The internet has become an integral tool in the home buyer arsenal.
When asked to identify the first step taken during the home buying
process, 32 percent of all home buyers looked online for properties for
sale. Furthermore, 84 percent of all buyers identified the internet as
a source in their home search including 87 percent of first-time
buyers, 82 percent of repeat buyers, 79 percent of new home buyers and
85 percent of buyers of previously owned homes.

Reported use of the internet in the home search process varies with
slightly with age. 86 percent of those 18-24 and 91 percent of those
25-44 reported using the internet while only 77 percent of those 45-64
and 51 percent of those 65 or older did so. Still, a majority of
homebuyers of all ages are relying on the internet as a resource.
Additionally, 99 percent of homebuyers using the internet found it very
or somewhat useful. That rate is higher than the usefulness rating of
any other measured information sources including real estate agents who
were a close second.

So buyers are using the internet and finding it useful. Does that
mean that Realtors will lose the tech-savvy as clients as they turn to
do-it-yourself web sites? The answer is no. NAR's surveys suggest that
internet users are information gatherers who use most sources more
frequently, real estate agents included. While only 75 percent of
non-internet users relied on a real estate agent, 86 percent of
internet users reported doing so. Furthermore, 82 percent of internet
users ultimately purchase their home through a real estate agent or
broker compared to only 65 percent of non-internet users.

We know that internet users are a big chunk of all homebuyers. What
is it that they find most valuable about the internet as a resource? 84
percent of internet using buyers find photos very useful and an
additional 14 percent find them somewhat useful. But are all photos
created equal? Not according to several blogs maintained by Realtors.

Athol Kay of Bristol, Connecticut and Jack LeVine
of Las Vegas, Nevada keep blogs dedicated to, among other things,
highlighting photos in Multiple Listing Services that are just plain
awful. Shaun C. McLane
of Orlando, Florida also keeps an MLS Trash Can on his site, but new
pictures have not been added since late 2007. With their awkward angles
and amusing captions, some of these photos are laugh out loud funny,
but the sites serve a purpose beyond humor, too. Jack LeVine writes in
his September 26th post
I'm helping to spread the word that it's practically an ethical
violation to publish the kind of photos we document in this series.
Yes, we have fun doing it, and our audience is amused by them, but
these kinds of pictures do serious damage to a seller's ability to sell
their home.

Has a photo from your posting landed on one of these sites? Take
heart, these blogs offer commentary on how to improve your photography
and provide many links to other sites full of advice on home selling.
Even excellent agent-photographers can probably pick up a tip or two.
One piece of advice that is pretty universal but also seems to be worth
repeating: clean up before the photo shoot! Furthermore, if you are
having trouble getting sellers to cooperate with you, perhaps a visit
to one of these sites will inspire them.

Buyers and sellers want more photographs because they are useful,
and the market has responded. In fact, has increased the
number of photos it will pull for free listings from one to four.
Additionally, it has increased the number of photos for premium
listings from six to twenty-five and increased the size of the photos .
In this era of hundreds of images conveying hundreds of thousands
words, it is worthwhile to ensure that your photos are telling a well
thought-out story.