With a bit of tweaking, I was able to get a shot I was happy with. Flash #2 was erected to about 5-6 feet, also bounced off an umbrella, and set at 1/2 power.
I had to perform some minor color correction to the final image in Adobe Photoshop, as I chose not to use color correcting gels. The image was shot in RAW which allowed for some added flexibility in both exposure and color temperature. You can use this method with any number of lights, just keep adding them in until you have enough. It’s a bit more time consuming, but it is a great way to stand out from the crowd – and we all know that in real estate, standing out from the crowd is a very good thing.