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19 Mar 2019
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Real Estate

When buyers go to the internet to shop for homes, many times they get very excited about potential properties they want to see. Often they can be thousands of miles away from their future home location, so they are relying on photos and descriptions they find while surfing the various real estate web sites. It is not all unusual for buyers to eliminate multiple properties before they come to town and even entire areas based on their perception. Unfortunately, perception is not always reality.

Photos and Marketing

Some agents are very good at marketing. They use professional photography and sometimes actually “over enhance” photos so the property you see in person looks nothing like the photos you saw online. The opposite is also true. Some listing agents will not spend money on their listings and instead chose to use quick cell phone photos, so a very nice property will go overlooked simply because the listing agent did not spend time or money presenting that home in its best light. If a home meets your specific buying criteria but does not look great in photos, consider leaving it on your show list. This is where an experienced and knowledgeable agent can help you.

Geographical Areas and Zoning

Sometimes buyers are shocked by the properties surrounding a listing, which was not obvious online. The areas around Charleston can be a bit eclectic. A buyer may want to ask how homogenous an area is before viewing the homes in person. Zoning restrictions can also be very important. There are certain areas around Charleston where it may not be unusual to hear fireworks or farm animals. If any of those things are offensive to a buyer, you may want to ask your agent what zoning that area allows. The property may not be a peaceful as you want, so you need to know that ahead of time.


Smells in properties are not obvious online. I have walked into homes that were stunning online only to find out that they had 1) animal smells, 2) smoke smells, and 3) mold smells. Strong odors are definitely a turn off to most buyers. There are certain homes that have been on the market for a long time for just that reason. Your agent may already be aware, so it helps to have an agent who has viewed the property.


Sometimes homes that are well photographed look very clean and tidy. If the home has been professionally staged, even more so it will look well kept. This creates a beautiful story about the house but it is very difficult to see how a clean a home is from the online photos. When a buyer goes to see the house, it may be far from clean. This is a potential problem for many buyers.

Finishing Details

The photos online usually show the main rooms and many times the exterior landscaping. What may be missed many times are the real details that make a house super special. If the agent or photographer did not specifically take photos of the easy-glide drawers, handcrafted moldings, or floor-matching register covers, a buyer may miss the intense details of a house that pushed it higher than its competitors. Custom-built homes many times have what I call “hidden benefits,” like heavy insulation, steel foundation pilings, or an expensive water filtration system that would just not be highlighted in the online pictures. The buyer may view this home as overpriced when in fact it is just extremely well built and has expensive features that are not cosmetic in nature.

Post courtesy of Terri Seignious, Akers Ellis real estate agent
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