What Is Your Standard Real Estate Photography Service Radius?

February 17th, 2015

Michael wants to know:

How far typically do real estate photographers cover? 25 miles, 50 miles?

Typically real estate photographers have a standard service area, which may be a line on the map or just a radius in miles. Beyond this service area, they charge mileage or an extra fee. Include both transportation and time costs in thinking about this service radius. That is, there is travel time component which is a charge for your time and a transportation component where you recover your transportation expenses.

My standard service area is a 35 mile radius. I’ve never had a client ask me to go beyond that service area. If they did I would add a charge of $20 and wouldn’t accept any shoots beyond 50 miles one way.  I think the important factor with your service area is you don’t want the drive times to impact your ability to do multiple shoots in the same day.

Please take the time to take the poll to the right.

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20 Responses to “What Is Your Standard Real Estate Photography Service Radius?”

  • As my career has progressed, my range has fluctuated. Early-on, I went wherever the work (was which tended to be about 50-60 miles). As I got busier, I controlled my range better and began to refer distant shoots to colleagues or people I trained in other markets.

    Now, I have client-agencies in resort areas around the state that hire me to come out for weekends and have me shoot several homes at a time. My range for those trips can be up to 150-200 miles, but my family comes and we make a weekend of it. Of, course, the fees are much more substantial, but I love it and my wife and kids (and accountant) love it too.

  • As Larry states you don’t want to waste more time than necessary driving. That is were good planning can help you extend your range. If you are driving out to a property 35 miles out and then driving back, you are out a min of 70 minutes and more likely 80. That means that shoot just costed you an extra hour and 20 minutes. However, if you shoot a property on the way out and another on the way back, you are only adding an additional 27 minutes to each shoot. With good planning you can daisy chain multiple properties together and extend your range well in excess of 35 miles. With more range comes more business and more money.

  • I use an online appointment scheduler that allows customers to self-book appointments. When a person books an appointment, the scheduler punches a two hour hole in my schedule. That leaves me 1.5 hours to complete the shoot and another half hour to get to the next job. If I have to drive an hour to the next appointment, I run the risk of being late, which is against one of my core values – never be late.

  • I have a radius of 25 miles, after which I charge per mile round trip. If they can get me more than 1 shot in the area, then the mileage fee is waived. In smaller markets, a larger radius is probably warranted in order to have a large enough coverage area to make a living from. 25 miles for me, puts a LARGE percentage of my market with easy driving distance.

  • Most of my shoots are within a 20-25 mile radius.
    But I have special agents that are up in the St Pete and Tampa area who call me their “Good Luck charm” and wont use anyone but me. So, I normally charge $.50 per mile from my home and back. They always try to give me two shoots when they can. if not, I always notice an extra $25-$50 “thank” you added to the check.
    I wish more agents appreciated the work we do.

    Last August a local woman whose penthouse I shot in Sarasota, asked me if I would shoot one of her ROW homes (she had 4 that she lives in and rents) in the historic district of Washington DC. Since it was my wedding anniversary, looking to get away, and never been to DC, I agreed. she paid for the shoot, my travel expenses, and gave us her home to use for a week (two if we wanted it). We’ve never been in DC, and it turned out to be (not counting the parking ticket) one of our best vacations. we originally we going to go to Charleston which would have cost us a couple of grand. I took this as an exciting working vacation and DC is electrifying with history…………………But terrible to park in.

    Its amazing how you never know what wonderful people are going to come into your life while shooting homes.

  • I charge for every travel distance. Why should I be different to any other service related to homes? Every plumber charges for every mile he has to drive. For an exact calculation I have a self-made small formula in Excel, which takes travel time (half my hourly rate), travel distance (from Google Maps) and gas price into account. Three numbers and I have a price on km-basis. This way even round trips can be calculated in an exact and easy manner. Since my travels may be slow downtown Berlin traffic one day or lightning fast Autobahn pace at other times the charge for travelling varies between 39 and 69 Eurocents per km. Agents who do not agree with me on this – will not get my photography service. No discussion. Honestly: This is a business and I don’t have to give away any gifts. And it works! So easy.

  • @Oliver, for what you are paying for gas there (roughly $6.31/gal), I can understand charging that way…

  • I charge $2 per mile outside of a 15 mile radius of my general service area (which is pretty large).

  • I generally shoot RE within a 30 mile radius or so. However, I’ve opted to keep it simple for clients and do everything within my power to absolutely avoid any appearance of nickle and diming them for extra miles, time on location, effort, etc.

    It’s my belief that most clients value what we do and appreciate the high level of service we provide. Maybe the occasional client rings your bell and takes advantage of your generosity, but that’s far better than proclaiming to everyone that you’re a greedy schmuck.

  • My invoices state: “Travel expenses for any project more than 30 driving miles from our studio as measured by Mapquest or Google Maps is $1 per mile.”
    Clients really like it when I waive it for a 35-mile project..

  • For clarification, in no way am I referring to anyone in the above posts or reading this as a “schmuck”.

    Rather, I simply wanted to point out that some clients are less likely to fully appreciate each photographer’s varying degree of associated costs either inclusive or independent of initial shooting fees.

  • My service area is very large. The population density is clumped in pockets and if I were to limit myself to the city I’m in and the immediate towns, I’d starve. Fortunately, traffic isn’t an issue and a bulk of my driving is on the freeway.

    I charge for travel time and do not discount my hourly rate for the time spent on the road. The agents around here are either open to professional photography as long as it isn’t several hundred dollars for a basic set of images or they are going to take their own snapshots, unless I’m offering 25 finished images (or more) for $30. It’s not a matter of $20-$30 between my fees and the almost non-existant competition.

    I always offer a discount for multiple properties in the same area or along the same route. I’ll also extend a discount to two different agents if I will be shooting in the area. I let agents know that if they have some flexibility in their schedule, there is a greater possibility of my being able to book more jobs in the area. When I give a quote, I hit them with the worst case number so there isn’t any confusion later on. I’ve had agents claim that I gave them a lower price when the number they remember is what the price could have been if they booked several jobs on the same day. They seem to be very happy when let them know that I am lowering the price on a particular shoot.

    I let agents know that I am available to take jobs further out, but I charge for the travel time and expense. I’ll also insist on a particular appointment time, either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon so I have the possibility of getting two jobs in on one day unless the out-of-area job is extra special and I will be earning what I would otherwise get for 3 homes (my maximum/day). I don’t want clients to feel like they have to beg me to take those jobs, but that I’m more than happy to do them if they are willing to pay the extra expense.

    As an aside, I talked with a broker last week that let me know that if the seller directs the agent/broker with regards to when the home will be put on the market, you can get around some MLS’s requirement to have the listing posted within 48 hours of signing a contract. This short timeframe has always bothered me since it doesn’t give the agent enough time to work with the seller to get the home prepped for photos and showings. This could be a good way for an agent to gather up several listings to be photographed and earn a multi-job discount. The agent can prompt the seller about this option and even provide a letter the seller can sign and give to the agent. I photographed a house for this broker and he had worked with his client in this way and the house was in perfect condition. The listing will go live in a week when the seller returns from an overseas business trip.

    Call me crazy, but it makes sense to me to take a week to get the home staged, photographed and to have all of the marketing ready to go rather than rushing to get the listing up showing a messy house and cheap inkjet printed MLS flyers.

  • I live in a small community called Pacific, which is 34 miles to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Most of my shoots require 30 minutes of drive time. I only charge when I cross in to Illinois which is a rare occasion. However, last Fall, I took an assignment which took me on a three day road trip photographing senior retirement communities. I’m driving a Honda Fit which is great on gas and other related expenses. I charged the client $.56 per mile (now its $.575 per mile) on top of a lodging/meals allotment.

  • @Mark
    What is the online appointment scheduler you use?

    Thanks everyone for your responses.
    Big help!

  • I live in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, metro area and 35 miles will get me to almost any location. Because of the way the area is laid out traffic usually is not a problem. Very seldom do I have to drive more than 30 mins. for a job. I’ve had people tell me I need extend to Santa Fe which is 60+ miles away. But I’d rather not spend 120 or more miles a day on the road. About the only thing between the two cities are Indian Reservations which leaves out lots of homes I can’t photograph.

  • Here’s a suggestion that might help…

    I find that my clients are usually most receptive to flat rates. They’re really not interested in checking milage rates, etc. They pay me to be straightforward and deliver a service, not complicate things further.

    As such, simple dollar figures usually work best on a case by case basis. I’ve yet to deal with a client being dissatisfied with an extra $25, $100, whatever charge if it was reasonable and EASILY understood. I like keeping it simple and so do clients.

  • @Tim W.
    This morning it is $5.30/gal (€1.40/l) incl. VAT

  • @Michael – I use appointy to allow clients to self-book appointments. It automatically adds appointments to my Google calendar, so it makes it easy to keep track of everything. markgraves.appointy.com

  • All my priced packages are based on 25 mile radius from the major intersection of I25 and I40 in New Mexico and fortunately that covers all the major metro area of Albuquerque. However, I advertise that I do cover All of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. My rate for travel outside the 25 mile radius is $1.58 per mile round trip includes my travel labor. Areas over 50 miles in one direction I include overnight lodging and meals.

  • My primary radius is 30 miles driving (not radius) from home base. A very high percentage of my trips are right at, or slightly over that radius, as I sit between a couple clumps of higher-rent zones;).

    This past year I had over a dozen trips outside my area, ranging up to 700 mile round trips, some with overnight stays. I treat these just as I do consulting. There’s a mileage rate, expenses (e.g. hotel and food), plus hourly rate. In most of the out-range jobs, I made more from travel than the actual photography itself.

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