Maybe you’re a first-time buyer looking for that dream home you will start your family in. Or perhaps you’ve been driving around neighborhoods looking for a For Sale sign here or there. You’ve almost certainly been hearing all about the “red hot” real estate market in your area and how crazy prices are right now. If you know a Realtor, you’ve likely heard how little inventory there is or possibly even been hit up to list your house. Any way you slice it, one of the biggest driving factors in making these decisions and deals happen is great real estate photography.
First Impressions Matter
Many first-time (or even second-time) buyers don’t know where to start. But typically, once a homeowner has made the decision to buy a new home, they will grab their device, head to one of the real estate websites or apps, plug in what they’re looking for and start searching. When scrolling through hundreds of search results, what is it that usually earns that all-important first click? Answer: Great real estate photography.
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A Quiet Decision-Maker
Another thing people do when beginning the search for their new home is talk with a Realtor friend and open up a conversation about what their needs are. The Realtor will often take that information and create an automatic search that emails results to the prospective buyer in real-time. What’s the thing that is going to earn interest and encourage clicks of that email? Answer: Great real estate photography.
In both the online version and the email, most of us won’t even consider a house if the first real estate photography thumbnail we see isn’t appealing. To get to that next step of visiting the house, the real estate photography you see must tell you a story about the home – visually invite you in for coffee and tell you why your life will be better in this home.
Plenty of buyers and Realtors end up visiting properties because the real estate photography makes the closets seem spacious and the living room looks like a vacuous expanse. Conversely, there are houses that won’t get many visits because the rooms look small or for some reason, things just look out of place. For the person getting ready to list or the person getting ready to shop, be aware the real estate photography – whether good or bad – will shape opinions of which homes that a buyer chooses to take the next steps with. Because of this, when selling a home, it makes good sense to invest in quality real estate photography.
Exploring Your Real Estate Photography Options
Who should be providing the real estate photography for a listing? There are a few considerations here to think about.
The DIY Real Estate Photography Approach
Let start with the mind of the person selling their home. This person wants to maximize what they put in their pocket at closing. To save a few bucks, some homeowners decide to take pictures and provide them to the Realtor. Generally speaking, not the best idea, unless you are a trained photographer, well-equipped with a professional quality camera, wide-angle lenses, proper lighting, and more.
There are so many nuances to creating great real estate photography. As the owner, you may break those rules or make unwise decisions. For example, you may have lived with that broken gutter for so long that you don’t even notice it anymore. If so, do you think you’ll notice it hanging there off the side of your photo? Maybe not. But a potential buyer may and an inspector certainly will. Cluttered bathroom sinks full of cosmetics are no good either. Don’t discount the importance of things like staging, cleaning, or decluttering in real estate photography.
It’s great that you have a walk-in closet, but if your real estate photography shows boxes stacked floor-to-ceiling with unhung clothes draped over them, no one will come to see how great your closet really is. Your kitchen is full of useful appliances like a toaster, blender, coffeemaker, pressure cooker, and stand mixer. But when you have them all out for your pictures, the prospective buyer will look right at your real estate photography and see cluttered counters.
If you are going to take your own pictures, keep in mind that regardless of how YOU live, your photos need to appeal to the widest audience possible. Simple, clean, and uncluttered tend to be universal attractors while busy, cluttered, or dirty will repel buyers and not allow them to see themselves living in the home. If your goal is to sell for the most money possible, as quickly as possible, ask yourself if you are a strong enough photographer, if your camera is sufficient, and if you can be objective enough to make a proper real estate photography product.
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If not, a real estate photography professional can help guide you on some of this, or at least, ensure that angles and framing minimize distractions and eyesores!
The One-Stop Shop Realtor
Next, let’s talk about the Realtor who wants to take the photos themselves. There are a few considerations here to think about. Like you (the seller), the Realtor is trying to keep as much of the commission as possible and may opt to save those photography dollars for themselves. Or, they may not yet have a relationship with a photographer they trust.
They could also believe it’s part of their job and they need to wear all the hats during your transaction – and if they don’t, they may be questioned about their credentials. Finally, they may just have a vision for what it is about your home that they’d like to showcase and believe they are the ones who can best deliver that product.
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If you are considering letting your Realtor be your photographer, ask to see other listings they have photographed, and find out why they may not recommend a real estate photography professional. As their client, you don’t need to jump in blindly. Yes, trust the process, but also understand it. Your Realtor is there to guide you and should have no issue with you looking to understand the steps.
Leaving Real Estate Photography to the Pros
We talked about a few real estate photography options. Now let’s talk about the pros – the ones who do real estate photography for a living. First, the cost isn’t nearly as outrageous as you may think – usually starting at around $150 for a more humble home, and more if your home is larger or if you add options such as drone photography. As with any service provider, ask to see work they have done, ask for referrals from friends, or ask for references from them.
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Let’s look at the numbers from a percentage standpoint. At a hypothetical home value of $250,000 and a real estate photography cost of $150-300, you’re looking at around one-tenth of one percent of the value of your home. To pay someone that little to put your home in the best light – to take years of experience in what works to get people to click that first thumbnail (and to keep clicking), so they will eventually come to the home – doesn’t seem like all that much. It may even help make you an additional several thousand dollars on your home sale!
Real estate photography is not where you want to cut corners when it comes to selling a home. Whatever road you choose for your real estate photography needs, remember this: Great real estate photography can get your home sold faster and make your home immediately more attractive to a wider audience, enabling you to command more money for your home.
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When preparing to have your real estate photography done, you’re going to want a spic and span home. These 21 Phenomenal House Cleaning Tips will help you make that happen.
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