Recent research has reinforced what most real estate agents and for that matter property portals already knew, property shoppers look first and most often at photos.
The research study undertaken by the Institute for Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate at Old Dominion University at Norfolk, Virginia found that 95% of people, when viewing real estate websites view the first photo for around 20 seconds.
Photos sell property; and this study only reinforced this fact by demonstrating the lesser importance of agent descriptions as part of the listing. The researchers found that a staggering 4 out of 10 people completely ignored the agent spiel.
At the same time as we are seeing more and more focus on higher quality photos for properties; we are seeing portals increasing the size of images on their websites and mobile applications. This makes sense especially as the typical screen size of a computer monitor these days is 1366 x 768.
The future is becoming clearer in regard to the viewing experience for real estate. Mobile, or to use a better expression, hand-held devices, being tablets and phones or just phablets will be at least half of all viewing for property; the other half may well end up being viewed on ever bigger screens. It is likely that the traditional PC monitor will be replaced by the flat screen TV as property buyers sit back on the couch and browse property on their 60” High definition LCD TV.
So given this fact; why is it that when reviewing the image size of many of the leading property portals from around the world, I found a large number with listing page image sizes of 600 x 400 or less. The worst being below 200 x 150!
Many portals do employ an overlay slide shows to enhance the viewing experience which do increase the image size up to 1024 x 682 in the case of Zillow which stands out as the largest of the selection of portals investigated.
There will I am sure come a barrage of comments stating that many portals are constrained by having to rely upon the quality and image size supplied to them by agents. Fair enough; however I would judge that be truly delivering value to consumers eager to use a portal for discovering their next home, the portal in question should insist on larger images, or at least educate their customers (agents) to the benefits inherent in larger, higher quality images. Why should the standard be set by lowering the bar rather than raising the bar to showcase (embarrass) those agents who provide poor quality images. After all today’s modern smartphone has the ability to take photos delivering image sizes of 2046 x 1536.
If people are going to be, more and more ,viewing properties on large screen TV’s with a resolution upwards of 2560 x 1440 then portals will need to deliver immersive viewing experiences with appropriately sized images.
In reviewing the global portals I was torn as to the inclusion of the site of Open2View. This company started in New Zealand and has grown to provide services in Australia and the USA. The company is a franchised photographic service for real estate. They are not a portal in the true sense of the term of aggregating listings from multiple customers and earning income from subscription and property advertising. However there is no doubt that their website is one of the most immersive viewing experiences of any property website I have ever come across.
They make the property image the hero – front and centre with everything else pushed back out of the way – listing photos are 960 x 640 with the overlay switching to full screen at 1135 x 750 – a staggering experience coupled with professional quality images. Whilst not a true property portal, Open2View for me certainly sets the gold standard for online property images.