Three of the industry’s leading portal figures have studied their data and arrived at a simple conclusion: photos are the most important part of any listing.
That’s why agents who take the cheap option with photography are doing themselves a major disservice, according to Domain Group chief operating officer Tony Blamey, Onthehouse Group Chief executive Chris Meehan and Homely co-chief executive Jason Spencer.
House hunters use photos as a key way to differentiate properties, says Mr Spencer.
“Beautiful photos stand out like you might see on an Instagram feed,” he says.
“If we see an amazing property with incredible photos, we feature it, they get in our blog or social media and then they get so many more views, so you’re not doing yourself any favours with poor photography. I don’t understand agents who only use thumbnails.”
Mr Spencer points out another mistake that is made by about 20 per cent of agents who list on Homely – putting watermarks on their listing photos.
“It does them no favours, because it generally looks really poor and you spoil the search experience for the consumer, so we encourage people not to put watermarks,” he says.
But how many photos should agents include on their listings? Mr Blamey says that all things being equal, a listing with more photos will be more enticing than one with less – assuming the photos are of a high standard. “With mobile, we make it really easy to browse photos. As a consumer, I want to see as much of a property as I can,” he says.
Don’t forget the words
Mr Meehan is also convinced that images – rather than words – play the main role in attracting buyers’ attention. “I think people look at the photos before they read the content. They’ve got to be good, sharp images, and if you hook them they may then look at the content, but they will probably judge the listing more on the photos than what you’ve written,” he says.
That said, Mr Meehan explains that listings generate maximum impact when the words operate in harmony with the images. He notes the importance of an enticing headline – a good headline will always deliver more clicks than a poor headline, he explains.
“If I get an email, I want to know very quickly in the headline what the email is going to share with me. I don’t have any opinion on how long it should be, but it needs to be long enough to lead into a story, and the headline needs to match the images and also lead to the content. There needs to be a link between the three,” he adds.
More is more
Agents might think they’re being clever in withholding information from their listings, but Mr Blamey from Domain disagrees. He says that trick no longer works with today’s buyers.
“They’re hungry for information and want to be empowered to make a decision around that information. If they like the property they’ll make contact, so I don’t think withholding information works anymore,” he says.
Mr Meehan from Onthehouse says that buyers will punish agents if they feel they have been tricked into attending a property that turned out to be unsuitable.
“If they come and they’re disappointed with the information they’ve seen online it breaks that trust with that agent,” he says.
“As sites that allow agents to be reviewed come to the fore, I think there will be more comment around misleading listings and this will become a larger influencer in how I think consumers view agents.”