January 22nd, 2013
I recently got a question about shooting vacant homes. As an ex-agent the concept makes me cringe. Good agents should be providing marketing advice to homeowners. One area is homeowners should do anything to prevent a vacant home. Typically the real estate photographer doesn’t get a vote on this issue but I believe that photographers can promote staging. One great way to do this is to create a business relationship with one or more stagers in your area. For those not familiar with what stagers do this video by Barbara Corcoran shows Barbara giving home sellers staging advice.
In upper-end interior photography stagers, frequently are called stylists or interior designers and are almost always are an integral part of a shoot. Similarly, top real estate agents frequently hire a stager to get a property ready for market or act as a stager themselves. Staging can involve rearranging the homeowners furniture, removing some of it or moving in furniture when listing a vacant property. My experience is that staging is always a win for the homeowner, listing agent and photographer particularly when homes are vacant.
Getting to know one or more stagers can help a real estate photographer get more business in an area because top agents have homes staged and agents that hire a stager are likely to care about good photography. Stagers and real estate photographers have the same clients! I recommended that real estate photographers do everything in their power to build a business relationship with one or more stagers. By business relationship, I mean refer business to each other. Stagers probably have more opportunities to refer business to photographers but it can work both ways.
Comments on previous posts about working with stagers indicate that many photographers understand the possibilities of working with stagers but few actually manage to partner with them. Here are suggestions for what a joint business relation looks like:
- Promote each others services jointly to new and existing clients.
- Suggest the stagger include photography services in their staging package. Negotiate a special mutually acceptable rate for a staging/photography package.
- Allow the stager to use photography from staging/photography package deals to market their staging services in return for getting photography business from the stagers clients.
All the stagers we’ve worked with are anxious to collect quality photographs of their work and I’ve never met a stager that could shoot good interior photographs. There’s just a natural symbiosis between interior photography and staging.