Spending a few extra dollars on a better photography can potentially mean thousands extra on the sale of your home!

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a real estate professional or a homeowner looking to have a professional real estate photographer take photos of your listing or residence. When you are looking to have professional photography taken of your home or listing, you want it to look good. Not just OK or even “good enough.” You want it to look truly GREAT. This is why you will need a truly outstanding real estate photographer.

As real estate is almost always the most valuable piece of property for any individual, selling your home or listing for top dollar is often critical. Services like home staging have become a multi-billion dollar industry for good reason! It has been proven time and again that professional home staging leads to higher sales prices and less time on the market–and home sellers have started to realize that and see the value in paying a couple thousand dollars for staging their homes to yield an often substantial return on their investment when it comes to selling a home. In a similar vein, one will need fantastic photos to enter into MLS when listing their most valuable piece of property!

Real estate photography is often one of the most under-valued types of photography–often with consequences that could end up costing homeowners thousands of dollars. How? Let me explain. When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they enlist the services of a real estate professional. Often times the real estate professional that is hired is a friend or acquaintance. Perhaps from church, poker club, the kid’s soccer team or something like that. The real estate professional seems like a genuinely decent person with good intentions, and a pleasant disposition, and so they git the listing without much, if any competition from other real estate individuals in the form of interviewing. This individual then takes responsibility for the sole marketing of the home–including real estate photography services. Unfortunately, the home is not in the premium or “luxury” section of the market, so the real estate professional’s commission will only be about $1,500–maybe less after brokerage fees and taxes. So when they look for a photographer to take pictures of their listing, they hire the individual who is the cheapest. Makes, sense, right? I mean they are a professional real estate photographer just like the rest of them, correct? Unfortunately, almost always no. The real estate photographers charging the least are typically the hungriest real estate photographers. They usually do not feel very confident in the abilities yet, and thus charge accordingly. They may go into a listing, using a single hot-shoe mounted flash, shoot a few photos of each room, then go back to their computer, do a few touch-ups to blemishes, remove their reflections from the mirrors and insert a couple of artificial fires into the fireplaces, then shoot the edited JPGs to the real estate professional. A few hours of work, and they made $80 or so. Not bad! But wait! The photos, while level and took using “professional-grade” camera equipment, seem somehow OFF. What gives? Well the answer lies in that quick turnaround time, and the entire photography technique. See, real estate photography is NOT portrait, wildlife, sports or even landscape photography. It is a very different animal. The single exposure that the photographer in question took of each angle is almost never the best technique when it comes to real estate photography. The single hot-shoe mounted flash cast extremely harsh, unflattering shadows that look unnatural to the eye, and the exterior visible through the windows is blown-out or under-exposed. The listing then goes into MLS, where the photography is the first thing a potential homeowner sees when selecting the homes that they deem worthy of their time to view. But since the photos are marginal, they don’t think the home makes their top-10, and they move on to the next listing. “Clearly the home isn’t even worth paying for an outstanding real estate photographer–so it isn’t worth my time either,” they home buyer thinks.

So what does an outstanding real estate photographer do differently? Well that varies from photographer to photographer. But the two common items between them are their passion and desire to take better photos, and they take their time. An outstanding real estate photographer will almost always use either a very complex array of flashes, or in my particular case natural light coupled with multiple exposures. This practice allows the photographer to get the final photos to display the views through the windows, show details in otherwise dark areas and get the color balance just right. Little things as well, such as waiting just a few more moments for the lighting to change just ever so much, removing a cup full of toothbrushes and making sure that all of the lights are on in a flattering way. Framing the shot in a way that gives a room an airy, open feel that is inviting and gives a sense of home-and not just at a head-on angle. These are the kinds of things that make an outstanding real estate photographer.

Sure, everyone has to start somewhere, and we all (hopefully) learn and improve from our mistakes and grow. But I just can’t believe that someone would trust the sale of their most valuable possession to an amateur photographer in order to save what is often less than one hundred dollars. THAT’S INSANE! If you are the homeowner and your real estate professional hires a photographer that does a less-than-stellar job on the photography, I suggest you hire a better one to re-take them yourself! Request that that replace the photos in MLS and convey to them the importance of marketing the sale of your home in a professional way–and that this isn’t just a paycheck for them–it is the sale of your most valuable asset! After all, just one more potential buyer could incite a bidding war over your home, and end up returning thousands of dollars to your pocket!

Harrison Koch has been doing professional real estate photography for over 9 years now, and has hundreds of satisfied clients in Tucson, AZ. His technique and style are unique to him, and can give your home or listing the professional edge it needs to stand out from a crowd in MLS. You may reach him at (520) 309-8658 or via email using the Contact Us page.

Remember, most people make up their minds about a listing in the first SIX SECONDS!  Why would you mar that potentially invaluable opportunity with marginal photos?!