Peter Meo recently pointed out to me that I've never talked about negotiating agency contracts on the blog. He's right. These kind of contracts are not all that common and I've never been directly involved in one. So I consulted Mike Miriello (Mike does the RealEstatePhotographyPodcast) and Thomas Grubba. Mike has an exclusive shooting contract with a company in Virginia and Thomas has an exclusive contract with Pacific Union Real Estate and a non-exclusive contract with Empire Realty in the Oakland, CA area.
What is an Agency Shooting Contract?
This is where a real estate photographer enters into a contract with a agency (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 shoots a year then an agency contract may not for you. Oh, yea, with these kind of contracts 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.