Suppose you were in the market to buy a home, would you look on the internet or at ads in a real estate magazine? Probably both … each of which requires photographic images. The difference is that high-end real estate magazines require professional photography, while most agents offer their sellers photos taken from cellphone cameras or point and click digitals.
Let’s be honest, of the 2,000 or so agents in our MLS, only one produces the very best images and the rest of us rank somewhere between 2nd and 2,000. But none of us will have the equipment, knowledge or eye of a professional photographer … and therefore not likely to produce the quality of images that they can.
The fortunate few sellers with outstanding photos of their property will have the best chance of making the buyer agent’s “show list” providing the property is priced right.
We upload images to our MLS without appreciating that there are more than 6,000 active listings many with 25 images all competing for the attention of buyers and buyer agents. Buyers are viewing them via Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Yahoo, Intracoastal, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker Seacoast Advantage, Century 21 Sweyer & Associates, Keller Williams, Blue Coast Properties, etc. … and accessible from any computer or cellphone on the planet.
When buyer agents and their clients scour the internet in search of the perfect house, they use the one-flaw-delete method to turn their “search results list” to the “show list”. If your listing doesn’t make this cut, your client’s home isn’t shown. At this critical stage it is not the house itself they are eliminating, but your images of the house.
Read carefully – Your listing may not be shown because of the first image. It must load quickly (sized 640-480) and get their attention. And if the first image makes the cut, will the following images maintain their interest? The photographic images are the essence of our marketing efforts, and almost as important as pricing in attracting a showing.
George Zhouf, a professional real estate photographer with ProRealtyPix, recently said that “Agents are far more limited in taking interior photos due to light conditions and their equipment limitations.” He recommends that agents who are serious about providing great photos have a digital single lens reflex camera with a wide angle lens, a substantial snap on flash attachment, a flash diffuser, and a sturdy tripod. Otherwise, your client is better served by a professional who can produce top notch results.
Zhouf also advised agents to provide larger images (1700 pixels wide for visual tour display and websites) that can fill the entire screen of a large TV or computer monitor. You will have to compress these images for MLS display and internet feeds to 640-480 pixels for fast loading. We have all experienced another agent’s MLS photos that load slowly … they are usually skipped, and no showing occurs. Be sure to check the loading speed of your listings.
Outstanding architectural images begin with preparing the site for the shoot. Get Zhouf’s checklist at http://www.PrepHome.info and hand it to the sellers right after they decide to hire you to list their home so neither you or your photographer will have to waste time hiding stuff from the camera.
Exteriors photos should be shot on fair weather days while the sun illuminates the front elevation. East facing properties should be shot before noon, west facing ones in afternoon, South anytime and North when the sun is less a factor, according to Zhouf. Use Google Maps or your phone or car GPS to determine site orientation.
Digital photography allows you to take lots of shots, so take them. Capture the joy of living there, not just an inanimate structure. If there are vistas, bodies of water, gardens, natural areas, sunsets, and neighborhood amenities add them to your list of shots. In some cases an aerial view may be desirable. And if you need to come back when the light is better … do it.
Interior photography without a wide angle lens will not do the property justice. With a wide-angle lens, shoot from the corners of the room and keep the camera level to minimize distortion. If you need to take in an object lower in the frame, stoop down rather than point the camera downward.
The biggest challenge for amateurs is how to deal with natural light that enters through windows and doors to overpower the interior features. Shooting early or late in the day can help, or on cloudy and overcast days. Turn on all interior lights and use a stronger flash unit that bounces light off the ceiling is another way to counter exterior light.
You can also shoot with the exterior light (keeping it behind you) …so that it is helping you light up the room rather than competing with interior light sources. Make sure that the “white balance” on your camera is turned to auto. A tripod is also important because as you reduce exterior light the shutter speed will slow down so the camera can gather enough light to capture the details … this means more chance of camera movement and less sharp pictures. Keep things still with a sturdy tripod.
These are tips that will improve your pictures, but they will by no means make them competitive with professional photography. A better use of your time is to hire a professional photographer (for fine home listings) and you guide him/her as to what shots should be taken for your marketing strategy.
Written by Bob Jamieson, Managing
oker with Living Seaside Realty Group
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