This month, there’s a story that’s gone viral by Orlando professional real estate photographer Harry Lim. His post, After Nearly 8 Months, Photos Help Sell Home in 8 Days, is remarkable because it shows the unmistakable difference professional photography makes in the marketing of a house (his before-and-after photos above make that clear!).
Here at Candy’s Dirt, we could not agree more! In 2013, contributing writer Karen Eubank wrote an interesting series for us, Outside the Frame, which looked at the importance of professional real estate photography and offered the insights of Dallas’ leading real estate photographers (see parts one, two, three, and four).
Today’s real estate buyer is doing their home searches on the Internet, with 90 percent searching online and 89 percent using a mobile search engine. What they find first in their searches are photographs, and the quality of those can make or break a listing.
So today, we’ve made a list of five ways professional real estate photographers bring value to the marketing of a house.
1. The pros know which shots offer value to potential buyers
In the average MLS listing, you’ve got around 25 shots to “sell” a buyer on your property. Poorly planned or executed photography might result in redundant shots (multiple angles of one room where no new visual information is presented), unnecessary photos (you don’t need a photo of the toilet—people know it’s in the bathroom), or just plain bad photos that make the property look boring at best.
A professional real estate photographer understands which shots matter and why, and can make judgment calls based on the features of each individual property.
“Normally I don’t waste a photo on a laundry room, but a condo unit that has a washer/dryer when the neighboring ones do not might be of great importance compared to the average property,” said Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography.
2. They bring experience and expertise to the table
In this age of digital camera and Photoshop, many people fancy themselves a photography expert. But real estate photography is an art and takes real skill and experience to be done well. From lighting and angles to cropping and perspective, it takes a pro to do the job right.
“Shooting property is a fine art and not be taken lightly,” said Richard Sharum of Shoot2Sell. “One inexperienced person can actually make a property look worse than in real life, resulting in no interest and a bad reputation for the listing agent.”
3. They know how to make a great first impression
There may be 25 or so shots of your property in MLS (and showing up on popular sites like Zillow and Trulia), but the money shot is the first one, which is usually the exterior. An amateur often ends up with a too-bright sky, under- or overexposed façade, and poor framing of the photo.
“That single shot is the identity of the home to EVERYONE!,” said Evan Godwin of Chateau Shooters. “It’s the first thing people see when the pull up and usually the first photo that is presented when on MLS.”
Selgo explained why a good exterior shot is essential.
“When buyers are looking at properties online, they are looking at a list of 10-20 that match their search criteria, and all they see is one thumbnail of each home,” he said. “That thumbnail is the first shot that is listed on the MLS, so I think it’s the most important as that is the shot that is going to grab their attention and get them to dig deeper to see more.”
4. They understand lighting
To our eyes, a room may look perfectly fine, but a professional real estate photographer knows that bright and light spaces look bigger and more appealing. For example, they know to turn on every light and are able take the shot so that light from windows or other rooms don’t trick the camera into creating an underexposed interior. They also know how to adjust your photos in software editing programs to get the color levels just right. Look at the before-and-after photos above of a living room to see the difference lighting makes. It’s the same room, but which one would you want to visit?
5. Using professional photographs offers sellers and Realtors an edge
Getting a house ready for market has some sellers spending thousands for upgrades and updates, professional staging, landscaping, and storage for extra junk that needs to be out of sight. Competitive real estate photography companies charge about $100-$150 per listing, which is pocket change when you consider the cost-benefit ratio and how much more quickly the property might sell.
For Realtors who pay out-of-pocket for professional photography of their listings, the benefits are there, too, even in our hot market.
“While increasing virtual and in-person traffic (and subsequently shorter DOMs) being the most obvious, having all of your homes professionally photographed provides a consistently high level of service to your clients,” said Godwin. “With professional photography becoming increasingly more accessible and affordable to agents that specialize in all markets, the last thing you want is to not be competitive with your fellow agents. All of these things assist in building your brand as an agent and leads to more referrals and business down the road from clients that felt you went above and beyond.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on professional real estate photography, whether you’re a seller or Realtor. Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!