When I bought my first house in 1981 the only way to find houses for sale and see what they looked like, was to hook up with a real estate agent and go see them in person. There was no MLS and no internet.
You had to make an appointment with an agent and go through the listing sheets one by one, pretty much guessing which houses you should see, because at best there was just one fuzzy picture of the outside of the house and none of the inside. So you couldn't tell much about the outside, and you had no idea what the inside looked like.
It was kinda like a blind date, the agent thought you'd be a good match, but you really had no idea what to expect.
Then the agent had to go through the rig-a-ma-roll of making appointments for each of the houses you wanted to see and getting the keys from each of the listing agents. They didn't use lockboxes in those days.
And finally, after all this preparation, you'd drive over to the house with the agent, and the second you pulled in the driveway, you knew, it wasn't for you. But you'd come this far, so you looked at it anyway, just because.
Today we're bombarded with real estate information, and technology has given us access to more choices than we can ever make use of.
We can easily find out just about anything we want to know about all the houses for sale, whether they're across the street or across the country, without leaving our chair.
Both traditional and new internet based real estate companies are doing their best to out-spend, out-think and out-innovate each other in providing cutting edge information technology to the consumer.
But with all this progress, sometimes it seems as if we're back in 1981, because so often we still have no way of knowing what a house that's listed for sale looks like.
Because there are no pictures. Or the pictures on the listing are so dismal that they're worthless. Or they're worse than worthless, because they make the house look so awful that only the most determined buyer would take the time to go see it.
Everybody loses in this situation, but by far the seller loses the most.
They're at a huge disadvantage because they're not getting the showings they should be getting, and the showings that they are getting are pretty much blind dates, because the buyers have no idea what to expect. So there's a lot of wasted time for the seller, the buyer and the agent, dealing with showings that are doomed to go nowhere.
Taking good pictures of a house is skill that not everyone has.
That's OK. There are photographers that'll do a very decent job for a a couple of hundred dollars. Pinching pennies? Forget about the ad in the Sunday paper, or certainly the magazine ad that won't see the light of day for maybe 45 to 60 days, after the house gets listed.
Get the biggest bang for your buck, and have good pictures of the house on the MLS and the internet. That's where the buyers are.
For a lot of reasons that I won't go into now, I'm not a big fan of Virtual Tours, but they are usually competently done, and provide a reasonably decent presentation of the home being sold. And they're cheap, about $69, and easy, just one phone call.
There's no excuse.