Good photography matters when selling your home. With most homes nowadays being listed on real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, potential buyers are getting what’s essentially their first home showing through the web. This means sellers needs high-quality real estate photos in their online listings to create a positive first impression and attract solid offers.
To understand how real estate photography can have an impact on selling a home, we spoke with professional real estate photographers Harry Lim of Harry Lim Photography and Austin Harley of SoCo Home Photography, who shared their tips for getting great photos for real estate listings.
- Is Professional Real Estate Photography Necessary?
- Why Professional Real Estate Photos Are Better
- Professional Real Estate Photography Tips for Sellers
Is Professional Real Estate Photography Necessary?
When it comes to real estate pictures, the realtor will typically decide whether or not they want to invest in professional photography. More often than not, agents decide against hiring a professional real estate photographer. “Most agents don’t appreciate photography, and if they do, they don’t think it’s worth the expense,” said Lim, who works primarily in Orlando, Kissimmee, and other Central Florida areas.
According to Harley, the local real estate market can be a deciding factor as well. Harley, who serves both the Colorado Springs and Pueblo areas in Colorado, says it’s more likely that realtors will opt for the DIY route in smaller markets, while realtors in larger markets will opt for professional photography.
Both experts acknowledged that real estate photography pricing plays a big role. If photography costs cut into already thin margins, then they understand why realtors might forgo the professional option.
But what about the seller’s perspective? When it comes to professional real estate photography, Lim says most sellers are more concerned with getting their homes ready for home showings and ensuring their homes are listed at the price points they want. “They usually trust the agent to handle the marketing,” Lim added.
However, sellers do care about their real estate photos. “Sellers can be disappointed when their photos don’t look great,” explained Harley, who’s seen sellers switch realtors because of bad listing photos. “It isn’t common, but I have had sellers come to me on their own because they were disappointed with their photos.”
For homeowners struggling to sell a home, good property photography can be beneficial. In one particular instance, Lim provided new photos for a realtor who understood the value of quality pictures. The house in question had been on the market for eight months. With the new photos, it sold in eight days.
So is professional real estate photography necessary for selling a house? In seller’s markets or in situations where agents are able to take decent photos, no, it’s not. That said, like home staging, good real estate photos can help homeowners sell their homes faster and for more money.
Why Professional Real Estate Photos Are Better
When it comes down to it, what truly matters with real estate photography is capturing the attention of potential homebuyers and making a great impression. This is where professional photographers can edge out amateurs and DIYers. “Right when you get on a site like Zillow, your eye is drawn to houses with professional photography,” explained Lim. “They’re brighter, and they just draw you in.”
What makes real estate pictures taken by professionals so different? Harley and Lim say a professional photographer’s ability to focus on space and composition, use the proper equipment and techniques, and pay attention to detail makes their photography stand out in the online listing crowd.
Focusing on Space & Composition
“Composition is the number one thing professionals work on,” said Harley. “This is so important. You need to give an idea of what the floor plan is, how rooms connect to each other. If your pictures show a bed, a toilet, and the kitchen counter tops, the buyer has no idea how the house is laid out.”
Lim agrees: “Agents think about features, and that’s why you see close-ups of counter tops and cabinets. [Professional photographers] think about showing the space. You’ll still see the features, but you want the buyer to know that the living room is right off the kitchen and that the hallway leads to the foyer.”
Using the Right Equipment & Techniques
It isn’t uncommon for real estate agents to take property photos using their smartphones. But even if a realtor does have a high-quality camera, a wide-angle lens, and flash equipment—which Harley says are ideal—they likely don’t know the techniques for capturing photos the way a professional does.
Another thing professionals know is how to use equipment without making the home appear better than it actually is. “My goal is to capture the home like you’d see it in person,” said Lim. “If you make a space appear larger than it is, people are going to be disappointed when they actually visit the home.”
Paying Attention to Detail
Another thing you get from professional real estate photography is attention to detail. Scheduling shoots around weather is one example where experts show this. Lim, being in Florida, knows potential buyers want to see sunshine. That’s why he uses an app to determine the angle of the sun throughout the day and then schedules shoots at times when the sun will be shining on the front of the house.
Harley, a former meteorologist, says his clients rely on him to take photos during ideal conditions as well. And since Harley also offers luxury real estate photography services such as drone photos, the conditions have to be ideal. High wind, snow, and rain all mean the shoot needs to be rescheduled.
Professional attention to detail also means there aren’t silly mistakes that can ruin the impression of a home. One common mistake among amateur photographers is capturing themselves in mirrors. Of course, not all mistakes are as funny and obvious. Some make a big difference in how the home is showcased. For example, leaving doors shut prevents buyers from seeing how the space flows together, and not opening the blinds or turning the lights on means buyers can’t see how much light there is.
Professional Real Estate Photography Tips for Sellers
If you’re preparing to sell your home and you’re considering professional photos of your property, there are a few things that Harley and Lim recommend.
Interview Multiple Realtors
Harley says he’s amazed at how rare it is for sellers to interview multiple real estate agents. “It’s not very common. Usually, someone just goes with the first person they meet or hires a friend.”
But if you want your house to sell fast and for top dollar, that’s a big mistake. “After you talk with a few agents, the good ones will quickly separate themselves from the bad ones,” added Harley.
Check Out the Agent’s Listings
If you’re thinking about hiring a realtor, one of the simple things you can do is look at their listings. This is something both Lim and Harley recommend. You’ll quickly be able to tell if the agent you’re interested in is investing in professional real estate photography or doing it themselves.
“Go look at the listings or interview the agent [and ask] about how they’re going to market the property,” Lim suggested. “If they don’t mention photography, think twice about hiring them. You’re trusting them to sell a property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They’re the spokesperson for your house, and they need to represent it the right way.”
Remove Clutter from Your Home
The first response from both experts when asked about mistakes they see in photos is too much clutter. No matter how great the photographer is, they can’t make clutter disappear. This is the responsibility of the agent and the seller. “You need to get your home down to the bare-bone essentials,” said Harley.
Homes don’t just sell themselves. Great marketing, including great photography, is important. When it comes to real estate photos, it’s best to make sure your real estate agent is someone who understands the marketing side of selling a home and is committed to professional photography.
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