Eric in Southern California says:
I have been discussing possibly being a preferred vendor photographer for the local Keller Williams office and they proposed a $20 fee for every client they send my way. Is this sort of thing normal? Also should I expect to be signing a non-compete agreement where I would not be able to offer my services to other agents?
No, you DO NOT sign a non-compete agreement with such an agency! Never sign non-complete agreements!
A number of years ago, Thomas Grubba in Oakland and Mike Miriello in Virginia negotiated agency contracts with real estate offices in their area and did a post on what to consider when setting up such a relationship. Here is their advice:
What Is an Agency Shooting Contract?
This is where a real estate photographer enters into a contract with a real estate company to shoot some number of listings per year. In return for a guaranteed level of business from the agency, the photographer gives the agency a discount on the price of each shoot. This kind of arrangement is a win for all parties. The photographer gets a guaranteed level of business, the agency raises the level of their marketing and the agents get a price break on good photography for their listings.
Agency Shooting Contracts Are Not for Everyone
I think before you try getting an agency contract, you need to be in demand by top agents. Your demand in the office you are negotiating with will help you in the negotiation. On the other hand, if you already have a large customer base and you are already shooting 400 or more properties a year, then an agency contract may not for you. With these kind of accounts, you probably need someone to back you up so you can take time off now and then.
Key Items to Negotiate
General Negotiating Advice
The ideal contract is where there is a compulsory aspect that every property over a certain price will be photographed. That will depend on the area, but let’s say over $1 million. Everything under that price, the agent has the choice to have it photographed or not. The agent will need to give at least 3 days notice to set up a shoot, and the images will be turned around the next business day by 12 noon. A standard shoot is $xxx and generates up to 12 images and an estate shoot is $xxx (double the standard shoot rate) for up to 24 images. These designations are based upon a) How big the property is, and b) How many images an agent wants. For example, a 4,000 sq. ft. house automatically falls into the estate category even if the agent only wants 12 images. If an agent wants the 24 images, even for a 2,000 sq. ft. house, that also goes into the estate category.
Thanks to Thomas and Mike for sharing all their insights in this area.