More Evidence Real Estate Photographers Need To Focus on Shooting For The Top Agents

October 16th, 2012

Eros Peterson recently sent me this great article on the statistics of deals done by Toronto real estate agents. The essence of this article is:

  1.  18.6% of all licensed Realtors in Toronto did NOT sell a single property in 2011.
  2. 71.6% of Toronto Realtors sold six or fewer properties in 2011  in a market where it takes over 6 deals to be considered a full time agent.
This means that over 95% of real estate agents in this Toronto market are basically not running a successful full time business. Several points on this subject:
  1. Any one that has worked in a real estate office as an agent can verify that this variation in agent success situation is not unique to Toronto. This situation is similar all over. I’ve seen it personally and my guess is it probably the same all over US, CA and AU.
  2. I’ve none posts on this before (here and here) and I cover it in my Business of Real Estate Photography ebook.
  3. This article is one of the few places that document the fact that only the top 5% of agents are running successful businesses. The only other article I’ve seen on this subject was a NAR study from 2004 that is no longer available online. The NAR seems to not want be open on this subject.

The bottom line here is that as a real estate photographer this is why you want to be focusing your marketing efforts only on this top 5% of agents in any market because these are the only ones that are running a successful business! All other agents are either loosing money or struggling to meet expenses so they will be telling you that you are charging too much.

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12 Responses to “More Evidence Real Estate Photographers Need To Focus on Shooting For The Top Agents”

  • Sometimes you have to be careful with statistics. In this area, and many other areas, the “high sales performer” specializes in foreclosures and has specialized relationships with bank asset managers with the listing funneled to them on a non-compete basis. I did that gig for a while until Capital One bought out the bank I had a relationship with, Chevy Chase, and replaced me with the Realtors they had a relationship with. While they typically won’t use professional photography, the good news is, they are not out beating the bushes looking for listings. The bad news is, their statistics on a comparative macro level dwarf everybody, making them look ineffective. Personally, I would rather sell 3 homes worth $800k than 24 homes averaging $100k each, as in theory the work is the same for each home except the banks asset management company adds work in the prep, additional reports, and potentially a 25% referral fee. Plus, selling 3 homes leaves more time for photo shoots.

    That said, I prospect expired listing, and my becomes a prospecting tool mailing a brochure and personal handwritten note and later phone or physical ‘in the neighboorhood’ followup. There are 4 above $200k for me to follow up on today and all 4 either took the photos themselves with DIY tours, or used a run-n-gunner as the photos were dismal or lacking the maximum 12 allowed by MLS. Yesterday was one I love, but unfortunately has no phone with the owner living out of town. $1.3M home 12 P&S photos, no tour/video but the clincher was the lack of a writeup in MLS with less than 10 words. With those, I actually print the page to include with the brochure and note that this critical critique is in an area that should be used to entice buyers and raise the question…where else was there skimping on marketing. In a way, I kind of like Realtors not using professional photography as they set themselves up to look bad as the consumer becomes educated on what to look for.

  • While statistics will include the “foreclosure listers”, they are still very accurate. 90-95% of Realtors in most areas don’t sell enough homes to make a decent living. Those folks aren’t going to have the money to pay for professional photography. I know it’s true in our Bend market.

    On a side note, I was talking with a SEO guy I met at a conference in Bend last weekend. He did marketing for a Portland real estate company and got them to actually hire a professional photographer/video person to shoot all of their listings. The photog was on salary with the office. This may be a good angle for some of you that aren’t as successful as you want to be yet. I was thinking a teared montly salary would be a great idea. 10 listings this month, I get $$, 11-20 = $$$, 20-30 = $$$$ or something along those lines with keeping the option open to shoot for other agents.

  • I fully agree with LarryG. I only have to run the MLS of active and pending listings on a monthly basis, check the total on the market listings by our board, deduct the properties from the banks and compare that number with the total number of Realtors.
    It is not even 1 listing to 10 Agents. Also nearly always the same names of the agents are one the listings.
    I am also very surprised to read 12 pictures are the max for the MLS. In whole SoCal a max of 35 images are allowed and when board has no limit. And I have the feeling the average number of pictures per listing is between 12 and 18.

  • No question that having a few of the top 5% is great, but remember that everybody is aiming for that 5% and if that is your only focus…you will fail in the long run.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with building a larger client (agent) list consisting of 50-80 of those agents only doing around 10 listing a year in addition to trying to grab a few in the top 5%.

    Agents all have their hot and cold “streaks” and by focusing of having a large client list you ensure that when some are cold, you also have the ones that are hot and vice versa throughout the year.

    Regular business is the key and having that protects you (financially) in the event that any one agent jumps ship to another provider, we have got many top agents who have left a competitor to use us. If that competitor had all their eggs in one basket the financial loss would hurt or even kill their business.

    We are just over 800 shoots for this year to date, that coming from an active client(agent) list of about 80.

  • I believe it is incorrect to assume the top agents want and need “professional” photography. This article caused me to do some research and find the top agents in my county (pop 350k, suburb of major city). Assuming the top agents have the money to spend on photography, I was surprised by what I found. The top 5 agents in the past 12 months ranged from 16 closed listings to 34.These were listings from 200k to 1.5m and none of them used professional quality photographs.
    Several months ago I researched the entire MLS (7 counties) for sold listings over $1 million, only 20% of those listings used professional photography. This is what is interesting – the photographer that is used the most only charges $100. So why are the top agents and agents with million dollar listings not using professional photography?

  • I’ve found quite a few top agents that won’t pay for professional photography.

    They’ll stage the home, pay for endless print ads, but run photos taken by their assistant or the local $75/listing HDR-kid.

    I think I’ve found the best success with agents that value quality imagery; often they are younger and more into good photography. Older agents that have been doing this for 30 years don’t seem to care as much.

  • I can see the merits of looking for the top agents. But how do you identify the top sellers, instead of trying to contact every agent, most of which don’t sell much at all?

  • @Geoff- Yes, you’re right. It isn’t as simple as just going after the top agents. Many of the younger up and coming agents get the marketing thing better than the older agents.

    @Rohnn- what zip are you in. Yes, I understand. There seems to be two different worlds out there. The larger metro areas where home sellers demand good marketing (Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Honolulu etc) and smaller more rural (Salem OR, Appleton WI, and several others I’ve looked at) that the agents don’t want to do marketing and the home sellers don’t demand good marketing.

    @Richard – It’s quite easy. Just go to the major brokers sites in your area find the list of agents in the office and find the agents that have the most listings in the upper price ranges. There will 2 or 3 or a few, depending on the size of the office that have way more listings. These will be the most likely to be better customers.

  • @larry
    I am in Wentzville, Missouri, St. Charles County west of St. Louis. St. Charles County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the country for many years. Wentzville just set a new construction permit record last month maybe because General Motors added a 3rd shift to their plant. I think the sellers and agents aren’t providing good marketing because the buyers aren’t demanding it.

  • I’m never tired of saying this but “top agents” aren’t really the target. Because some top agents only work with short sales where photos aren’t that important and the budget to invest in marketing is low. Those will rarely hire a professional photographer so good luck with that.
    I would target high-end properties instead where comissions are really high and where marketing is a must and where money is no objection.
    Also there are agents trying to get to the top that will invest loads on marketing that will always want great quality photos.
    It’s not that linear.

  • @Pedro
    “Also there are agents trying to get to the top that will invest loads on marketing that will always want great quality photos”

    Excellent point, we have many of these types of agents who may not do a ton of listing now (6-10 a year)….but understand that a good multimedia package of photos and video will get them more listings as they grow.

  • but anyway all this is very linked to the package that you offer because not all budgts were created equal. for example hiring platinumhd to make a $10k production is not the same as a $60 shooting or even offering things like aerial photos.
    there are packages for every segment. it’s very very stupid to have a one size fits all system. all houses deserve good photos, even a small one bedroom apartment in NY, but that doesn’t take as much work as a masion with 20 bedrooms. you can’t price those services at the same price.
    sure you need a “price to appear” that Larry often talks about but you need to create certain levels of services.

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