Question to Westchester NY home sellers: Do you know what your MLS listing looks like?

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That’s right –  I’m talking about the MLS listing.   Its amazing when you actually think about it – because sellers seem to blissfully unaware of how their homes are represented on the MLS.  During listing presentations, most agents wax eloquent about how they are going to “market” your home.  From flyers, to the unique website with its own domain name, to the post cards they are sending to all your neighbors – agents are almost jumping up and down with excitement over  how hard they are going to work marketing your home.  But the listing itself is all but forgotten with all the other goodies that help distinguish the agent from their competition.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do all of those things too.  But the fact remains that over 80% of all listings will sell through the MLS.   The rest is just gravy…useful gravy, but gravy nonetheless.  The truth is that the real meat and potatoes of your listing is what is posted on the MLS.  Yet no one seems to make a big deal about this or discuss it at any length.   Yet putting together a good listing for the MLS is probably one of THE most important things your agent will do to market your property. Although it is boiler plate – that doesn’t make it “easy”.   In truth, anyone can throw a listing on the MLS, but doing it so that it grabs buyers eyeballs is another matter.

Mistakes, gaffes, and other problems:

Over the years I’ve seen mistakes that run the gamut from the merely careless to the totally absurd.   From posting the wrong zip code or town, to listing copy that is obviously hopelessly out of date.  Just the other day I saw a listing touting the property as a great investment opportunity since there is a paying tenant in place  until August…. of 2011!!   Since we haven’t invented time machines yet, I fail to see how having a tenant under a lease that ended over eight months ago is of any value to a buyer in the year 2012.

Photos, photos, photos!

Then of course there is my pet peeve….terrible photography.  I think that almost any casual observer would agree that the MLS appears to be littered with some of the worst photography ever conceived by a person with a c 2003 clam-shell cell phone camera.  Since photos sell homes,  I have to ask the question: what are these agents thinking?  Bad photos mean that  you are automatically turning off over 80% of the qualified buyers  who are pouring over MLS data to determine what is worth seeing and what they are going to pass on.

We all take bad pictures -but we shouldn’t actually USE them….that’s one of the secrets of being a good photographer.  This is one of my worst photos.  It’s a picture of a window not room, the lack of light is almost secondary.   Photos like this shouldn’t be used to sell a pack of  bubble gum, let alone something as expensive as a six to seven-figure home.  Still, these beauties might qualify as works of art compared to what I see on the MLS.  If you don’t believe me – there is a special FB Page called “Really Bad MLS Photos”.  Check it out.

MLS Photos Westchester County

Below is a photo that I found acceptable for one of my listings.  I used a wide angle lens and photoshopped the image to create more depth. Granted, I had a staged home to work with (a topic for another blog) which also presents the home in its best possible light.  I am starting to use HDR (high dynamic range) although these photos were taken before I had that capacity.




MLS Photo - Westchester NY


Agents who can’t take good pictures, should outsource this task.  In my opinion, it is too important to the listing to have bad photography.  An agent  who doesn’t have some wide angle capacity on their camera  has no business taking photos of interiors. A wide angle lens helps buyers see the room layout and that helps YOU sell your home.

Virtual tours and slide shows:

Not optional in a world where everything is so visual and where people actually search for homes on YouTube.  On our MLS a slideshow can be linked to the listing.  If you have decent photos, a great slide show is a tremendous addition to the listing because search engines love video.

The Simple Formula:

It may not be different, it may not be flashy, it may not be a compelling selling point for an agent use in a listing presentation, but a good listing with great photos is vital.   When you interview agents to list your home, ask to see examples of their listings on the MLS.  Most people ask how many listings an agent has, but its the quality not the quantity that gets buyers through the door.  Nothing gets more exposure than the listing itself because it is pick up by third party sites such as Zillow and Trulia. A compelling listing with terrific images makes buyers pick up the phone and ask their agent for a a showing.

A good listing + great pictures = more showings = more offers = the best possible price for your home.

© 2012 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – All rights reserved.


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