What Would you Change about the Real Estate Process – Conveying Space

How best to convey space? Size?

April’s note generated some excellent responses, responses for which I’m grateful – not simply for the insight offered but that readers took significant time to respond. Thank you! *

… You asked in your monthly note about what’s typically missing from real estate listings that you’d most like to see included.

For me, the answer is easy: practical information about the space. Most real estate photos – even the non-terrible ones – try to show off the space aesthetically. You rarely get photos that show off the space functionally. But on a day to day basis, the functionality of the space matters as much or more than the aesthetics. And that’s especially true if you have any sort of accessibility requirements. How narrow are the hallways? How wide are the doorways? How steep are the stairs going down to the basement? Would there be enough space to add a rail on the wall next to the toilet? Etc. These kind of things really matter to me when I’m looking at houses – they matter a lot more than granite countertops or crown molding – but I can almost *never* get information about them from looking at MLS listings.

I am not quite sure how to answer this except by actually walking through the home – whether in person or on video to send to my buyer client. I’d like to think part of the answer is through the use of floor plans, but there’s something to be said for walking down hallways, looking in closets, feeling the size of the space. I take a lot of video for my clients and while they’re nothing fancy, I’ve found them to be awfully useful – I’ve had clients buy houses entirely from the videos I’ve shot and I’ve had clients make offers on properties based on the videos.

As to the spatial aspect of the videos, and conveying size, one of the more helpful things I’ve done was to take off my flip flops and place them end to end in a doorway to demonstrate how narrow the hallway was. In writing this post, I am recalling my clients noting how seeing that was important; I had said that the doorway was narrow but it wasn’t until I showed them how narrow it was did it register.

One of the greatest limitations on marketing/describing real estate (aside from the agents being allowed by sellers to use crappy photos) is the MLS. The way our MLS is designed (and I’m assuming others are similar) is that the MLS sheet is designed to be printed on one page of paper – the allowable public remarks are absurdly short, with no line breaks or bolding or anything. Clients have told me countless times that they “found the house’s website and it had a lot more information” than the MLS. One would think Realtor organizations would work to solve this.

What I know is this – I’m now much more aware of conveying space when I’m describing and showing property to my clients.

Maybe I need to take an extra pair of flip flops with me.



* Seriously, I write some of my best (not-publicly-archived) stuff in my monthly notes. Two clicks here and you’ll get only one email a month from me.

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About Jim Duncan

Father, husband, Charlottesville real estate agent, bicycle rider & soccer coach. And more. Lots more.
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  • http://www.bankforeclosuressale.com/ Simon Campbell

    This article got me thinking. Why not simply post a link to the home’s website in the MLS comments section. As long as the address is clear and simple to type, even a printed copy that reads “To see more information visit..” would allow agents a better opportunity to share the true facts with a potential buyer.