One of the essential house hunting tools often overlooked when buyers hit the pavement to look at properties is a camera. Given that digital cameras have easily-changeable memory cards that make the number of pictures that can be stored virtually unlimited, taking pictures is an excellent way to supplement the information provided in MLS listings. Even if using just a cell phone camera – although with the iPhone 6 and others the quality of phone cameras has greatly improved – capture as many images of properties you see as possible.
Most digital cameras (and phones) also switch between still photos and video, so make use of the video feature if the item being photographed would be better seen through that medium. Here are suggestions for what to photograph as you look at properties:
- Property address. If there is no address on the curb or the structure, print the address on a 3 x 5 card or take a close-up photo of the address on the MLS listing and make that the first photo in the series you take on the property.
- Unique features that might influence your decision to make an offer.
- Specific model and condition – perhaps even serial number – of each appliance or other item that the MLS listing says comes with the property (“conveys”).
- Expensive faucets, chandeliers, and other installed fixtures that might be assumed to come with the property but should be noted in the purchase contract (I’ve seen more than one $400 bath faucet replaced with a $50 model during escrow).
- Rooms or spaces that could be remodeling or redecorating projects.
- Items that you might request be repaired or replaced before close of escrow.
Along with your camera, remember to pack a flash if the camera doesn’t have one, spare batteries, and spare memory cards. If your camera has interchangeable lenses, bring a wide angle lens for interior photos.
Happy house hunting!
Note: If the property is occupied, ask for permission before taking photos.
Cell phone tip: When taking photos with a cell phone, I’ll email myself all the photos I take at a property with the address in the subject line. This helps match photos to properties if I get them mixed up later when I download photos into my computer later for editing and saving.
John A. Souerbry & Associates (CalBRE 01370983)