Can You Sell Lifestyle and Community Real Estate Photos As Stock Photos?

April 5th, 2015

NeighborHoodPatrick asks:

Any articles on shooting for stock on Lifestyle, Community and Amenities of a city or neighborhood? I charge by the hour to shoot those things if I don’t have them, but would like to offer ‘stock’ images to Realtors with listings where the images may apply. Wondering how to charge for that.

Offering community photos for the major neighborhoods you shoot in is a good idea. I don’t think most listing agents do a very good job of selling the neighborhood. Probably where I get this point of view is my wife is fanatic about selling the neighborhood that a listing is in. As far as what is the best way to do this as a real estate photographer, I’m skeptical that selling neighborhood photos as stock images is the way to go because in my experience the demand for neighborhoods is not huge. Only very diligent listing agents are going to be interested. You could try that approach and test the demand at various prices. Testing in your area is the only way to find out what price would work.

To me it seems like a better approach to use your library of neighborhood photos as  another reason for Realtors to choose you as their real estate photographer. Offer 5 or so neighborhood photos for all listings you shoot in certain neighborhoods where you do a lot of shoots. By spending a few days a year on beautiful spring or summer days you can build a library for many neighborhoods. Then, on your website and in your marketing materials, promote the fact that for specific neighborhoods you provide some number of neighborhood photos.

When my wife was representing builders in the Seattle area, this is exactly what I did. I built libraries of neighborhood photos for all the neighborhoods that we listed homes in and then even when it was rainy when I shot the listing, I had good neighborhood photos to add to the listing photos. At the time I was doing this no other listing agents were doing it. Nowadays it’s much more common but not widespread.

In 2015 I think that a stronger way to sell the neighborhood is with a short video. As an example here is a Maui lifestyle video that Travis Rowan shot for Tom Tezak. Although this is not something you are going to sell to low-end listing agents but it shows the strength of video for selling the neighborhood or area. The main point here is that selling the neighborhood is key to selling a property and you do it both with stills and video. You need to promote this idea to your clients, not all listing agents realize how important selling the neighborhood is.

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9 Responses to “Can You Sell Lifestyle and Community Real Estate Photos As Stock Photos?”

  • Timely topic. Just the other day a Realtor who I’ve shot a number of jobs for asked if I would just shoot the amenities (pools, tennis courts and clubhouses) of a sub-division he anticipates having a bunch of listings in rather than pay each time. So we worked up a shot list, agreed to a price for MLS/Marketing you by him for all listings he has in that subdivision. Great idea he had and I was all for it.

    How having stock images would be I’m not sure. Maybe in other areas but here in Atlanta we have literally hundreds of developments with pools/tennis courts it would be a full time job just photographing them. Perhaps in a smaller community it has merit, vacation areas.

  • I’ve had a stock site for a couple of years.

  • @paula – Can you give us a sense of your success and audience for this site?

  • Larry,

    I created this a couple of summers ago, when I wasn’t busy. I wanted to find a way to allow for a download after purchase, so that I wouldn’t have to attend to it. Then, I got busy and couldn’t devote time to finding out how to have it automated.

    I did have an agent send the link to other agents in her office and got a few sales from it. I had planned to send to SWFL real estate office and also to advertising agencies, etc.

    Glad I read your email today for this thread and it reminded me that I need to get busy and find my solution and start promoting.

  • This is one of those common sense ideas that may be difficult to execute. Keep in mind that if an agent spends the additional time and cost to add a lifestyle component to one of their property videos and some of the same footage finds its way into a competitors property video they might not be very happy about it.

    It’s all in how you manage their expectations.

  • Forgot to mention that all the agents that I work with want the community pictures included. For the communities that have a lot of amenities, I have created a separate tour for them and attach it to the property tour.

    So, as mentioned above, if the agents don’t care about the community, a stock site might not interest realtors, but may interest local ad agencies or others who use community pictures.

  • I shoot neighborhood photos of parks, shopping and signs all of the time. Agents are welcome to use the images on listings where they have hired me to make the photos. I also offer a no-charge license to my better customers to use on their websites. I emphasize that the images may not be used on listings where another photographer has been used or the agent took the photos themselves.

    When I have time between jobs, I’ll make a few stock images. I don’t spend vast amounts of time on the images in post. If I come up with images that are a cut above, they won’t be offered as no-charge premiums.

    The agents that take advantage my community photos are the ones with good marketing sense and appreciate the bonus.

  • In my area , realtors really like that I keep a library of subdivision photos. I take them all year round. If I go to a subdivision I already have but the photos are in the winter but it is now spring/summer, I retake them. These photos can be supplied to every realtor in your client list if you let them know that you retain the rights(?).

  • I do sell some area photos…But I’m careful to make them neighborhood or downtown photos. I’ve sold them periodically to agents and local businesses who want local photos on their websites. There is no shortage of things to shoot since I live in Westchester where you have the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, tons of parkland and cityscape. The variety is built and is kind of a no-brainer. The issue is of time and how much time to devote to it. Its never going to be a big money maker.

    I have to get back to building up that site. I too am trying to make it somewhat passive so agents and businesses can just pick out photos and pay for them. Deciding what to charge and setting it up to be as frictionless as possible is what has stopped me. I get busy and then….I’m going to check out Paula’s site!

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