Searching for homes online can be a lot like trying to find love through online dating. In both cases you’re looking for “happily ever after,” either with the love of your life or the home of your dreams. In both cases, you’ve got to get out into the real world to see for yourself if what you’re seeking is as good in person as it seems online.
Here are some ways that online dating profiles are similar to online listings:
Both selectively use the best pictures. If you’re in a happy marriage or long-term relationship, consider it a blessing. Today’s technology makes the sting of romantic rejection faster and easier than any time in human history. I understand that there’s a popular app today called Tinder that allows people to glance briefly at a photo of a single’s smiling face and then impulsively swipe either right (giving that person's profile a “Yes, you’ve made it to the next elimination round”) or left (meaning the digital equivalent of “You’re dead to me, weirdo!”).
Even if one survives the dreaded swipe test and subsequent online chatting, it’s impossible to say how many people have showed up for a first date after “meeting” someone online, only to make the shocking discovery that the pictures posted in that person’s online profile were far more attractive than the person who showed up. But I’ll bet it’s a common occurrence.
It’s natural that eager-to-connect singles share only the photos that make them look the most attractive. You know, photos taken while they’re smiling, looking tan, relaxed and happy on the sunny deck of a cruise ship, just after yoga class and just prior to their scheduled 90-minute hot stone massage. However, if that same person caught a nasty case of norovirus on that same cruise, trust me, they didn’t eagerly document and share on Tinder, Match.com or any other dating site the images of the waxy complexion, greasy hair and sunken eyes that were the non-photogenic aftermath of the stomach malady’s uncontrollable nausea and diarrhea symptoms.
It’s similar when it comes to marketing homes. Realtors® strive to use photos more likely to induce attraction than vomiting. I usually start out with 100 or more photos of a property. My photos are taken with a high-quality Nikon DSLR camera, not a smartphone. Like movie directors, we strive to schedule shoots when sunlight is the best. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) limits Realtors® to a maximum of 40 photos. Naturally I share the 40 photo images with the best light, focus and angles to best represent the property.
Show up to tour a home on a dark, dreary day, or after the season’s first snow has fallen, and that property may not look quite as glamorous in person as it did online. Similarly, on a foggy, overcast day, you may not be able to see the gorgeous views promoted in the listing.
Sometimes, the real thing looks better in person: A single may go on a first date and be pleasantly surprised that the prospective love of their life looks better than their pictures.
The same can happen with homes. I’m preparing to list a stunning three-bed, two-bath home on more than three acres in Laconia, and can tell you that, despite our team’s best efforts, photos don't do this property justice. The photos of this home look great. The home itself looks even better in person, when you can see for yourself the quality, thoughtfulness and loving attention to detail that is evident, from the tile and wide oak plank floors to the soaring exposed-beam ceilings of this stunning post-and-beam home.
Both use the best written descriptions: Online daters are certain to write profile descriptions that vividly highlight attractive characteristics like stability, healthy lifestyle, humor, kindness and good nature.
However, a single looking for love may “forget” to mention that he is unemployed, lives in his mom’s basement, and will be using the public bus system to pick you to up for date number two. Or you may not discover, until you hear an urgent radio alert while you’re parked on Lover’s Lane, that the pretty girl you met on Tinder has a vengeful and psychotic ex-boyfriend with a razor sharp hook for a hand, and he’s on the loose after recently escaping maximum-security institutionalization.
Similarly, online listings for homes may describe that property’s best characteristics while neglecting to mention some of the perceived negatives.
For example, that listing that boasts “great views of Paugus Bay” and “conveniently close to all the Lakes Region has to offer” may neglect to mention the traffic noise you’ll hear from your deck, and that you’ll have to play a harrowing game of human “Frogger” while dashing across two lanes of Weirs Boulevard to get to the waterfront during Laconia Motorcycle Week.
I’ll wrap up this cheeky article by asserting that technology is a great tool. It empowers us to save time, search 24/7, stay current, and act quickly on whatever the dating and real estate markets have to offer.
But in both online dating and internet-based home search, you ultimately have to get out into the real world to discover for yourself if that person or place is one you’ll fall in love with.
Brent Metzger is a Realtor® with Roche Realty Group. Contact him at 603-229-8322 or www.LakesRegionHomeSeller.com.