Selling your home on the Internet is more than just a collection of pretty pictures, according to two art and design education professors.
"Your online impact is equal to your curb appeal impact," says Aimee Flynn, Graphic Design and Interior Design Department instructor at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham.
"In both instances, the way you package the product to entice a potential buyer is key," Flynn added.
Knowing potential buyers is also key.
"A common mistake is to assume that your home would appeal to everyone," says John C. Franke, a General Education department instructor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
"People don't usually think about their homes in this way, but by analyzing your neighborhood and your home's unique appeal, you can pinpoint your target audience and market accordingly," Franke said.
"Keep in mind that you're selling a dream -- if someone can imagine his or her life unfolding in the images and descriptive text, you are one step closer to landing a successful showing," says Flynn.
Franke, with professional experience in retail buying and merchandising, and interior store design for various specialty department stores, says that the photographs used to promote your home mean everything.
"Pictures must be professional-looking and include shots of landscaping, interior attributes such as laundry room, basement storage, garage and other unique selling points," he says.
"The home should appear to be bright, clean and appointed with fresh flowers or other notable accents to add style or seasonal flair," Franke said.
Flynn and Franke offer these additional tips for preparing your Internet home listing:
• Shop the competition. Research how others present their homes online locally and in other cities before you begin to develop your tactics. Good places to start are local real estate listing sites.
• Seek professional help from within your social network. Don't be intimidated by technology but don't try to master what time doesn't allow. Web designers, photographers and other experts are probably living within your social network. Request their help.
• Sell the locality. Promote the city, school system, neighborhood parks, restaurants, etc. All of these things sell a quality of life and double as search engine buzzwords.
• List the address. Make sure you give very clear directions from main roads or intersections. This allows an interested party to check out the location of the home beforehand, which may weed out non-serious buyers.
• Highlight the property's features. Mention any recent renovations (completed with a permit), the number of bedrooms, if you have a fenced-in yard, and any unique offerings.
• Include detailed descriptions. List the square footage, individual room dimensions, property taxes, association fees, etc. Post multiple images.
• Keep the price in a searchable range. For example, a $299,000 price is more likely to draw borderline buyers than $301,000.
• Choose sites that organize listings by date. When you update your listing, any saved changes will bump up its positioning in the list.
• Seek viewer input. The only way to know what people are thinking about your home, your site or their interest in your property is to provide an easy way for browsers to offer feedback and to ask questions. Add a feedback form or email address to your listing.