20 Seconds is All it Takes

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

WSJ_Graph_1

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 aWSJ_Graph_2 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. Redfin_Infographic-good-photos_21813According 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)

 

The DSLR Advantage for Real Estate

For a while now I’ve been on the hunt for some research data that backed up my contention that professionally photographed properties sold faster than those taken by a realtor or other non-professional photographer.  Well I finally found some.  And as more fuel to my hypothesis , it also indicates that the homes shot professionally sold for more money.  Now this article doesn’t get into what else is involved when a professional shoots a property.  This article contends that it’s the “DSLR Advantage”  and while I agree there is significantly more involved when a professional photographs a home.  Yes there is the camera.  But just because you own a DSLR doesn’t mean your images are automatically better.   What this article doesn’t say is that it’s not just the camera.  Lens choice, composition, and lighting all contribute to a better image.  Not to mention years of experience and hundreds if not thousands of houses shot by the photographer all contribute to better images.  Then there’s software and processing the images so they look as good as possible.  There is no way a realtor or assistant is going to spend as much time (OK any time) trying to make the images look as good as possible.  They have better things to do.  This is why as realtor it pays to hire a professional photographer to bring you better images.  Remember, better images don’t just make the property look good, they make you look good too.

I’d like to thank WideIPhoto for finding and initially posting this article.

 

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, December 04, 2013   REDFIN.COM

Professionally photographed homes tend to sell for more money and sell faster than homes listed with point-and-shoot cameras, according to a new study by the real estate brokerage Redfin.

The study found that homes priced between $200,000 and $1 million sold for an average of $3,400 to $11,200 more than their list prices when professionally photographed than homes with amateur photos. For homes priced between $400,000 and $499,999, the study found that homes professionally photographed sold for $11,200 more.

In an analysis of 22 markets, the Redfin study evaluated the sales success of homes shot professionally with a digital single-lens reflex camera versus homes shot with amateur, point-and-shoot cameras. The study evaluated homes priced between $200,000 and $1 million.

The study also found that homes that were professionally photographed also tended to sell faster. For instance, homes in the $400,000 range that were professionally photographed sold 21 days faster than those photographed with point-and-shoot cameras.

 Image

Source: Redfin

As The Wall Street Journal reports today, “listings with nicer photos gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076.” The graph clearly shows that you are likely to receive thousands more if you list your home using DSLR photography than if you used a simple point-n-shoot camera to take the photos yourself.

Since the price of a DSLR camera (anywhere from $500 to $5,000+) is generally out of the price range of your average hobbyist, let us assume that photos shot with DSLR cameras are shot by professionals. Since professional photos could net you thousands more on the sale of your home, it stands to reason that spending the $100 – $500 on professional photos is a worthy investment of your marketing dollars.

Given this obvious upside, it is shocking that only 15.4% of homes in our data set were marketed using professional photography. The majority of listings, 80.9%, were photographed using point-n-shoot photography, and still another 0.7% used just a camera phone. Let’s not mince words: If you are not using professional photography to market your home, you are not really marketing your home.

A few more interesting tidbits that came from our analyses:

Homes shot with a DSLR camera:

  • Receive an average of 61% more views than their peers across all price tiers.

  • Have a 47% higher asking price per square foot.

  • Have an increased likelihood of selling for homes priced above $300,000.

So, what does this all mean to someone selling their home?

Invest in nice listing photos. A professional-looking photo can dramatically increases the likelihood that a potential buyer will click through to view your listing and drives more buyers to tour your home. Ultimately, the more people interested in your house, the better your chance of receiving an attractive offer. A photo really can be worth a thousand dollars.

 

‘Twas the Day/Night Before

Haven’t blogged in a couple of days.  Not a whole log going on.  Finalizing accounting for the year.  Trying to get some sort of game plan together for 2014.  I really need to step-up my game next year.  I fully realize that I’m going to have to be much more aggressive in my marketing and try even harder to separate myself from the masses.  Not quite sure how but it has to happen.  Next year marks 3 years I’ve been doing this as my sole income.  While not quite unsuccessful, I really need to be more successful.  The real estate market is doing much better and I really hope to increase the number of shoots I do 2014.  But I do need to find other sources of income.  I am really going to push the architectural aspect.  I’m sure there is a little confusion when I say that.  Most people would be asking, “Aren’t real estate and architecture the same thing?”  Well not really.  Over the past year or so I’ve come to some really profound realizations regarding the delineation between the two.  First is to understand that for realtors the images are just another tool.  One that they aren’t going to care about after the property is sold.  Secondly realtors don’t really care about how good your images are.  As long as they are better than they can take with their point and shoot that’s all that matters.  Thirdly because the initial cost comes out of their pocket, they don’t want to spend a lot of money.  I’ve done some research on this and the national average price for a real estate shoot is $300.  That is for 20-25 images.  When you break this down to a per image price it is $12-$15.  Remember that’s for unlimited usage.  Which usually includes, MLS, Realtors website, print brochures, and God knows what else.  As for architectural.  These are typically for portfolios, advertising, magazine spreads.  These images will be used for years by the architect, builder, or designer.  A much different area.  As a photographer you get to spread your creative wings a little and can really craft an image.  These clients are considerably more discerning when it comes to the quality of image they want.  This is where you can really show off your talents as a photographer and create that special image.  These clients are also willing to pay for that creativity.  I would really love the opportunity to spend several days photographing a property.  Waiting for the light to be just right in each room.  With real estate you never get that opportunity.  Because of the cost limitations you can’t afford to scout the property and wait for the right time of day to shoot each room and spend all day at the property.  Personally I like to limit my on-site time to no more than 3 hours when doing a real estate shoot.  This way I can get  two done in a day when I have to.

Well here’s to a great 2014.  Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!!

Westtown Demo_V2I’ll leave you with the Holiday ad I did for Westtown Township.

A Picture is worth………

In this case a little more than a million dollars.  That’s what these two images generated for the homeowner. Last Wednesday I had been asked to shoot a house for a realtor I had done some work for in the past.  When I arrived at the house I was less than impressed by the exterior. It seemed a little smaller than the type of homes this realtor normally has me shoot.  The realtor arrived shortly after I did and we spoke a bit before going in.  Her words to me were “It doesn’t have much curb appeal but what ’til you see the interior.  I’ve had a really hard time getting people in the door.  They just don’t believe that it’s as beautiful as I say it is.”  Wow.  Was she right.  From the front it looks like a rather plain, two story home.  Talk about not judging a book by it’s cover.   Turns out this is a huge 5 bedroom, 3 and a half bath home.  The owners had moved out and the entire home was staged for showing.  Really, really nicely done.   did what I do and got some really nice shots of the house.  When I was done the realtor begged me to turn the images around as quickly as possible.  I told her that I had two jobs in front of hers but would do my best to get them to her by Friday.  She said that would be “Awesome”  Well by the time I got home I had a text message from her begging me to get her something by the following day.  Long story made tolerable, I sent these two images the next evening. ( I was in Atlantic City all day Thursday but that’s another post)  I delivered the remainder of the images Friday afternoon as promised.  By Saturday afternoon the property was under contract.  Turns out she didn’t even need the remaining shots.

This is a great example as to why realtors should invest in high quality photography.  On the market less than 2 weeks and sold for just 10% below asking price.  The real estate market has made some drastic changes over the past few years.  Where it used to be you would drive around and your realtor would show you houses. Now everything is done on line and you tell the realtor which houses you’d like to see.  I know when Kim and I were looking at houses last year, if the images didn’t draw us in we passed it up.  As a realtor you can’t under estimate how good images can shorten listing periods, increase prices and make your life a whole lot easier.

Special thanks to Sue Fitzgerald of Prudential Fox and Roach for allowing me the opportunity to provide her with the images.

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