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What NOT to Include in your Property Photos

When selling or letting a property, I cannot overstate the importance of getting the imagery right. As most buyers and renters spend hours scrolling through property portals before arranging viewings, first impressions are absolutely crucial!

So why then do so many people (and agents) get it SO wrong? Such is the volume of bad estate agency photos out there, that there are entire websites dedicated to mocking dodgy property pics (check out Terrible Estate Agency Photos).

I am yet to meet any estate agent who is also a fully qualified professional photographer, so be ready to do battle if they arrive at your door armed with a camera! And, be prepared to send them on their way if they don’t
agree to send out a professional photographer instead!

There are many elements that go into making great property photography – the weather, the skill and experience of the photographer, and the features of the house itself. They all go into making or breaking the shoot.

Aside from the photographer, there’s things YOU can do too, to avoid becoming an object of ridicule! Here is a list of what NOT to include in your marketing photos:

Grandpa, grandma or any other family member. Property photos that include people always look a bit creepy. It’s never okay, even if the person is sitting in the background or giving a friendly wave.

Boarded up windows and doors. If windows and doors are badly damaged or boarded up, replace them – or at the very least don’t photograph them.

Doll collections. Whenever we see lots of dolls in a room (and yes, I have seen this in property photos) I immediately think of Chucky from Child’s Play (he still gives me nightmares lol). Dolls, along with mannequins and skeletons, belong on horror film sets only.

Bathrooms covered in mould. Always give your home a good scrub before it goes on the market. People don’t want to view a property that comes with a health warning.

Outdoor items left indoors. Lawn mowers, quad bikes and trampolines all belong outside. If for some reason you keep them inside, understand that this is not normal. Remove them from the premises before taking marketing photographs.

Animals. All creatures great and small should be left out of property photos. They only serve as a distraction and make people wonder if the house smells.

Badly photoshopped images. Don’t be tempted to digitally add a dining table or a sofa to a photo of an unfurnished room. It never looks convincing; the furniture always looks like it is levitating ever so slightly off the floor. Other no-nos include adding sunsets or wildlife to images of the back garden.

Mirror images. When taking pictures of a room that has a mirror, a photographer can inadvertently capture their own reflection. This is too Alfred Hitchcock for our liking. Photographers should always position themselves carefully to avoid making a cameo appearance in the photo.

Intimate portraits of your lover/husband/wife. So, you’ve been to life drawing classes and are rather proud of that racy charcoal sketch you did of your beloved. We love your creativity but please keep such personal items out of sight.

Broken furniture piled high. People will be put off by the thought of having to fork out for a skip (or two) to remove your junk.

These are the most extreme examples of property photo fails, but the principle stands for all property marketing imagery. Make sure every room is clutter-free and clean and plan the shots.

So, ALWAYS get a professional to take the photographs for you. They’ll understand how to make the best use of light and to make rooms look spacious and airy.

There are lots of things you can do to increase the chances of achieving the best images of your house not only do it justice, but also as importantly to indicate the kind of lifestyle to which a buyer can aspire.

And, yes – I absolutely practice what I preach – at Helmores we ALWAYS use a professional photographer to get the best images.

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How not to lose £20,000 of the value of your home

On the 8th of July 2020, the Chancellor announced the first £500,000 of any property bought was exempt from Stamp Duty until 31st March 2021. This also included buy to let landlords (although they would still need to pay the additional 3% stamp duty level for second properties). Talking to many of you Crediton homeowners, I know lots of you are bringing forward your home moving plans to take advantage of this tax cut. Also, many Crediton portfolio landlords are looking to save paying the tax by bringing their portfolio purchases forward.  Yet how do you ensure you sell and buy your Crediton property whilst the tax cut applies (a saving of up to £15,000 of stamp duty on your next Crediton home?).

The biggest issue whenever you are selling your Crediton property is the properties that you are in competition with. Plenty of Crediton homeowners have jumped onto the stamp duty holiday bandwagon since the announcement and there are 93% more properties for sale in Crediton than there were during lockdown. The number of properties for sale in Crediton can split down into type…

  • Detached Crediton homes up 67%
  • Semi-detached Crediton homes up 180%
  • Terraced / Town houses Crediton homes up 114%
  • Apartments in Crediton up 50%

So, now you know what you are up against, what do you need to know?

The most important factor is the time issue. It currently takes on average 17 to 19 weeks between a sale price being agreed and the keys being handed over, meaning you need to have found a buyer before the end of November or early December to enable you to complete the sale by the 31st March 2021. That means you really need to have placed your property on the market by the end of September and early/mid-October at the very latest to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. Don’t get me wrong though, you could put your Crediton property on the market after that date, yet the price you will be able to achieve for your property could be affected.

There are 157 properties on the market in Crediton, of which 81 have sales agreed on them

Talking of price, or more specifically the asking price. There is a window of opportunity for Crediton homeowners to take advantage of this stamp duty tax cut, yet don’t let local estate agents curry favour with you by tempting you with a high initial asking price to win the right to put their for sale board outside your Crediton home.

A Which report stated in 2017 that many estate agents routinely over inflated the asking prices of the properties they brought to market. One might ask why this is an issue for Crediton property sellers, as surely, they can just reduce their asking price at a later date? The excellent report proved that those estate agents who on the face of it appear to be doing you some kindness by endeavouring to get more for your home with a suggested higher asking price, the property often ended up selling for much less than similar properties that were realistically priced properties from day one and also, they ultimately took longer to sell!

This Which report compared the original asking price with final selling prices for 370,000 properties to ascertain how many estate agents had reduced the initial asking price of properties in order to sell them. Which found that 70,300 (19%) of all 370,000 properties sold had to be reduced by at least 5% in order to get the property sold, whilst the other 81% (299,700) had no or very minimal reductions to get them sold.

Of the 299,700 sold properties that weren’t reduced or reduced by less than 5%, the average initial asking price was £261,000, yet they eventually sold for an average sale price of £260,000. For those 70,300 homes whose asking prices were reduced by over 5%, whilst the average listing price was £266,000, their eventual sale price was only £241,000, a loss of £20,000 each. Even worse, those properties with the heavy price reductions (5% or more) took an average of nine weeks and one day longer to sell (when compared to the other properties with no or minimal reductions).

What that means is by over inflating your initial asking price of your Crediton home, it will cost those Crediton homeowners an extra nine weeks to find a buyer and they will lose out on the final sale price by some considerable margin (meaning you will also probably lose out on the stamp duty holiday).

Assuming your asking is price is realistic, you aren’t out of the woods yet. Other things that will help you get the best price for your Crediton home in the best possible time (and thus save you money with the stamp duty holiday) are…

  • Everyone searches on the portals for their next home. Photos are therefore very important (a picture speaks a thousand words). If the weather isn’t good on the day of the photoshoot, ask the agent to revisit when the sun is out (and even tell them to hold off marketing the property until those pictures are perfect) … as you only get one go at being ‘new to the market’, with all the excitement and interest that causes.
  • Employ the services of a solicitor at the same time as instructing the estate agent. Bringing together the legal paperwork of the property you are selling. By doing so, you will save weeks between the sale agreed and completion. Also, solicitors will be really busy, juggling many property transactions at the same time in the next 200+ days. Anything you can do to get a head start on others can only help your cause.
  • Kerb side appeal. Look at your property from across the road. Does the front door need painting? Could a tonne of gravel spruce up your driveway? Maybe adding some hanging baskets and planted pots will help to make a home stand out for the best reasons?

The final piece of advice I can give you is if you are planning to sell your Crediton home, make sure your Crediton estate agent can show you proof of similar Crediton properties and what they actually sold for to back up their suggested asking price. If the asking price isn’t realistic, the chances are you end up losing many thousands of pounds and wasting everyone’s time.

If you would like to chat about selling your Crediton home, please do not hesitate to pick up the telephone – it all starts with a conversation 🙂