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Beginners Guide to Finding Real Estate Photography Clients

Published: 11/07/2018
By: larry

CustomersA real estate photographer's success is highly dependent on building business relationships with listing agents in their market area.

There are very few businesses where you can make a list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses of all your potential customers, but you can in real estate photography since real estate agents are listed on their company website along with all their listings.

I recommend that every beginning real estate photographer create a spreadsheet that lists all the listing agents in all the major real estate offices in their area. Here's how to do this:

  1. You need to understand that agents tend to specialize in who they work with. Some agents specialize in working with buyers, and some specialize in working with home sellers (called listing agents).
  2. Don't waste your time marketing buyers agents because they don't need real estate photographers. Only listing agents (agents that work with home sellers) need photographers. Buyers' agents typically don't have any listings.
  3. Every real estate office on the planet has a website that lists all the agents in the office and all the listings that each agent has. Well, there may be a handful of rural offices that don't have a website but you can probably count those on your left hand.
  4. Go through the list of agents for each office that has listings. For each listing agent, put office name, agent name, agent phone #, email address, number of listings, and listing price of the highest priced listing in your spreadsheet.
  5. As you proceed through each office, the top listing agents will immediately stand out. A handful of agents in each office with have 10, 20, 30 or more listings. Other agents, just a handful of listings. You'll see the pattern emerge quickly.
  6. Once you've gone through all the major offices in the area, sort the spreadsheet by the number of listings and by listing price.
  7. This agent list is a list of who's who in your area. It shows you who to focus your marketing on. During the rest of your marketing, when you meet an agent at an open house, at an office, or wherever, you'll have a way to focus on potential clients.

The most successful listing agents have the most listings at the highest prices. Ideally, you want to focus on the top 5% or 10% of agents. This may sound tedious but trust me, this exercise will be the best time you spend marketing because it allows you to focus your marketing efforts on your most likely clients. Depending on the size of the area you are in, this exercise could take a few hours or a few days, but it's well worth the effort.

As a real estate photographer, you need to know the names of all the top listing agents in your area. During this process, you can easily check to see if an agent with lots of listings is already using a professional photographer. This will tell you exactly who to focus your marketing efforts on by name.

How you use this list will depend on how much competition there is in your market area. In a market like Seattle, WA, where there is a lot of real estate photography competition, as a beginning real estate photographer, you'll have to compete with a lot of folks. See what they are delivering and find a listing agent to turn into a satisfied customer. If you are working in a market where there are few or no real estate photographers, you'll spend most of your time convincing listing agents that using a professional photographer will make them money. Either way, success comes from making personal contact with those agents who are on your list of potential customers and creating satisfied customers one at a time. Pretty soon, the word about you will get around.

The above approach has worked well in the past but as of late, (2016, 2017 and 2018) there have been reports of focusing on marketing new agents in these super-heated markets like Seattle.

3 comments on “Beginners Guide to Finding Real Estate Photography Clients”

  1. I've had good success with new agents that are focused on listing - much less ego and very trainable. Teach them the basics of a a good photo, what it can do, and load their lips on how to explain all that to their prospective clients - then stand back and watch them get even more listings - after that loyalty is a given. It's rewarding.

  2. Independent photographer, imo, are at a disadvantage and an advantage. The tour companies are getting better and better with quality. HDR quality combined with fast in and out service is a pretty good combination.

    Stress how you, as an independent, are different than the tour companies. Tour companies have many photographers which is a plus, they can cover a larger area and take more appointments. Agents don't want to hear that you have no availability. Maybe team with another local photographer(?). That's what I've done and between the two of us we are available 7 days a week.

    There are some services coming out that I believe will give independent photographers the upper hand and that is a good thing.

  3. Not all RE office websites will display agent emails. Don't bother with web contact forms. Those will sometimes not go directly to the agent you are trying to contact. It can be better to use the Agent's cell phone number as a search term to find more information about them. If you do find an office website with agent information including email, bookmark the page and even look up the agents to see if they handle listings and how many properties they sell in a year.

    Trulia, Zillow and Realtor(.com) will let you sign up to receive email notices about homes for sale. Set up searches for your area with a home price from the high mid-priced on up. Chances are that an agent that tends to get mostly low priced listings is not going to be interested in professional photography. There will be a few and some will be new agents that will work their way up, but the ROI on marketing there isn't good. When you start getting emails with current listing, click on the link for the listing agent (if there is one) and you should wind up on a page that shows their current listings and past sales. That's a good indicator on how busy that agent is. Just keep in mind that an agent that only handles the most expensive properties won't have the number of listings that a mid-market agent will but they using a pro for nearly 100% of their listings. Even if those agents appear to be using a professional. don't be afraid to let them know who you are. You want to be on their list when they need a sub or something happens with the person they regularly use.

    Nothing beats meeting agents face to face. Spend your weekends visiting agents at open houses handing out cards and marketing materials. Inquire about making presentations at office and association meetings. Make notes and follow up with those that seem interested. Get their permission to be put on your mailing list and even if they say they have somebody or aren't interested, send a thank you note and ask that they keep your information just in case.

    It's the price that sells the home. Photos help get eyes on the listing but the bigger reason for an agent to use a professional photographer is to make their marketing look top shelf and get more listings. Very nearly 100% of buyers and sellers are looking online even before they talk to an agent and the web is primarily a visual medium. People like to look at attractive things. Poor images just get passed over. If an agent has a property in Beverly Hills for $10,000, the quality of the photos won't make any difference, but if they have a $500,000 home in the nearby Fairfax district, they quite possible will make a difference.

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