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More Data which Demonstrates that Professional Photography Is Essential

Published: 10/01/2019

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Over the years, there have been some studies that have shown that when listing agents use professional photography to market their listings, the listings sell for more.

The classic study was the 2013 Redfin study that is documented in the infographic by the Wilmington, NC Realtor Robert Preville that we've been giving away for about 5 years.

Since the original Redfin study, there have been a number of other studies that promote the benefits of professional real estate photography:

  1. Listings with professional photography sell faster.
  2. Listings with quality photos sell 32% faster.
  3. Six reasons for using a professional real estate photographer.
  4. Bad listing photos may be the reason a home doesn't sell in a seller's market.
  5. Professional photography and staging are essential sales tools.

All of these links and the data they present are good marketing material for you to help convince those listing agents they need to hire you to shoot their listing photos!

Larry Lohrman

12 comments on “More Data which Demonstrates that Professional Photography Is Essential”

  1. I consider understanding that nice photos will help help marketing a prerequisite to using my services. If you think about it you come out way ahead this way. Let the run n gun guys convince them, and then when they really start to learn just how valuable good photos are, they call me.

  2. I think it’s safe to say we are all well convinced of the benefits of real estate photography.

    My question would be how we’re using this information in our marketing? Do you put these stats & articles front and center, or do you promote yourself and your services first and put this as a back up information.

    My website is currently very focused on me and my services, but am starting to question whether a “benefits” approach would work better. So before I rework my site, I’m now thinking about how this would be best implemented.

  3. If an agent is not using a professional photographer or photography service then I don't know how they are actually in business or that I would actually want to spend time "selling" them on how they must use professional photography.

  4. I don't know about anybody else, but these "studies" drive me a bit nuts. There are so many websites regurgitating claims over and over that it's impossible to know if any of them are legit. Beyond that, there are so many variables involved it's impossible to compare one home to another based on the photography provided. Every professional and every amateur photograph is completely subjective. I know "professionals" that offer photography worse than the worst amateur so where do we draw that line of "professional photography"? All houses cannot be put under the same umbrella, nor can photographers and their idea of professional quality.

    Another huge factor is the market. Is it hot or is it cold? My brother once made me laugh telling me that my then 2 year old son could draw a house and use it for a listing photo and it would sell at that time. He was absolutely right, the market was so hot that houses weren't even getting past the brokerage morning meeting and accepted offers were happening. Photography made very little difference in that hot market. Now we're in a cold market and it's much more important. As agents they want to offer the same marketing material in hot an cold markets as this will grab more listings when things cool off as potential sellers will see this consistency online in their branding. Branding is the key word. How does an agent want to present themselves? Whether photography sells their listing or not, they should want the best of the best for every listing which will shed the same light on their brand. Agents that worry about losing listings and the money they spent on photographs will never understand the word "brand" and those are agents you don't want to work with, believe me.

    For me it all comes down to common sense. Quality photography can attract more views > more views can result in more showings > more showings can result in a faster sale and one that could result in multiple offers which drives up the average sale price. You don't need studies to understand this concept, it's just common sense and the very core of marketing. Some agents get it and some don't and it will be this way forever. If you need to send a study like this to an agent to convince them to use your services, they are likely not worth having as a client in the first place because if they did hire a photographer it's going to be the cheapest one they can find. Let your work speak for itself, not data and studies.

  5. I have an agent I work with that uses this type of data, along with other localized marketing data in all of their listing meetings to potential clients. They create books for each meeting filled with the data and images of homes they have sold in the area. They spend time discussing the importance of marketing, how they market, and the vendors (photo/video) they use to create collateral. They are all about having the same aesthetic when it comes to images and video. It is very effective! They list and sell tons of homes!

  6. My understanding about the Redfin data taken from listings is that their characterization of "Professional Photography", is based on the camera info in the EXIF data. So photos taken with a DSLR are "Professional", but photos taken with a iPhone or P&S cameras are not.

    However, I've seen many examples of terrible photos taken with expensive equipment.

  7. I'm with Matt on being somewhat frustrated with some of the "studies". It's hard to know if they are any good if they don't disclose their methodology and even when they do, whether it makes any sense. Nathan Cool did a small study of his area that is very good. Not perfect, but his criteria makes sense. Check out his YouTube videos. Nathan uses his expertise to rate the photos used on the listings rather than just the camera in the EXIF data.

    A factor on the sales rationale for using professional photos that is left out is where getting multiple offers at the same price can still be valuable since one could be all cash and another might have a bunch of contingencies. So while the pricing doesn't change with the better photos, there can be a chance for a better deal based on other factors. Spending less time on market is variable depending on list price. List a home below comps and it should move quickly. Photos may help get a buyer when the home is priced competitively and there are other similar homes in competition.

    I hear ya, Tim, but there are lots of agents in my area that "don't believe" in professional photos and still sell homes. I do notice that they don't have very many listings, but they might still be making enough to stay in real estate. There is one young agent in the area that uses professional photography and seems to be picking up the lion's share of local listings. I keep working on getting his business. He loves drone photos that I am not doing yet, but in my city, they don't add much value and I feel he's just wasting money by going further on the marketing than he really needs to to get more clients. Just using professional photography puts his marketing above every other agent in town. All of the homes I have shot in my own city have been for agents located elsewhere.

    The most important aspect of professional photos, getting new clients under contract, doesn't attract any studies. It's probably since the study couldn't be done at arm's length and it might be only vaguely interesting to an organization such as NAR or Redfin to fund it. Good agents are more focused on getting the next listing and the next one to keep the hopper full. If they've done their work properly on pricing and worked with the sellers to get the home ready to show and sell, they should be able to attract a buyer unless the market is really dead. Good photos will help them with the sale, but can be more valuable in getting the next home under contract.

    Just yesterday I looked at a million dollar listing photographed with a cell phone and the home was a complete mess. Dirty dishes, the whole cosmetic aisle of a pharmacy on the bathroom counters, toys, pet stuff, clothes, etc all over the house. I looked up the agent's sales over the last 12-18months and the most expensive home they had sold was $425k so this listing was over 2x the value of anything they had done before and they didn't bother to put any effort into the marketing. This isn't the first time I've seen this and I am floored that when an agent gets the chance to bust the million dollar ceiling, they don't pull out all of the stops and do some real marketing. I know that if I get some very high end properties to photograph, I'll get as much as I can to do the job, but I'll likely spend far more time crafting the best images I can than is reasonable. I want to be known as the local go-to person for million dollar properties and it will be easier and easier to raise my rates so I am well compensated for the time I'll put into images on those homes. I am NOT going to go in with my 2-hour, 20 images base package unless I can't extend the time I have on-site.

  8. Is this data valuable? That's the question I have always fought with. By now, it has to be believed that most logical people understand in a visual world, visuals have value and more than that, are necessary.

    When I first started out I thought the challenge to getting agents to use professional photography was to educate them with stats such as these. As time passes and I understand the different types of agents I don't know if this info is valuable for agents or if this is something to present to home sellers. The National Association of Realtors provides their members with convincing articles and data supporting our contribution to the selling process. We all have gotten calls from agents asking us to photograph a property that the agent used a cell phone for photos and hasn't sold. Generally I think agents get it.

    Let's look at the different agent types which there are several. The "Pro" that uses professional photography, video, maybe 3D, floor plans and lists a lot of homes. The "second tier" that uses professional photos, and usually video, most of the time and lists a fair amount of homes. Then the next level down. These agents use professional photography only on higher end listings. They list some homes but a fraction of what the top two tiers do. Then the last group of agents, the "moms". These are agents that have a license and are active if something falls in their lap. Their friend or relative needs an agent. They almost never use a professional and they list few if any homes.

    So I ask, is the "professional photographer info" that's available best used to market to agents or is it more valuable to present to the home sellers? Kinda like all the prescription ads we see on TV. If the drug companies are selling to Drs, why so many ads on TV directed towards the general population?

    So I ask, do you use this data in your marketing? If so, how and do you measure it's effectiveness?

  9. This is very poor quality information to convince Realtors of the value of Real Estate Photography. Any good economist would scoff at the anecdotal, mostly unsupported nature of this information. With the exception of the single Redfin study from 5 years ago, there is nothing of value here. It just underscores the need for competent, professional research to be conducted on behalf of the Real Estate Photography industry. The industry should be supporting academic research, or at least cajoling private survey and research companies to focus some attention on the effects of professional photography on real estate sales.

  10. "This is very poor quality information to convince Realtors of the value of Real Estate Photography. Any good economist would scoff at the anecdotal, mostly unsupported nature of this information. With the exception of the single Redfin study from 5 years ago, there is nothing of value here."

    Thank you, Andrew, for this observation. I agree with you statements except the last about the Redfin 'study.' The Redfin 'study' is not good; their inferences are entirely unjustified--entirely unsupported by the data they've gathered. Consider the following from the Redfin site:

    "For homes listed between $200,000 and $1 million, Redfin found that homes with listing photos taken with DSLR cameras sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices."

    Many factors can contribute to a home selling for greater than its listing price. All other factors would have to be controlled for in a multi-variate analysis to determine the cause of selling for greater than an home's listing price. The Redfin 'study' fails to do this; thus, it's not justifiable to claim that photos taken with DSLR cameras is the reason. With Redfin's data, the reason is simply unknown.

    Redfin's data-gathering methodology for this 'study' is poor: "As a reminder of how this study identifies professional real estate photography, they use the EXIF data from the MLS photos and if the listing has photos shot with a DSLR it calls it professional." Source:

    This is like claiming that a person who plays a Stradivarius violin is an accomplished musician which, of course, is absurd. Very accomplished musicians can produce beautiful music on beginner instruments; professional photographers can get excellent results from 'point-and-shoot' cameras.

    The bottom line is that the Redfin 'study' should be completely dismissed, since it offers nothing of value about the relationship between professional photography and real estate sales.

  11. The true reason that listings with professional real estate photography sell more quickly and for more money is that these images meet the standards for professional real estate marketing images. It’s not simply that a DSLR camera, or a wide angle lens, or a tripod, or a professional was used. It’s the dedication and skill of the professional real estate photographer who creates fine images by meeting the standards. More: [].

  12. I am with Andrew on this. These "studies" are bunk. In fact, this would be a textbook case of "data flowing both ways". Think about it...

    Is it that professional grade photography helps homes sell FASTER.....


    Is it that homes that are really nice...and already WILL sell faster...get better treatment and thus get professional photography?

    This type of conundrum happens all the time in the sciences. Which is why very structured methods are deployed to actually come to the right conclusion. That needs to be done because it's completely possible to get things 100% backwards and still be convinced you're right.

    Where business is concerned doesn't matter. "My photography will help your listings sell faster and for more money" is the weakest selling positioning to take. There are much stronger sales positions. So much stronger that this tired old line shouldn't be deployed anymore.

    It causes the Realtor to be skeptical. They inherently know that that statistic is a "manipulated" statistic designed to get them to become more open to doing business with you. These people manipulate statistics to their advantage all the they are always on guard for it. Once you say that better photography will help their listings sell faster/for more their mind gets to work cutting that up...and they actually disengage from the conversation. They LOOK like they are listing...but they're really trying to figure out why that idea doesn't seem to match up with their own experience as a Realtor selling homes. And one they stop listening to you you have lost the sale. So just don't deploy that line in the first place and you'll be better off. Never bring it up. It can only work against you.

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