Real Estate Photography Observations

A few years ago, we (PreviewFirst) sponsored the Annual NAR Convention when it came to San Diego.  As a virtual tour provider, our marketing theme was that “It’s all about the photos”.  When it comes to marketing real estate, nothing is more important.  Today, home-hunters sort their search results by the number of photos at the moment they begin their hunt.  The more photos a listing has, the more clicks it’s going to get.  It’s that simple.

If the photos are professional, home buyers are drawn into the home, spend more time on the site, click the virtual tour, and share it with others.  All that, means more sales, faster.  It’s a no-brainer really, so it’s often puzzling to think that only about 20% of real estate listings have professional photos.  Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do to market a home is to provide quality looking photos.  Since I’m a professional photographer, that statement can sound a little bias.  But some things are just a matter of fact.

Taking lots of photos will help your listing in the search results, but make sure they’re great photos.  I’ve come across several websites that are dedicated to making fun of bad photos.  Many agents don’t realize that people criticize, cringe and laugh at many a mls photo.  They are often the subject of ridicule and entertainment. Here are a handful of those websites.  Sadly though, if you’ve searched the MLS lately, you know that these photos rule the day.  They are not extreme examples.

  1. Bad MLS Photos
  2. Terrible Listing Photos
  3. What not to do when selling
  4. Hooked on homes
  5. Bad real estate photos
  6. Lessons bad MLS photos teach
  7. So Cal MLS Hall of Shame
  8. Lovely Listing

Source: Photography For Real Estate Blog

I hesitate to draw a comparison here, as I don’t want to offend anyone.  But my purpose is not to make fun of anyone… I’m just trying to reveal some truths that many real estate agents may not be aware of.

In 2011, I photographed a home for which the agents broker insisted on professional photography.  The listing agent was a typical do-it-yourselfer and shot his own listings, but agreed to let PreviewFirst shoot this one – since his broker was paying for it.  He sold that home in 9 days and told everyone in the office that he never had so many phone calls on a listing. Although he likes to take his own photos, and even has a professional dslr camera, he realized the dramatic difference professional photos have on his business, and he now uses our photography all the time.  But still, most agents in his office don’t.

So, why don’t most agents use a professional photographer?  Well, top selling agents certainly do.  Which by the way, makes up about 20% of the agents.  And smart agents that understand good marketing, do too.  Some agents understand the value of photography, but many just don’t.  Like most things in life, I think it comes down to the 80/20 rule.  Twenty percent of the population understand the value of photography.  They look at a picture and instantly see the value it delivers.  It’s the way their brains are wired.  Yet the other eighty percent can look at the same picture, and while they think it looks nice, their brains do not value the difference.  Notice I said “value the difference.”  They can see the difference… they just don’t value it.  I’m convinced, it’s the way their brains work.

Multiple Listing Services have learned that they must impose a fine on agents that do not include a minimum number of photos on their listings.  Think about that!  This inability to recognize the value of photography is so bad, that their own association imposes a fine, in order to get cooperation.  Will the day come when agent’s won’t be allowed to take their own photos?  There is the legal issue of seller representation.  I think not.  Photography is much too subjective.  The decision to use a pro (or not), is a clear example of how free market capitalism works.  Those that “get it” sell more homes.  Those that don’t, sell fewer homes.  80/20.

Chris Smith (Chief Evangelist for Inman News) and Steve Pacinelli (Vice President of Real Estate Events for Move Inc), both of Tech Savvy Agent fame, present “The Photo Economy”.  This is an interesting presentation on the value of photography.  Listen in like you were there as Chad hosts and Chris drops some serious knowledge on the trends occurring right now on these visual platforms.  Enjoy!



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