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For Sale by Owner Articles • - Home Selling Tips

Sell It With Pictures

By Robert Irwin
Everyone's heard the old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Unfortunately, too few of us take it to heart when it comes time to sell our homes.
It's important to always keep in mind that buyer's have little imagination. They have trouble visualizing anything they can't immediately see. And that includes the "For Sale" home you are advertising. You may write up a succinct, clever, and complete ad, but even if buyer's read it, they still may not have a good idea of what you're offering. On the other hand, one glance at a picture of the front of your home and they will know precisely what you have to offer.
Real estate agents are well aware of this; they always include a picture with every listing and they almost always include a picture with flyers they circulate (often attached to the For Sale sign in a small box). Too often, however, those who sell "by owner", overlook this obvious marketing tool and instead focus on the difficulty or cost of obtaining that picture. That's really a shame because today it's incredibly simple and inexpensive to get a good image (or images) of your home for use both on flyers and for online listings.
Of course, you could use an old-fashioned film camera to snap a couple of pictures. You can have these scanned into a digital image at stores like Kinkos where they can be added directly to a flyer. Or you can send them to a FSBO website, such, where they will be scanned for you.
A much better alternative, however, is for you to use a digital camera to directly obtain your image. You can better control how the image looks this way. Today you can get a 1-2MP (megapixel) digital camera for around $100 and that's plenty of resolution for your needs.
Tips For Shooting Homes:
Always include a front shot. Most cameras have trouble with wide angles, so back as far away across the street as possible. Try to take the shot when there are no cars in front. Try to shoot slightly up from a down position, it will make the home look bigger.
Shoot on a cloudy day. Strong sunlight will cast unwanted shadows on your home.
If possible, include interior shots. Most important areas are: kitchen, living room, bathroom, and master bedroom.
Most digital (and film) cameras shoot too dark inside homes, but flash creates unwanted hotspots. Try to shoot without flash using natural light from open windows and with interior lights turned on. Increase the exposure on your camera, if possible. With digital images, adjust the brightness and contrast afterward on your PC using an image manipulation program such as Photoshop.
Use full-size digital images for creating flyers. Downsize your image to 50KB or less for sending to the Internet.
TIP - When you run an ad in a local newspaper for your home, your biggest marketing tools are the words, "By Owner." You only need 3 or 4 lines to briefly describe your home. A picture, of course, would be wonderful, but you won't want to pop for the large expense of including a photo in a newspaper ad. However, you can include your Internet listing address where buyers can see 1 to 5 images of your home. Use the one-two punch of a newspaper ad driving buyers to your online images to help put together a deal.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column for
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.
He can be reached through his website

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