A Picture’s Worth

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I had a lovely day out showing property to a mother and daughter from Manhattan. They were referred to me by a friend of mine, she thought we’d hit it off – and we did! The morning started in Capitola, not far from my office, at the hotel they were staying in. A typical June morning – fog just starting to burn off by around 11 AM. We were going to look for view properties up in the hills, where I expected it would be warmer and sunnier. It was warmer and sunnier up in the hills, but the day was unusually cool nevertheless.

We had lots of interesting conversation over a five hour period. One question was if I thought that Realtors here in town are dishonest. I said no, I didn’t think they were; generally speaking, I have a high regard for the Realtors I have worked with here. I then said, “The most dishonest thing they do, actually, is the pictures they put up on the MLS, and the descriptions they give to the properties.”

That one is a fine line, of course. It’s a Realtor’s job to make the house look its best. It is critical to have great photos of the house on the MLS – how else do you expect to lure buyers to see the property? The “dishonesty” comes, of course, with what the pictures don’t show – the high voltage power lines cutting across half of the view, or the neighbor’s house with all the junked cars out in front.

However, a picture can even be misleading when it is showing something – for example, how open and bright the home is. In a picture, a room can look much more open and bright (or closed and dark, for that matter!) than it really is. The only way that a buyer is really going to know what a home is like is to go and visit the home in person. There’s really just no other way to do it.

Which is why I don’t think that Realtors are headed the same place as the travel agent – into near-oblivion, that is. Perhaps in an area where there are seas of cookie-cutter homes in massive subdivisions when really, one home is very much like all the others. But here, in Santa Cruz, where you can have five radically different houses and lots all adjacent to each other, I just don’t see it happening.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it surely is no substitute for hopping in your Realtor’s car and going cruising. When it comes to buying Santa Cruz real estate, that’s priceless.

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