You know how competitive real estate can be. One quick Google search is all it takes to overwhelm a potential buyer with dozens of properties (and agents) to choose from.
So how do you get your listings to stand out from the crowd?
It’s not just about hitting the pricing sweet spot or choosing the highest-traffic listing sites. Selling more homes is about creating a compelling vision for future homebuyers. And if a picture is worth 1,000 words, your real estate photography skills (or lack thereof) definitely say something about the quality of your brand.
Consider this your complete guide to nailing your listing photos, even when your pro photographer unexpectedly gets the flu or goes on vacation.
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100% of humans respond to visuals in a way that is extremely powerful.
From Cialdini’s ‘visual salience’ theory to 3M’s study proving visuals are 43% more persuasive, sales psychology pros have been studying this stuff for decades (maybe even centuries).
No doubt about it. The right real estate photograph can build excitement, anticipation and ultimately influence a buyer’s decision.
“Without a doubt, professional photography is the most critical element of your listing marketing strategy. 86% of homebuyers state that listing photography is the #1 reason why they decide to view a home, yet only 35% of Realtors use a professional photography solution,” says Michael Yates, Marketing Director at Virtuance.
According to experts like Michael, “Using professional photography is the #1 way to get your listing to stand out from the competition and puts you in the best position to get more showings, more offers, and ultimately a higher sale price.”
But why take our word for it? Here’s a simple example of why listing photos matter.
Source: Fix The Photo
Source: Aaron Huber via UnSplash
Which option would you choose?
“In real estate, there’s almost always a major life event happening at the time of the home purchase. Your client might be going through downsizing, upsizing, divorce, getting married, having a baby, etc.,” says Debra Beagle, co-owner and Managing Broker of Ashton Real Estate Group (which by the way, happens to be the #1 RE/MAX team in the world).
For rainmakers like Debra, it’s important for her agents to go above and beyond the role of Realtor to become professional problem-solvers for their customers.
Your prospect isn’t just thinking about spending $350K on 4-bedroom with a pool. They’re thinking about who they’ll become when they live in it. Maybe they want tobe the kind of picture-perfect parent who preps healthy meals for dinner every night, or the type of switched-on professional who wakes up refreshed and ready to follow the fast-track to the C-suite.
Wondering what to pay your team? Learn how many of the top teams in the business structure their compensation from commission splits, deciding when to put someone on salary and whether to hire a VA or hire 'in-house'.
Whatever it is, your real estate photos offer up the first glimpse into that vision.
You can probably guess our answer to this one.
Whenever possible, yes. You should definitely use a pro to take your real estate photos.
Because in the words of famous photographer Ansel Adams, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
To put it in less poetic terms, there’s a whole heck of a lot that goes on behind the scenes to create a truly eye-catching photo. Photography is an entire skill in and of itself. And we’re guessing you’d rather stick to real estate.
But if you’re still undecided, let’s take a minute to weigh your options.
Depending on where you are in your real estate business, price can be a deciding factor on whether to opt for a pro photographer. As much as you would like to hire a professional, can you afford it?
Real estate photography rates range from $100 to $500 per shoot, depending on factors such as:
You’ll also need to consider the fact that some photographers may need a full upfront payment, others require a deposit and some may accept payment upon completion.
Source: Fix The Photo
One place to look is your local board of Realtors. They usually have a database of vetted photographers or photographers who pay to advertise their services.
Word of mouth is also a great way to get an awesome photographer. If you spot a gorgeous listing, simply reach out to the listing agent and ask if they’d be willing to share the name of their photographer. Just make sure you identify the photos that not only grab your attention, but also have a style that aligns with your unique brand.
And of course, many photographers choose to market themselves through social media. Hop onto different social networks and search for real estate photographers near you to see what comes up.
With Instagram and Pinterest in the mix, most photographers will have their portfolio right there in front of you. You’ll get a clear picture of what the photographer’s style is so you can vet them in advance.
Questions to ask
Once you’ve identified your top photographer candidates, there are few key questions to ask before you enter into an agreement:
Source: Realty Boutique
Okay, we’ve all seen the hilariously bad listing photos.
We know we need a pro photographer to show off our properties’ true potential and get the best possible deal for our customers. But there are times when, for whatever reason, you just have to roll up your sleeves, pick up the iPhone and snap your own listing photos.
Here are our tips for going the DIY route and still getting great results.
Source: Terrible Estate Agent Photos
Create a predetermined shot list so you can arrive at the property knowing exactly what you need and waste no time taking awkward pictures of the bathroom sink.
Of course, each property has its own unique selling points.
One property might have an amazing fireplace in the living room, while another might have a breathtaking pool area. It’s OK to take a number of photos and choose the best of the best later. Just make sure you have your shot list on standby so you know the must-have photos you can’t leave the property without taking.
In order to make each room of the property appealing, you’ll need get serious about staging.
Once you’re done staging each room, remember to have a full walkthrough before beginning to shoot. Ask yourself: Is there anything that can turn a potential buyer off the property? Is there anything to add?
Remember, you’re selling a lifestyle. Go ahead and set up a dining room table for two, add some candles, fresh flowers or anything else that can make your prospects see themselves living there.
Source: Solomon Rogers via Pixabay
If you made it this far, you might be thinking this real estate photography thing is no big deal after all. But don’t be fooled.
The editing process is major. And it’s where pro photographers really work their magic. But lucky for you, there are a number of tools that can make editing accessible for those of us with no formal photography training.
For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to concentrate on the one must-have: HDR (High Dynamic Range).
In essence, HDR photography takes different photos of the same image (one light, one normal, one dark) and then merges them to create an incredibly dynamic photo, using the contrasting shades of light from the different images.
This software has been around for years in the world of photography and was recently introduced for iPhones and some Android devices.
Here are the top three HDR editing software programs for real estate photography, according to Skylum:
All of the above have their strong and weak points. For instance, Adobe Photoshop allows you to merge the different exposures into one image and edit every little detail of an image, but it can also be pretty complicated to wrap your head around.
If you’re new to this, you may have an easier time with Aurora HDR or Adobe Lightroom.
You probably already know about the jaw-droppingly cool AR and VR tools out there, but you might be surprised to find out that some of them are much more affordable than you think.
Here are some of the high-octane options you can consider to make your listing photos even more powerful.
In this day and age, bad real estate photos just aren’t an option.
Your potential buyers are online, looking for their ideal home and a trusted advisor to help make the next phase of their life as amazing as possible. More often than not, your listing photos are your very first digital handshake with your future customers, so follow these tips and make sure you put your best foot forward.