12/12/14 3:00pm
Courtesy of The Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association and Liz Simmons

Photos: Courtesy of The Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association and Liz Simmons

It’s easy to sell a home during the holidays. The potential buyer base at this time of year is generally serious and ready to seal a deal quickly. It doesn’t have to be tricky to get your home on the market. Just keep it simple.

Jump for a list of tips!

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10/27/14 5:16pm

 

Moving can be a bummer for kids and families. Here are eight great tips to help ease the process of packing up.

By Karen Eubank
Special Contributor

Moving can be a traumatic time in the life of any child. Leaving the home they’ve grown up in or have important memories of, to head off for something unknown, is always tricky. House showings can be particularly stressful. Turning your home selling process into an adventure takes a little planning and some creative solutions. Here are a few tips that have worked wonders with kids who are reluctant to move or just a bit sad about change.

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10/16/14 8:58am
Yes you can get an eclectic look in rental furniture!

Yes, you can get an eclectic look in rental furniture!

By Karen Eubank
Special Contributor

Your seller has given you the thumbs-up and you’re going to stage that vacant listing. Congratulations! So how do you go about it? My advice is to always call a stager, of course! Most stagers have an accessory inventory — you know, the pretty stuff such as flowers, bedding, and cute items for the bath and kitchen. A few staging companies in town actually carry inventory, but many stagers are opting out of that business model. CORT Furniture Rental is a go-to resource for most Dallas stagers.

Can you bypass the stager and call a rental company directly? You bet, but remember, you’ll be providing all the nice accessories and you’ll be the one directing placement of furniture and steaming the duvet!

Jump for the inside skinny on all you need to know about renting furniture for your vacant property from CORT representative Kathy LaMarr.

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10/13/14 2:14pm

Home For Sale Sign Dallas

Houses are flying off the market right? There’s no inventory. You can sell a house just by putting a sign in the yard. Right? No. The flawless houses are flying off the market. There are plenty that are still just sitting there. Why? Mainly because Realtors are just too nice to say what’s wrong.

Well, we’re not so here’s the dirt!

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10/10/14 9:00am
Greyson sofa with Clover chairs courtesy of Cort Furniture Rental

Greyson sofa with Clover chairs courtesy of Cort Furniture Rental

One of the most requested staging services is furnishing a vacant property, what I call a “naked” listing.

Every day, Realtors call stagers asking for a ballpark figure to furnish a house followed by, “Can you install tomorrow?”

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09/18/13 11:25am

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth installment of our “Outside the Frame” series that offers the insights of Dallas’ leading real estate photographers on subjects that are both important and often controversial in the industry. Check out our firstsecond, and third, and fourth, installments for more.)

Sean GallagherSean Gallagher shoots mostly high-end properties, but his passion for photography knows no price range.

“For situations where the home is not in the most desirable condition to be photographed, there are always one to a handful of images that can be made,” Gallagher said. “This is where the skill, experience and artistic talents of a professional photographer are priceless.”

We can’t help but agree. Find out more about this consummate professional and his views on professional real estate photography after the jump.

CandysDirt.com:  What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?

Sean Gallagher Photography: For us, it’s the time involved. Since we cater to high-end luxury properties and the unique challenges presented by these properties, we will typically visit the property before the shoot. For the shoot, we will spend the majority of a day at the property capturing each area on the shot list under ideal lighting conditions (or as ideal as possible) as well as another day on final image preparation. While this investment isn’t appropriate for all properties, it’s an approach that results in truly superior results. As the marketplace becomes more crowded, having imagery that stands out is essential to generating more interest and lowering the number of days on the market. Time is everything: Waiting for the right light is essential.

4246_Woodfin_Dr 4246_Woodfin_Dr

CD: What is the most important shot? Why?

Gallagher: The most important shot will be the one that makes that particular listing stand out from all the other listings buyers are viewing. It’s the photo that captures and defines the character and style of the home and what sets it apart from the rest. This is the image that compels a homebuyer to spend more time on the page looking at other photos, bookmarking or e-mailing the link to a spouse or friend or most importantly, creating a desire to view the home.

This image illustrates this home’s architectural and unique drooping rooflines as well as it’s placement on a very private piece of land: two of the property’s strongest points.

The Stretto House, 9842 Rockbrook Dr., Dallas, Texas 

CD: What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?

Gallagher:For situations where the home is not in the most desirable condition to be photographed, there are always one to a handful of images that can be made. This is where the skill, experience and artistic talents of a professional photographer are priceless. Those that distract the viewer from the selling points of the home. Every image should be a strong image that adds to the visual “story” of the home.

CD: How much alteration of a shot is acceptable? Greening the grass? Adding blue sky? Getting rid of cords?Are there quick fixes you can do if a client requests and  Where do you draw the line about representing a property?

Gallagher: Listing a property is not unlike advertising any other product. We treat each assignment like it is being photographed for the cover of a magazine and we capture the home at its absolute best and in a way that focuses the viewer on the strongest features of the home. We will make minor alterations during post-production, so long as it does not misrepresent or alter any permanent/existing structures. The camera has limitations in what it can capture (“limited dynamic range” in photographic terms). Your eye can see the sky behind a home but the camera will overexpose the sky or underexpose the front. We use lighting to enable us to gain tonal separation between architectural details or to balance lighting from one side of the room to the other creating an image that looks amazing both on the web and in print.

In the pair of photos below, the key selling feature is the wonderful view of downtown Dallas. However, the reflections on the windows hinder the viewers eye from fully engaging all the layers of the image. We can’t see past the reflections, so when we shoot the image, we take a second exposure with all the lights off inside the condo and later replace the windows in post-production with the reflection-less version to allow the outstanding view through the floor-to-ceiling windows to be visible.

Azure_1601 Azure_1601

CD: What is the optimum height to shoot a room photo from? There seem to be lots of creative angles, wide angles, shots from the hip, literally,  these days. Are those helpful or a hindrance.?

Gallagher: Camera height is pretty subjective but, for me, it is the height at which I can get the best layering of the interior space, including furniture. To allow myself some additional freedom in camera height placement, I use an array of tilt-shift lenses specifically designed for architecture photography which enables me to vertically frame the image without making the walls tilted like they’re falling down.

CD: So we have 25 photos we can put on MLS. What if there are not 25 good shots? Do you shoot more angles of the same room? Add photos of the neighborhood?

Gallagher:As I mentioned, having images for the sake of having more images is not necessarily a good thing. While your image counter will boast the biggest number, the images are not necessarily communicating any more information to the potential buyer than a smaller number of well thought-out, impactful images. The number of images required to sell a house is closer to 6-8 (see the “7-second rule” below). Just because MLS allows for 25 images, doesn’t necessarily mean that every property requires 25 images to properly showcase the home. Duplication of angles results in confusion and doesn’t communicate any additional information. It is our belief that a few strong images can be far more effective in showcasing a home than many weak images. There’s what I call the “7-second rule”: According to a recent article from homesandlandmedia.com, a listing has an average of 7 seconds to engage a buyer before they decide to click or move on. This is most effectively accomplished with strong visuals.

5343_Livingston_Ave

CD: Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

Gallagher: It is very rare because we do a good amount of pre-production to ensure the shoot goes smoothly and the best images can be made. Our pre-production process usually includes a location scout prior to the shoot. For us, the location scout offers us an opportunity to see the property, make sure it is in shoot-ready condition and get an idea for the lighting conditions on the property and inside the home. We also use the opportunity to meet with the agent to discuss the selling points and marketing goals of the property, create the shot list and discuss any special circumstances that might require extra discretion. When it comes time for the shoot, we always allot extra time for last-minute window cleaning, pool cleaning, sweeping, tree trimming and any other last-minute maintenance items that need to be addressed for a better photo.

IMG_0430

CD: Parting shot?

Gallagher: We recognize that the real estate industry is highly competitive and an agent’s marketing collateral is representative of their brand. Images are a powerful tool and can instantly influence a viewers perception of a property, the agent or the entire real estate brokerage.

We are one of just a handful of studios in Texas that light our interior images with multiple off-camera flashes (and one of a handful of studios nationally that can supplement existing light on an exterior or create dramatic artificial light exteriors). Our first-time clients are often surprised and impressed with the amount of time we invest in creating the images. By standing out amongst the best in the MLS, it provides leverage to have the property featured prominently in other outlets as well as enhancing the impact of any advertising purchased for the property. Time and time again, when it comes to editorial spreads, having images that are top-tier gives your property an immense advantage in being featured in magazines, editorial newspaper articles and on the web. This also applies to brokerage-level advertisements and organizations such as Luxury Portfolio or Christie’s who put out branding advertisements with hand-selected properties, based on the strength of the photography.

Lighting plays a vital role in a quality interior image, as shown in the before and after example below:

6417_Sudbury_Rd 6417_Sudbury_Rd

09/10/13 2:30pm

Agent Reboot room

Xplode Dallas was just last Friday, and the epic Texas Realtors Conference continues until tomorrow, so let’s take a look at some of the top apps for agents featured in both Xplode and Inman News’ Agent Reboot

At Agent Reboot, agents got the dish on these great apps for all users, not just mobile. We’ll do another post featuring the tops agent-friendly mobile apps from Xplode.

Boomerang

This is a tool for Gmail users. If you are not a Gmail user you need to be! It allows you to schedule an email to be sent later. You can also set a reminder to follow up with clients or a reminder to yourself! It’s basically an automated mom!

Zillow Digs

Keep an eye on this. It’s a Houzz wannabe. It allows people to see a beautiful room and the cost to remodel with a regional adjustment built in. Now if the room is in a house for sale, it also allows you to get information about the purchase of that house. I think this is going to be big but it’s still in the infancy stage right now and just no competitor for Houzz…yet.

Yesware

Do you wonder if your emails get opened and who opens them? What about who clicks on your links? Then this is the app for you. It also allows for email templates that are time savers. It also syncs with Salesforce.

Over

This is totally cool. Add text to your photos! Think about the uses here. You can send a photo of the house your client is interested in with “ Home Sweet Home” or “ This is the ONE” in a beautiful font. If you just sold a home you can send a photo with “Congratulations” on the front.

Rapportive

Talk about inside skinny! Rapportive not only tells you that you have mail, it lets see a photo of the email sender, their job, company, LinkedIn profile, MailChimp activity AND if they are nearby so you can text them to meet for coffee! Relationship management built into email is how they describe it and that’s pretty spot on!

Tigerlead

I cannot say it any better than they do. “A fully integrated marketing platform for Realtors” that combines high quality home buyer and home seller lead generation. It has a database of a million real estate related keywords so you can really target your market.

BombBomb

Well love the name of course! Realtors just have to get on board with video. It’s growing and you really have no choice. Reboot taught us that 75 % of smart phone users watch video on their phones and 26% watch DAILY and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is VISUAL. You need to be there! This is straight off their site because frankly I can’t say it better, “ BombBomb makes it easy to create, send, and track the results of both traditional emails and video emails to just one person, to a segment

Videolicious

I know you hate the idea of being on video, so do I, we all do but we have to go there. Videolicious makes it easy and pretty darned painless. It’s a “Talk n Tap” process. All you do is choose your shots, still or video, talk about your property, then choose some cool music that they provide and sit back and enjoy your masterpiece. Oh and of course link it everywhere!

Karen Eubank

Karen Eubank is a top stager in Dallas and counts several well-known real estate agents among her clientele. She lives in Hollywood Heights with her son and her silk orchid collection that everyone thinks is real. Find out more about Karen on her website.

08/23/13 12:00pm

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment of our “Outside the Frame” series that offers the insights of Dallas’ leading real estate photographers on subjects that are both important and often controversial in the industry. Check out our firstsecond, and third installments for more.)

Today we chat with Jason of First Showing Photography, who feels that professional photography makes a first impression that sticks with buyers regardless of how a home shows. So why can’t professional photographers manage to charge more for their services? Find out this and more with our final installment of “Outside the Frame” after the jump.

CandysDirt.com:  What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have  about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?

First Showing Photography: It seems like photography is treated like a commodity sometimes. Almost any photographer is going to be better than no photographer, but you really might want to have a look at that portfolio first. (I receive a lot of calls from people who haven’t done this.) How bright are the rooms? Are you only seeing photos of a mansion shot eight years ago? Only photos shot under perfect lighting conditions (dusk)? These things matter.

Also the idea that the latest fad is going to give you some sort of edge, when in reality it might detract from your listing. For example, it’s very difficult to edit video to enhance home’s appearance, whereas it’s very cost effective to do this with still photography.

CD: What is the most important shot and why?

FSP: I would say the most important shot varies by property. Generally it’s going to be the most photogenic of the facade, living room, or kitchen.

CD:  What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?

FSP: Little bathrooms. The garage. Just mention them in the ad. It’s not like you have to offer photographic proof these rooms exist.

CD: How much alteration of a shot is acceptable? Greening the grass? Adding blue sky? Getting rid of cords?Are there quick fixes you can do if a client requests? Where do you draw the line about representing a property?

IMG_7206_before

 

(If it doesn’t leave the potential buyer feeling duped, then it’s fair game when it comes to editing photos, says Jason of First Showing Photography. Sometimes a room can feel dim, like the master bath above. Below, with a little photo editing, a bathroom can become positively illuminating.)

Master Bath after post processing

FSP: Anything that’s not going to make a potential buyer feel duped when they come to see the property is fair game. And make no mistake, simply viewing a beautiful photo of something positively alters a buyer’s opinion of that thing, even after they see it in reality. What they say about first impressions is very true.

CD:  What is the optimum height to shoot a room photo from? There seem to be lots of creative angles, wide angles, shots from the hip, literally, these days. Are those helpful or a hindrance?

FSP: I try to go as low as possible without occluding important features of the room. Still, I find myself shooting a little higher more of the time than many other photographers. The low angle can make a room look slightly bigger, but seeing over a counter or sofa is priority.

CD:  So we have 25 photos we can put on MLS. What if there are not 25 good shots? Do you shoot more angles of the same room? Add photos of the neighborhood?

FSP: The idea is to entice the buyer into seeing the property. Although more photos is usually better, you don’t necessarily need a lot of them to accomplish this. Multiple shots of a bedroom without any special features might be a little redundant, but I do think they can add to the presentation in some small way. Certainly you want a good number of shots of the living room, kitchen, and any room with interesting stuff in it.

CD:  Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

FSP: If you hired me and I’m there, I’m shooting.

CD: Any funny stories about having to avoid shooting something unusual in a home?

FSP: Not part of the property, no. But I once had a semi-senile grandfather walking into nearly every photo. They brought him outside and he immediately manifested directly in the window of the room I was shooting.

CD:  Parting shot?

FSP: Given how much of a positive effect professional photos have on the selling price of a home, I can’t believe professionals can’t charge more!