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Beginners Guide To Finding Real Estate Photography Clients

Published: 18/06/2013

CustomersA real estate photographers 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, 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 their listings.

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

  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 it lists all the listings that each agent has. Well, there may be a hand full 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 have listings. For each listing agent put office name, agent name, agent phone #, email address, number of listings and listing price of the highest price listing in your spreadsheet.
  5. As you proceed through each office the agents that are the top listing agents will immediately stand out. A hand full of agents in each office with have 10, 20, 30 or more listings. Others with have just a handful. You'll see the pattern emerge quickly.
  6. Once you've gone through all the major offices in the area, sort the spreadsheet by 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 or 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 price. 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 are 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 Corvallis, OR where there are 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 that are on your list of potential customers and creating a satisfied customer one at a time. Pretty soon the word about you will get around.


Larry Lohrman

19 comments on “Beginners Guide To Finding Real Estate Photography Clients”

  1. Great post. It is true that we agents have a favorite real estate photographer that we approach. But, having a roster of photographers to fall back on is good too!

  2. The way I got started was I was a realtor and had access to the email address of all 4000 members of my local board. Sent emails to everyone twice a month. Have a great client base with referral's now so I don't have to do that much marketing. I am now an affiliate member so I get the updated list when I need it.

  3. I have to agree with the list above, its everything I did in 2002, when Real Estate Photography was just introduced with the technology of Virtual Tours first came out. I had 200 agents and 10 Agencies under my belt by the time I went through the list. Fast forward 11 years, either an agency has found their niche within the office or have their own photographer on stand bye.

  4. I've worked as a RE assistant for over three years now and I know we have found a lot of our greatest photographers through Craigslist. So check there for gigs. If you can impress one agent, he will definitely refer you out!

  5. Maybe the following will help you too. As a Photographer you are allowed to become an Affiliate to a Real Estate Board, just like a lender and a Title Rep. The cost at our board is $130 per year. One benefit is you can obtain a list of all Brokers and Realtors of all member agents. And because our board is a member of the Matrix system that covers nearly whole SoCal, means unlimited possibilities.
    Also an Affiliate is allowed to do presentations. At education seminars many will let you speak for 5 minutes to Realtors.
    You are allowed to post brochures and/or drop them of at the board.
    You can advertise your website at the real estate site and/or write an article.

  6. You know, I did this back when I first started and had okay results. The one thing that really catapulted my career, though, was my post cards. Every 4-6 months I drove around and left stacks of postcards at all of the offices around the greater Seattle area and would get tons of phone calls from them. Even now I inquiries from them (even though I haven't done a postcard drop in over two years!). They were simple (one large photo on each side with my contact info in the corner), cheap and the best marketing I've ever done, hands down.

  7. Highland St Paul - where (which category(s)) do you recommend we advertise in on Craigslist? I just started this and I'm advertising in the "real estate" category under services.

  8. I just got back from a local real estate investors MeetUp group. I learned a load about the area and made some good connections. A couple of the investors asked for my card and told me that they had been looking for a real estate photographer. I expect that I will be getting some calls in the future.

    I'll be using Larry tips to map out the agents I need to get in with.

    My cold calling seems to do better with smaller agencies. The large established brands in my area don't place much value in good photography. I just looked at a listing at $1.5mil that had $50K photography. The agent didn't even get the occupants to pick up their dirty clothes before taking pictures.

  9. I think it's really good advice. Like most everything else, if you work with best real estate agents it will lend some extra credibility to your work. This in turn will get you some referrals, or at the very least impress other agents when you describe your work.

    I'm an agent with Coldwell Banker, and we have an affiliate network, but I can't tell you how many times agents ask if anyone knows a good photographer. As mentioned above, I think leaving postcards at offices, or sending email will at least generate a few phone calls.

    That being said, as an agent myself, we tend to prefer to keep the good photographers to ourselves, so I think keeping on the marketing is key.

  10. Goof photographers and video production businesses have become an imperative staple of the real estate industry. It's the best way now to convey information on a property listing - people prefer great photos and video to reading a boring text description.

  11. Greetings,

    One detail item hasn't come up in this thread yet. When pursuing the advice in this post, what have people found is the best way to initiate contact with agents?

    My background is sales in the software industry, serving larger B2B type clients. What outreach techniques have proven most well-received?


  12. @JT- there are several classic ways to initiate contact with agents: Malia, above says distributing post cards to agents (you don't have to mail them, take them around to offices and ask the receptionist to put them in their mail slots), another way is to ask the office manager to attend a sales meeting and meet agents, another is to go to open houses (make sure it's the listing agent that is at the open house).

    It hard to beat the personal contact approach although Malia's post card approach let's you contact more faster... either way just focus on the top listing agents. Don't waste your time on buyer's agents or the bottom 80% of agents.

  13. @Malia, did you leave a postcard for every agent in the office, or simply a few per office. I ask because I have gotten some postcards to do that, but the first 2 offices I looked at around me have 30+ agents working out of those offices. I originially ordered 100 postcards (have ordered more), but based on those numbers, I would run out pretty darn quick.

  14. Hi Tim,
    Having been a Realtor...and my wife currently a experience is many offices will have 80+ agents. This is true for even small suburban offices. What you find, is that quite literally the 80/20 rule is in play. In reality, more like 90/10. Only about 10% of the agents generate the vast majority of an office's revenue.

    I'm interested in Maria's comment. My expectation is that interested agents will grab a card. The ones that aren't, won't bother anyway. In my current efforts I am targeting 30/office. I've become accomplished as self-production (laser printer, heavy stock, cutter, etc.), so incremental production runs aren't terribly expensive.

  15. @JT, so do you simply leave a stack at the office, or ask to stick them in the mailboxes..?

  16. You need to tell your readers that spam mail is illegal. They need permission to send people stuff. Busy agents don't want their inboxes flooded with unsolicited spam mail. Check local spam mail laws.
    You might be making money for some Agent.
    The best practice would be to go to their open house when they have them and build relationships.

  17. @JohnAgim Sending a single message is not spam. You don't need someone's permission to initiate contact...that's just absurd.

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