What Do Real Estate Photographers Do To Make Exteriors Look Better In Late Fall And Winter?

November 3rd, 2015

BadWeatherBill who is located in the New Mexico asked the following question:

Wondering if the pros use any different technique during late fall and winter RE shoots. I would guess if really cold the exterior shots drop down to a minimum, the ground is brown or snow covered, flowers are dead, beauty and color has left the scene. Fortunately, listings also drop but for us in the 4 seasons climate is there anything we can do to make our photos look better?

Here in the Northwest most real estate photographers do hardly anything different in the winter. We get so little snow and it never says long if we get it that you can easily avoid shooting a listing with snow on the ground.

On the other hand in the areas where snow and other winter ugliness is more prevalent many have told me that for listings that come on the market in the winter and are not sold by spring photographers offer to come back in the spring and reshoot. Some do it for free. Nothing hurts a listing like having a winter exterior shot on it in March!

Another factor is that winter is historically a bad time to put a listing on the market because few want their home on the market during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. So when my wife and I were Realtors we’d go on vacation in Nov and/or Dec.

However, in the current real estate market (in the bigger markets) with super low inventory and low interest rates there aren’t enough properties to satisfy the buyer demand. So things are different now than they were in years past.

The Bottom line is if you shoot listing in the winter you should make some kind of a deal with the agent to come back and reshoot the exterior on some beautiful spring day in March if the listing hasn’t sold. You’ll be a hero if you do!

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6 Responses to “What Do Real Estate Photographers Do To Make Exteriors Look Better In Late Fall And Winter?”

  • I offer free sky replacements and promote late afternoon shoots w/ twilights (that I charge extra for).

  • Since I do several larger real estate teams in the Northern Virginia Area – many of the Realtors have listing that will come on in the winter, but they are actually having me take exterior photos now for their further listings. Good or bad, it’s what they want so it’s what I do, but with a listing showing a different season then the current season on photos always makes folks wonder how long the house has actually been on the market – but these Realtors feel that green non-snow yards will always show better online then a snow filled lawn.

  • The winter market definitely slows down a bit but for me it’s most welcomed. After working tirelessly all summer I very much look foward to the drop in volume. With that being said, not much changes. If I shoot a listing on a snowy December afternoon and it’s still on the market come spring, there’s a good chance I’ll be going back to shoot the exterior again. Sometimes I will get to shoot the whole property again if there are a lot of views from inside. My exterior only is about 40% of my total price to shoot a full property. No discounts are given as I’m cheap as it is. Any cheaper I’d be moving backwards 🙂

  • I live in the mid-west where we can have harsh winters. About the only thing I do differently is dress warmer…a lot warmer. When it comes to shooting a twilight my cut-off temperature is 10° F. If it’s colder than that I won’t do them. I agree that for those of us that have winters it is a must to go back in the spring for new exterior images. The other thing that agents need to stress to their clients is to make sure there are not any holiday decorations displayed. I will go back and do the exterior images for free…but if I have to go back and re-shoot the interior as well because the seller did not take down holiday decorations then I charge a full shoot.

  • To answer “what to do to make exteriors look better in winter”: Clean snow can look good. Find an angle that avoids the driveway and roads that are usually dirty and mushy. Sunny, blue sky helps with the overall mood.

    Here’s my example, same home in winter and again in spring:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/allenteam/albums/72157660833508935

    I return for seasonal re-shoots for no extra cost.

  • In the past, I’ve actually had snow SAVE the shoot. When bad landscaping or no landscaping at all (new construction) come into play, a virgin blanket of snow can make all the difference. But as Larry pointed out, nothing kills a listing like snow photos in March (or April here in the Northeast!)

    Generally, I offer a discounted exterior only reshoot fee during April and part of May. In most cases, the houses are already sold. But in the event that they aren’t, I’ll gladly do it for a small fee… never for free! In my experience I found that doing work for free means the same thing as “take advantage of me”. In New Jersey we actually have four distinct seasons. Free seasonal shots would have to be done every three months!

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