(Photos: Lance Selgo/Unique Exposure Photography Staging: Karen Otto/Homestar Staging)

Any real estate agent will tell you that the top three most important things in a house are “location, location, location” in that order. And sure, this Caruth Meadows ranch on East University has a location that many buyers dream about. But it is so much more than that. 

What stands out about 6335 E. University has a lot to do with the renovation. It’s just plain flawless.

“Not all renovations are created equal, and as a home staging company, we’re sometimes called in to ‘fix’ a challenge that could have been avoided prior to listing had the reno been thought out carefully prior to opening walls willy nilly,” said Karen Otto of Homestar Staging. “With a Kettering Ideas project, that’s never the case!”

Otto is the person responsible for the magazine-worthy interior decor of this incredible listing from Jacqui Bloomquist of Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors.  Otto already had a great base to work with, as Bloomquist notes that this home is practically brand new.

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Real Estate Story

real estate photography

real estate photography

This house languished on the Orlando, Florida, market for 224 days, until professional real estate photographer Harry Lim re-shot the exterior and interior. It proceeded to sell in just eight days. Photos: Harry Lim

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 CandysDirt, 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.

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Real Estate Story

Harry Lim photography before

This house languished on the Orlando, Florida, market for 224 days, until professional real estate photographer Harry Lim re-shot the exterior and interior. It proceeded to sell in just eight days. Photos: Harry Lim

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.

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5747-morningside-ave-dallas-tx-MLS-3

I swear, Karen Eubank, the maven behind Eubank Staging and sometimes contributor here on our little blog, has been telling me about this project for weeks.  It’s an incredible Tudor at 5747 Morningside in the M Streets. It’s priced at $649,000 and has three bedrooms and two baths. And it just got one of the most incredible makeovers. Here’s the short of it:

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UEP Prep Homepage

Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography is a member of RESA, so as a real estate photographer he has a pretty interesting perspective about how sellers should get their homes ready for his visit.

As part of that, Selgo launched a new website that outlines the “do’s” and “don’ts” of preparing a home for listing photography. Does he still have to get the toothpaste off the vanity now that clients have a catch-all website to check out?

“Because I let new clients know about my expectations I really haven’t had to move much,” Selgo said. “I usually see people leaving out pet beds because they are a part of the family, but it’s important to put those away for photos so buyers don’t judge a home before they see it in person. Not everyone likes animals and some folks are allergic to them so it’s best to hide the furry friends so buyers come to a showing and fall in love once they are there.”

Still, not every homeowner is prepared for a photographer who is going to be shooting images so that thousands of homebuyers can pick their house apart on the Internet.

“I did have one home where the sellers weren’t ready and they had their nanny cleaning up as I went. I had to hold the master bedroom off for last because the bed wasn’t made, and sleep apnea masks/tubes were on the night stands,” Selgo said. “Luckily the sellers have always been open to my suggestions and they take care of things while I shoot other portions of the home.”

Of course, there are going to be certain rooms that have to look incredible. They’re the areas that really sell a home. So buyers should take Selgo’s tips and heed them wisely. That includes kitchens, master bedrooms, and master baths, which should have countertops that are spic-and-span with all personal items in cupboards.

Still, not every homeowner is able to depersonalize their home, especially when they have a lifetime’s worth of large collectables all across their house. This can sometimes make or break a potential listing. Selgo remembers one such listings:

LionLivingRoom

“The seller was big into hunting, so the agent requested I shoot around the big items as best I could … That photo wasn’t used on the MLS, but I wanted to have a photo of the lion to remember it! A home like this really should have a staging consultation. It’s really tough for an agent to go into something like this and recommend the seller’s prized possessions are removed from the property. And surely I should be the last person to have to have to take action on something so extravagant! A third party — a stager in this case — could be the “bad guy” and be able to better explain the purpose behind clearing the home of all of the animals and how it can impact the sale of the home in a positive way.”

That is too funny, and I’m not lion!

UEP Prep Homepage

Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography is a member of RESA, so as a real estate photographer he has a pretty interesting perspective about how sellers should get their homes ready for his visit.

As part of that, Selgo launched a new website that outlines the “do’s” and “don’ts” of preparing a home for listing photography. Does he still have to get the toothpaste off the vanity now that clients have a catch-all website to check out?

“Because I let new clients know about my expectations I really haven’t had to move much,” Selgo said. “I usually see people leaving out pet beds because they are a part of the family, but it’s important to put those away for photos so buyers don’t judge a home before they see it in person. Not everyone likes animals and some folks are allergic to them so it’s best to hide the furry friends so buyers come to a showing and fall in love once they are there.”

Still, not every homeowner is prepared for a photographer who is going to be shooting images so that thousands of homebuyers can pick their house apart on the Internet.

“I did have one home where the sellers weren’t ready and they had their nanny cleaning up as I went. I had to hold the master bedroom off for last because the bed wasn’t made, and sleep apnea masks/tubes were on the night stands,” Selgo said. “Luckily the sellers have always been open to my suggestions and they take care of things while I shoot other portions of the home.”

Of course, there are going to be certain rooms that have to look incredible. They’re the areas that really sell a home. So buyers should take Selgo’s tips and heed them wisely. That includes kitchens, master bedrooms, and master baths, which should have countertops that are spic-and-span with all personal items in cupboards.

Still, not every homeowner is able to depersonalize their home, especially when they have a lifetime’s worth of large collectables all across their house. This can sometimes make or break a potential listing. Selgo remembers one such listings:

LionLivingRoom

“The seller was big into hunting, so the agent requested I shoot around the big items as best I could … That photo wasn’t used on the MLS, but I wanted to have a photo of the lion to remember it! A home like this really should have a staging consultation. It’s really tough for an agent to go into something like this and recommend the seller’s prized possessions are removed from the property. And surely I should be the last person to have to have to take action on something so extravagant! A third party — a stager in this case — could be the “bad guy” and be able to better explain the purpose behind clearing the home of all of the animals and how it can impact the sale of the home in a positive way.”

That is too funny, and I’m not lion!

MetroTechies 3.0

We talk about how valuable staging is when marketing a listing, and for Suzy Echols Neal of Nathan Grace Realtors, she’ll get all of the value without forking over a dime! Neal won a complete staging and photography package at the MetroTechies conference Wednesday in Grapevine.

Suzy Echols NealNeal was thrilled to find out she’d won the package provided by the Real Estate Stagers Association, which includes a team of RESA stagers, MLS photos from Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography, and a virtual tour for an occupied staging. According to RESA Texas State President Karen Eubank, the total value of the package is $1,200.

While the package has a price tag, Neal considers the talents and work of stagers and professional photographers as “invaluable.”

“You walk into a home and you can’t quite figure it out, can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know it could be better, that the furniture could be moved. That’s where professional stagers come in,” Neal said. “Pretty soon they can have that house feeling comfortable — feeling like home.”

Of course, knowing and trusting that experts are on hand to make a listing look its best is tremendously important, Neal added. And for Selgo, staging and photographer are the one-two punch that lands big sales.

“Professional staging and photography go hand-in-hand, and utilizing both provides for an outstanding experience for a home seller,” Selgo said. “The MetroTechies event was a perfect avenue for RESA members to partner for this excellent giveaway because everyone that attended was eager to learn. We aim to bring more awareness to RESA and we love educating Realtors about how we can help them on their journey to sell properties quickly and for the highest price!”

And for Eubank, demonstrating the power of staging and expert photography to Realtors is a win-win situation for everyone in the real estate industry.

“As Texas state president and past Dallas chapter president of RESA it’s been a priority of mine to create visibility and credibility for staging. What better way to do that than by supporting our industry partners?” Eubank asked. “Our members are committed to MetroTex Association of Realtors and the Women’s Council of Realtors. We participate in a number of their programs each year. MetroTechies is such a great event. Not only do many people discover RESA at this event, we discover great tools that help our own individual businesses as well as our chapter grow.”

Hammond Front

Last week we published a four-part series by professional stager Karen Eubank with interviews from some of the top real estate photographers in North Texas. They offered some great stories and stellar advice for agents and brokers who are looking to make the most of their listings with professional photography.

If you missed this fantastic series last week and want to read the full posts, you can see our first, second, third, and fourth installments from names such as Shoot2Sell, Unique Exposure, Chateau Shooters, and First Showing.

After the jump, check out some of our favorite quotes and advice from these photographers!

Most innovative idea:

“I believe we have made huge strides in what is considered acceptable marketing for architecture in DFW as a result of our standards.  It only helps the agent, their reputation, their sellers’ experience, the buyers’ experience, and makes our jobs easier. Everyone wins when we all pay attention.  We were also the first to come up with a “photoshoot checklist” that gets sent to the Seller to get them prepared.  At the time we started that, it was almost seen as revolutionary in Dallas as no one had put that kind of effort out there before.

— Richard Sharum, Shoot2Sell

Best perspective on editing photos: 

“Alteration is a tough subject because the majority of people understand the term ‘Photoshop.’ Quite a bit of alteration can be done to a photo, and some of it is quite easy! Speaking on behalf of my business only, and how I operate, I only alter the sky … I think because the majority of agents utilize the front exterior photo as their first shot in the MLS, that shot should look great. In North Texas we expect blue skies and sunshine. The odds are high that even if it is cloudy out today, tomorrow it will most likely be sunny, so I have no issues with adjusting the sky. During the photoshoot it can be sunny with a blue sky out, but the front photo still results in a white sky because the sun is behind the property. I think buyers deserve to see the home how they expect it, with a blue sky instead of white, so I make that adjustment. I don’t green the grass because I know when the buyer goes to the property, they aren’t going to see green grass. Ethically it’s up to the agent and real estate photographer to decide what is an acceptable adjustment to a photo.

— Lance Selgo, Unique Exposure Photography

Best advice to Realtors: 

“A good rule of thumb is to prep your home as though you plan on entertaining. Make it look presentable, declutter the countertops in the kitchens and bathrooms and put everything in its place … The circumstances may be dire, but an hour or so of tidying up can go a long way, even if the Realtor does decide to tackle it on their own.”

— Evan Godwin, Chateau Shooters

Best funny story:  

“I once had a semi-senile grandfather walking into nearly every photo. They brought him outside and he immediately manifested directly in the window of the room I was shooting.”

— Jason, First Showing Photography