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What Is The Measure of Success for Real Estate Photography?

March 27th, 2011

Brett Clements showed me this new video that his crew just shot for Chris Hinds of ReMax CBD, who  recently when out of business because of the crashing Brisbane CBD market (CBD is Australian for downtown, you know, Central Business District). The girl on the couch is Cassie Cochrane who use to be Chris Hinds’ business manager but now is without a job.

Cassie’s comments in this video about e-mailing this video to all your friends got me thinking about what the best measure of real estate photography success is. Brett said that the video they shot for NEO (the one that got all the media attention) now has over 489,000 views and still doesn’t have a buyer.

Is the number of viewings of a tour or video your measure of success? Indirectly yes. I think a the best measure of real estate marketing is how many showings occur. For several years I tracked a bunch of statistics for all of our listings. I tracked views on our broker’s web site, views on the MLS,  the number of showings and the time on the market (time until the seller signed off a contract). By the end of the first year of tracking this data I could predict almost exactly how long a property would take to sell just from just the number of showings it had in the first week. There was also a high correlation between the number of views on our brokers site and the number of showings. The more views the listing page had, the more showings. As views on the MLS and our brokers site declined, so did the number of showings.

I believe, showings of a property are the very best measure of how good the marketing is but I’ve found that at the time I was tracking showings, almost no other agents payed attention to the number of showings. It’s to much work. I tracked showings by capturing the number of accesses to the MLS key-box online. An agent access to the key-box meant an agent took the key out for a showing. But views of the marketing media are much easier to track so that becomes the default measure of marketing success.

The beauty, from an agents’ point of view, of tracking showings is that once you collect a showing history in a market you know that a property will usually sell after getting shown X number of times so after being shown 2X times without selling you know it’s time to start working on the seller to lower the price. You are also able to see the results of making changes in your marketing. Like having platinumhd.tv shoot a property video for you that delivers more showings than the average marketing. I would love to know what effect 489,000 YouTube views had on the number of showings of this property. And on the average, how many showings are required to sell a $4.2 M property in the Brisbane market. I suspect the price needs to be reduced since the market in Brisbane is falling.

The message here is that, your job as a real estate photographer or videographer is to deliver potential buyers physically to your client’s listings but you are almost never going to get hold of that showing data to know how you are doing so the next best measure is views of the listing site, video, or tour.

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10 Responses to “What Is The Measure of Success for Real Estate Photography?”

  • Hi Larry. 19 Binda and 15 Queen Anne – the two NEO films, which garnered well over 600,000 views (maybe 800,000 – we had to take our channels down on YouTube to direct the traffic to the NEO sites) are both in the Gold Coast market.
    This video applies to an apartment in the Brisbane market. From over your way, both dots on the map are pretty close. Brisbane is a business market and the GC, a holiday destination. Which explains the three different treatments.
    The asking price for both homes is $4 million plus each. I’m unaware of the Brisbane CBD price in the video above.
    From what I understand, numbers at the Open Homes on the GC were well over 40 a showing. And multiple offers were received.
    I don’t believe either film stigmatised either property. I think that’s just silly stuff. Hundreds of movies are shot in homes featuring far worse.
    So let’s discount that discussion. The bottom line is always ‘price’. I think Adrian and Ian went outside the square and delivered the eyeballs.
    I don’t think the discussion is about whether ‘sex sells’ or not. Interestingly. That video we did with the male ‘Desiderata’ has only got 300 views – and we put a Company that claims they can put 20,000 views on any video on that case five days ago, and the stats on YouTube haven’t budged. Interesting stuff.

  • Nice video, and a little tamer than the others…but effective at gaining attention with suggestiveness. However, the closing line “I lied, I’m in Real Estate.” made me cringe. I don’t know if it is the prart of me that is a Realtor, or the part of me that is a Toastmaster and developing humorous speeches. As stated, it seeks to capitalize on a stereotype that the industry seeks to distance itself from. The humor itself is dependent on a 3rd party tangentially related to the ad – real estate. The ultimate irony is that the statement is a lie in and of itself – as she is unemployed, she is not in real estate.

    Now look at the style of humor known a self depreciating which may be more appropriate in this case. A simple change. “I lied, I am in marketing.” There, she is throwing the humor at herself and her current job and not relying on a perceptions of a 3rd party. Equally effective within the context of the script. Think about it.

  • It was a joke LarryG. A thumb-the-nose at the whole world, who reckons Agents lie. You know. The more I look at real estate marketing, the more I see how far it is removed from the real world; and yet, its the real world real estate marketing tries to appeal to.
    Seriously. Try holding a conversation with somebody using real estate marketing jargon. This industry is wired way-too-tight. And there’s a huge opening here for an Agency that gets the real world.

  • Larry I always appreciate your insight and I agree with you that selling the house is the bottom line that we cannot forget, but a close second in my mind is promoting the brokers brand. I would like to see statistics on how many additional listings Neo acquires this year verses last and how those additional listings contribute to his bottom line. Of course each additional listing is another video, sign in yard, contact, ect so there is a exponential effect.
    It is my job to make money for brokers by promoting their product and their brand, if I do that consistently then I will be very busy, and moving from photography to video increases my ability to do that by a huge factor.

  • I’ve tried to point this out on other threads with little to no response, either I’m very ineffective at communicating it or just wrong.

    Real estate in the US is changing, I don’t know the statistics but there’s a real trend for foreign investment in luxury properties. Wouldn’t that change your measure of success? On the latest property video I produced the buyer sent a representative to look at the property, not as a showing, it was the attorney confirming that everything was as it was represented in the marketing materials, the realtor had not even spoken to the buyer.

    When trying to figure out what to include in the video and what the narrative might be I suggested that we not include any interior shots of the dwellings, you would have thought I shot someone right then and there. Who would buy a 160 acre ranch? The probability that it would be a young family, not high, a retired couple, no way, some wealthy couple really into horses, probably. So create messages about the equestrian lifestyle, the exclusivity and natural surroundings, showing the interior of a house had nothing to do with that message or the demographic of the target audience.

    You can produce what realtors are willing to pay you for which is not likely going to result in “delivering potential buyers physically to your client’s listings,” most realtors don’t seem to know what to do after they’ve gone through their rolodex, listed it on the MLS and contact potential buyers within a 50 mile radius they mostly seem to put up a sign and wait or suggest that the buyer lower the price. Lowering the cost of photography or using a dolly or jib with HD video is not going to help sell property.

    I realize this is the PFRE and that most people in this forum seem to believe photography first, everything else supports the photography. If a seller had a large garage full of pinball machines I’d figure out a way to craft a message for rich 13 year olds and would have produced a video game to deliver that message.

    The real estate market has changed significantly [in my part of the world anyway] and instead of debating how to measure success in the old way of doing things shouldn’t we be discussing how we can get ahead of the curve on what’s changing? The answer is not going to come from realtors alone, many of them will simply ask for the same type of video that was produced five years ago and then when it doesn’t have much effect, because in most likelihood it won’t they’ll point out the failure of that new fangled HD video stuff.

    Personally I am so intrigued by what people are trying in Australia, [sorry, I’m not sure I understand the relationship between Neo, Brett, and PlatinumHD] but I think they are on the right track and would love to discuss their experiences and how that might relate to the changing real estate market.

  • I started in this business thinking real estate photography was all about getting the house sold quicker and at a higher price.

    And that IS the case for about half of my clients. For the other half, the main purpose for spending on marketing is selling themselves! This was a mind bender the first time it clicked.

    Last week I just had a client tell me this directly.

    This second kind of client, that uses RE photography and video to market themselves, is actually probably a more lucrative market, and we should probably target them. They will pay more to truly stand out.

  • Jakob that is exactly the point. I am one of those poeple who will spend the money to market myself. My buisness cards were expensive but the impact is worth it. At first I was trying to target the people who want a quick sale. Quick sale means repeat buisness. The quality is not there though. What you want is someone who wants quality marketing and photography. Ideal you find someone who is a quick sale and demands quality.

  • @Heath, @Jakob, @Robert – Yes, you are right promoting an agents brand is important and there are many agents, particularly the ones listing the upper-end properties, that will spend money to promote their brand before they will spend money on selling their listings.

    I tend to not think about photography like this because our philosophy has always been that there’s no better way to promote your brand than to get your listings sold! We’ve always promoted our brand in neighborhoods by selling homes. There’s nothing that get’s attention like a sold sign out front of a listing with your name on it as the listing agent… and then a mailing to the whole neighborhood a postcard pointing out that the listing is sold. Of coarse we started doing this long before video was an alternative.

    @Chuck
    Brett is the founder and principle of PlatinumHD.tv. NEO is an agency in Brisbane that is a client of PlatinumHD and had PlatinumHD do the two racy videos.

    But, yes a video ad with the agent in the video looking good is bound to be a big seller for photographers that can produce video.

  • I have really enjoyed these NEO videos, if for no other reason than to see someone not just talking about working outside the box, but actually doing it. Having said that, I do think it does more to promote the agents brand than to sell the home. I could be wrong, but I could tell you the premise of their last three videos but honestly I can’t remember much about the actual properties. Selective attention span, ya, probably.

    As far as how one measures success in how it relates to the photography (video) aspect, well I don’t think it is fair to judge that based on if, when, or how much a property sells for because their are way too many variables outside of how many people look at the property that affect the transaction. I agree with Larry, actual showings and clicks online are where the rubber meets the road. As an agent as well as a photographer I can tell you right now there is no doubt in my mind that good photography and video increase showing activity. Not only is this based off my own numbers from my listings, but from the agents that I shoot for as well. From what they tell me their showing activity is better than to be expected in this market. Of course that is one of those things that you can’t really compare unless that same listing has also been on the market with poor photos. It just so happens I have a couple of those listings. Sure enough, they are getting more showings and some even offers where as before they were getting little to nothing in terms of people visiting the property.

    I also want to echo the notion that these photos can be used to help an agent market their brand. I honestly never even considered this when I first entered PFRE. It wasn’t until I was CC’d on several of my agents emails from their sellers that it clicked. The marketing and photography far exceeded their expectations and the feedback proved this. The remarks were often glowing validations that they choose the right agent to work with. Now these agents walk into listing appointments with a new confidence that when the subject of, “what are you going to do differently from the other agents” comes up, they have something unique and of real value to offer. Empowering agents like this is what keeps them coming back for more.

  • Robert – is this you? (btw, meant in fun with the business card reference!)

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