Allen Norwood

Buyers aren’t snapping lots of pictures

Smartphones with cameras are ubiquitous these days. For lots of folks, whipping that phone out to snap photos or shoot video seems almost as reflexive as breathing. Every moment, large and small, gets captured and shared. Except, it turns out, when those folks are prospective buyers touring houses for sale.

“I don’t see people taking that many pictures anymore,” said Joan Gardner, an experienced agent with Newport Properties at Lake Norman. “(Buyers) have already seen lots of pictures ... The Internet gives people a fairly good idea of what a house is like.”

I called Gardner after I came across a rule from the National Association of Realtors that says buyers should respect sellers’ instructions about photographing or videoing homes. Like many of the etiquette guidelines, it’s a common-sense rule. Of course buyers should be respectful and honor instructions.

I thought unauthorized pictures might be a growing problem with the proliferation of smartphones, but Gardner said no. Eight or 10 years ago, she said, buyers sometimes showed up with small video cameras. These days, though, the videos are already online – along with umpteen pictures in listing slide shows.

Sellers who list their homes not only are comfortable with that, but also understand that more exposure improves the odds for a sale. “They understand the more pictures on the Internet, the better.”

Of course, sellers and their agents post pictures that show homes at their best.

So when prospective buyers occasionally do snap pictures, Gardner said, the shots often include features that aren’t the best. If the online listing doesn’t include a shot of the kitchen, for instance, that might signal that the kitchen is small or dated. Today’s buyers don’t take pretty pictures of houses, she said – they take ugly ones.

Perhaps today’s technology has just rendered that rule about unauthorized pictures out of date.

Perhaps we’re all just more comfortable with our lives opened to others online. Gardner thinks that’s another reason sellers seem to have fewer reservations about pictures and videos of their homes.

It’s not more pictures buyers are interested in when she shows homes, Gardner said – it’s feet and inches. Will our sofa fit on that wall? Is the master bedroom big enough for a king-size bed?

They want to whip out measuring tapes, not smartphones.