Your Substandard Photo Could Be Damaging Your Listing

By : Ted Guarnero

It’s really not enough to say, “Pictures of your email listings are very important!”. They are *imperative* to your success in marketing properties. Studies have proven consistently that property listings without pictures sink to the bottom of the MLS barrel. Even one picture is better, but you – you, who markets yourself as being in your clients’ best interests, have no excuse for not taking the time or spending the money for some high resolution, staged photographs that show the buyers exactly what you want them to see. 

If you have a listing with one blurry photo, don’t expect people to beat down your door asking about it. Perhaps it’s not enough that most buyers are going to whip by your listing like racing greyhounds; the ones that actually look at your listing – you know, the ones you want to CALL or EMAIL you – are going to look at that blurry photo and come to some uncomplimentary conclusions about the home’s worth. If you obviously don’t think the home is worth having some careful pictures taken, why should they think it’s worth the price it’s listed at? Why bother calling at all about a place that’s bad enough to only merit one lousy photo?

Decent quality pictures make a subtle statement about the home’s value; obviously a home that has been given stellar photographic treatment must be worth such treatment. Despite the importance of cold, hard facts (the living room is 12×12 feet; the property is 3 acres), giving home buyers great pictures to look at is going to be what makes them call or email. Humans respond to visual cues. You can spout facts and figures all over the listing, but it won’t equal the power of the beautifully staged photographs of the “large sitting room, perfect for entertaining” and the “stunning view of the lake”.

Pictures are a two-dimensional walkthrough. They can be staged, just as homes can, to emphasize the positives and de-emphasize the negatives. You don’t have to hit your clients over the head that a room is small; a different perspective can turn small into “big enough”. A cramped kitchen can be given some extra space with a few steps back. There are many tutorials on how to stage your home so as to get the best pictures. A good set of photos can encourage people to actually come and see the place.

If you decide to take your own photos, read up on perspective and home staging. Try to see the home how a buyer would see it and take pictures of the features that you would call a buyer’s attention to. If there’s a great view, take a picture of that, too. Photograph the rooms in as much natural light as possible, to give the impression of lightness and airiness. Photograph the home in bright daylight. There are many tips on the Internet that can help you in your quest to get the best pictures.

An alternative is to hire a professional photographer, who has high-quality equipment and experience with photographing real estate. Often, these people have tricks of the trade that can make dark spaces look bright and small spaces look larger. Their fee can save you a lot of time and effort producing photos that don’t really give the home the look you want it to. Consider this route especially if you are too busy to take the time to take pictures and modify them to suit the site or MLS you’re posting them on.

Buy, borrow or hire a good camera. It’s more than worth the money and time. Pictures can make or break your listing. Use them wisely, use them a lot and make sure they showcase the great points of the property while minimizing the defects.

Author Resource:- Illustrated Properties is a Jupiter FL real estate company with professional, effective services to help you succeed in the local market. Visit TedSoldIt.com for information on local neighborhoods like Juno Beach real estate, and to see listings of homes for sale.


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Real Estate Photography Tips For Realtors – Don’t Do it Yourself, You’ll Lose Your Commission Check

By Josh F. Sanders

I’ve done it myself; taken what I thought were great listing pictures and used them for my online MLS listing. My clients thought they were fine and I thought they were just fine, until I started working as a buyer’s agent in Seattle a few years back.

I worked with over 40 different buyers a week and everyday I’d hear, “Did you see those listing pictures? There’s no way we want to see that house, it’s a dump! Does the listing agent know how bad they are?” Obviously, the listing agent didn’t spend anything on real estate photography.

My buyers would also see some great listing photos and want to get in to see the home that afternoon. We’d step inside and they’d wonder if it was the same home they saw online. They felt cheated because the pictures were nothing like the real home. (but at least the listing agent got buyers walking through the house).

It all came down to the listing pictures they saw online. That’s essential marketing for listings! Give buyers a great picture and they’ll jump inside the house that day. Give them a “do-it-yourself” picture and they’ll move onto the next home. The listing pictures make the difference, especially when you spend a few bucks on professional real estate photography!

Even when the listing pictures were better than the actual house, guess what? It still got the buyers inside! That’s your goal as a listing agent; get as many showings as possible. Professional real estate photography makes that happen.

With upwards of 80%+ of buyers looking online now, the listing photos are the first thing they’re looking at and basing their initial impressions on.

How much money in lost commissions do you think you’re missing because you won’t spend a couple hundred bucks for professional real estate photography?

If you did spend the well invested marketing dollars on some professional real estate photography…….

  1. You could have more satisfied clients because the home sold faster.
  2. You could have made more cash because you didn’t have to drop the sales price when the listing became stale on the market.
  3. You could look like a top producer in the area because of the quicker sales, better looking listings and more satisfied clients. Your overall image is enhanced, big time!

Isn’t it funny how such a small aspect of your business can affect the whole thing? Anytime you realize how one issue affects your net profits, that’ll make you perk up, right?

Now don’t give me the excuse that it’s too expensive because it’s not. Look at it as a marketing and advertising expense because that’s exactly what it is. And real estate photography is one of the best things you can spend your marketing dollars on.

You have a couple options……..

You could grab a professional in real estate photography in your local area and offer them $50-$200 to come to your listing and take some fabulous photos. Make sure they’re top notch, have all the right equipment and understand the goal of these photos. You don’t want to pay for real estate photography that’s no better than your own.

Your other option is to go with a company like Vicaso.com who does real estate photography exclusively. Their business is listing photos for real estate agents!

You can schedule your photo shoot on their website, pay about $200 or so and get the most captivating listing photos you’ll ever see. Even if you have a crack house listed for sale, their real estate photography will make it look like a palace.

I’m telling you; don’t skimp on your real estate photography. Look at the cost as an investment. If you spent $200 on professional real estate photography and got back another $20,000 in commissions that year from faster sales, more clients, and higher listing prices, wouldn’t that be worth it? You betcha!



To Sell a Luxe Apartment, No Ordinary Snapshot Will Do

David Paler purposefully strode through the cloud-nipping stretches of an $8.25 million Manhattan apartment, took in the set before him and called out demands with the directorial authority of Martin Scorsese. Then he assumed his position behind his camera, nodded in satisfaction and began shooting away.

While Mr. Paler may not be a renowned filmmaker or the favored photographer of the model Gisele Bündchen, his work is as scrutinized and touched up as any feature film or Vogue shoot. Mr. Paler photographs apartments for sales and rental listings.

These photographs, the real estate equivalent of head shots, are the bait that lure buyers to Sunday open houses. When these photos work, they help buyers picture themselves holding parties in their dining rooms.

Brokers hope that these photos will persuade bidders to pay more. At their worst, they invite derision for trivialities like a preponderance of throw pillows, causing buyers to move on to other listings.

“They’re huge,” said Suzanne Johansson, a broker who is selling an apartment at 111 West 67th Street that Mr. Paler was photographing. Photographs, she said, determined whether buyers were “going to be interested or not.”

It does not take much time with a real estate photographer to learn how deceptively hard taking marketable shots can be. Mr. Paler compares some shoots to “diplomatic missions” where you are “walking on egg shells.” Even at a professionally designed apartment like the West 67th Street home, Mr. Paler negotiated with two brokers and a stylist about dragging an elaborate dog bed out of a shot, moving around chairs and risking the safety of the selling family’s pet frog by unplugging its tank.

He tensely called for colorful items like plants and cookbooks to enliven the apartment’s neutral shades and added a basket of lemons in a photo because, “Lemon fresh — it’s psychological.” (He turned down a stylist’s offer to add a Buddha.) Toilets and trash baskets never stay in the picture. Through the shoot, he periodically glanced up at the horizon to track the ominous, chalky clouds. He would brighten skies later by combining shots and adding in light. In this market, he said, sellers and brokers were especially concerned that photos were flawless.

“It’s very acute right now,” he said. “Brokers are the psychiatrists. We’re kind of like the psychiatrists to the psychiatrists.”

Some of these photographers, not surprisingly, also do fashion and magazine work, but a few focus on only real estate. They are paid by brokers, and their fees vary, but a typical two-hour assignment, including travel time, may cost $250 for four published shots, and editing may take one more hour.

Caryn Leigh Posnansky has spent the last 16 months shooting apartments for sale, ranging in price from $250,000 to $19 million, for VHT, a Chicago-based real estate photo agency. Her less glamorous assignments have included scooping soap out of New Yorkers’ soap dishes and persuading one seller to throw away the bouncy chair he kept for his 3-year-old.

At a 19th-floor studio at 150 West End Avenue, she found herself with plenty of clutter to clear. The apartment had a renter who was less concerned about making the place listing-ready. Ms. Posnansky and a Corcoran broker, Sheila McCarthy, feverishly moved around books, took out recycling, removed mementos from the refrigerator and even pushed a desk chair into the hallway to present the portrait of a pristine and uncluttered apartment. After capturing her shots, Ms. Posnansky returned every book, magnet, fortune cookie and dead plant to its original location.

“They’ll never know we were here,” she chirped while wheeling a desk chair back into the apartment.


Some photographers spend more time physically transforming spaces. When Nico Arellano, a former set stylist from Uruguay, came in to photograph an eighth-floor, $2.3 million three-bedroom at 530 East 72nd Street, he realized that a couch and a pair of chairs swallowed up the space and did not show how large the living room actually was. Mr. Arellano, with help from two Halstead brokers, Ann Bialek and Madalyn Robbins, moved an entire living room of furniture. He would later edit the flat-screen television out of the shot.

“Sometimes we literally just change everything around,” he said.

There are more technical ways to make, say, a Lilliputian bedroom look merely small: using a wide-angle lens to fit the entire room into a single photo, or shooting the room at an angle from a corner rather than straight on.

“The wide angle is a must,” Mr. Arellano said. “The corner thing is my preference.”

Even a meticulously kept $1.15 million one-bedroom at 39 East 12th Street, with an accepted offer no less, benefited from a little magic. Its Halstead broker, Jane Greenberg, said that in this market she did not want to take any chances. So she hired Jay Bierach to take additional photographs highlighting the renovated windows and kitchen. On a recent overcast morning, Mr. Bierach wheeled in his camera and lights. For nearly an hour he snapped away and tried to add light with camera and flashes. Then he wrapped it up. He would have to find more sunshine back at his studio.

“I try to use as much daylight as possible,” he said. “I do what they want, and then I do what I need to do.”



In Real Estate, A Picture Is Worth $1,000 or More

By Emily Peck

Attention desperate home sellers. Don’t want to lower the price on your house? Consider better photos. Real-estate listings that use photographs taken by the higher-end SLR cameras favored by photographers and photography enthusiasts, tend to do better than those that use photos from cheaper point-and-shoot cameras, according to a new analysis done by Redfin Corp., a Seattle-based brokerage.

Not surprisingly, listings with better photos command higher asking prices: If you believe your home is worth the investment of good photography, you’ll probably ask more money for it. The surprising part is that the tactic works. At the closing table, listings with nicer photos gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076–as measured by the difference between asking and final price–over listings using photos from point-and-click cameras.

SLR or single-lens-reflex cameras give users more control over what they capture and tend to produce high-quality images. They cost more than point-and-shoot cameras, but considering the data may be worth the investment for a home seller. Even better, ask your broker to bring in a professional photographer.

Redfin only looked at listings in Boston and Long Island, where there was enough metadata incorporated into photos to do a complete analysis.

The data also showed that listings with nicer photos get more online attention. And yet, for all this, only 15% of listings incorporate higher-end photography. This is even true at the high-end. Redfin found that more than half of $1 million-plus listings were shot with low-end cameras.

One exception: The low end of the market. Listings priced below $300,000 were less likely to sell with nicer photos, possibly reflecting unrealistic expectations on the sellers behalf. At the low-end, price cuts would seem to be more important than photography.


The green bar represents SLR photography; the red is point and shoot.