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What Are Your Terms and Conditions For Real Estate Photography Payment?

Published: 20/11/2015
By: larry

TOSDavid in San Diego asks:

Can you tell me what verbiage I should use in my Terms of Service statement regarding payment from the agent?

We had a good discussion on this topic back in August of this year. As you can see the PFRE community is split between insisting on payment at the shoot and sending an invoice with something like Freshbooks or PayPal or SquareUp requesting payment within 30 days.

Payment within 30 days is pretty standard practice in business, but many report having difficulties getting agents to pay on time.

I recommend being set up to both take credit cards at the shoot and being able to send out an invoice that agents can pay with a credit card. If you have both of these methods you should be covered.

A great way to do both is It allows you to either swipe credit cards or send invoices that allow clients to pay via a link on the invoice and has one of the lowest processing fees around. Currently, only works in the US.

17 comments on “What Are Your Terms and Conditions For Real Estate Photography Payment?”

  1. I'm one of those "payment due at time of shoot" guys, but sometimes clients either don't have their checkbooks or the credit card they want to use.
    I'll carry my customers for a couple weeks (three at the most) before I send a "friendly reminder".

    For the most part though, I'm paid at the time of the shoot.
    I trained them right! lol

  2. I've used Square for years now and it works great. I used to swipe CC onsite, but once they added email invoicing, I've not had to swipe a single CC. I simply email my clients an invoice right after I email their photos via DropBox link. I mark the invoice "due upon receipt." Most of my clients pay the invoice online with CC that same day, some within minutes. I have a few that aren't so quick to pay so I simply send an "invoice reminder" every week. I rarely have to send a second reminder.

    I also just noticed last night that Square added a checkbox on the invoice to allow the client to save their CC information with Square, allowing me to simply bill their CC automatically and not even have to email an invoice. I'd still send the invoice for their own records, but I know some of my clients will love this new feature.

  3. I only accept checks or cash on the day of the shoot. I have two credit card processing things but I decided not to offer it because I didn't want to pay the % charge and fee. I could go on a vacation, or buy more camera gear, with the fees i'd have to pay. With checks there is no fee. I've only had a few complaints about this... some do prefer to pay with a credit card... but still paid with a check. In the five years I've only had two bank returned checks and they immediately sent me new checks with the fees my bank charged me. Personally I do not believe it increases business.

  4. I take payment at the shoot by check or cash. I will also take PayPal. I've had issues with agents not paying on time and needing to be reminded several times that their account is past due before they would pay. I have a couple of clients that I will allow to pay a few days after a job if they will not be able to meet me at the home.

    I prefer PayPal over Square. PayPal charges 2.7% for swiped transactions as opposed to Square's 2.75%. Square states that it takes 2 days to transfer money to your bank account and with PayPal, the funds are available immediately via a PayPal debit card. Transfers from PayPal account to my bank takes 2-3 business days.

    Net 30 days is standard for many business that extend credit but only a handful of RE agents operate as a professional business. Most of the ones I deal with treat RE as more of a hobby. My worst problems have been with agents in the top 5% of sales for the area. I'd suggest being very careful about offering credit to RE agents until a solid relationship is established and there is a chance to gauge how professional the agent is. It's easier to carry an entire office as there is somebody that takes care of accounting, and especially AP, on a regular basis.

  5. I prefer payment in a check. I never have been paid in cash. I also prefer payment when I deliver the photos via drop box, but about 1/3 of my clients pay at the end of the photo shoot. I've had to chase down 3 agents for payment with one of those three agents just a total whack job! I'll spare the details but 8 weeks later I received my check. I also send a friendly weekly reminder until I receive payment.

    If an agent is 20 days overdue and I've been very polite in my emails requesting payment- even whimsical in my emails noting that "...I have starving kids and they need new shoes..." I sometimes forward the email thread to the broker or manager as documentation noting my attempts to collect payment. More times than not that usually elicits prompt payment and what appears to sound like a sincere email apology from the delinquent agent for being late with some lame excuse like they ran out of checks or something. Anyway, my two cents.

  6. Hello everyone. I've been at this for 3 years FT now and I get paid up front before the shoot to confirm their appt. After awhile some I'll give them 1 week terms but for any new clients especially I recieve payments when I send them invoice 1 day prior to conform appt. Plus I also use Square and I'm in Canada. There has only been 1 time I gave a agent 1 week to pay which then turned into 5 weeks and he only paid after I turned off the VT.

  7. 99% of my clients pay at the time of the shoot, cash, check, or credit card (Square). For credit cards I charge a small service fee to split the cost. It's completely worth it to me to pay a small fee to Square in order to have it done and over with, rather than trying to track down a flaky agent.

    I've done hundreds of shoots this year and, so far, my Square fees total about $500. So that's a very, very small percentage that goes to those type of fees. Totally worth it for peace of mind.

  8. I got tired of waiting for the check in the mail from too many clients. I will accept cash check or credit card payment at the time of the shoot. Here's what works best for me now. When my images have been processed, I send the client an invoice via PayPal that says due upon receipt. On this invoice it says something like this... "Your images are ready! Please pay from this invoice and you will receive a link on how to download your images. " i've had no problems collecting my fees this way. the clients are alway anxious to receive their images.

  9. Typically I get a check when I deliver. Some, when I drop off the dvd's and they are not in the office mail a check within a week. I have never had to chase down a late payment, guess that's an advantage of living in a small town.

  10. I require a small non-refundable deposit, this is to cover my cost for showing up and once work is completed, I send over a watermarked proof and then invoice them for the remainder with square by email.

  11. I've only been shooting houses for about 3/4 of a year. All billing has w/ PayPal invoices that I email right after delivering the files. Agents seem quite happy with this method of billing. Most payments come back in less than 2 days. I've never had to wait a week. This could be ignorance speaking, but it seems to me that collecting payment upfront for a product that includes a service is sort of backwards... Like paying upfront at a nice restaurant. I have zero fear that I'll get burned billing in this manner: One of the strongest human emotions (and fears) is embarrassment - why would anyone risk a phone call to their managing broker from an unpaid vendor?

  12. I have been having this come up recently. It's been so ingrained in our culture that it is somehow easy to use a credit card, and I realize part of the "ease" may be that they don't have the cash or money in the bank at the time of payment. But....

    I have been trying to convince clients that it is easier to pay for say 4 shoots with a single check at the end of the month, next time they see me, than it would have been to make four separate credit card payments. I don't mind waiting a bit longer until I see te client after that month's bill to get the check. It's worth it to me. But, the trouble is convincing them this is easier.

    I don't know, I had a 1000 payment come in via PayPal and paid 30 bucks in fees.

    The little businessman inside me says it is probably good business to accept credit cards, but on a more personal note the credit card companies are the last people in the world I want to be contributing my money towards. Part of owning a business is doing things your own way, so that makes me want to stick with the checks billed monthly approach.

  13. I charge at the shoot in full, cash, check or cc with an admin fee. I have not had to explain, but would, that the fee the card company charges is going to get paid by me and increase my costs, so of course I will charge an admin fee to cover it. I am not going around looking for ways to increase my costs. I have had few objections. I don't like to work with people who have trouble with the concept of payment at the shoot, and luckily I usually do not have to.

    There is no reason to be shy about collecting for your work, the realtor is not listing the home for his health, he is there for the same reason you are, to make money. It's OK to charge a fair price, and to collect when you determine the money is due. I think it is due at the shoot. All the good clients understand.

  14. I prefer payment at the time of the shoot, but this happens about 50% of the time. I guess some just ignore my email details about payment. Some do forget their checkbooks, some simply don't or won't pay on location. It seems that they want a finished product first or maybe don't want to conduct business in front of their clients. Either way I get paid. Today for example I had two shoots. One paid on site with a card, the other simply said thank you. I'll have a check from here in a few days.

    I do use and love Square. I take credit cards on location and also send invoices from the office. My standard method if I don;t get paid on site is to send an invoice with the photos, followed up with a Square invoice. After 7 days, I send a friendly invoice reminder from Square. From there I send Past due reminders every 7 days with a follow-up email or phone call. It rarely goes past 2 weeks, but I currently have an agent that I've only worked with once, not pay for a month now. No responses to email or anything. Next step, talk to her broker!

  15. I don't think anyone has mentioned Square Cash, which is separate from the regular Square. If the client has a debit card you can send them a payment link and they can pay you within seconds. The money is deposited into your bank account with no delay.

    After I spent a couple weeks chasing down agents who "forget" to send a check, there's no way that I do a job without getting paid on the spot, unless they're established and I've worked with them a lot.

    I've only been screwed over once, but it wasn't a RE gig. It was some guy who builds custom wood pieces like bars for recreation rooms. He simply didn't pay me and then mocked and taunted me in email when I pressed him for payment. I finally gave up. $500, live and learn.

  16. I had a recent client who paid me 5 weeks late on the first job I did for her. On the second job, she is now 6 weeks late on a $500 payment. After numerous reminder emails and a phone call, I finally sent her an additional invoice for a $25 late fee. She is upset and seems to be blaming me for something, ... not exactly sure...I think for bad business practice.

    Does anyone else charge late fees?

  17. @Trevor - There's nothing wrong with having a late fee, many real estate photographers do that, but it's important to specify the terms up front so it's not a surprise.

    I'd suggest that you take the time and effort to talk to you client and find out what she doesn't like... some one like that, that is upset about something can turn everyone in her office against you.

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