How to Boost Your Home’s Digital Curb Appeal

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You’ve likely heard the term “curb appeal” at least a few times in your life. Maybe you’re even in the process of sprucing up your own front yard in hopes of attracting potential buyers. But now that virtual and digital tech has permeated nearly every facet of life, “screen appeal” has become the new curb appeal.

Screen appeal, also called digital curb appeal, is more important than ever when listing your home for sale. Having great digital curb appeal means thinking about things like, how good does your living room look in still photos? Does your listing feature a 3D tour so people can explore your home from anywhere? These are things that can help you attract more buyers from near and far. Now you can add yet another digital tool to your box: Zillow ImmerseSM, a virtual reality home tour prospective buyers can take via the Apple Vision Pro™ headset.

Just how important is digital curb appeal? The numbers tell the story. Nearly three-fourths of prospective home buyers surveyed in Zillow’s latest Consumer Housing Trends Report said 3D tours let them get a better feel for a home compared to listings with static photos. Plus, nearly 60% of millennials said in a 2021 Zillow® survey that they would be at least somewhat confident making an offer on a home after doing just a 3D-virtual tour. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives, making up the largest generation of home buyers. Their comfort with technology will drive housing trends and demand for years to come. That means getting your home ready for its virtual close-up is key. Here’s how to make your home listing stand out online.

A home with all the fixings

Making repairs and updates to a home before listing it is not only common and will help make your home more attractive to potential buyers in person, but it can go a long way toward making a good first impression online. When considering your investment, know this: according to a Zillow and Thumbtack analysis, the typical seller spends roughly $5,380 to complete some of the most common pre-listing home improvements, like landscaping and interior painting. Then you’ll want to also consider repairs you may not see in an online listing, but may help boost your home’s value when you go to sell, like re-shingling an aging roof, covering up, and repainting any holes in the walls, or installing new windows that will open, close, and lock smoothly.

Declutter and depersonalize

Some of the traditional rules for open houses still apply in the world of digital curb appeal. Decluttering makes a home more attractive across all media. Rooms with a minimal amount of items will appear more open and appealing in photographs. Depersonalizing — removing items like family photos, collectibles and any other personal objects that say ‘This is my house’ — helps potential buyers see your home’s features and imagine themselves living there. Plus, it can help protect your privacy, according to Zillow Virtual Staging Expert Hailey Walk.

“When you are listing your home, you are essentially opening your door wide open, letting whoever come inside and take a look,” Walk said. “Aside from protecting you, depersonalization can be advantageous because by removing personal items you are allowing potential buyers to focus on your property, not your possessions.”

Depersonalizing also means considering your paint colors. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral tone tends to appeal to more buyers (and they may offer more for homes that feature dark gray rooms, according to a Zillow paint color analysis). Walk said more colorful hues on the other hand, like orange or yellow, could turn people off.

“While you might have chosen yellow because when you see that yellow it reminds you of an important memory or a place you love, a potential buyer only sees yellow,” she said. “Unique and bold colors serve more often as a distraction to potential buyers than as inspiration.”

Optimize your layout for the camera

Consider your furniture layout and how it makes your home look on camera. You may love how your rooms are arranged, but your furniture placement might not make the rooms look very spacious on screen. Take some test photos to see if the current layout photographs well. 

If you’re planning on working with your agent to create a recorded or live video tour, do a video chat walkthrough with a friend and see if you have a clear path between your furniture. You want to avoid tripping over an ottoman while doing a live tour.

And a pro tip: Before your home’s photoshoot, open shades and blinds to let in natural light. It will make your home look larger, warmer and more welcoming in its digital debut. 

Hire a pro photographer

Your agent will likely be the one to set up the listing photos and coordinate any virtual tours with buyers’ agents. That being said, when you are first researching agents to work with, pay attention to their portfolio. Do they work with skilled real estate photographers? Do their past listings include 3D tours and clear photos that represent the space well? Or will you be left to figure that out yourself?

Cellphone snaps won’t cut it when you’re selling the biggest investment you own. Work with your agent to hire a photographer specializing in shooting houses for 3D virtual tours and the MLS. They know how to light and frame a room to look its best. Check out our tips for hiring a pro to take great real estate photos of your home. You can hire a photographer in select markets from our directory or ask your agent for a recommendation.

Make a great first impression

If you’ve ever browsed homes on Zillow, you’re quite familiar with preview photos. They are the first thing you see about a home. If your listing’s first few photos aren’t appealing, potential buyers may just swipe by. Which would you rather see: a well-lit, organized kitchen photographed from a wide angle; or a grainy, too-close photo that doesn’t give you a great idea of what you’re in for? Zillow’s research found that 27% of prospective buyers say high-resolution listing photos are their most-desired listing feature. 

And be wise about which space in your home you use for your first photo. Is there a part of your home that stands out? Does one room have a particularly unique design that could leave people wanting more? Consider using that among your first few photos.

Lastly, remember that people want to see the home they’ll be living in. Yes, of course buyers want to know what the outside looks like. But consider which images best help buyers imagine, at a glance, their lives inside the home.

Consider virtual staging

Virtual staging uses software that digitally adds furnishings to your space. It can make a home look like it’s furnished without you ever moving or renting real furniture. Plus, it tends to be more affordable and efficient compared to actual staging. Staging can help homes sell as much as 70% faster compared to properties that are not staged, according to the 2021 NAR Profile of Home Staging.

You can find online services that will virtually stage your home using professional interior designers, as well as apps that let you DIY​ your own digital décor in your listing photos. Virtual staging is a fast way to get empty homes or homes with outdated furnishings ready to sell and help your home listing stand out.

Take advantage of Zillow Immerse

Zillow Immerse is an app newly available through Apple’s Vision Pro that allows potential buyers to step into any listing that features a 3D tour just by putting on a virtual reality headset. This gives them panoramic views and a far more realistic idea of what it would be like to live in a home compared to still images. All of this helps home shoppers get the information they need to be prepared to make an offer — before even seeing your home in person.

One key feature of Zillow Immerse is that it allows buyers to get a much clearer idea of a home’s floor plan. Zillow’s 2023 Consumer Housing Trends Report found that more than half of prospective buyers regret wasting their time by looking at properties they would have skipped if they had access to the floor plan beforehand. At the same time, nearly 80% of prospective buyers are more likely to view a listing if it includes a floor plan that appeals to them.

To take advantage of Zillow Immerse, ask your agent if they have a Listing Showcase® subscription. That subscription is the key to creating a visually stunning listing with several interactive features that buyers are looking for, like a virtual 3D tour of a home and interactive floor plans.  

Add a 3D Home tour and interactive floor plan

We’ll say it plainly: a virtual tour is a must-have and may help your listing get more views and saves. Based on data collected between October 2022 and March 2023, listings with a Zillow 3D Home® tour got, on average, 60% more views on Zillow and were saved by buyers 79% more than listings without. And according to a 2023 Zillow survey, nearly 70% of buyers said they wish more listings had 3D tours. It’s no wonder why; a virtual tour creates the sensation of walking through the interior of a house online. It gives a potential buyer a more immersive sense of what the home looks and feels like than still photos can do.

If your agent uses Showingtime+℠, 3D home tours and their accompanying interactive floor plans can be shot at the same time as traditional listing photos, with no additional fees. Ask your agent if they use the Zillow 3D Home® app, a free and easy way to create a virtual tour using your phone, where you can post it to Zillow, your social accounts and beyond.

Write a compelling listing description

Photos and 3D Home tours speak a thousand words, but they’re not enough. The description accompanying your listing is where you can take your home’s appeal to the next level. Describe in creative words what readers can’t see in the photos or elaborate on what they can see. Reference Zillow listing research to know what buyers are looking for and highlight that. Do you have a TV outside, or soapstone countertops? Say so! These are two of the top features that helped homes sell for more than what was expected, according to new Zillow research. Want to boost your chances of your home selling faster? Highlight your curvy kitchens or your built-in plant ledge, if you have one.

Make your home irresistible to buyers with a few of our smart tips.

Your home looks great — now share it

Now that you’ve maxed out your home’s digital curb appeal and helped your listing stand out by helping home shoppers virtually step inside, showcase your home online to generate interest on top of what you’re getting through your agent’s efforts. Be sure to share your listing on social media — everything from Instagram and TikTok, to Nextdoor — and spread it through your network.

Check out more tips on selling your house online and how to market your home to sell.

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