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Real Estate Prices Continue To Drop But This Isn’t A Negative For The Real Estate Photography Business

February 5th, 2012

Charlie Dresen, a Realtor and PFRE reader in Steamboat Springs, CO was telling me recently that he is now doing a weekly video blog on his site. I think this is a fantastic way for Realtors to connect with their potential clients in their local market. Charlie is a model of how to do this sort of thing.

In looking at Charlie’s blog I noticed that his last blog post was about the fact that home prices continue to drop in most major US cities. Real estate photographers need to be aware of this general trend because it’s a big factor of stress in their clients business. There are a couple of important points to understand:

  1. Charlie’s link to the Case-Shiller Home Price index shows an index of home prices in 10 major US cities.
  2. Since this index is a composite of 10 different major US cities it distorts reality in that all real estate markets are local. The detail factors that effect real estate prices in local markets are different. Your local market could very well be going up despite the fact this broad index is going down.
  3. Even though home prices are falling home are typically taking a long time to sell. This actually helps the real estate photography business because real estate photography gives an advantage to home sellers that use great photography. Having good marketing photography is a bigger factor in a down market than an up market!

Be aware of the edge that real estate photography gives to home sellers and use it in your marketing. I’ve gotten confirmation of the robustness of the real estate photography business from real estate photographers all over during 2008 through 2011. Down real estate markets actually increase the need for more real estate photography and better marketing.

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10 Responses to “Real Estate Prices Continue To Drop But This Isn’t A Negative For The Real Estate Photography Business”

  • Even though homes are selling slower and a lower prices, I absolutely believe that means the Realtors who actually ARE doing business need all the ammo and marketing power they can get in order to get the home sold – that’s why we’re so busy in this market.

    Back in the boom times, Realtors only need a pulse in order to get homes sold. Multiple offers were the norm, and oftentimes they didn’t even have the lawn sign in place. They didn’t need us – they didn’t even need luck! Sales just fell in their lap. They didn’t have to spend the money or the time to do ANY marketing, and even the worst agents were making bucketloads of money, listing and selling homes just because they were there when the phone rang….

    I actually don’t even believe this business would have been viable during the crazy times. Why spend the money when you don’t need to and can pocket it along with your large commission instead?

  • The truth of your argument that listing agents need real estate photographers more than ever should be self-evident. However, keep in mind that most real estate agents have never gotten any training in the marketing of homes. Even today, if you go to the services page of Hobbs-Herder, perhaps the most successful marketing agency for agents (http://www.hobbsherder.com/marketing_products.asp) the headlines are “Lesson One: You are the Product: Lesson Two: Market the Product.” This was absolutely on target during the boom when the competition was for clients and every home sold eventually no matter how lame the marketing was. Today the fierce competition is among sellers and their listing agents to attract the smaller pool of qualified buyers. This situation is likely to continue for many years to come. Creating and mastering better product marketing for homes will not only renew careers but help revive the whole housing market. At least some of the downward pressure on home prices is coming from listing agents who reflexively grab for the one marketing lever they think they understand, pricing.

  • Jay – Education. The more sellers become educated on all the great tools that make a difference in selling real estate, they will demand agents that know what they’re doing. But so many sellers and agent don’t know that there’s a direct correlation with sales price and the amount of quality pictures available. More quality picture = more money for the seller. There’s statistics to back this up.

    As a realtor, I love it that they’re slow to catch on. But it’s a priority of mine to education the sellers of this difference. When they do, 100% are on board.

  • Charlie, you are correct, sellers, in my experience, don’t need that much educating. You are simply stating what is already obvious to them.

    Realtors have a hidden agenda, they dislike asking for money upfront, in addition to their already substantial final fees. They are afraid of the seller saying “Well shouldn’t you be doing that anyway, I’m already paying you enough”. And, they are of course right.

    Sellers are a soft target to educate but, not so easy to find, without the aid of the Realtor.

  • Ian – Seller’s are becoming educated but we are creatures of habit. People buy and sell properties so infrequently so the services a seller might expect was what was performed 5-10 years ago. Realtors and real estate photographers today know otherwise. And unless you’re a frequent visitor to sites like this one, or really taking the time to browse real estate, you might not know that the marketing of properties has evolved with technology.

    Realtors do not have a hidden agenda. The practice of real estate has changed so much but the traditions of how we get paid is still deeply rooted. We get paid to sell homes and if they don’t, we don’t. Not only do realtors have an aversion to asking for payment upfront but your average seller would never write a check prior to closing.

    “Well shouldn’t you be doing that anyway, I’m already paying you enough”. Yes, realtors should be doing that anyways. In my mind if technologies have enabled realtors the tools to post multiple pictures and video and blogs and information, then that is our job to do the most we can to sell.

    As for being paid too much . . . I will not defend that statement here. Suffice it to say I do have a different opinion on that topic.

    Seller are not easy to find. Too often I’m found in round two after such sellers has had a unfavorable experience. But they did not know otherwise. The real estate industry is strange that way and many sellers do not take the time to research agents and firms prior to listing. They just want it over. They call the agent who’s 2002 calendar is posted in their garage.

    Thus, I return to education. And with so much information being available online these days, it’s only a matter of time that what’s expected of realtors runs parallel with what’s available for realtor. Professional photography, video, custom property websites, stats, blogging, etc.

    Regards,

    Charlie

  • I’m finding that there is more competition in getting listings now days. Most sellers are interviewing a few agents. This is good for those agents that do use professional photography, video, and the internet. If you can get an agent on board, they’ll find value in the service… especially in this market.

  • I think it’s very valuable to educate the SELLER (who chooses the agent) in the value of good marketing online, where nearly 100% of buyers begin their search.

    I let my CLIENTS (agents) do the education to the sellers for me (as well as for them!). I provide an iPad presentation (http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/marketing-your-home-online/id498618304?mt=11) which they use at a listing appointment to sell AGAINST their competition. It gives them an opportunity to (very briefly) SHOW examples of good photography, SHOW examples of a real video tour and SHOW examples of what most agents are doing for their marketing (crummy photos in a zooming slideshow or twirling around a property with curved walls set to funeral music).

    This way the seller has the ammo and education to at least QUESTION other agents as to what they plan on doing for marketing, since most agents sing the same song, but obviously …. they’re not all good singers! It’s not enough to “talk about” using good imagery to sell homes, you really have to SHOW them the difference.

    I even have several agents who have never used me before that use this method to obtain listings – and I just had my first shoot with one the other day. She was beyond thrilled!

  • Convincing a broker that better pics will help them at least get more showings is always my goal. Since all my brokers pay me for my shots I’m having to convince them, not the sellers.

    Hey Charlie Dresen–you say there are stastistics that back up the notion that “more quality pictures=more money for the sellers”, which I’m reading as better offers. I know we all believe that but where are these statistics? I’d love to be able to give my brokers this hard evidence for them to show prospective clients. “I use John for my photographer, his better photography will put more money in your pocket, Mr. Seller”.

  • @John- the statistics are on page 3 of my free PDF (http://lohrman.com/blogimage/REPhotoGuide3.pdf) or click on the white ad on the left side bar. I’ve done posts on these statistics. The free PDF is for handing out to your clients that are not believers… on is a WSJ article.

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