While I find myself in the busiest season I’ve yet to face, I’ve managed to find the time to do a little research. This research is regarding the value of professional photography for the real estate industry. I’ve put this together to emphasize what bringing a professional photographer to the table can mean for a realtor. More importantly how embracing the photographer as more of partner or asset can increase the profitability for any realtor.
First some facts.
According to the website RE Source 90% of buyers look on-line before they even contact a realtor. In the same article they state that 88% of those people prefer professional images. Having professional images of a property is becoming essential. But less than 15% of all listings use professional photographs. This according to the Wall Street Journal
20 seconds In a Wall Street Journal article from March of 2013 it is reported that 95% of home buyers looking on line spent 20 seconds looking at the “Hero” or main exterior photograph. That’s out of a total of 56 seconds spent on all of the images. According to Professor Michael Seller, Founder and Director of the Institute for Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate at Old Dominion University, “Without an eye-catching photo, the battle is lost before it begins.” He goes on to say, “You have to grab peoples’s attention within 2 seconds.” 2 seconds! It’s not a lot of time. So ask yourself, “Are my images that I take with my iPhone compelling enough to grab people and have them continue looking at the listing?”
So out of the total amount of time looking at a listing your potential buyer spends 60% of their time looking at the photos, 20% of their time looking at the property description and the remaining 20% on the realtor’s remarks. (These stats taken from the same WSJ article from March 2013) So if we do a little math that means; 56 seconds on photos. 18.5 seconds on the property description and another 18.5 seconds on the realtor’s remarks. Not a lot of time on those wonderful few paragraphs that you’ve slaved hours over is it? Based on these statistics the best place for you to spend your marketing dollars is not in the hours spent trying to come with adjectives and superlatives to describe the property. It’s in the planning and preparation for the images.
I know. At this point you’re asking what’s the bottom line? Let’s break down the numbers. According to on-line resource Redfin it could mean $934 to almost $19,000 more for your listing depending on the price range the property falls into. Which means as a realtor more dollars in your pocket. In addition listings with professional images garnered 61% more views. How’s that for increasing the odds? Additional research provided by Brick House Visuals and Los Angeles area MLS indicate that homes in that area sold on average 26 days faster when professional images were used. Putting it all together, that means you sell more houses for more money in the course of year. All by simply investing in professional images of the property.
The Cost But Jim it’s SOOOOOO expensive to hire a professional photographer. Well let’s just call BS on that right here and now. The national average for bringing in a professional photographer is $300 (Based on 2011 polling). I know for a lot of realtors this comes out of your pocket initially and it can seem like a lot of money. But let’s look at this in dollars and cents. Based on the median price of a home in the U.S. the average commission is $6668. So the $300 that your professional photographer cost you is a mere 4.5% of that and overall less than 0.1% of the value of the home. That’s not a typo. Less than one-tenth of a percent of the value of the home. But if this allows you to sell 2,3,4 or more homes a year your overall income has increased. Substantially.
There are additional benefits that go beyond the sale of the home. The biggest of these is the perception potential future clients will have of you as being more professional and willing to take the additional steps to get their property sold. As a realtor you drive home how important “curb appeal” is to the homeowner. It’s your responsibility as the realtor for the “web appeal”. You are the one responsible for the on-line presence of the property. Remember that 2 seconds we spoke about earlier? Now think about the property that you just took photos of with your iPhone competing against someone else who has taken the added step of hiring a professional photographer. Still think your iPhone pictures cut it?
Well I have a DSLR Great and you probably take some awesome vacation photos. But just having a DSLR isn’t enough. A professional photographer can make your life as a realtor considerably easier. First off unless you’ve spent years photographing your own listings you’re not going to have shot anywhere near the number of homes a real estate/architectural photographer has. Most real estate photographers have hundreds if not thousands of homes under their belt before you engage their services. Secondly. The photographer brings his/her artistic eye to the game. Yes real estate and architectural photography is very technical but you have to have an eye for composition and lighting that only experience can bring. Speaking of lighting that brings us to the third part. The gear. Most photographers have thousands and thousands of dollars invested in equipment and lighting. Special lenses. Special lights. The stands, gels, modifiers and other assorted items required for professional photography. (Personally I come to a shoot carrying about $10000 worth of cameras and equipment. Some people I know have way more invested.) Not to mention the hundreds of hours working with that gear and learning it inside and out. The final factor is the darkroom (now Photoshop) skills to make your property look like it was lifted right out of any architectural or lifestyle magazine. Here again the photographer has spent hundreds of hours learning and perfecting those skills through training and repetition. Now as a realtor with a DSLR can you bring all of this to bear on your photography? Not to mention the time. Probably not. I know there is the rare exception but isn’t better to leave it to the professional who does this day in and day out?
The Downside Is there really a downside to all of this? OK so you won’t have your images the minute you get back to the office. In most cases you can have them in 24-48 hours. 72 hours at the extreme end of things. So you might have to plan ahead a little. Other than that you really can’t get a better bang for your marketing dollar that professional photography can bring you. You get better quality images, faster sales, higher prices, the time to concentrate on selling the property and developing new leads and a better professional representation which leads to more and better listings. All of this when you engage and partner with a professional photographer. So what are you waiting for?
NEXT TIME: Making it Happen (The Photo Shoot that is)