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5 Tips for Making an Unforgettable First Impression Online

August 20 2014

house close upWhat's the most important element of your online property listings? Not surprisingly, it's photos of the home. An eye tracking studyeye tracking study from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia found that 95 percent of online home shoppers viewed the first photo of the home. They're not just passing glances either, consumers examined those photos for an average of 20 seconds each.

The majority of these first photos are what's known as the "primary exterior shot." The quality of this photo constitutes the first impression buyers have of your listing--and your best chance of converting buyers into leads. Here are five tips to make the most of this crucial shot:

1. Increase camera elevation

A little height can make a big difference! Shooting from an elevated position can greatly enhance your primary exterior photos. This is known as aerial photography. It gives your shots a new perspective that's great for portraits of property grounds. If you don't have access to aerial equipment, try shooting your primary exterior shot from a ladder or a nearby hill. Some agents have even been known to climb atop their vehicle to take this shot!

2. Take three-quarter shots

Photos taken at a slight angle, rather than straight-on, tend to make stronger and more dynamic images. Again, this is all a matter of perspective. Changing your angle can let you include different property features, like landscaping. If you're unsure, take multiple shots from multiple places and choose the best later, during the editing process.

3. Take multiple shots

Your best photo may not end up being what you expect it to be while shooting. Photographers will often discover their best photos only after they've uploaded them to their computer. Don't be afraid to experiment with multiple shots from different angles and elevations. After all, the best part of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as your memory card can handle!

4. Show as many property features as possible

As the "book cover" your listing will be judged by, it's important to get as many key property features into this photo as possible. Don't be afraid to venture away from the front of the house! Homes with pools or other water, outlying buildings, or impressive grounds can benefit from shots taken from the rear of the property.

5. Shoot at the right time of day

Proper lighting is one of the most important elements of a good photo. Shots taken during "the golden hour"--the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset--avoid the harsh shadows and overexposure of photos taken at midday. Find out when the golden hour takes place in your area at to take advantage of the soft lighting and warm hues.

More adventurous photographers may want to consider shooting at twilight (or later). Turn the lights on in the home, increase your camera's exposure time, and start shooting. The glowing windows of the house will contrast beautifully with the night and create a warm, inviting appearance.

What are your favorite tips for creating great exterior shots? Share them with us in the comments below!