One ad for a four-bedroom house, available to let for £2,500 a month, included just two photographs, one of a patch of carpet below the living room window, the other of a patch of carpet by the front door. Sorry, but I don’t think anyone’s going to bother viewing a house at that price if its best selling point is the hallway floor.
It’s not necessarily the private landlords who post the worst photographs. Letting agents are guilty of using some really rubbish photography. I spotted one ad by a well-known high street agent (which charges 10 per cent commission) that showed just one photo of the property, a fuzzy shot of the front door. Maybe the agent didn’t take the photo, but really they should have taken some more rather than sticking inferior pictures on the internet.
I notice another large letting agent has taken to using disturbingly elongated photos of every property. Perhaps they think these shots are arty. They’re not — they are rubbish. They make every house look weird and the sooner this nonsense stops, the better.
The worst images are those that make a property seem dark or depressing; snaps of overgrown or bare gardens, rooms filled with tatty furniture, naked light bulbs, half-closed curtains. These should be avoided at all costs.
You’d think that landlords trying to let their properties would at least tidy up a bit before any photos are taken and yet there are so many adverts with clothes on the floor, dishes piled in the sink, junk in the garden. I’m not a tidy person but I don’t want to view a place filled with someone else’s mess.
If you’re re-letting a property that’s already tenanted it can be tricky to take good images — you can’t force the occupants to tidy up before you shoot, and you can’t very well pick up their laundry (though I did once kick a tenant’s grungy trainers under his bed to get them out of the frame).
To avoid this dilemma, make sure you’ve got some great shots of the place before you first let a property, and re-use them every time you put up a new ad. Obviously it’s good to get seasonal ones of the garden as pictures of snow in the summer look a bit odd.
Don’t just take a few snaps with your smartphone. Put in a bit more effort — you’ll get better results and more viewers. Make the rooms as light, bright and tidy as possible and photograph all the best features, leaving out the worst. I found some good tips at upad.co.uk/blog/2010/08/how-to-photograph-your-property/
Warning! If you’ve got double glazing, don’t take photos immediately after having the windows cleaned — they’ll come out with streaks that can only be seen in the pictures. Strange but true. And if you’re using an agent to market your property, don’t assume they’ll take great pictures. Tell them which rooms to shoot and if you don’t like the photos, get them to take some more. And if they use elongated lenses, show them the door.
* Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London