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Expanding Your Real Estate Marketing Services to Virtual Staging, Video, and Floor Plans

February 13th, 2018

Ashley in South Carolina asks:

We’ve been asked to add video, virtual staging, and floor plans to our real estate photography services. What resources can you suggest in these areas?

These are very common ways to expand a real estate photography business. Here are some useful resources:

Video Production
Grant Johnston in NZ has a good online video class on how to shoot real estate video. Dave Dwyer in AU also has a video production class.

Virtual Staging
This is best done by an experienced post-processing company. Imagtor.com is a good post-processor for this kind of work.

Floor Plans
Some tablet apps claim to do this with a camera but I’ve found this to be much more difficult and frustrating than it appears. Matterport is another option but is too expensive for many markets. This is why most real estate photographers making floor plans use a laser measuring device and a sheet of graph paper. They can then have their sketch turned into a 2D or 3D floorplan at a number of services. Floorplanonline.com is also a way to get into making floor plans.

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10 Responses to “Expanding Your Real Estate Marketing Services to Virtual Staging, Video, and Floor Plans”

  • Unfortunately, this is the way things are moving. Some photographers will resist the new trends and hope for the best. Others will embrace and hope for the best.

    Ultimately you’ll have to consider if you have enough clients that will pay for a service to make it worth your while to offer it. For example, I rarely get requests for aerial images. So I’ve put off buying a drone, because it’ll take too long to get a ROI. I’ve not had one request for 360 degree tours, so I’ve stopped advertising them. I only get a few requests for video. I still do them, but they are easy for me because I come from that world. There isn’t much of a market here in Orlando for these services as so many agents still take their own photos, even for houses up to $300,000, which is a nice home in most parts of the city. Many agents are too cheap for professional photos, let alone for the extras of video, tours, aerials, floor plans and virtual staging.

  • I agree with Trevor. So much depends on your market and your particular clients in that market. My clients don’t want virtual staging since the house will not look like that when they show it. But in are area, we have heavy trees growth of large, old oaks that obscure the structures and property so they have wanted drone shots, both stills and video, since the first DJI P2 Vision+ came out. Recently I have been pushing video, generally entry level priced and done with a GoPro5 that does an amazing job but not comparable with say a Canon 80D. But for their purposes and budgets they are very pleased not so much to sell the house but to show potential sellers/owners what they offer.

    No interest in floor plans or 360 work or anything other than stills and video, ground based and air based. They do like twilight coverages on the higher priced properties. But then even a very average 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom 1/8 acre in town properties are selling from $500,000 and up so they do have budgets that are perhaps higher than in other areas of the country. So clearly, many of this type of service offering has to be in tune with your particular micro market and your position within it.

  • Floor plans, Home Depot will do them cheaper than your time or partner with an appraiser, I’ve never lost a job because I didn’t.
    Video and 360’s good in my area.
    aerial, worth it if you are willing to get licensed, buy two drones and have a Million dollar insurance policy. If not, you could lose everything you own, now and in the future.
    Matterport, good if that is your business model, otherwise go to ebay and see how many are for sale.

    Let’s cut to the chase, how many active agents do you work for? how many are asking for additional services? I can have one agent ask and I will get crazy thinking I should only to find in 3 months I have invested either time or money or both into something only one agent wanted, and for them, only once.

  • When I started I thought I’d stand out from the crowd by offering a lot of services. Now I’ve dumped some of them because they’re not cost effective. I used to do drone but didn’t have enough demand and the federal rules made me sell all my stuff. I also don’t have demand for floor plans and most RE assistants do it themselves while I’m shooting.

    But – I’ve been getting an increasing number of requests for virtual staging. I do it myself using visualstager.com. That, Matterport and stills are enough for me.

  • Real Estate is an ever changing industry! we have to move with the times and add or get rid of services as time goes on. I originally just started out offering photography and now i offer more then 10 other services to be the local ‘one stop shop” for my clients. They love it because they only have to go to one company for everything. The hard part is you have to have a TEAM to help you with this and that can take years to refine. If you choose to just offer one or two things then you risk those clients going elsewhere. It depends on the overall vision and goal you have for yourself and your company. Good luck!

  • I frequently ask people providing services that I don’t how much time it takes them to do something like measure a house for floor plans. I can then find out what it costs for good software to figure out what I would have to charge to make it worthwhile to do. I won’t have to be yanked into aerial photos kicking and screaming, but I will have to see a reasonable profit before I invest the money. Right now, the agents in my area aren’t willing to pay for it, won’t pay enough to make it worth doing and/or are perfectly happy hiring unlicensed operators to do the work. 90% of the aerial photos I see in my area I have to say have very little value. Tract homes just look much closer together from 100′ up and there isn’t anything sexy about roof tiles from directly overhead. 9% are moderately good compositions and the remaining 1% are both technically and compositionally great from my perspective. The really good ones tend to be on larger properties with several buildings where aerial images are very useful. I couldn’t ram aerial photos down customer’s throats if I don’t think they’re a good fit.

    I have never been asked about floor plans even though I have offered to do them. I get occasional inquiries about video, but that would take a pretty big investment in hardware and, once again, the agent’s I talk to are thinking in the range of $50 at the most. The only videos I see of homes in my area are the Zillow cell phone vids.

    The top producer around me uses professional photography only (maybe brochures) on all of his listings. I can’t think of another agent that does. Anybody in my area that wants to up their game can start with professional stills as their sole visual marketing and blaze past the other 1,300 listing agents that don’t before they have to worry about adding video, floor plans, virtual X, 360’s or 3D to get even more listings and make more sales.

    All of the above negativity aside. It doesn’t hurt to stay informed and have some familiarity with making videos, brochures or 360’s. A customer could come along and be willing to pay for those services and the faster you are up to speed, the easy it is to be able to say yes and not go broke backing that up. I do brochures from time to time since I have several templates and can do them pretty fast. If you don’t have to make a big investment to offer a service, that’s always a good place to start.

  • I simply bundle drone photos with all my real estate shoots. Another 15 min onsite, and gives me a leg up on the competition. (When I offered the drone work as an add-on it just added another decision for the realtor. So I included the drone and upped the price a bit and voila, done deal.) Have to say, though, if you live near an airport it can be a pain with the DJI app asking you to confirm your authorization to fly in controlled airspace and warning about interference, etc….all the while your drone is hovering there burning through your limited battery power.

    I offer 3D Tours via Real.Vision. (Similar to Matterport.) It has been hit or miss. I’d probably have more success if I spent more time marketing it. All positive reviews for those who went for it. Nonetheless, standard photography still rules.

  • I have 3 regular clients that use both video and stills every shoot regardless of the property (Vancouver, Canada). I use a video slider but would love to do walkabout video as well (still figureing out best way to do that as
    the steadycam I tried was too heavy to do an entire house without many rest breaks – I’m a woman and don’t have a man’s strength to hold a steadycam up and out with a DSLR for extended periods – maybe a GoPro would work). I only offered 360’s for 6 month then decided to stop as I think they are tacky and annoying – now only offer what I tell my clients is a classier product, video – they agree and some use it a lot – most only occasionally on special properties.

    I have a subcontractor to do floorplans – they give me a slightly lower price and I mark them up a little to cover my time ordering/arranging/delivery etc. We do a lot of floorplans here – i’m wondering if it’s worth my while
    to get a lazer measuring device and then have someone create the drawing. I’ve had several clients ask about virtual staging but all decided they didn’t want to pay for it. I have several brochure templates that clients can choose from – about 50% of clients use brochures every listing and I charge them for the service – takes me about 20 minutes once I made their individual template ( I charge them double for making the first one).

    Would love to do drone because it looks like fun! A friend/colleague was doing it for a while but stopped as you have to register the flight plan 2 weeks ahead. Hope that will change. In the meantime I’m looking for
    the cheapest drone to learn on without worrying about crashes – my friend suggested buying a ‘toy’ to get really good at it while we wait hoping for the rules to change (a few of the drone real estate videos are excellent but a lot are poorly done.

    Real Estate is like any business – we need to change with the times and offer what our clients want (or think they want one day) – initially best to line up subcontractors so clients never look elsehwere just to try a new service. It gives clients confidence to know ‘their photographer’ offers these services for that amazing property they may one day list.

    1. Find a drone operator that doesn’t do ground stills or video (no worries they will try to steal your client) – you can then advertise that you do drone and it will set you apart (very few will order because they don’t want to pay but still cool on your website and you can supply it if anyone does). 2. Find an independent floorplanner so you can offer that and add to your website (same reason as 1 in many areas). 3. find a good virtual staging company – speak to them and then add that to your website (same reason as 1). 4. Learn video and look for builder/developer clients that pay a lot more than our bread-and-butter real estate clients. I’ve only been doing video 5 years and have had some of the biggest developers as clients for 4 years. Even if you don’t do it often in your area it looks good on your website and business card.

    Wishing everyone a successful 2018

  • I am having more and more realtor clients take my photos and send to aftermarket companies for sky replacement, green grass, touch up of stains and other uglies, and virtual staging and the cost is $5 to $20 per photo. Caveat; the agents uses these services for basic shots of not-always-so-nice homes, not for upper end flash/ambient/window pull rooms.
    Clients know I am an appraiser and hire me to measure complex homes once in awhile, but then send out my sketch for really nice floor plans, at a cost of around $20.
    I see the growing demand for these services, but curious of anyone else is seeing this at these price points?
    Economy of scale is hard at work here; large companies can offer these services world wide from a cubby in India. I am fine with this BTW, more power to them! Keeps me from putting a lot of energy into building these services with no profit. And, I can be a hero and steer my clients to these companies!

    Demand for aerial stills is growing across the board, and fees are on the rise. It is easy to add aerial stills to photo-shoots, even on simple tract homes and make a few bucks. Most realtor clients know they can’t hire the kid next door anymore and this may be a factor.

    Demand for aerial and ground video is growing, but day to day realtor clients are not on board with cost; basic video at $450 is “to expensive.” I am getting more and more calls for commercial and upper end / ranch home videos and fees are ok. Calls come off my webpage video section, so need to learn more techniques for marketing this.

  • We have been offering floor plans for almost 4 years now. Our business volume has quadrupled since that time. Over 1/2 of our photo shoots include floor plans. Last year we started offering videos and also the short Zillow Walk-Through Videos. Late in 2017 we started offering Virtual Staging and response has been great. Real Estate is an ever changing industry and we try to stay ahead of the curve and offer the services that will help our REALTORS provide the best tools for the properties they represent.

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