Think back to your Internet dating days. (Don’t give me that look. You can admit it—we all did it. And if not, you totally know someone who is currently using an online dating service.) Profiles that had spelling and grammar problems were bad. Ones that mentioned a love of country music were worse. But the absolute deal breaker? A profile with no picture. That profile could be for a multi-millionaire rock star with chef-quality kitchen skills who can quote The Simpsons, run marathons and reach things on the highest shelf, all the while volunteering with orphans on the weekends, but we’d never know it. Why? People usually won’t click on a dating profile that doesn’t have a picture. After all, we all put ourselves out there with a photo. What is this mystery person hiding? Does he not have a face? I mean, looks aren’t everything, but a face would be nice, right?
Same goes for apartments you want to lease. You have to include a photo, or most people won’t check out the ad. So how do make sure your pictures, and therefore your apartment, stand out?
The photos have to show off the whole apartment, of course. But what you’re really selling is an idea. The future resident should think, “I can see myself there.” But not just that. You want them to picture themselves as their ideal self, which they would only be able to achieve if they lived in that apartment. For example, typically, when I get home from work, I throw on pajamas, plop on my couch, and watch TV (jealous?). But, when I was looking for an apartment, I clicked on all the pictures of beautiful gyms and chefs kitchens and all that. I probably would have completely skipped over a picture of a living room that had a couch with a rumply blanket barely covering the butt indentations on the cushions.
And it’s not just me. It’s why having a strategically placed guitar in real estate photos is totally a thing now. Because people want to imagine themselves as John Mayer or Slash or that hippie guy with the dreads on the college campus that always had a group of girls surrounding him and his acoustic guitar. Or whomever the kids are listening to nowadays. Justin Timberlake—or Bieber? Do they even play instruments? I don’t even know anymore.
What you don’t want to show is a mess. We all know we will have to vacuum, but it’s nice to imagine that the apartment will be pristine the entire time you’re there. On the flip side, don’t have a completely empty room. You can say “spacious living room” as much as you want in the caption, but it’s always hard for renters to imagine their stuff fitting when the picture is devoid of any furniture. (Also, personal pet peeve—stop using the fisheye lens in these empty room pictures to make the rooms look bigger! If I wanted to see things the way a fish did, I would live in a glass bowl, and then the whole space thing would be moot anyway.)
So what should you include in your apartment marketing photos? A blog on No More Handmade Flyers talks about some sexy amenity imagery you could use in your photos. Also, show the apartment, and sell a lifestyle. Have pictures of a sparkling kitchen with bowls of beautiful fruit (because people want to think they’ll eat healthy). Include shiny cutlery and pots and pans (because people want to be able to cook and entertain for their friends). If there’s a patio, have a picture with a nice bottle of wine and some glasses on the table, so people can imagine relaxing after a long day. In the living room, have a picture of some quirky new books (because people want to think they’ll curl up and read, and Dickens, Austen and/or Shakespeare are all really boring and will spoil the fantasy). If the community is pet-friendly, have a picture of a photogenic Fido curled up on the couch.
You never want to be deceitful in your photos (I’m looking at you again, fisheye!). But you want to create a haven for your prospective residents. Even if, when they finally move in, they end up just vegging on the couch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
What else should you include in your marketing photos?
-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor
Photo credit: dibrova