Do Slow Markets Increase Real Estate Photographer Business?

September 26th, 2007

The chart above (I know you can’t read it- follow the link to a readable version of this chart. “Market summary” of “King County”) shows how the inventory in King County, WA is now higher than it’s been at any time in the last 5 years by a significant amount. Based on recent news stories this is typical at least throughout the US and perhaps other countries. This means if you are a home seller these days there is more competition in the market than there as been in the last 5 years. So Realtors are having to market harder and smarter to get listings sold.One way to market smarter is to make sure your listing stands out to buyers on the web with good photographs and tours. I was helping a Realtor friend put a tour link on her listing yesterday and she said, “… I haven’t had to do this for so long I forgot how do it”. Meaning it’s been a long time since she’s had to use virtual tours to get a listing sold. I think in the last few years many Realtors have thought that the market has been so hot that listings just sold themselves. Now days you have to do something extra.This market situation has just become apparent in Washingon in the last few months and started to get media coverage in just the last month. I predict that increasing awareness of this slowing real estate market will help the real estate photography business since it’s becoming pretty clear that you can’t just put a property on the market and expect it to sell in a couple of weeks.Anyone else seeing evidence that slow markets increase RE photographer business?

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12 Responses to “Do Slow Markets Increase Real Estate Photographer Business?”

  • I wish it was a buyers’ market here in the state of Queensland (Australia).

    With a net migration of ~1,500 per month from the colder southern states into sub-tropical south east QLD, it’s more of a sellers’ market. We recently purchased an investment property in Ipswich (satellite city, 20km West Brisbane). There, some properties are selling within 48 hours of listing. Its gone crazy! Good photography is not needed. 🙁

    Unfortunately, desperate people wanting to buy their 1st home don’t care about the photography, and how a listing is presented.

    Of course, at the prestige end of town, that’s a different story. 😉

  • The market’s still very strong here in Montreal Canada, unfortunately 🙁 (I’m looking to buy). I think the market’s been so strong for so long that people here automatically assume the market will just keep rising and rising. That said, I’ve noticed that listings here (esp. w/condos) are sitting around longer, so I suspect we may see some softening over the next 12-18 months, depending on what happens in the U.S.

    Personally, I think that the smart agents ‘get it’ when it comes to RE photography regardless of market conditions. They’re looking for anything that sets them apart from their competition, including better images, virtual tours, single-property websites, etc. Unfortunately, most of the agents out there don’t get this…but then again, they probably won’t last through an industry shake out. IMHO, I’d spend my time wooing the smart agents rather than trying to convince the rest…

  • I’m sure as the market cools, agents will look into other things to help get the property sold. But it is also a reqional thing. Here in the southwest, at least, the market is a bloodbath, but still, very little interest in doing anything to help sell houses.

  • A slower market definitely concentrates the mind on ‘raising your game’ but the flip side of the coin is that the first things REA’s often do in a slowdown is cut back on marketing spend

    The No.1 issue in Spain is that the owner will often list with more than 5 agents who put their commission on top. The REA doesn’t want to spend money on marketing unless it’s an exclusive. There doesn’t seem to be a solution to this.

  • Yes and no Larry. Yes in that it makes perfect sense that in a slow market you have to push homes harder to get noticed. Photo sales should go up.

    No in that regardless of the state of the market, we’re moving more and more to an online based marketing of homes. And online is just a much better format for demanding images. Everything looks like crap in a 1×1.5 black and white photo on newsprint.

  • I must say that my business is booming, so much so that I simply cannot keep up with demand. I constantly get calls from agents that heard about me from someone else. Beyond that, the same agents keep calling me to photograph even the smallest of properties. I photographed a garden condo earlier in the week that was listed at $79,900 because the listing agent knew that the only hope she had of selling this unit over all of its competition was to make it appear outstanding.

    Sellers are really picky about the agent that they choose because they know that the amount of marketing an agent does these days can make or break their sale. Homes are not selling themselves anymore. Buyers have a huge selection, and they are simply taking their time to find the right house. In less affluent markets, listing agents have known for a long time that good photos don’t necessarily sell a house, but they sure do bring buyers. And the best way to sell a house is to expose it to as many buyers as possible. Also listing agents use the fact that they hire a professional photographer as leverage over their competition to get listings.

    So without a doubt, I believe that the slow market in my area is keeping more than busy. I’ve lost 12 pounds in the last two weeks because I simply do not have enough time to sit down and eat a proper meal. I might be skinny, but if this keeps going the way it is, my bank acount is going to be fat. Just kidding.

  • That’s great, Cherie. Nice to be in a market like that. Like I said, around these parts, ‘professional photography’ is just a bad word 🙂

  • “Anyone else seeing evidence that slow markets increase RE photographer business?”

    Actually it’s quite the opposite. Slow markets slows marketing spendings… Realtors have less and less money for this.

    Fast markets are not good either…

    Best market is inbetween, when agent have time and money to market homes right.

    I learned this over the years and last three months are the lowest months I ever had…

    Are you guys feeling the same?

  • I continue to get lots of business in Pierce County WA. I’m optimistic that good listing agents recognize the need for the best marketing possible in a slower market. Good marketing needs great photography. It would be fine if I can reduce the number of agents I serve to only those successful, high volume listing agents.

    As a side note: Agents have been impressed with my exterior photography after implementing HDRI. Recently, I took all exterior shots around 6pm on a not great weather day. Even I was impressed. I didn’t need to return on a better time/day. HDRI will greatly help get good/great exterior RE photos during our rainy winter months. And therefore help keep me busy.

    Also as a side comment: I’m see more agents come to me because they think my photography is better. What great news! These are agents who thought that the 360 degree turn Java virtual tours were wonderful. I think this “fad” is about over. I believe great photography is priority #1. Then comes a pleasant way of presenting it to other agents, their buyer clients and then the general public.

  • I find that the slow market definitely helps business. I am busier than ever and my video tour business is quickly taking over my main business, which is real estate websites/ marketing!

    With video anyway… the CUSTOMERS get it – the realtors don’t. But they are slowly demanding that their realtor do something more than plug a sign in the front lawn. And, as always, the ‘smart agents’ totally get it – they understand that a great presentation not only sells houses, but also sells the realtor and shows that they are doing something different/ better.

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  • […] larrylohrman wrote a fantastic post today on “Do Slow Markets Increase Real Estate Photographer Business?”Here’s ONLY a quick extract… estate photography business since it’s becoming pretty clear that you can’t just put a property on the market and expect it to sell in a couple of weeks. Anyone else seeing evidence that slow markets increase RE photographer business? […]

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