The real estate market co-exists with an ongoing pandemic, and many real estate agents (or REALTORS®) have increased their spending for a crucial marketing asset: photography. A study by HomeJab (cited by Realty BizNews) revealed that Midwestern agents amped their photo costs by 5.5 percent, while those in the west increased their photo costs by 8.7 percent.
The HomeJab study also noted that 72 percent of top listing agents (from 289 surveyed) include professional photography in each of their listings. The takeaway is obvious: photos sell homes. As more buyers are relying on websites to preview homes and sort through their options, photography has become a tool that buyers might rely on to help guide their decisions.
Does this mean all REALTORS should amp up their photography budget? Not necessarily, although many already have increased this marketing expenditure. However, REALTORS might focus on photography that is most impactful to buyers and elevates the allure of their listings.
REALTORS who are new to the industry can focus on a photo checklist to help ensure that they feature the most impactful images that buyers want when sorting through all the available listings in their market. Think beyond simply showcasing all the bedrooms and bathrooms; don’t forget these images in a photo slideshow:
- Photos of new updates/upgrades (this includes a new HVAC)
- Unique amenities
- Living spaces and features within them (like fireplaces)
- The backyard
- The front yard space
- Basement details
Aren’t These Images Obvious Choices?
REALTORS might look at the list and think that the photo choices are obvious. Why wouldn’t all these details be captured? Unfortunately, some REALTORS don’t snap enough photos, and this can leave buyers either curious or avoiding the listing.
Some REALTORS might assume that less is more for photography. However, potential buyers who stumble upon a listing that lacks images might wonder why there aren’t many photos.
Typically, foreclosures only include one or two photos. However, REALTORS don’t want to give buyers the impression the home is a foreclosure when it is not. The more photos that REALTORS can provide buyers, the better.
There also could be an assumption in the industry that if the house has a few flaws, then these images or rooms should be omitted. Flaws could be something like a stained carpet or a hot pink bedroom. Yet, buyers want as much information as possible.
As Covid hasn’t dissipated, many buyers rely on online data to help guide their buying decisions. Some potential buyers might not feel comfortable going out and viewing multiple properties. Maybe they want to focus on one or two that meet their needs.
REALTORS can use photography to better explain the home’s story. Show as much to buyers as possible.
Virtual Tours Enhance Engagement and Provide Another Visual Resource
Photos aren’t the only way that sellers can provide insight about a home. REALTORS can include a virtual tour that can be included online. This allows potential buyers to do a virtual walkthrough of the home.
These videos can be professionally designed and even include a narration to provide even more details and insight to buyers. Virtual tours take the visual understanding of a home to a new level and can be yet another tool that helps buyers to identify their future forever home.
How Photos Benefit REALTORS
Photo slideshows and virtual tours aren’t simply for the buyer’s benefit. These resources also benefit the seller and REALTORS, too. Many experienced REALTORS probably remember the industry before the age of the internet.
Buyers had to visit homes to understand their options. This meant that REALTORS were showing many homes each day. Buyers might have requested to see many different options only to decide to keep looking.
Photos help ease the search for buyers. Photos don’t just help buyers understand the house they want, but they also can help buyers sort through the homes that don’t meet their needs. Buyers can take these homes off their list and focus on the homes that catch their eye, meet their needs and are the best fit for their budget, too.
REALTORS Can Think Outside Standard Photo Options
Photo slideshows might consist of the standard images of the main rooms of the house and close-up snapshots of unique details in those rooms. Most listings also include photos of the front and back of the home.
Today’s photo options are expanding as new technology introduces other ways to photograph a home and market it, too. For example, drones offer REALTORS the ability to photograph the home from overhead. Drone photography has become popular for high-end listings. REALTORS interested in using drone photography can consult the FAQ offered by the National Association of REALTORS.
Some photos offer 360 degrees of viewing. These photos encourage interaction and engagement from buyers. Using 360 degree photos let potential buyers look around a room and gain a better understanding of the space.
Photography and Social Media
As more REALTORS are increasing their photography budget, they also might be utilizing more imagery on social media, too. While buyers are using standard industry sites like Realtor.com to look for a home, the social accounts of REALTORS also can provide a sneak peek at upcoming homes.
When teasing ‘coming soon’ listings, REALTORS could include these photos on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook. Some brokers might include listings to keep buyers engaged and aware of homes about to come on the market.
DIY Photographer or Hire a Pro?
REALTORS might wonder if they should take their own photos or hire a professional to snap those shots. This really depends on the REALTOR. Some prefer to take their own photos and are great at capturing each room in the home; they might be skilled photographers.
Others feel that a pro is the best choice to capture a home. They might not feel comfortable or confident taking their own photos of a listing.
The budget also could impact the choice. Some REALTORS have a more extensive marketing budget than others. In some cases, hiring a professional photographer could be too expensive.
The HomeJab study surveyed 289 top listing agents and found that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of them used a professional for their photos.
Don’t Forget about Content
While photos are an important component to marketing and selling a home, content still matters. Great images enhance a listing, but buyers will still want to read descriptions and details about the home.
For many buyers, the school district can be a make or break factor when selecting the ideal home. REALTORS with listings in popular and in-demand school districts should mention this.
REALTORS also know that location is key, too. Is the home located near many shops or popular sites? Note it.
Words and photos help share the story of a home. Include details and photos that make the house into the dream home for the right buyer. Include descriptions of unique features, note any historic details and include any recent updates from the owner (like new carpeting, roof or HVAC). These details can help boost the buyer’s interest.
Is it Time for a Photo Audit?
REALTORS might wonder if they are including enough photos. Maybe they need to hire a pro? Not every listing calls for the same amount of photos, and not every agent can afford to hire a professional.
Some smaller homes might simply have less to photograph. In addition, some luxury homes might include a vast photo slideshow, drone photography and even a virtual tour.
Yet, as more home buyers are using online resources to research their home options, REALTORS can help simplify their search by providing as many details and images as possible. Not only can photos improve, enhance and help ease the buyer’s search, but they also could decrease the time spent looking at homes that aren’t a great fit for that particular buyer. For REALTORS, photos that accompany online listings help buyers focus on the homes that meet their needs and spend less time visiting homes that don’t check the boxes.