Jason recently posed the question:
I am trying to find a sample 'terms and conditions' and a 'contract' to offer agents. I have seen a couple of posts you have previously added, but the web links are now dead. The old podcast you recommend has also gone. Can you help at all?
We've discussed the various components of a real estate photographer's terms of service and it's clear that there are many of areas that depend on your personal approach and the kind of agents that your deal with. I doubt there is a Terms Of Service statement that will work great for everyone. So I summarized the major components and the various issues that arise with each below.
The parts of a TOS statement are as follows:
- Payment Policy: Many get payment up front and accept credit cards at the shoot and as you trust the client to pay their bills on time you can invoice them when the photos are delivered.
- Cancelation Policy: You're always going to have a few agents that will want to change or cancel a shoot at the last minute. You should state up front what your limit is and what you charge if they go over the limit.
- Extra travel charge Policy: How far are you willing to drive for the average shoot? And what do you charge to go outside of your normal area. This is likely to vary a widely or not be an issue at all depending on if you are in a large metro area or more of a rural area.
- Photo Delivery Policy: Most real estate photographers don't commit to deliver photos faster than 24 hours. Even though you commit to 24 hours you can still deliver faster. A few commit to longer than 24 hours. Also, the number of photos you deliver, is a controversial issue.
- Home Preparation Policy: Having the home prepared for the shoot is frequently a big issue. You should supply a handout that defines what ready to shoot means. Also, you should specify up front what happens if you show up for the shoot and the home is a disaster. Sooner or later it will happen. This happens regularly with rental properties
- Photo Licensing Agreement: We discuss this regularly and it's a big confusing issue for many. What most do is explain up front that the photographer owns the copyright and the agent is licensed to use the photos for the duration of the listing.
In my The Business of Real Estate Photography, e-book I provide a very general TOS, a home preparation handout for agents and homeowners and a photo licensing agreement written by copyright attorney Joel Rothman who is an expert in the area of photo licensing and MLSs.