Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Importance of Property Photos When Selling - Part 1

  In a prior post I ranted about REALTOR® photos and how unnecessary I felt they were from both a business branding perspective but more importantly they serve no real purpose in serving buyer and seller clients. The flip side of this argument is property photos and how important they have become in the marketing and sale of homes and other forms of real estate.

  When I started in real estate 15+ years ago, our MLS® system at the time allowed for a maximum of three photos with each listing.  Those were back in the days when a paper MLS® catalog was still in use by most agents and an Internet based MLS® system was gaining momentum. Subsequently the number of photos was expanded to nine then it jumped to thirty.  Thirty photos is not bad especially when a virtual tour can also be posted to a listing highlighting details of the property even further. As of this posting we are in the final stage of moving to an entirely new MLS® platform which has the capability of holding fifty photos per listing and photos can also be labelled.

Photos often make or break whether a consumer gives serious thought to a particular listing and or actually go to see the property first hand. Not only are the number of photos  important but also the quality. A recent study in the U.S. showed that listings with professional photos got on average 61% more views, yet many REALTORS® seemed more preoccupied with their personal photo versus those for their listing(s) which after all is where the money in this business is made. I know myself that when I go on a listing and see a lack of photos especially of the interior, right away I am suspect of how the property shows in person and typically it's poorly. The more ambitious and astute REALTORS are not only leveraging photos in their listings but they are talking it one step further on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others.

  Every house tells a story and photographs play a big role in conveying that story.  Both quality and the quantity of photos comes into play yet too often these are ignored.  Today there is no excuse for poor quality pictures or a lack thereof other than REALTOR® laziness.  Newer smartphones and tablets take good quality photos including panoramas.  Personally I use a Canon DSLR camera, often with a wide angle lens which does a better job of capturing an interior room without any distortion.  In addition a separate flash is a must and often a tripod.  My photo arsenal also includes drone shots which I have had done by a fully licensed and insured professional.  I do own my own drone which I have flown extensively for recreational use but until such time as I am licensed, I am not going to break Transport Canada rules.

  In my next post I will comment on photo quality.  In the meantime, for those of you that may be thinking of selling and are interviewing prospective REALTORS®, make a point of asking them about their use of photos in the listing.  Next to the correct list price, photos are the next most important aspect of successfully marketing your home or other property.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

  In like a lion out like a lamb is a phrase typically used to describe the transition from winter to spring however it also applies to this year's real estate market across southern Georgian Bay.

  On the heels of record MLS® sales in 2016 when sales volume for the year topped $1 billion, 2017 started off like a lion with record sales, multiple offers and sale prices that were often well over the asking prices of the sellers.  June brought with it a much tamer market with sales in June marking the first time in 40 months when sales for a given month failed to exceed that same month in the prior year.

  Following a relatively slow summer, sales momentum picked up in the fall but not at the same frantic pace that we experienced earlier in the year.  At one point I questioned whether we would top the $1 billion mark again this year but as of November we have.  While MLS® sales activity in November was down 15% from the same month last year to just over $84 million for the month, year-to-date sales now stands at $1.047 million for the year and we have one more month to go.  Again these results do not reflect the sale of new homes and condominiums made by developers which are typically done outside of the MLS® system.

  While MLS® sales dollars have already surprised 2016, clients and others I speak with are surprised to learn that MLS® unit sales are below last year's level.  Through the end of November, 2,279 MLS® sales have been reported, a decrease of 13%  or 344 properties from the first eleven months of 2016 when 2,623 MLS® sales had been completed. 

  MLS® dollar sales in 2017 are being driven by a very strong demand for high-end properties most notably in the $1 to $2 million range where year-to-date sales are up 77% with 106 sales reported this year compared to 60 last year.  We have seen similar results under $1 million as well with sales between $800,000 and $999,999 up 36% for the year.

  As has been the case for the past 12 to 18 months, MLS® listing inventory continues to lag.  As of this posting, MLS® listings for the year are down 11% from one year ago, coinciding with the 12% decrease in MLS® unit sales.  Single family homes sales are down 18% from one year ago.  The Blue Mountains has been the only municipality all year where single family home sales have surpassed last year's results but as of the end of November, that increase has shrunk to just one more sale compared to 2016.  All other area municipalities have and continue to track well below last year with the results being as follows:  Clearview -29%, Collingwood -17%, Grey Highlands -7% Municipality of Meaford -27% and Wasaga Beach -23% .  The lack of available housing inventory has played a key role in the unit sales decreases we have experienced throughout 2017.

  Area condo sales have also softened from earlier in the year.  To the end of November, MLS® condo sales total 503 units for the year compared to 514 last year, a modest decrease of 2%.  MLS® vacant land sales have remained robust in 2017 driven by the fact there has been ample inventory.  Vacant land sales for the year total 332 properties up 9% from the 304 sales reported in 2016.

  Heading into the holiday season, sales in December traditionally start to slow then ramp up again in January.  I predict that in 2018, we will continue to see a market whereby demand exceeds the supply, inventory levels will remain soft and pricing stable.  With changes to the mortgages rules coming in January and  with cooler heads now prevailing, we may not see the crazy pace of sales that we experienced in the first four or five months of 2017 but that's okay.  Speaking both as a consumer and a REALTOR®, excess is never a good thing when it comes to real estate,  Only time will tell what market conditions we will experience in 2018.  The demand for area properties is not expected to diminish, hopefully we will see an increase in housing inventory resulting in more balanced market conditions of everyone. 

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

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