“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘that was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”
– Sam Haskins
As a former news cameraman turned real estate investor I can tell you that nothing gets me more revved up than seeing ANY type of real estate listing, whether it’s a home for sale or an investment property for rent, poorly photographed and presented online.
It’s costing the poor sap that owns it hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in lost profit or cash flow.
When was the last time you or anyone you know started looking to buy practically ANYTHING without seeing a picture of it first? According to the National Association of Realtors, 92% of buyers use the internet in some way in their home search process. While the statistics for home renters searching for a property to lease aren’t available, I’m almost certain the numbers are equally as high, or even greater. So if there are no pictures of your property in your online advertisement, or if they look dark, grainy, out of focus and poorly composed what chance do you have of finding a quality tenant?
With that in mind here are a few tips on how to make your investment property stand out from the crowd:
Use a Good Camera
Sorry, your smartphone doesn’t count.
Let me tell you, I cringe when I see people on vacation shooting all of their pictures with a smartphone. They will rue the day. Sure, the technology has a come a long way. But still, those images can’t compare to the quality a mid-range to high-end DSLR camera can produce. Not to mention, should you ever decide to get into digital photo editing you’ll have a lot more options for improving the picture with a DSLR (I recommend the Canon EOS 60D DSLR for $900).
A good camera will also have a wider lens, a nicer flash and be better in low light. These are important features to consider when photographing your investment property. The bigger, lighter and brighter your home looks the more interest you’ll get from prospective tenants.
If you don’t have a good camera, or can’t afford to buy one, then hire someone who does. When I’m unable to shoot pictures myself I hire a local Milwaukee area photographer for $75. It’s money well spent.
Clear out the Clutter
Unless your last tenant’s furnishings and accessories look like a Pottery Barn catalog I suggest you wait to take shots inside of the house until it’s completely empty and professionally cleaned. Very few tenants I know decorate their home in a way I find to be marketable. I’d rather have it clutter free and clean.
Kitchen, Kitchen, and Kitchen
It’s often said people spend 90% of their time in the kitchen. While the numbers may not be as high for renters, no doubt they too spend a lot of time there. So be sure to include lots of pictures of the kitchen and any special features it may have (dishwasher, disposal, above the range microwave, pantry storage).
On a side note, if your kitchen is ugly then maybe you don’t want to post a lot of pictures, that’s fine. However, maybe it’s time you consider a make over? It could lead to better tenants and higher rents.
The Riverwest Duplex
About three weeks ago we finished remodeling a duplex in the Riverwest area of Milwaukee (pictured above). In the online advertisement were 14 high-resolution photos, 4 of which included the kitchen area. We leased it four days later to the first tenant to see the property. Best of all, the gross monthly rent was nearly double the neighborhood average (for a video tour of this property click here).
While the photos may not have been the only reason we rented the home so quickly, or for so much, it certainly got the phone ringing and showings scheduled. This type of activity also creates an aura of demand, and of course that’s good for every landlord.