June 23rd, 2010
I spend a lot of my time talking to real estate photographers that are in the process of building their business and I’m continually struck by the potential opportunities in this business. And this potential is not just in the US but it’s also in AU, CA, NZ and EU. Here are some principles I’d like to pass on to those that are thinking about or in the process of building a business in real estate photography:
- Business for real estate photographers is clearly back on the increase. For around a year from the fall of 2008 to late 2009 real estate photography business contracted but it’s back on the rise again.
- Agents are still struggling but homes are selling again. The biggest problem for listing agents is getting home sellers down to the right price. Awesome photography won’t sell a home that’s $100,000 above market but if the listing agent can get the home seller close to the right price photography is a huge advantage and the number of agents that understand the importance of photography is increasing.
- It’s possible to build a real estate photography business from scratch in about a year. Your mileage will vary. There are still many smaller cities where no one is even doing real estate photography. In the larger metro areas there is more competition. Don’t let competition scare you off. Customer service can be a great way to be more competitive.
- Most established real estate photographers in large metro areas are very busy these days. If you work by yourself there’s a limit to the number of agents you can serve so in an expanding real estate photography market more photographers are required.
- Real estate photography is as much a customer service job as it is about creating great images. That is, successful real estate photographers provide great images AND great customer service. It’s the combination of the two that gets you a lot of work and while photo quality is important, customer service is way more important.
- You must be reliable and willing to adapt to the agents unique requirements. And trust me, real estate is a wacky business, there are going to be many unique requirements you’ll need to work around. Be flexible.
- If you provide good customer service and reasonable photo quality your name will spread by word of mouth. Word of mouth is the BEST advertising you can get. But beware, agents all know each other, even in different offices, if you are difficult to work with, that will spread quickly too!
For those interested in a more detailed coverage of both the technical aspects and the business aspects of building a real estate photography business check out my two e-books:
- Photography For Real Estate: How to use photography to effectively market real estate.
- The Business of Real Estate Photography: A system for starting and operating an independent real estate photography business.
- You can purchase both e-books at a reduced price here.
So what are your observations about the current real estate photography market?