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Professional Real Estate Photos are an Investment For A Listing Agents Business

TerryIversonPFRE blog reader Terry Iverson, in Redmond, OR, recently wrote the following post on his ActiveRain blog. We are reposting it here because it got such a positive response from Realtors on ActiveRain.

7 Reasons why Agents should retire their camera

Think of it as buying a lottery ticket. It is a small risk to pay for professional photos, but the payoff could be in the thousands for this listing and many more to come as a result of smart marketing and your image as a marketeer.

I've moved my business to Central Oregon and in talking to agents I'm finding that "snapping photos" instead of hiring a professional photographer seems to be the norm. Being hired to sell a home is purely a marketing event and requires good marketing strategies to sell quickly and at the best price. If you can, set aside the fact that I am a photographer and allow me to put my business consultant hat on, which is a role that I had before starting my photographer business.

Reasons to hire a professional photographer

  1. Potential buyers have a better expectation and feel for the home before even visiting.
  2. The listing agent is viewed as a marketer who presents his/her listings in the best way possible.
  3. Great photos often generate multiple showings and multiple offers resulting in a higher sales price.
  4. The Realtor becomes a hero to their seller often resulting in referrals to friends and family, more listings and a higher annual income for the Realtor.
  5. In future listing interviews you are able to use those photos to impress the homeowner that you will present their home in the best way possible. We are an image driven society and people are drawn to a great photo. $100-$150 spent to hire a professional photographer now turns into thousands of dollars of commission back to you now and later.
  6. Securing more listings means more happy sellers, more potential referrals and another factor to brag about during future interviews. Simply put, the more listings you get, your image of success is stronger which generates more listings and money in your bank account.
  7. You won't have to spend the time taking and later preparing the photos for MLS. It will be magically done for you.

Reasons to take your own photos

  1. It will save you the cost of hiring a professional photographer.
  2. You have the pleasure of processing the photos instead of making more potential listing calls. 😉

The bottom line is that taking your own photos will save you the cost of the photo shoot but in many cases will cost you thousands of dollars in lower commissions due to selling at a lower price, taking longer to sell and do nothing for your image as an agent who understands good marketing.

5 comments on “Professional Real Estate Photos are an Investment For A Listing Agents Business”

  1. Of all of the advantages of using a professional photographer for listing photos, getting a higher price might be the least important from the agent's point of view. If the agent has done a good job analyzing the comps and getting the seller to list at a proper price, a $10,000 premium over asking might be unusual. An additional $10,000 might only net the agent $150 before tax. This is assuming a 3% seller commission and a 50% split with the broker. (ref #3)

    Selling the home faster saves the agent listing expenses such as update calls and email to the seller and possibly fewer showings.(ref #1)

    The biggest advantage to an agent consistently using a professional photographer is an improved brand image. RE agents are independent sales and marketing companies and need to treat their business as such. A professional image also attracts and makes it possible to gain listings of more expensive homes. Very few million dollar homes are listed with agents that only have a track record of $100,000 properties. It's not much more money to sell higher priced listings so why would an experienced agent want to spend their time selling at the bottom of the market when a small amount of investment could lead to much less work and more return? Agents just getting started can also benefit by out-marketing the competition that may be complacent with the way they have always done business.

    Agents thinking they can buy the same gear as the professionals and get the same results aren't thinking things through. Money can buy a novice musician a Stradivarius violin, but it doesn't make that musician a professional, they are just the owner of a Stradivarius. Interior photography is a very difficult from a technical standpoint to get good results. It might be hard for an agent to justify the time, effort and money it takes to become and stay competent in the process. It is usually better for them to work on bringing in new listings and building an internal and external team to take care of the details.

  2. To me one of the big advantages of an agent hiring a professional photographer is it presents a more professional image of them as a marketing specialist to the sellers (and other potential future referrals they may bring).

    If I’m paying an agent a good commission to sell my home it just seems kind of amateurish of them to take the pictures themselves. I get that it’s cheaper and the agent may enjoy being a photographer and take great pictures – that’s not my point.

    Personally I am more likely to refer an agent who says “I’ll arrange a time for my photographer” rather than one who pulls out their point and shoot (or heaven forbid, their cell phone).

  3. @Ken...While true the math doesn't net much from the higher selling price, but it is typically the multiple offer situation that generates it with the call to all parties for "highest and best" offer - and hopefully the appraisal supports it. That is a good position to be in considering the alternative - no excitement finds one straggling low baller 'willing' to take (steal) the house.

    As a Realtor, I typically prospect expired listing and highlight the trashy photos and lack of tour/video calling into question the former agent's marketing and further raising the question of where else the cut corners that you can't see. May seem harsh to be that blunt, but the owners are already upset it didn't sell and guess who they are blaming. It becomes a reality confirmation.

    While that has been with brochures, mailings, and other methods, I have come very close to creating a video to reinforce the message. I have actually practiced the script as a speech in Toastmasters which was very well received. Essentially, take the cord "commission" and abolish it (exploding graphic) and call it what it is - the seller's marketing budget and raise the question of how well the agent they hire is managing that budget. Support the theme with major firms that everyone has heard of, such as WalMart, that presumably doesn't need to advertise yet has a Sunday ad, etc because they know the value of marketing. As with any speechwriting, you have to put humor in it to hold audience, so incorporate humor as well - which looks more appealing WalMarts dog food picture or this (trashy) picture of a $200k home someone is trying to sell.

    Part of the rational for the above is that people micro-focus on commission - even dictate it in the listing appointment. On some occasions I simply walk, on others I may take it if it has a high probability of generating leads. The most amazing is when prospecting For Sale By Owners who are in it to 'save' commission. I don't engage them on that, I just ask them what their marketing budget is. The blank stare is amazing.

  4. Its the impression that make the difference. Go anywhere, and look at the marketing being done by almost anybody. There is always photographs! Its the photographs that attracts the looks, that cause attention that makes the property look interesting. The better the images the better the impression, the more looks, more interest means faster sells, a higher price, just better everything; and the agent gets all the blame and a reputation for being able to sell houses. The photographer gets more work cause he or she can provide house selling photography. They both win!

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