It was September 6, 1916 and hundreds of curious shoppers were coming out for the grand opening of a new grocery store in Memphis, Tennessee. There was excitement in the air as employees handed out flowers to the ladies and balloons to the children while a brass band blurted the sounds of certain success throughout the busy streets of Memphis.
For weeks the locals had seen ads about this previously unheard of grocery store with the funny name that claimed to offer an entirely new shopping experience-one that would, according to its owner, forever change how groceries were purchased.
You see, up until that point, grocery stores all operated under the same format: Customers placed their order with a clerk at the front of the store. While they waited, the clerk would gather and bag all their items from the back of the store and total up the cost. The customer was never able to actually see the products before they were bagged. Pricing was inconsistent from clerk to clerk and markups were high. Long lines would form during busy hours as clerks could only bag one customer’s groceries at a time.
With its new “self-service” model, Piggly Wiggly would make things easier by letting customers do something they’d never done before: view and select products themselves.
It seems odd to us now but at the time it was revolutionary. And customers loved it! They loved the much wider selection of products right at their fingertips, the price tags on display to compare different brands of similar products and the ability to get a good look at the products before they purchased them.
Within just a few months of opening, Piggly Wiggly had sold $80,000 more than a typical grocer would in the same time period. Soon a second, third and fourth location opened as the concept caught on. By the 1930’s, The Pig, as it came to be known, grew to over 2500 stores throughout the South and Midwest.
The grocery store experience had been changed forever!
Now, 100 years later, something similar has happened in real estate.
With the explosion of the Internet, laptops and smart phones the way people view and learn about available homes for sale has changed.
It’s not only curb appeal that matters these days. It’s now web appeal too!
What is Curb Appeal?
The phrase ‘curb appeal’ comes from the real estate days of old.
Back in the day, before the Internet and smart phones were commonplace, potential buyers would form their initial first impression of a property while standing outside in the street or sitting in their car, parked near the curb.
Real estate agents would call or fax the potential buyer the address and some details about a newly listed property and the buyer would then drive by the house to decide if they liked what they saw enough to want to schedule an inside showing.
Sellers understood that their house had to look appealing enough from the curb to entice potential buyers to schedule a showing. If the house didn’t look appealing from the curb potential buyers would move on, so home sellers would spend days or weeks pulling weeds, adding new mulch, planting flowers and touching up the paint. Curb appeal was a crucial first step in preparing a property to go on the market and enticing potential buyers to want to see more.
Web Appeal is Today’s Curb Appeal
The traditional curb appeal of a property still matters and should remain high on a seller’s list of priorities – but today it matters differently. With over 90% of buyers starting their home search online it will be from laptops, tablets and smart phones, not from a drive by, that today’s buyers will get their first impression of a home. If the Internet listing doesn’t wow them, and make a good first impression, they may not even get to the curb.
And with web appeal as the new curb appeal an online presentation of the home is more important than ever. A home’s interior and exterior both need to present the property in a favorable and enticing way to draw in potential buyers. If an online listing doesn’t present well because high resolution photos weren’t used or the home wasn’t properly prepped for photography then traditional curb appeal won’t even matter.
Through Internet listings buyers can see not only the outside of a home, but much of the neighborhood as well, before ever setting foot on a property. Buyers can use Google Street View to get a 360 degree view from the front of the home. And neighborhoods can be showcased from front to back through video on YouTube.
When it comes to selling a home, first impressions are crucial. And in today’s real estate world they most often occur online, instead of at the curb.
Web Appeal Advice for Those Selling Their Home
Web appeal has become the crucial first step in selling a home. And unfortunately for sellers that means there’s much more to be done now than there was, just 15 or 20 years ago.
In a society where visual information is easily accessible from tablets and smart phones, a potential buyer’s first impression about your home will be formed within seconds of clicking on a new listing. You don’t have long to make sure that first impression is a good one.
If you’re getting ready to sell your home you should allow yourself plenty of time to prepare the interior and exterior of your home before taking photos. Having great images that showcase your home gives potential buyers the best possible first impression of your property.
Then, make sure the photos are taken with good lighting and from angles that provide an inviting view of your home. Be sure to remove clutter or anything that may look unappealing in the photos.
Finally, include lots of photos in your online listing because potential buyers viewing your home from a laptop, tablet or smart phone will want to be able to quickly scroll through them and get a good feel for your home.
Buyers want to be able to visualize what it would be like to live in the home. What is it like when you first walk in the front door? What’s the view from the kitchen or back porch? What do other homes on the street look like? What is the overall feel of the neighborhood?
The secret is to think like a buyer. Crawl inside their head and view your home and neighborhood through their eyes. Help them be able to visualize your home online so they are compelled to schedule a showing and take the next step.
Piggly Wiggle showed us there was a whole new way to buy groceries by giving consumers the ability to see and evaluate food items before making a purchase.
The Internet has done that for real estate by enabling buyers to see and evaluate homes and neighborhoods from their laptop or smart phone before they ever get to the curb.
When selling a home you only have one chance to make the best first impression.
Your home still needs to look good from the curb. But it needs to look GREAT on the Web.
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