Home Buying Is Like Online Dating



It’s a digital world we live in now.  Almost everything is done online, by almost everyone.  Even retirees are on Facebook, searching for information on Google, doing their banking, and much more.  A couple of online services that have taken off in the past few years are dating services and new home research.  How are these similar you ask?

Most all the online dating services are the same, you enter information about yourself, enter some search criteria, you get a list of matches that closely fit.  You look through the pictures and headlines, and if you see one that piques your interest, you click to see more information and more pictures.  You find over time the same people show up on many of your searches, so you pass by the familiar faces until you see someone new.  I bet many people have missed meeting some great matches because their picture did not appeal to them, but let's face it, humans are very visual, first impressions mean a lot.  

Nowadays, this is the same process many home buyers go through when they are looking for a house.  In 2012, 90% of home buyers surveyed said they began their home search on the internet.  Real estate search sites allow for searching by parameters such as price range, number of bedrooms, home type, area, and much more.  The search results in a list of houses with a brief description and an initial picture.  If one looks interesting, buyers can click through to see more pictures, perhaps a virtual tour, and read more information about the house.  Active home buyers say they spend hours looking through these sites, but once they have seen a house's information and pictures, they usually don't look at it again.

Therein lies the issue with many Realtors in that they rush to put the house on the market without making an adequate investment in high quality photographs and a virtual tour.  One Realtor said he was going to list a house, but if it didn't sell in the first month, he would have professional photographs and virtual tour added.  A month from now, the buyers who would have considered this house will have moved on to other listings, never to return.  First impressions only happen once.

Many Realtors have decent photographs and will only add a virtual tour if the house doesn't sell quickly, but the real estate virtual tour is a small link inside of the overall listing.  You must capture the attention of the buyer with the initial photographs in order to get them to view the virtual tour.  High quality photographs and a virtual tour are the tools that often gets a house off their "maybe” list and onto their "want to see this one now" list.

Some statistics about actions home buyers took as a result of their internet home search, from the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

  • Walked through a home viewed online:  62%
  • Found agent used to search/buy home:  32%
  • Drove by/viewed a home:  76%

The reason that 76% of people will drive by a house they saw on the internet is that they want to verify the information they have read.  They want to see if the listing accurately represents the home.  They want to learn more and based on that information, 62% actually schedule an appointment to see the house.  Just like online daters meeting first for coffee in a public place, sometimes things aren't exactly as initially portrayed.

Having professional photographs and a virtual tour will not sell your house, but it has been proven to get people in the door who are genuinely interested.  If after seeing a high quality representation of the home, and they still call to schedule an in-person view, they must be very interested.  If they don’t call, the Realtor and home buyer did not waste hours of their valuable time seeing something they are not interested in.  It happened to my wife and I in our home search; we found a listing we thought we liked, but it didn’t have many photographs.  We scheduled a visit with our Realtor to get a look in person.  My wife took one step in the home and turned around, saying “we can go now”.  Wasted time for everyone.

High quality photographs and virtual tours save time and money.  Believe the power of high quality photographs and virtual tours.  It will bring high quality buyers to you, the Realtor.