The Good News and The Bad News For Real Estate Photographers

June 30th, 2008

The good news is that current market conditions are such that good real estate photography is needed more than ever to sell homes. The bad news is that even many experienced listing agents are having a hard time financially. This was driven home to me recently when I heard of several top listing agents that had not closed any transactions yet this year. These are not newbie agents I’m talking about but agents that have been in the business for  over 20 years. I did a post back in April of this year on how to survive in a tough market but things are significantly worse now than April so I thought this subject is worth revisiting.

It’s important to understand that I’m talking about the market in the Northwest US. Different areas of the country are different although everywhere in the US is suffering from rising rates, falling stock market, increasing gas prices and tightening of loan restrictions.

What does this mean to real estate photographers? I think there are several things to keep in mind when marketing and dealing with your clients these days:

  1. It is more important than ever to focus on marketing the top agents; ones that have the most listings and are closing sales. You can find current listing data on most real estate and agent websites. Sold data is more difficult to find.
  2. Your marketing should focus on how good photography can help get a home sold in a highly competitive (a huge number of competing listings) market.
  3. Be aware that there are more and more agents out there that cannot afford to pay you. It’s a good time to insist on up front payment.

Something to be aware of when watching the real estate market is that the available data and media stories tend to lag many months behind what is going on now because home sales take so long to close. This means the current market conditions can be better or worse than whats being talked about in the media. Right now it’s worse than what the media is talking about. Notice that even my example chart above by well known Seattle area appraiser, Alan Pope shows data for May even though this is the end of June.

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10 Responses to “The Good News and The Bad News For Real Estate Photographers”

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  • Excellent chart. I would like to publish a chart like that for my market area.
    What means did you use to publish this chart?

  • JR- The chart is published by an appraiser (Alan Pope) from MLS active and pending sales data.

  • The chart is very telling Larry. I’ve decided to move toward a marketing pitch that moves to the photographer helping with partnering with the agent to get listings vs. just emphasizing that the photographer helps to sell….especially in this market!

  • Interesting.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been doing the cover photos for Homes & Land magazine in my area and receiving free ad space in lieu of payment. Lately, my half-page ad has been aimed at Sellers asking if the photos of their home for sale look like the ones in the ad. Then, explaining if they want our photos, they have to contact one of our client Realtors who I’ve listed by office, phone number and name. Still to early to see if its making much impact but will monitor and redo the ads regularly.

    Another thing we’ve been doing for a while is to provide the Realtors with a CD of their virtual tours and a custom but simple splash page with addresses to choose from. The I show the Realtors how to copy it to their laptops so they have it readily available when making listing calls. Feedback has been really positive and they say after making their listing presentations, they show the sellers their laptop examples and its almost always a done deal.

    Guess I’ve always considered the Realtor to be our customer and the seller as their customer. By helping our customers get more orders (listings), we also get more orders.

    Just some of the ideas we’ve used.


  • Larry,
    Thanks a lot for the prompt reply.

  • I’ve wondered why agents don’t just ask their sellers to pay for the photography. Granted, the seller probably feels they’re already paying enough in commission. But agents seem to be able to convince a lot of people to pay extra for things like staging – which costs a whole lot more than professional photography.

  • Mike- A lot depends on the agreed to commission arrangement with the seller. If the agent has discounted their commission to get the listing then they are more likely to ask the seller to pay for things. On the other hand, if they have advertised themselves as a “full service” listing agent, sellers expect to have the agent pay. There’s no set arrangement, each listing is a different contract with different agreements and expectations.

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