Browsing Massachusetts Real Estate Listings: Online vs. In Person?

I am often contacted by home buyers in the South Shore who have found their dream home online and want to book a showing to see it immediately. They haven't communicated with a real estate professional yet, and they haven't looked at a home in person for many years, but somehow they know that the home they just found online is the right one. Usually, they have been looking online for a few months and the excitement has been building. This is very common, especially for first time home buyers. After personally showing homes for so many years, I’m constantly reminded that the perfect home for sale online rarely becomes the perfect house in person.

There are some things to consider when you're in the process of browsing through Massachusetts real estate listings online... First of all, when someone hires a real estate professional to list their house for sale, the #1 one job of that agent is to get the most amount of showing activity possible. That is why they are referred to as the “listing” agent. Their #1 priority is to list the property to the best of their ability with all the tools available. Listing agents use photo and video tricks to showcase the property's highest and best qualities. For this reason, real estate tends to look better online, than in person. You’ll find out the real details upon visiting the property.

Here are a few issues that are nearly impossible to identify in an real estate listing online:

  1. Don't trust photographs for an accurate representation of room sizes Through the use of a wide angle lens and a good photo editing software, a good photographer will know how to make a space look larger than reality. With this in mind, photos online usually make a space look much more spacious than it actually is. Playing with furniture layouts can also give the allusion of taller ceilings and more floor space.
  2. A house is not always as clean as it looks in photos online. Experienced sellers have been preparing their home for months in advance with repairs, rearranging furniture, painting etc. However, when it comes to the actual photos, they will do a deep clean in all the main areas, but not necessarily throughout the whole house. When you visit the home, you may find that the closets, secondary bedrooms, bathrooms, and/or garage spaces are not very clean. Dusty blinds, baseboards, and decor can reveal a home that is not cleaned as often as the online pictures may appear. This can be a major turnoff for many homebuyers.
  3. What's that smell? Sometimes you'll find a home online and it's perfect on paper, but as soon as you show up to the house in person and the front door opens, your nose is inundated with the smell of a thousand city zoos. This is a classic scenario that every Realtor deals with, and honestly, it’s probably one of the hardest issues to overcome when I’m showing homes. When I’m in a home with strong pet odors, it’s almost impossible to focus on anything other than “lets get back outside”. It takes a very clean home owner to remove the smell out of the home on a daily basis, and I have found that many pet owners are not able to do this well and they will unsuccessfully try to fix the problem with candles and carpet deodorizers minutes before a showing.


If you're in the in the market to buy a home in the Boston area, you may want to check out one of these links

Browse Listings

You could also contact us at Lighthouse Realty Group and tap into our expertise on the real estate market south of Boston. We've been helping people buy and sell in the area for over 20 years.