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How Many Photographs Do You Deliver To Clients For A Typical Real Estate Shoot?

Published: 15/01/2015
Jason recently asked the following:

I have a question that may be good for a poll: How many photographs do you deliver to clients for a typical real estate shoot?

In my area, I see many delivery 40 to 50 per which I think is out of control. I'm trying to get a sense of what Realtors want and what they are willing to pay.

I can't imagine what the point is of supplying 40 to 50 photos for a shoot! I think there are several things that influence the number of photos you deliver:
  1. What the local MLS limits are. My local MLS allows 30 photos. That is still the case in my local MLS. Although I know that some MLS allow any number of photos. Understand what the limits are if any of your local MLS.
  2. Walk through the property at the start of the shoot with the agent and discuss and agree how many and which shots they want. If they want more than 20 charge extra. This way, you are not just shooting to get some number. You are shooting to suit the specific wants of the listing agent.
  3. I've shot homes up to about $5Million and I've never seen a property that cannot be well presented with 25 photos, although I can understand that some agents may promise the home seller more or want to dazzle sellers with more. But again, if they want more charge extra.
In conclusion, I think 25 photos is a standard number of photos. Anyone that wants more than this should pay extra. What are others experiences in this area?
Larry Lohrman

63 comments on “How Many Photographs Do You Deliver To Clients For A Typical Real Estate Shoot?”

  1. Georgia MLS accepts 25. That the norm.

    "I’m trying to get a sense of what Realtors want and what they are willing to pay."
    Answer: What realtors want is everything and what they want to pay is nothing.What they are willing to pay all depends upon a given realtor.

  2. My number one customer, the third largest in the state, until two months ago, wanted a minimum of 36 to 50. The owner called me into his office near the end of November and notified me he wanted to change that amount to 12-30 because he read they were asking for too many images although our local MLS would allow 100. I now do 15 for a small house, around 20 or so for a medium size and around 30 for large house. He said he wanted quality over quantity. He must have read my mind! I love working with this agency, I wish all of them were like this.

  3. I have 3 packages for different sized homes. I have been photographing homes now for 14 years and have it down to a science on the average photos I get. Condos, usually 17-19 - 3 level Townhouse and/or 3 bedroom homes (no basement) usually 26 photos, my largest package is for up to 36 photos for bigger homes. I do offer an "extra" fee for additional photos above 36. I have agents that request that often, as they want as many photos as they can get in the slide show - especially of very large homes - where in my opinion 25 is not enough!!

  4. Depending on what your local MLS system can take and how big the house is, I typically give 25. Even though my MLS takes 35 you don't always want to give the buyer every single image. You want to entice them to come to the home and see the property! That's our job as photographers!

    On the other hand, for bigger sized properties I do 35 and if the agent only wants to showcase 25 then that's their choice.

  5. In our country, normal amount is 15. We have really hard price competition (normal price appr. 120 dollars)so there is no idea to offer more that price. I have also 8 pic package, because we do under 50 sqm condos. Websites here accepts normally 10 or 15 pics which is one reason for picture amount.

  6. I have 2 packages - 6 photos & 12 photos. Extra photos charged per image. I rarely take more than 15. Quantity never beats quality.

  7. 24ish seems to be the magic number for an average upmarket house.

    There is an interesting psychological phenomena called The Paradox of Choice. If you give consumers too many choices they will be less happy. Also too many photos (or the spray and pray method) shows lack of confidence in a photographer. If agents want more they pay more.

  8. Our MLS will accept up to 99 photos. I deliver 15-45+ depending on the size of the home.

  9. Our MLS holds 36 and that is what most agents want. I deliver anywhere between 25-40 depending on which package the agent pays for and how big the property is.

  10. Our local MLS raised the limit about 6 months ago to 99 images. My largest client had been happy with about 20 images a shoot (limit was 36 previously). However, when the limit raised, I learned that the agents were actually going back to the homes and shooting additional photos to "make the house more appealing". Of course, our images weren't similar in any way, so I agreed to raise my delivery to 35-40 images. So thats where I am now.

  11. I had agent tell me this once..." I want to entice not document"
    Three packages 17, 21, 25....occasionally 30 on a monster.

  12. I try not to photograph the same room from several different angles as this can confuse the viewer. As a result I find that smaller houses/units are catered for in 6 photo package. Larger urban homes can usually be shot effectively using between 10-16 different images. Whereas roaming rural properties can extend to upto 20 photos.

  13. I normally deliver 25-40.
    Sometimes my creative juices start to flow, and I get carried away shooting the same room from a couple of angles.
    Then when I get bogged down editing, so many images I realize that I am never doing that again.............until the next shoot.
    I need to re-evaluate my shooting habits and shoot the best angle, not multiple angles.
    One home owner called me and said I forgot to shoot some different angles. I told him what Ian mentioned; you want to get your buyer's interest, not to document the entire property.

  14. I don't think the question is relevant as phrased. There is simply to much variance between business focus, homes, markets to make the poll results meaningful. If your focus is high end larger homes, then you will have more opportunities to take photo, smaller homes have less opportunities. If home in your area have basements and if those basements are finished also is relevant. I thank a better question would be what rooms and feature do you shoot or not shoot, select all that apply.

    In are case, we shoot however many it takes to show the house. That number is somewhere between 8 and 108.

  15. I have 2 standard packages that include 16 and 25 images. I would say this accounts for 90% of my business. I have a few high-end clients that always order 35 to max out the MLS allowance.

  16. I think there are two different mentalities working here. One is that we're hired to come in and make the place look like something out of Architectural Digest and the other is to provide photos that show clients the quality and quantity (or lack thereof) of rooms, ammenities, etc. in a home.

    I try to do both so that if the photos ever see the cover of a magazine, the quality is there. But I always remember that when I'm shooting for an MLS, it's informative. People want, and often need, to see how large a master closet is or if a secondary bathroom has a double sink.

    I normally take between 20 and 45 photos, thought a 20,000sq ft home can produce more. I want to show a home at its best, but -to me- the MLS is as much utilitarian as it is showcase.

  17. Denver MLS allows 35, but most agents want 25, which is what I deliver.

    Would be interesting to see in replies what each local MLS allows, plus how many images are delivered.

  18. This is not a decision that the photographer should make. We serve our clients, and their needs, sales style, and market varies. I have some agents that show and sell local properties to local buyers, but in the very same city, I have agents who's clients are coming in from elsewhere, who might have limited time and interest in driving about (if that's even an option). Those clients and buyers want a comprehensive look at every inch of a property so that when they are in town for a look, their time is only directed to properties they are 90% sure of. This also cuts down the time imposition for realtors running around showing properties that the buyer would eliminate anyway.

    So, for some realtors, the number is 17-20, and for others its 50-85. Regardless of the number, I just charge according to the volume.

  19. Some of my clients ask how many photos I will deliver. My answer is always, "all of them." Then I explain what that means. I classify areas of the home in three ways: 1) major, 2) minor and 3) unimportant. Major would be areas like the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. Minor would be areas like bathrooms and secondary bedrooms. Unimportant would be places like the garage, occupied closets and unfinished rooms. I typically take multiple photos of a major area, one photo of a minor area and no photos of an unimportant area. In a small house, that will add up to about 25 photos. In a large house, that will add up to about 50 photos. I choose to have a flat rate for photography because I don't want my clients to hesitate booking me (not knowing what package to choose, or not knowing what the final cost will be).

  20. For me it is a bit like asking "how long is a piece of string". When I shoot, I shoot the whole house often shooting the major rooms from numerous angles. Then choose the best in post. Many of the properties I shoot are part house, part guest house, part stables, part groves and are often large ranch properties all of which needs to be shot as all are marketing sales points. So I just shoot it all and edit afterwards providing the number of shots that seem to best represent the property. But on average, I have an economy package for my good clients when they need a small house shot quickly and supply 10+ finished images. The average 3 bedroom with small property about 20+ finished images and for the large estates 30+ finished images and charge if a lot more are required or requested. My question is less about this than about whether other photographers also include the domain name and virtual tour in their prices. This adds quite a bit of set up time to any shoot as does having a video made of the virtual tour that my clients like to provide to the owners as a proof of sales service.

  21. I'm a realtor on Cape Cod, and I pretty much disagree with everything that has been said here.
    First, when I think about what I'm going to put on my MLS system (max 35) and the house Virtual Tour (no max) I don't think of pictures--I think of slides. What's the difference? A slide may have multiple pictures and multiple graphic elements. I have a VT with a slide that has 14 distinct pictures (shows the different flora of the property). Floor plans usually don't have pictures, but some do. Plot plans usually have pictures. Some slides have two pictures. Some slides have a call-out that points out some specific part of the picture.
    Secondly, a 180 degree different opinion from the agent who said they want to Dazzel not Document. The MLS pictures get syndicated/IDXed around the internet and the 35 pictures have to do the Dazzeling. But, once a buyer decides they have an interest in the house--then they want MORE. They want to see everything. So they get it in the Virtual Tour. My largest one to date is 137 SLIDES. Who will watch such a long slide show? Good Question: Answer: not most people. But, as the listing agent I don't really care about them. I care about the 1-2% who will watch the whole thing. Who are these silly people? The BUYERS. The buyer who bought the $3,000,000 house with the 137 slide VT said that they not only watched the entire slideshow, they watched it EVERY DAY--sometimes more than once. Their entire family, many friends, and co-workers also watched the whole damn thing.
    I am the agent, so I do all this myself because that's what I want and I can't find anyone else who will do all of this. In closing, I totally AGREE with what many of you said here, your goal is to do what the client (agent) wants. So, if they are happy with 6 pictures, give them 6 pictures.

  22. The number of delivered images depends on the purpose of the shooting. If you want to document a property there can be no limit. If you want to advertise a home 20 is enough (okay when it is castle size you can shoot some more). This also has a psychological effect. Nobody wants to see more than 10 to 20 Images to decide if a property is interesting or not. If the number of 20 is exceeded in most cases nothing new and surprising will appear and the viewer gets rather bored.

    For a European family home (which is usually smaller than in the US) I deliver 1 photo each for exterior front, exterior back, entrance, staircase, garden view, terrace, and 2 each of living room, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, bathroom 1, bathroom 2, kitchen. These are 18 images. A few detail shots can be added. This is my large package. If the client only wants to have a smaller number, the main rooms just get one photo.

    The agent never sees all available shots. I pick the ones which work best. This way I do not waste my clients time (and mine) with discussions.

  23. My service market is slightly different in that I focus on vacation rental properties for rent. The web sites that owners use to promote their rentals typically allow 24 photos, sometimes more. VRBO and Homeaway penalize listings for not having at least 22 images posted so providing 30-35 images is pretty much a must. I include more intimate detail shots like signage, architectural features or amenities. The people viewing the photos are buying the experience not the property.

  24. I think this depends on how you want to market yourself as a real estate photographer. We try to provide a virtual "first showing" and that means providing as many photos as possible for the buyer to feel like they have walked through the property. Our MLS allowed 25 - but we guide our clients to promote with the virtual tour. When a buyer comes there way, it's as if they are seeing the entire home for the 2nd time. They already know the love out it looks but only need to confirm they love how it feels.

  25. Our TWO MLS' allow 50 images. My rate is dependent upon the size of the house (under 3,000sqft = 20 to 30 images; 3,001sqft to 5,000sqft = 30 to 40 images); and over 5,001sqft = 40 to 60 images). Usually, the larger the house, the more expensive it is. Most realtors don't like to view a lot of images, however I have been told that if a buyer is interested in the property, they will watch as many images as you put in front of them, multiple times. Ultimately the Buyer is who we need to please... to make them come take a look. Since a lot of the homes sold in the Palm Springs area are for a 2nd home, many of them go onto the VRBO market.... and I always get requests to license my images for the rental market (twice the money for me).

  26. A small flat maybe as few as three or four pictures but usually five or six. A house would be between eight and fifteen depending on size and condition.

  27. Great question asked, I would have to also say depends on the house. Big luxurious homes you'll want to take more (30-35) and other smaller 1 bedroom condo's or 3 bedroom townhouse you'll need maybe 15. On average I think the right number is approx 25. We also don't want the Viewer to lose interest by being on a website looking at pictures for an hour, we want just enough and good quality enough that they'll want to see more and more by going to visit the home. So take great pics and make the smaller amount count. Most I've done is 35-40 but that was for a million dollar listing and for my portfolio. 😉 Good luck.

  28. Great question asked, I would have to also say depends on the house. Big luxurious homes you’ll want to take more (30-35) and other smaller 1 bedroom condo’s or 3 bedroom townhouse you’ll need maybe 15. On average I think the right number is approx 25. We also don’t want the Viewer to lose interest by being on a website looking at pictures for an hour, we want just enough and good quality enough that they’ll want to see more and more by going to visit the home. So take great pics and make the smaller amount count. Most I’ve done is 35-40 but that was for a million dollar listing and for my portfolio. 😉 Good luck.

  29. My contract states that I will deliver up to 25 images and more than that will cost extra. But the actual number that I deliver is usually around 18-20.

  30. It looks like most answers are coming from the States, whereas in Australia, we offer a lot less images e.g. 10 -15 for a family home; additional cost per image or twilights. For large homes and acreage I offer up to 30 images because the agents philosophy is to get them through the door to view rather than being given everything online. Obviously, some interstate / overseas buyers want this, but eventually they'll see the property themselves.
    Pricing is very competitive and in Sydney I have a friend charging $250 for 3 images and he's flat out; one of the high end companies charge $450 for the same 3 images??!!! Crazy. I live regionally outside a major city and I charge $170 for 10 images, with charge for additional images / packages. It's all locality and competition that will drive this. I also know another local photographer that charges $165 for 'as many images as it takes'. I think this undervalues our photography and the market in general.

  31. The MLS here in Southern Oregon allows for 25 images. My average is 24 Images per agent. I offer photos by the dozen. 12 for a small home. 24 for the average home. 36 for larger homes and 48 for luxury homes. Agents then use the extra photos that do not go in MLS for marketing and virtual tours.

  32. @Dean Evan Francis, I still have agents ask me if I'll deliver 30 images for $30. There's not a chance I'm going to do what THEY want. The not-so-simple thing that is correct to do is to determine what you can offer for a given price. I have a very good idea how long it takes me, on average, to shoot, process and deliver a quality image. I also know approximately how much "office" time it takes me per job and in general. Once I factor in a travel expense, I can provide agents with a quote based on the realities of earning a living and still getting sleep and day off. While photography isn't the highest paying profession, there is no reason why you should make less per hour than a cashier at the local dollar store where the hours might be more consistent.

    Every photo takes a certain amount of time and the minutes add up to hours very quickly. I used to deliver around 18 images for a middle class home and now I am finding that 12-14 is really the sweet spot when you ignore small bathrooms, hallways and secondary bedrooms. Large homes, estates and properties with lots of features will take more photos to highlight properly and I talk with the agent about what they see as the best selling points and work with them for a photo gallery that meets their advertising needs and budget.

    The listings that I see with 20+ photos tend to have a lot of duplication. With agents taking photos, there is also a tendency for them to take pictures of the current occupant's stuff and get isolated shots of things like ceiling fans, toilets and water heaters. Grab some high-end real estate magazines and see what they do with only 8-12 images.

    So, it's not a problem to do what the agent wants, as long as they are paying for it. Much easier minimum wage jobs can be had with better hours. Heck, you can work at Wal-Mart and collect welfare too which may pay better on an hourly basis and leave more time to watch TV.

  33. Looking through the poll results, I see that over 70% of photographers here are shooting 25 or more pictures on average for each job.

    I am curious how many jobs these photographers are doing each day and how they are getting the pictures processed and delivered in a timely manner? Outsourcing the processing, shooting jpegs?

  34. @Chris Wood, I supply 25 photos on average.

    I shoot in raw, 3-4 each day (with 2-3 of those having video as well) and have a co worker on contract who does 1-3 as well (photos only), I edit both hers and my own to the ensure quality since thats the agents paid ME for. I would never trust someone else to edit my photos...its my business name at stake and what happens when the outsource company messes up or folds?

    How they we getting the pictures processed and delivered in a timely manner?.....hard work and a great workflow (I average an 8-10 hour work day with weekends off)

  35. I shoot on T&M...Time and Materials based pricing.
    $99.00 gets 9 images
    $150.00 gets 15 images
    $200.00 gets 25 images
    Those aren't T&M you say, those are packages. Yes, you are right but they are put together on T&M experience.
    In all the above cases I shoot more in hopes of an up sell in the number of images the realtor will buy. Rarely do they buy more.
    Extra images are $25.00 for first 5 then $20.00 there after.
    On luxury homes of One Million plus (Albuquerque, NM) I do a site survey and provide an estimate for the realtor including the number of images and will normally quote 40-50+. I encourage the realtor to participate in the survey. If they feel the price is too high or they want more images then we cut or add the number of images they will get moving down eventually to the price brackets above or adjust the price up to include the higher number of images. Prices for an increase in the number of images on the initial estimate is lower than the after thought, ala-carte prices above.
    I don't care how big the house is or the listing price, it's how long will it take for me to do a good job and provide a specific number of images. In the case of luxury homes where extra lighting and an assistant or two is required the setup and shoot time is greater and dictates more cost. As the realtor adjusts their wants and need so do I.
    Finally, someone mentioned walking the property with the realtor and making a shot list, I think this is a great idea and will likely reduce the number of shots you will furnish and the realtor will buy. In any commercial shoot you want to define the scope of the job and price it accordingly and it should be nothing less in your real estate photography business. If the realtor wants 15 shots then "We" create a shot list that gives them 15. If the realtor at first thought they wanted 25 but in the end found 40 they want then the price is adjusted right on the spot. Of course the opposite is also true. In the end, you are providing value and the realtor has got input thereby you hopefully are building a better relationship and.....more sales. Hey, do a walk through with a EyeFi card or a WiFi connection to an iPad. Walk around with the realtor have them hold an iPad and do some preliminary test shots for basic views or composition and have them give a thumbs Up or Down. Press the delete key or mark them for rejection. You now have your shot list and the realtor knows exactly what they are going to get and what the price is going to be. Taking extra time? Well, not really if some or most of the shots can be available light and you do good framing or bracking. "Like that shot?" Yah, that's nice. OK, bracketing on, click,click,click,'re done. Who says you need to go back and reshoot a shot? Also walking the job with the realtor give you the opportunity to let them know about staging. They or the owner can do staging or trash removal and it gets everyone involved. Just remind them if you need to..."I am a photographer, I don't do staging or take out the trash." This is why I provide a pre-shoot home prep list that they needed to go over with the owner ahead of time. The question was, How many images? You can create a package or custom build a shoot. Pricing a job on T&M is the best route, and pricing a job on square feet or listing price is just not professional. After all, does the camera care how big a house is or what it cost? You only need to know how much time and what equipment is going to be needed to get the job done right and price accordingly.

  36. To Bill Silver - Realtor on Cape Cod.
    Bill, I think you are missing the point. Most photographers find there are an "average" number of photos they provide to an agent whether for the MLS or the realtor's own advertising or marketing campaign. This is not a hard number, and how you package the images is up to you. You want 200 images for a slide show...fine, just be willing to pay for it. Virtual tours (slide shows), virtual tours with overlay text, or narration are all options as is a video walk through or a professionally staged video with models and live narration. Want a video production with a full casting crew, wardrobe, makeup artist, lighting, crew trailers, and lunch catered to the crew then great...mama is going to buy a new pair of shoes!
    Basically, the average realtor has a few bucks to spend for advertising and marketing. I'm sure most would like to put out the red carpet and go no price to high, but that's not reality. 20-35 images is probably the most any realtor can afford for a specific limited marketing budget and this will fluctuate with what they feel the probability of selling the house is and what their final commission is going to be. For example, if you know from experience or market analysis, that a home is going to sell for $250,000 (low in your area, I'm sure), but the owner insist on listing for $275,000 or $300,000 you know that property is going to expire before sold. Are you going to order 150 images for $700 or are you going to get the 9 images for $99.00? In reality you are likely to turn down the listing or take it and forget it until the owner decides to get realistic.
    So, how many images is dependent on what the realtor wants, needs and is willing to pay for. On average it will be 20-35. MLS here allows 25. Want a slide show then 2-3minutes should be tops as 99% of the viewers will click off or head to the refrigerator after that. How many images in a slide show? Figure 5-7 seconds per side with a 1.5-2.0 second transition. So, that is at most 9 seconds per side. 3 minutes = 180 seconds. 180/9 = 20 slides. Think I'm wrong? Turn on the TV and time your commercial advertising during a show or movie and also time the length they show an individual shot. They sell million of dollars of product and advertising in 30, 60 and vary rarely in 90 second spots. Yes, commercial breaks last for several boring minutes but individual ads are short. Study their techniques and you are likely to change you marketing.
    Ok, now get a scratch pad and a stop watch turn on the TV and start watching, timing and counting the number of images for a single product. Do you need more than 20 slides and 3 minutes?

  37. 6 images, $175, 1 hr onsite. Additional photos $25/each. And I've got plenty of competitors that charge more. I'm in NYC, so I get mainly apartments. But even on big, multi-million dollar homes I've never gone past 20.

    Reading these comments makes me sad. I don't know how people could be making a sustainable living or producing work they can be proud of at these volumes. I wish I had some advice on how to make agents realize that more isn't better. Maybe you can go in and decide the BEST shot of the bedroom, instead of taking every angle, and letting the agent decide. You're the artist, right? Or are you just some guy that owns a camera? People pay for expertise and knowledge. Present yourself as that. Giving a bunch of 'blah' pics just makes you a tool operator. And that's not worth money.

  38. @John,

    Whats sad is your inability to realize that every region is would not make a living in Toronto charging $175 for 6 images (strictly real estate).

    What makes me sad is people with such a strong opinion on what others are doing (or not doing)....yet they cant even link up their website when posting 🙂

  39. RFranko: It would help me to understand your comments if I knew if you were a real estate agent. Agents and photographers kind of have different customers. A photographer's customer is primarily a real estate agent. An agents customer is both the seller AND the potential buyer. An agent needs to know what both of these customers think about and want. You must have missed my comment that if I were a pro real estate photographer I would do what the agent asked for. Then the issue is can you do better pictures faster and at a lower cost than the competitors in your local market. As an agent at a listing presentation where I'm trying to sell my service to the seller I know that if I can do more to promote their house (almost always at the same price) than other agents, then I have a good chance to get that listing. Whether it helps sell the house to a buyer is almost irrelevant. That's why real estate companies and agents make such a big deal about having the best advertising -- something that today is not very helpful in selling to an actual buyer. But, sellers can also see that more pictures, pictures with embedded caption, floor plans, plot plans, and lots of pictures is MORE than other agents do and that may help them decide which agent to use. You could argue that this doesn't help sell the house, but even if you are right (which you are not) it doesn't matter if that helps sell the seller. You also seemed to have missed my comment that 98-99 % of buyers will NOT sit through an 11 minute virtual tour slideshow or video. On that we actually agree on. But, since as an agent I get to talk to the actual buyers of my listings (and my buyer clients) I KNOW that that is OK. Because? Because I don't care much about the 98% of the people who didn't care about the house enough to see the entire video/slideshow. I care about the 1-2% that will watch it all -- and OVER and OVER. Please tell me how often you get to talk to the buyers of the houses that you do pictures for--and what they say.
    Your market may be different. On Cape Cod we know that 75-80% of the buyers are younger than the sellers, don't read newspapers, rely on the internet for decision making, and live more than a 90 minute ride from the house they are going to buy. Many live hundreds (even thousands) of miles away. A woman sitting at her computer in Santa Monica looking at a 76 slide virtual tour of a 1,400 Sq Ft house listed for $365,000 wants to know as much as possible about a house before she decides to make an offer without ever setting foot on the property or in the house. She doesn't want just the best picture of the master bedroom, she wants to see it from every angle, and the master bath too. As she said, she "pored over" all this info several times. Alas, in this REAL case, her very good offer was not accepted because there was another buyer and she was outbid. But she did sign an offer and without actually seeing the house in person and she did raise her offer during this bidding war. She just missed getting it. So if you go beyond what the seller thinks they want, and the agent thinks they want, to what the actual buyer wants you get a different answer. Fortunately, if you are just the photographer you don't have to worry about that.

  40. @Bill Silver - "I don’t care much about the 98% of the people who didn’t care about the house enough to see the entire video/slideshow. I care about the 1-2% that will watch it all".

    I think you are missing opportunities then. Too much information is very often the wrong way to sell something. Home decisions are often emotionally charged. Pictures can be art. Art speaks to emotion... More is not better, better is better. People often forget what they hear or see, but not the way it made them feel.

  41. @KenBrown... thanks for your thoughts and input! I certainly hope you're not earning anything near a minimum wage. Sounds like you've got your bottom line figured out, good for you!

  42. Dave, are you assuming that more pictures implies a lot of bad pictures? Why can't you have a lot of great pictures? Please relate stories from actual buyers about how they preferred fewer pictures.

    As to emotion, I totally agree. That's why with pricier house I also take all the pictures and reformat them into a "Lifestyle Magazine" that they can view on line. This contains text that they can read about the property and this does appeal to their emotional side. The other thing that almost always goes into a Virtual Tour is pictures/videos of the attractions nearby the property. On Cape Cod a house is not just a house, it is a destination. So buyers want to see what "lifestyle" things they can do if they lived in that house. Typically this means a map of local attractions with, yes, a picture of each one. And, on Cape Cod this also means a number of pictures/videos of the beach(es) that they will go to if they live in that house. Typically, in my Virtual Tours, about 10-20% of the pictures are not of the house or grounds of the property. A good think about this is that many of these pictures/videos/maps can be reused with other houses in that neighborhood.

  43. @Bill Silver - "Dave, are you assuming that more pictures implies a lot of bad pictures? Why can’t you have a lot of great pictures?"

    What's great? A very decent snapshot? A halfway cleaned up fusion? A magazine quality razor-sharp image - or a piece of art that could take an ultra-skilled photographer many hours to create, start to finish? Most importantly, which one of those communicates the magic call to action; "we NEED to go see that house"?

    I have this crazy thought that, really, it's just ***one*** picture to sell a showing on a house that probably does it (of course most brokers would disagree). But it's not really that hard to surmise what a buyer wants to "feel" when they look at a picture of a house fitting their criteria: Acreage is probably privacy - I can do that. Luxury means the Wow Factor is important - no problem. Modern - check. Family friendly - no problem. View property - that's self explanatory.

    Okay, so the view's magnificent. But what about the kitchen? Master bed? The [insert a zillion other items]? Well, I think those are mostly just reasons to say; "mmm, maybe, but lets keep looking".

    With the exceptions-to-everything aside so we're speaking in most likely and high probability scenarios, I'll say it again; too much information is almost never a good thing - especially for getting someone to want to see a home - and, make no mistake, that's the goal - not to "sell" the place.

  44. Depends on the size of the property. As a general rule I shoot what is needed depending on the size/type of property (in most average houses that is 20-25, but it can be more and can be less). 2 points that have not been raised however:

    In the UK, most agents seem to work on the basis that an online listing should have no more than 10-12 pictures, as the idea is to get a potential buyer to come and view, rather than view online. They do seem to like to be able to make a selection from a set, so having a few extra is useful (up to a point).

    Politics - I have seen in the past (fortunately rarely) certain agents use the lack of certain images in a set as an excuse not to pay an invoice. This usually is the less obvious angles of the garden (the angles that don't work). As a result, I tend to shoot these in the full knowledge they are unlikely to be used, simply to cover my own back.....

  45. Dave, I really like your artistic flare. Really. I bet you spend more time than most trying to make them beautiful. Your passion comes through.

    But, back to the conversation. I may not have this exactly as you state, but you believe that the purpose of the pictures is NOT to move the buyer to decide to BUY the house, but to just SEE the house. I think that the majority of real estate agents would agree with you. But, I'm not in that majority. I totally disagree. Getting showings isn't the goal. Getting signed Offer to Purchase contracts is the goal. If ALL the information about the house is presented well and fairly AND the buyer looks at it and decides they don't really like this house and do not want to see it, then that is a WIN for the agent and the seller. If they saw everything on line and didn't like it it is highly unlikely that they when presented with LIMITED information, and then they see the real thing, that they are going to like it. What feature or information that you DIDN'T give to them are they going to see at the house that will make them sign an offer. If they make an informed decision to not see the house than seeing the house would not have a different outcome--it would just be a waste of time. Real estate agents get paid AT CLOSING, and they get the same commission whether they showed the house once or a hundred times. The real difference is how much time the wasted with all those under-informed buyers AND how much aggravation the sellers had to endure to make those showing possible. I never mind showing a house, but I LOVE it when I get an offer from someone who has not yet seen the house. If you say "That Never Happens" well I have PROOF that you are wrong, since I have done that multiple times. In may market about 10-20% of the buyers come from more than 200 miles away.

    Back to your comment about "too much information can never be good." I am at the opposite extreme of this. More than any other agent I know. We've been talking about pictures and Virtual Tours and videos. But I always provide an entire, dedicated web site to a house. There, buyers will really find all the information about the house: Yes, VT Slideshows, videos, and an eMagazine. But they will also find VTs of beaches, towns, etc. They will find the Tax Records, the Listing Sheet, the Deeds, the Septic design and Septic Inspection report, School information, links to Google Maps, Floor Plans, Plot Plans, and almost always some special information relevant to only that property. Yes, they get ALL the info, and that's why some of them make offers over the internet.

  46. Bill, lets agree to disagree. You're looking for the 1 or 2 percent, I the other 98%. You hope the pictures might sell THE house, I'm just trying to get the phone to ring, and create a new relationship that could result in (any) transaction. In my experience a minimum amount of high quality info (such as a few dazzling photos that stir emotion) is far more likely to generate that conversion than trying to picture/document, or guessing info they could just Google (or Zillow or Trulia) if they are curious... maybe your experience is that brokers' sellers prefer otherwise? ...Lots of different business models out there... who's to say?

  47. The purpose of pictures is certainly NOT to help sell a house. That's just an incredibly simplistic and rear-facing way to look at this. Houses were selling long before there were anything beyond a "drive-by" polaroid available to buyers. And we all know that there are houses on the market today, maybe even a majority of houses, with utterly horrific photos shot by a real estate agent....and those houses are selling!
    So clearly, the house is going to sell, either way. Yes, it might sell faster with professional pictures. Yes, it might fetch a higher price with professional pictures. Maybe. Maybe not.
    And selling faster is ABSOLUTELY not the goal. My real estate clients have always been unanimous on this one -- a house that sells too quickly is very bad for them. They want, on average, at least 2 weekends' worth of open houses before an offer is accepted. This (the open house) is their very best exposure to buyers and sellers. This is a great way for them to showcase how well and how thoroughly they market the property, so as to impress potential sellers.

    So with that wisdom in mind, it's clear why my clients and so many others around the country will spend what may seem like outrageous sums of money on just a few (say 15 or 20, max) really, REALLY good photos. It's all about attracting the next listing. 'Cause the one we're shooting today is more or less already in the bag. It's gonna sell. Very basic photography is all you need to get it sold. No, the reason to do GREAT photography, and video, and Matterport 3-D, and aerials, etc. is to impress the next seller.
    The sellers (in urban markets, anyway) are interviewing multiple agents before awarding their listing. They want to know what one agent is going to do for them that other agents aren't doing. And they're not impressed with "100 photos" -- they are all on Houzz, they're all familiar with Architectural Digest (god help them) and they all see the shelter magazines at the supermarket. They know what a good photo looks like, and they know that scores or dozens or hundreds of photos are NOT where it's at. Half a dozen thoughtful, slow photographs are ten times more powerful than 50 mediocre ones.

    My RE clients (who comprise the top volume, top $$, agents) are always focused FORWARD - towards the next listing, and next years' listings. They're always more interested in positioning themselves in the market, than in "selling houses". Selling houses is more of a collateral effect -- they are primarily branding THEMSELVES. As photographers, we have to understand that.

  48. Scott - Well said! That is exactly what it looked like to me spending 10 years working with my listing agent wife... it's all about getting the next listing.

  49. I have been following this discussion with great interest. I would like to add my thoughts to this. It’s never about the number of photos.

    While I certainly agree some agents are clearly trying to brand themselves over and above all other agents in a given market others are content to just keep going as they have been. They don’t get the branding thing. Assuming commission are all the same, they need something to elevate them above the crowd. Photography is just one aspect of that successful branding campaign. Customer service, marketing research, personal image etc. all are part of ‘branding’.

    But in the end, what a listing agent want to show prospective clients is that they get homes sold! And they get the best price possible and it’s not going to take six months. That’s what a seller want to hear in a listing presentation! They want their house sold, and most could care less about anyone else's home. It’s then up to the given agent to show how they go about that. It’s not ‘in the bag’ until the listing agreement is signed.

    We all know, or should, that most homes are never sold from "open house". The people attending open houses are buyers and the agent sitting there with their cookies and cake are looking for buyers that also might have a home to sell. And if they do, hopefully it’s in the same area. Sellers do not attend open houses, not that I’ve ever seen. I recently sold my home, had six listing presentations and not once did I think to attend an open house! Why would I? I’m moving out of state, maybe I’ll attend an open house there, but I already secured an agent long before I traveled to my new location. How did I pick that agent? From a listing I was interested in seeing…from the photos I saw online of the house for sale.

    And, like me, if the buyer is from across the country that’s not particular good prospect for the local listing agent. Unless of course that listing agent does both, act as a buyers agent as well. Then they have a good chance of securing a new client, but on the sales side, not the listing side of the business. And most likely someone local, not from out of town. Most agents tell me that beside perhaps getting a new client, they hold open houses to make their listing client feel they are doing something. So the agent can perhaps get a good referral for the next listing presentation. Part of the branding process. Part of getting that next listing.

    So where does the photography fit in?

    It’s serves different purposes for different agents. None of which is to sell the house. For one, as stated, it shows, the agents branding, to help get that next listing. The other is to capture the interest of shoppers on the internet, where 99% of buyers today go. So while lousy images gets the house out there, good to great images attract buyers better, faster, and as all the studies have shown, perhaps secures better price. Out of town buyers, like me, like seeing the photos, like seeing good photos better, like seeing Matterport walk throughs, all designed to get me to physically see the property. Until that happens (in most cases) the house will not sell. And if the house does not sell, then the listing agent is a failure in the eyes of the seller! Regardless of the quality of the images or the number of images.

    So, to me, the balance for real estate photography (MLS) is somewhere between the highest quality images (for the agent branding) and the best quality images that can be shown on the MLS and at a reasonable price. Each agent has what they want in mind. If like Scott, you can work with only agents that are willing to pay top dollar for the best, that great's. Most of us are not dealing with that type of agent (yet). Those agents represent maybe 1/2 of 1% of the agents in a given market. The cream of the cream! However, the majority of the active agents are not like that. If they see another agents listing and the images are better than theirs, well maybe they will think about paying for professional photos. If they can shoot down and dirty and get the house sold, they are happy. Most agents want enough images to fill up all the slots available on the MLS. That’s the majority of the clients for real estate photography.

    All and all, it’s a complicated mix and each photographer fills a market need of the agent who is their client. Agents vary between $75 run and gun types as well as the Scott’s of the world agents that God only knows what it costs for the 10-15 images. Each has their need and will find the photographer to fill it.

    At least that’s how I see it.

  50. Sorry, but not all agents take the approach that it's all about the next listing.

    Some of us are actually genuinely interested in selling our clients properties and make that our priority.

    Yes, great marketing will get you more listings but for us that is the 'collateral effect', not the primary one.

    I feel for these poor sellers that spend hours and hours preparing their homes in the false hope that their property may sell at an open home when the agent is there simply to get leads for more listings.

    Just because the majority of the industry takes a certain approach doesn't make it right.

    This thread would be very informative for someone researching their next agent in terms of how the industry operates and what type of agent they should employ.

  51. Wow, Lots of feedback. Thanks all for you answers and for the interesting way this question of mine evolved!

    Thanks to you also Larry. Got more of an answer to my question than expected. Appreciate it.

  52. Sharon, those top performing agents I'm speaking of are actually a small minority, so I agree with you completely that not all agents think this way. However, it's been well documented that the top 20% of agents are doing upwards of 80% of the transactions, so I think it's well worth studying their opinions and best practices. They got to be "top" agents because they do sell houses -- a LOT of houses! In fact, they're the ones selling most of the houses!
    It seems to me that their clients are being quite well served, indeed.

  53. I realize I am coming in a tad late to all of this but there have been some comments I wanted to address.

    Sharon.Davet - You are 100% correct. In all my listings I never held an open house, however many agents in my office would in the hopes of picking up clients. Open houses are never about selling that particular property. I always explained this in great detail with my clients during the listing presentation, and gave them the option if they wanted it they could have them. If they did usually by the 2nd one they were convinced and decided against having more, and usually the 2nd open house I invited them to stay and watch as invisible as possible and no contact with the lookie lou's, basically I had them act as if they were also looking at the property as a buyer. I can honestly only remember 1 agent selling off an open house between 2003-2006 and during that span I would say I had an average of 55-95 properties at any given month (yes my listings not the office/broker). Now during that timeframe I did my own stills and hired a company to come out and shoot my V tours. I shot them because no one offered the service to professionally shoot stills that even close to being cost effective as it is now, I think the best pricing I received at that time was in the $400-$550 range, I think a lot of that due to the fact we were on the extreme North end of Phoenix and not many wanted to travel that far. The V tours were at that time costing $99-$199 depending on the # of rooms and outside areas done. I do believe they have come down in price now although I haven't used anyone for anything like that since about 2008 when I started doing my own.

    Scott Hargis - You are correct but unless it has changed over the last 2-4 years (I honestly haven't kept up with the market since I started phasing out of it a little over a year ago.) But I would say that a closer average would be 10% of the agents are doing about 90% of the sales volume. As for me I was in the top 10 out of 2100 agents within my Century 21 and in the Top 20 for Century 21 within their Southwest Region. The majority of my business was the 7 small custom home builders I worked with that did between of 15-35 homes per year depending on the builder and I would pick up resale homes and also did land. This kept me in the inventory I mentioned above.

    I am in the process of going back to school for 2 years and getting a degree in Digital Arts, I plan to do photography and graphic design work and hope to be able to stay in real estate photography as I enjoy it. I think the hardest part of it is trying to reeducate some of the less knowledge agents that it is worthwhile and should become a normal part of their marketing plan and costs. Most are happy to take awful looking photos with their smartphones and post away to the MLS and various other sites they use to market their homes. Which is a shame because this is the first impression they make for that property. I must say that it never seems to amaze me at the photos that some agents will post and that fact that their Brokers will allow it.

  54. When I was introduced to real estate photography the package almost always included the VT and images and was price based on finished square footage. This is our current process and we start out at our base price (lowest square footage) and go up incrementally in price based on relative square footage. I have never discussed quantity with a client and delivery everything I finish usually between 25-40 images in the mid range homes. Am I missing something?

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