Serving Austin Texas & Surrounding Areas


Cautionary Tale: The Photographs That Cost This Poor Home Owner $10,000+ in Additional Profit

At Three Pillars Realty, we believe that it’s often the final five percent that makes all the difference. The subtle tweaks, the 1% improvements, can mean the difference in thousands of dollars. When it comes to maximizing your ROI, we refuse to cut corners. 

And since we're known for taking that stance, we're often asked things like, “do you think X (home improvement) is worth it?" or, "If I decide to invest in Y (interior update), how much will that add to my bottom line?”

Truthfully these questions are difficult to answer. It’s a rare instance when we can look back and say, without question, “Yep, that right there made (or cost you) exactly $15,000.” 

After all, value is subjective. That’s why, for our clients, we focus heavily on engineering every possible competitive advantage.

HOWEVER, sometimes it does happen … Every once in a while, someone lobs a juicy pitch right down the middle and all you can say is “Thank You!” as you crank it out of the park.


Laura and I were introduced in September, by my client Scott. We met for the first time at the first weekend ‘open house’ I was holding for Scott’s condo. Laura, a neighbor and co- worker lived in the same condo complex. I can’t speak for her but I felt an immediate connection. Based on her tone and the way that she phrased her questions I could tell that Laura was a stickler for the details. Details is a language that we speak fluently.


At the time of our introduction, Laura had just inked a contract to build a new home in Round Rock. She was sniffing around at the next steps to get her condo on the market too.

Since her new house wasn’t scheduled to be completed until late February, she still had time. However, as an intelligent homeowner, Laura understood the potential downside of trying to sell during the slower winter cycle.

Laura ran through our Value-Driven Approach, to engineer max value, and her condo sold in the first weekend. Full price offer. Favorable terms. Extended closing date to soften the blow of temporary housing.

Then again, the results came as no surprise. 

When we listed it, Laura’s condo was in tip-top shape. Her attention to detail spilled over into the interior of the home. It was the kind of property that we easily could have listed ‘As-Is” but when the client's objective is Maximum ROI, we cannot play the the ‘as-is’ game. At Three Pillars Realty, we believe that it’s often the final five percent that can make all the difference.

The subtle tweaks, the 1% improvements, can mean the difference in thousands of dollars net profit. Laura was of the exact same mind. She did not blink an eye at any of the scientific-staging suggestions that were made prior to professional photos.

Her condo closed in early November and with a brand new home on the horizon, I figured it would be a long time before we worked together again.


Soon after, she emailed to say that she was starting to second-guess the size of the new house. Furthermore, almost five months after signing the contract, they’d yet to start pouring the foundation. The prospects of a February move-in were looking bleak.

She wanted to explore her options and re-open the search.

Since we parted ways, she’d been driving neighborhoods and making notes. Laura, like most of our most committed clients, knows the importance of doing her own due diligence before wasting time shuffling from house to house to house.

The first house we looked at was a bit of a dud. It was a former rental. There was a mountain of deferred maintenance hidden behind what appeared (from the listing photos) to be a pretty attractive interior. We quickly knocked that one off the list and agreed to monitor new listings through the holidays. 

About a week later though, Laura emailed again, with a sense of urgency. “When can we get in to see this house?” I pulled up the listing and thought to myself, “Realty, THIS is the one you are so excited about?” It didn’t appear to be anything special and in fact, the complete opposite.

You can see for yourself, above and below. The photos on the left are from the MLS listing. The photos at top right were taken by our photographers, when we sold Laura’s condo less than a month earlier. 

Just a slight difference, right?

And as you might expect, that house had been on the market for more than a month. The price had already come down $10,000. Laura agreed that it looked like a bit of a wreck but it just happened to be THE exact floorplan that she had her eye on for two years.

Based on the photos of the listing online, she and I fully expected to walk into a mess. So, you can imagine our surprise when, we opened the door to a completely empty house. The interior was cleaned. The carpets shampooed.

It actually resembled the two-year-old house it was and not the shabby alternate it was being portrayed as online.


After a quick tour, Laura affirmed, “it was the one.” We wrote an offer that night, for $5,000 lower than the seller’s already reduced asking price. By morning we were under contract. Due to the fact they'd already moved out and moved on, they didn’t even bother countering our offer.

No negotiation at all.

I told Laura, “we’re about to find out the true value of high-quality professional photography." Sure enough, the loan appraisal came back $10,000 higher than our sale price. An appraised value Laura told me she would have gladly paid had it come down to it. 

Fortunately, she didn’t have to.

While I’m thrilled that we were able to help her engineer $10,000 in equity, from day one … I’m equally disgusted that the listing agent chose to pursue multiple price reductions before spending 20 minutes snapping new photos or heck, hiring a professional to do so.

We're talking about $200, tops!

A quick $200 investment that could have netted the seller an additional $10-15K. I'm sure, for that family, that money could have gone a long way. A downpayment on a new house? A sizable contribution to a college fund? Lavish vacation or a new car?

Unfortunately, instead, their agent flushed it down the toilet.

I guess this just serves as further proof that many agents don’t comprehend the importance of “perceived value.”

We can now definitively say that scientific staging + top notch photography can add an extra $10-15,000 to the seller’s bottom line. That’s why at Three Pillars Realty, we work with and pay for the absolute best.

“I wish someone would have told me that.”

Those are the eight words that we never want to hear come out of our client’s moths. Sadly, for others though, sometimes that (costly) lesson is learned a little too late.

Choose wisely my friends.


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Helping Sellers On The Move
"Ryan listed my property on the MLS on a Wednesday morning. By noon the next day, my dilemma was deciding which over-asking price offer I was going to accept. That was a fun problem. I know I’ll never have to stress about real estate in Austin, Texas because Ryan France is on the mound!"
Lauren Neil-Jeffrey
"Ryan was the perfect Realtor for us. His advice on staging our vacant house was the most important reason it sold quickly. The sale of our home was a pretty complicated process. Ryan’s patience, honesty and straight-forward attitude were key in seeing this complex processes through."
Ankur Jain
"Once my house sold (above asking), I got a call from Ryan asking if I had a favorite charity for which he could make a donation to commemorate the sale. I was slightly taken aback ... then I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Not only is Ryan a good Realtor, he’s an even better human being."
Dale Blandin
"Ryan displayed complete professionalism and was always prepared. His skill at marketing was superb! The house was under contract within a week of listing! He knew where to focus efforts for the best results and he is very detail-oriented. I highly recommend him."
Luke Childress
"Ryan and his team were very helpful in making my condo stand out and sell quickly. He was proactive & effective in his communications. I always knew what to expect and where we were in the process. Ryan is the consummate
professional. You will be in good hands."
Laura Tomlinson
"Ryan had our house under contract in less than 48 hours, with 6 offers. Many of the Realtors commented on how the house was “staged and priced perfectly” thanks to Ryan’s advice. Ryan was extremely easy to communicate with and made the process of selling of our house as easy as possible."
Shelly Weathers
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