Last week a Patrick asked:
Have you ever asked if real estate photographers access extra fees for removing power lines or issues not the fault of the photographer? I'd like to know what people do.
Yes, we've talked about this before (last time was back in May) but it seems to be a popular issue that many struggle with.
Let me try to sum up the state the PFRE community's thinking from past discussions on this subject:
- First of all it is not considered appropriate to modify permeant features of a property because in real estate agents are prohibited from misrepresenting a property. While technically it is the legal responsibility of the agent to not misrepresent the property some photographers have reported being sucked into the legal proceedings that arise from misrepresentation via modifying photos. So be cautious!
- What kind of modifications are considered misrepresentation? Things like removing power lines, power poles, hiding cracks in cement or changing a structure are clearly misrepresentations. Some photographers do this kind of thing but get a signed request from the agent. Here's a summary of the ethics discussion we've had over the years on this subject. There is some disagreement about whether grass and landscaping is a permeant part of the property.
- Sky replacement is the most common change that photographers get asked to do. Most real estate photographers that do photo retouching (like sky replacement) typically charge $50 to $60 USD per hour for this work.
- Many real estate photographers do basic things to retouch photos for free. Like removing the basketball hoop and tetherball from the home I shot above. Another common retouch is enhancing TV screens or adding fire to a fireplace. This kind of thing can be turned into a competitive advantage if the competition in your area doesn't do this kind of thing.
One thing I've found over the years is that most people (agents in particular) don't realize what can be done with Photoshop. Once my long time Realtor wife discovered what I could do with Photoshop, I started getting many more requests for Photoshop work. She would routinely ask me to remove wrinkles in bedspreads, add vacuum marks to rooms, move pictures on the wall, remove refrigerator clutter (photos and notes hanging on the outside of refrigerators) remove cars and garbage cans and litter boxes. My 5 year old granddaughter discovered this summer that it is impossible to opt-out of a family photo because Pop will just photoshop her in later!