Why Are Agents Always in a Hurry For Photos

May 11th, 2008

Have you noticed that most real estate agents are frantic to get the photos from a shoot. Do you understand why?

Here are the underlying reasons that listing agents need the photos ASAP:

  1. It’s foolish to shoot photos before seller signs listing agreement: Until an agent has a signed listing agreement the seller isn’t committed to list with them. There are usually several agents competing to get the listing and the agent is never sure they’ve “won” the competition until the listing agreement is signed.
  2. Once the listing agreement is signed local MLS rules require the listing is put on the MLS within a very short time (usually within 24 hours. In Seattle the rule says “…by 5PM the next day”). There are varying degrees of fines for not complying with this rule. The reason these MLS rules exist is to prevent the listing agent from selling the listing to a buyer they are working with before it is on the market and getting both sides of the commission.
  3. Best marketing results when photos are present when a listing first goes live: Because the most interest in a listing from buyers is during the first week or so after the listing goes active. Photos are essential during this time to give the listing the best exposure possible. Also, when a listing first goes on the MLS, the photos are propagated to other local real estate websites. If the photos aren’t on the listing initially sometimes it takes a long time for the photos to get propagated to other real estate sites (I’ve had cases where the photos never made it to some sites.

For these reasons, listing agents are desperate for photos once they’ve signed a seller up. When you understand and appreciate this facts of the real estate listing process you can turn this annoying issue into an opportunity by setting your real estate photography process up so you can guarantee photo delivery within 24 hours. Agents will love it and it will be a competitive advantage for you.

Easier said that done you are probably saying. If you are shooting many jobs a day, it’s going to take some organization, planning and extra effort to guarantee 24 hour turn around. You’ll need to keep your post processing as simple and fast as possible. But the extra effort will pay off big time in customer loyalty and competitive advantage.

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12 Responses to “Why Are Agents Always in a Hurry For Photos”

  • put in another way: what do you prefer, 300$ in 24h or 100$ in a week? πŸ™‚ when customers are in a hurry, they are more willing to pay more, and know that.

  • As a real estate broker, I think you got it right. It is important to get all the photos in when the listing goes active, we do have a time limit and it would be foolish to take to photos too early. To combat this, when I have to listing signed, I have the listing date start a few days later to give me that time. In this way all the photos go up the day the listing starts, but I’m not rushed to have them taken on the same day.

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  • Just like Lee said, I know very few agents who go live with a listing the day after signing a listing agreement. Most that I work with post date their paperwork. I believe there is even a separate NWMLS form just for this purpose. There are very few good reasons to rush a listing on to the market – especially considering our current market!

  • The biggest issue we have is getting into the listing. In many cases the home owner is not ready, in other cases the agent is the delay, and once in a while our backlog is the delay. However, once we get into the property, 90% of the time the photos are up the next morning.


  • It may seem heretical, but it seems that if we’re caught between a last-minute shoot and a house going on MLS the next morning, why not just pick the best, simply resize them for MLS, and let them go? Once we’ve done the real postprocessing, we can replace what’s on MLS. And we’ll have images for print as well.

    It’s called a stopgap measure, folks… sometimes good enough really is good enough. Given what the various MLS systems around the country do to our images, this really isn’t a big step down.

  • Here in Ventura we dont require any listing to be placed in the MLS. That is completely up to the Realtor. I know and have worked with exclusive listings. Allot of home owners do not want there home in the MLS. A majority of these homes are in the millions or they are homes of people who want the utmost privacy. In these cases the Realtor will of course double end the deal. These types of home owners normally require a very creative marketing plan and require alot of online and print marketing to get them sold outside the MLS. Down here I also see alot of listing agreements get signed, but the listing wont go live or known to the public for weeks. This is because the home is not ready for sale, health issues or other personal reasons.

    We do how ever have fines for no photos after a couple days. This is really the only major deadline the agents worry about. The fine is $50 per day with no photo and if it happens more than 3 times in a given cycle they will get their access revoked.

    Your first reason actually helps sell my product. I give the agent some information regarding how they will be marketing the sellers home online and off. It gives a list of sites, features, syndication avenues and templates to choose from. I do this for free as part of the agents pre-listing packet. I have had numerous deals where the agent got the listing because of the website and photos of the previous listing or because of the presentation (website) of their home before the listing agreement is signed. I think what I put together adds a WOW factor and shows that the agent is internet savvy, which is what most sellers now a days want. The MLS’s are NOT the best way to get a listing seen and agents that realize this, IMO, get more business.

    I do provide 24 hour turn around for an added fee. But have yet to have any agents require that need yet.

    Agents typically allow me access to there account so that I can upload the images for them. I also add the virtual tour links. The main MLS i deal with allows for 10 images only.

  • @Chad – That’s a plus if you don’t need to deal with a local MLS. I have direct experience only with the Seattle area. There, virtually all homes are on the NWMLS and I gather from talking to others around the US, CA & AU that MLSs are the most common situation in those locations.

    Yes, getting the home “parade ready” is the biggest challenge for the listing agent. Getting ready can take weeks for some homeowners. Our best listings are the ones we start advising the home-sellers and getting them prepared for market long before it goes on the market.

  • If it is at all possible, owners should have their homes properly ready and pre-shot before listing their home. Those first photos on the first day of an active listing are critical.

    If you can name any other sales profession that runs “brand new to the market” advertising with crappy photos and then feels it’s okay to play catch up, I’d be curious as to what it is.

    I’m starting to think that charging more, shooting perfection, then refering the listing to another agent to actually list may be the way to go if you’re an agent/photographer combo. Heck if I did that I could even potentially offer potential sellers to come shoot their homes for free, and then make the money on the referral. [i]Hmmm…[/i]

  • Here in Australia we don’t have the same requirements for MLS listings. In my business the key reasons for a fast turnaround are newspaper advertising deadlines or the desire to get a photographic signboard up in front of a property ASAP. But it’s those newspaper deadlines that are the real killer.

    The situation goes like this: the agent has booked their space in the real estate section of the newspaper, which might have cost them several thousand dollars, and they need a photo to go in there. I think the agents deliberately book their photo shoot at the last minute just to get their kicks out of seeing me and my staff run like crazy!! πŸ™‚

  • If the realtors are in such a hurry to get their photos, when do most photogs take pictures of the homes? Evenings or weekends?

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