I've had a number of discussions recently on what the trends are in real estate marketing.
Rob in Boston asked:
Is there any unbiased information of some trends happening in real estate photography? In other words, is there a paradigm shift - moving away from stills and doing more video? Conversely, keeping stills and using 3D technology such as Goiguide or Matterport?
My biggest client invited me to speak to her team and she wants to make sure she is not missing the boat on some real estate photography trends.
Also last week I was in San Francisco and was able to have dinner with Scott Hargis and Wayne Capili. We spent some time talking about real estate marketing trends. Here is my thinking on the current trends in real estate marketing:
- Trends are very geographic (that is trends may not be the same everywhere):
- Australia is twice as interested in real estate photography as Canada and the US is significantly behind Canada. The EU doesn't even show up on this scale because of the language differences. Also, UK doesn't show up because they call it property photography or estate photography. See google.com/trends.
- Within the US, 8 states show the most interest in real estate photography see google.com/trends.
- Even within these countries and states, real estate photography popularity is focused in the large cities.
- Local trends are driven by top Realtors in an area because other agents are watching what they do and copying them.
- Drones: the ability to get views of property that you can't get any other way is significant and making a drone essential for most real estate photographers.
- Matterport: Matterport images are very popular and expanding in many upper-end markets. In some areas, Matterport isn't paying for itself. I predict that there will soon be Matterport alternatives that are less expensive.
- Moore's Law effect on photography: Many professionals are moving away from traditional DSLRs because of the reduced size. Moore's law will continue to drive this trend. Eventually, camera software will start to even replace lenses. We see a hint of this starting to happen in the iPhone 7 portrait mode.
- Mobile device usage (SmartPhones and Tablets): The world is rapidly transitioning to mobile devices. All listing viewing will soon ONLY be done on mobile devices. We may be 50-60% there already. Adobe is working hard on moving Lightroom to mobile devices. Wayne Capili (click the photo on this post) already makes extensive use of LR mobile features.
- Video: Video usage continues to expand modestly but property video is somewhat constrained by the fact that it is hard or impossible to use good quality video on many MLSs and sites like Zillow. Many agents don't understand how to use quality property video effectively on social media. Property video is also constrained by the fact that it is many times harder to produce great video than it is to produce stills.
- Floorplans: Floorplan usage is expanding but still constrained by the amount of work/expense it takes to create a good floorplan.
- 360 Images and VR: It's much cheaper to create 360 images these days than it used to be but the demand isn't huge. Many buyers don't even like it. I doubt that VR will ever be significant for viewing listings. Property video is much more effective. To clarify, when I refer to VR it means using some extra device like the cardboard thing you can get at the NYTimes site. If you don't need anything but your smartphone or tablet, it's just a 360 image.
- Virtual Staging: As Dave points out I forgot this one initially. Many listings are empty and every listing agent is going want some of their listings virtually staged. I see more and more top real estate photographer doing virtual staging. It is clearly on the increase!
I'm sure many others have ideas about these trends or others that I many have missed. Let's hear them.