Buying & Selling

How to Make Your Home’s Online Listing Stand Out (Without Dressing up as Bigfoot)

These days, most would-be homeowners start the search for their dream homes online. That’s the easiest way, after all, to check out a neighborhood and start figuring out what kinds of homes are available in their price range.

For sellers, the trend can be both a blessing and a curse: There may be dozens of listings for homes that are roughly the same size, with approximately the same features in any given area. It’s hard to stand apart from the crowd of listings without upping their game or going to extremes.

That may be what prompted one California realtor to get creative with a million dollar listing in 2020: With a suave Bigfoot costume and a little help from his spouse, he posed as the hairy cryptid in a suburban paradise. 

Peppered throughout the ordinary photos on the online listing, prospective buyers were treated to the sight of Bigfoot baking cookies in the kitchen, practicing yoga poses in the sunroom and chilling on the couch. The listing must have been a hit because it quickly went viral — and the home got several offers above its asking price.

Photo courtesy of John Dressler for Daniel Oster

Photo courtesy of John Dressler for Daniel Oster

But what if you don’t want to get quite that extreme for your photos? Is there any other way to make your listing stand out online? Try these ideas on for size:

Get Your Home Professionally Staged

An empty home doesn’t do your online listing any favors because people need to picture how the space is used in order to envision themselves living there. No matter how carefully renovated your place may be, it needs some furniture to add charm and warmth and make your photos pop.

But what if you’re still living in the home? Again: You need some help with staging. A pro will have a dispassionate eye and help you adhere to the basic commandments of staging:

  • Add a fresh coat of paint where it’s needed
  • Remove the quirky decor that showcases your personality, not your home
  • Declutter and free up space so that your home seems roomier
  • Add light into dark areas before taking photos
  • Spot areas that need to be cleaned up or cleaned out

When you live in a home every day, you can become blind to small flaws that can instantly be magnified in online photos and turn a would-be buyer off.

Good staging can also make your home instantly look warmer and livelier in photos. A pro will know if you should set the table or add a cutting board and a loaf of bread to the counter in the kitchen to add warmth, or whether your living room needs lighter drapes to make those wood floors really shine. 

Hire a Photographer and Go 3D

Your iPhone camera is not a substitute for professional photos, and your cousin may be a pro at weddings but that’s not the same skill set that’s needed for great interior shots (which can be tricky).

Draw up a list of your home’s best features and meet the photographer before the shoot so you can go over the highlights together. A good photographer will incorporate as many as possible into your interior pictures and help you showcase them. 

Even better: Get a video of your listing to give home hunters a more dynamic view of your home. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but video can get you a 403% increase in inquiries on your listing — and that’s a tremendous value. 

Video gives viewers a clear idea of what it’s like to actually walk through (and live in) your home. The 3D approach can make your listing feel more interactive and really stand out from the frozen moments in time that you get with mere photos.

Focus on Top-Selling Features

Home trends come and go with time, so it’s important to focus buyers on whatever makes your home seem current. 

Right now, things like a well-designed home office, eat-in kitchens, open floor plans, energy-efficient appliances, dedicated laundry rooms, and gorgeous decks and patios that are perfect for entertaining at home are all the rage. If any of those apply to your home, make sure that your online listing prominently features them. 

Don’t worry if your home doesn’t have everything that today’s buyers’ want — most homes do not. Instead, make the most of what you have and make sure that you provide plenty of photos that help showcase the in-demand qualities that are there.

Pay Attention to Your Wording

Think about how you want to describe your home as the listing is written. What keywords or phrases would you search for if you were a potential buyer? What details would you want to know? 

Good phrasing and an abundance of detail can help your listing rise to the top when prospective owners are hunting through a sea of online listings. Make sure that your titles, captions and descriptions speak to the viewer’s emotions and invoke the kind of imagery that captures their imagination.

Remember: You only get one chance to make a first impression. It’s worth the time, effort and expense to make your online listing attractive and memorable because that’s where the majority of your potential buyers will first see your home. The odds are high that your realtor will have a few suggestions of their own, so make sure you listen closely to their tips!