House Porn. Catchy isn’t it? The words definitely caught my eye while perusing the Lifestyle section of The Globe and Mail. At once I began to reminisce about the real estate photos I had leafed (scrolled, actually) through while shopping for my first home. Pictures are what enthralled me - I did not want to bother with the important aspects such as available parking and whether or not utilities are included in the amenities; why read the fine print if you have no interest in the appearance?
With virtual tours and real estate web sites, photography is doing to the house what naked women did for Hustler Magazine. Real estate photographs can be flashy, attractive and when they are set to snappy music, provide dual sense stimulation. However, they are only photographs, and in this world of digital retouching and the emerging industry of House Staging, determining what has been altered and hidden is near impossible.
When you decide to sell your home, you are inviting potential Home Buyers into your space hoping that one will feel the ‘I need to live here’ energy that originally attracted you to the place. The problem that many Home Sellers face is how to make their homes appealing to a variety of tastes. The questions you need to ask yourself are: How do I bring 'sex appeal' to my listed home? More importantly, how much work (money) is too much?
The aforementioned Globe and Mail article brings the option of professional photography to light. If you are a novice with a camera, spending a little more money on a professional may drive people to your home more often than if you were to take the listing photos yourself. Commercial photographers are reasonably priced and are available throughout Toronto. Home Sellers who wish to take their own listing photos can take advantage of the ‘Tricks of the Trade’ portion of the article. A related article from The L.A Times gives advice on how to take interior and exterior photos for listing purposes as well. A great quote from this particular article is something to keep in mind while deciding to go professional or not: “Buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner."
This brings me to the next option available to Home Sellers, that of hiring a Home Stager, or House Fluffer (a title that sounds like it belongs in the porn industry). They will make suggestions about home improvement in order to boost the appeal and potential value of your home. It is important to determine from the start how much money you are willing to spend on the house you intend on moving out of.
Professional Stagers can be hired to organize your home for photography purposes. One option is shuffle furniture from room to room, as the photos are being taken, in order to create the appearance of 'fullness'. This one is easier on the wallet than other options they may give you. I have heard tales of Home Stagers who have requested that a Home Seller actually purchase more furniture to fill up the emptier spaces in the house. I cannot find the sense in this. I am a firm believer that with a little research and a little work, any Home Seller can fix up their home for minimal costs.
Selling your home can be a stressful ordeal, making it especially attractive to hire professionals – whether they are photographers or Home Stagers, or both. CBC News presented a piece on high-tech advancements that realtors are utilizing to sell their client’s homes. Web-based virtual tours have been increasing in quantity and quality. These, of course, center around attractive photos of the selling property.
Investing copious amounts of money in your selling property with the hope that you will increase its market value may have disastrous results. Your real estate agent can guide you down reasonable paths that will not require a second (or third) mortgage to attain. After all, you and your agent have the same goal: to sell your house.
Jesse is a Toronto freelance writer. Email Jesse