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Is Anyone Using Area Listing Sites to Get Real Estate Photography Business?

Published: 09/07/2015
By: larry

ListingsightFrank poses the following question:

I’m looking at starting a real estate marketing business in my area. I’d like to take photos/videos of properties and list them on a website and create other marketing material. Do you think a real estate license is required for this? I know you can’t answer as an authority on it with all the various laws, but are you aware of anyone needing a license to market properties that a realtor is selling?

You have to be a licensed Realtor and member of your local MLS in the US to get an IDX feed of ALL the local listings in your area but I doubt that there's any problem with creating a website where you post all the listings that you shoot for Realtors. I would get the listing agents permission before putting them on your site and probably put the listing agent's branding and contact info on each.

Back in 2010 there were two successful real estate photographers that did just what you are talking about to promote their real estate photography services. At the time this worked very well for them. Here's the post where I talk about this kind of marketing. It is worth noting that neither Dan Abraham or John Quarrels do this any more. I see that neither of these sites exist anymore but I don't know all the reasons why. Note that as stated in the 2010 post this is a marketing technique to sell the concept of professional real estate photography directly to home sellers.

If I had to guess, this marketing approach is less effective than it used to be since the advent of smartphone and tablet Apps like Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com there you can so easily go into any given neighborhood and see what's for sale in that neighborhood.

Is anyone still using a local area listing site to promote your real estate photography?

6 comments on “Is Anyone Using Area Listing Sites to Get Real Estate Photography Business?”

  1. Isn't there some rule about having to remove marketing materials once a listing has closed (either sold or expired)? And what if a new agent (not your client) picks up the listing? It seems like a lot of work to have to follow every single listing you shoot for not a lot of gain.

    From what I've observed if you're a solid shooter with good customer service you don't need gimmicks to build a steady, profitable business.

  2. I have been doing this since 2005. We provide the agents with both professional real estate photos and real estate advertising. Locally we are the main online source of real estate advertising and compete directly with sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and others. Generally, only properties we photograph are listing on our site, however exceptions are made. (Photos are watermarked as supplied by owner). We also list rentals and commercial properties.

    From a business standpoint, this model does provide many advantages. The agents are provided with professional photos and significant advertising at the same time. And while many of the agents love our photos, placement on our site is a significant draw. It is very common for sellers in our area to expect the agents to have their home listed on our site. In addition, because the site generates significant traffic, I can supplement photography revenue with advertising. The site also provide low cost advertising for your services.

    We do not use an IDX feed, however I provide webmaster service for other similar sites that do. Of the MLS services that I work with, none require you to be a Realtor or an agent. However, other MLS service might have other requirements.

    If you put the time and resources into a site, it can be well worth the work.

  3. I have one other suggestion in terms of getting permission to use the photos you take on your website. Consider adding a portfolio release clause to your contract. Here is the clause I have in my media contracts, which gives me permission to use the photos and video that I take for use in my own portfolio.

    Portfolio Release
    {CLIENT NAME} hereby agrees that {PHOTOGRAPHER NAME} has the irrevocable right to use and publish photographs, still or moving, for the restricted purposes of self-promotion, including advertising the photographer’s business, in any manner and medium; and to alter and composite the same without restriction and without my inspection or approval. {CLIENT NAME} releases {PHOTOGRAPHER NAME} and legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said media.

  4. Having the agent sign a release for you to use the photos, implies that the agent owns the photos. The logic is that the release would only be needed if you didn't own the photos or the copyrights and needed permission from the owner for their use. Instead, invoice them for photography and advertising services. You could also add a statement to the contract.

  5. @Malia - "if you’re a solid shooter with good customer service you don’t need gimmicks to build a steady, profitable business." That's true in the large metro markets (like yours) where the demand for real estate photography and videography is strong and increasing but in smaller, more rural areas there aren't as many agents that are believers so you have to work harder at marketing.

  6. Thats how I got started years ago when I was an active agent. It was a lot of work and now buyers all go to realtor.com or Zillow and others. Also, as my business grew I had less and less time to keep up with it. I think you would be waisting your time now. You just got to get started with a few agents and do real go work and pretty soon you will be working day and night.

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