I am just transitioning from working exclusively for one small team of Realtors to starting my own business. I will be offering photos, videos, and a 3D tour/floor plan product. I have read others on this site talk about being a "preferred photographer" for a brokerage and I was hoping to learn more about that arrangement. I am fairly certain this isn't something that is currently being done in my area so I was hoping to learn the logistics. I think with enough volume, I will be able to offer a good product at a fair price, and hopefully this will sway some agents to hire a professional who might otherwise take their own photographs. Any insights/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Generally, what being a preferred photographer for an office means is that you have a contract with a particular office to provide you with an agreed level of business in return for giving that office a per shoot discount.
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 be for you. With this kind of account, 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.