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Online Real Estate Listings:
What Do Buyers Look At?

“First impressions matter when it comes to dating, job interviews, and online real estate listings.”

–Bryan Thomas, Wall Street Journal video (3/21/13)

According to WSJ reporter Sanette Tanaka, here’s what people looking at online real estate listings focus on:

Photos:    60%
Property Description:   20%
Real Estate Agent Remarks:  20%

Source:  Journal of Real Estate Research

Perhaps even more importantly, not all photos are created equal; 95% of prospective Buyers view the photo of the home’s exterior the longest (least important photo:  the Master Bath).

Also important:  making sure all of the listing’s key features and terms appear on the first online page (vs. requiring visitors to scroll down or link to additional info); avoiding all cap’s in the marketing verbiage (IT COMES ACROSS AS OVERHYPING . . . see what I mean?); and showing Buyers about the home vs. telling them.

Hard to argue with most of that.

However, in my experience, the “Agent Remarks” section of the MLS listing (vs. “Public Remarks”) can be highly instructive.

That’s where listing agents (representing the Seller) will often “dish” about Seller motivation, sales incentives, or unusual property issues or concerns.

P.S.:  Incidentally, 20 seconds is also about how long it takes Buyers viewing a home to decide they want to buy it — or at least, are seriously interested.

Corollary for would-be home sellers:  focus your efforts on the front of the home and entry.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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