With technology what it is today and what it’s going to be tomorrow- sellers have their work cut out for them when it comes to marketing their home. With websites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and more- buyers are able to look at the interior of a home directly from their phone/computer and that first impression can determine whether they have any intention on actually viewing the home in person. Knowing the impact that quality photos have and the difference between professional and amateur photographers is not only important, but essential for all sellers.
To get an idea of the importance of professional photography in real estate, we asked one of our experts, Houston Evans with Houston Evans Films, to share his thoughts on the use and perception of professional photography by real estate agents and sellers.
The Difference between Professional & Non-Professional Photography
“Buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos, and only 20% each on the listing description and agent description.” Houston says, “You have two seconds to grab the buyer’s attention without a photo, and 20 seconds with a photo. Listings with professional photographs sell 32% faster.”
When it comes down to it, that’s what truly matters. Capturing the attention of buyers, portraying the home in such a way that they want to see more- want to see it in person and making a great impression. It’s all the small things that add up to a big difference.
Houston says every home has the same composition, but the selling features differ. “I really try to focus on what the public wants to see; kitchen, master bedroom, master bath- any big selling features such as pool, maybe they have really nice kitchen cabinets, anything that sets this home apart from others.”
Good photographers strive to capture the right angles to make a home as desirable as possible. This means shooting with a tripod, shooting at the right level and using either available light or adding lighting to certain areas of the home, which will ensure that each room in the home looks extremely desirable.
No Silly Mistakes
Sellers or Agents taking their own photos tend to make little mistakes that leave a negative impression in the buyer’s mind. A common one is capturing themselves in the mirror on photos in the bathroom. Another common mistake is taking photos that include pets.
Not all are so funny and obvious, though. Other simple mistakes that make a big difference are leaving doors shut, preventing buyers from seeing how the space flows together, not turning lights on, not opening blinds or curtains to maximize natural light, and taking photos of unattractive areas of the house like a small, crowded laundry room.
The Right Equipment & Techniques
It isn’t uncommon for real estate agents to take photos using their phones or their personal digital cameras. However, they likely don’t know the techniques for capturing photos the way a professional does.
“You have to have to correct lens for real estate.” Houston says, “You’re dealing with a home that has straight, not rounded walls. Some photographers have a tendency to get a cheap wide angle lens and it looks as if you were in a fish bowl or very bad distortion causing the walls or rooms to look bigger than they actually are. Also amateurs or agents have a tendency to just use their iPhone. The iPhone takes great photos but for a home it’s not the best gear choice. [With the use of] a digital camera you’re able to go back and level the light, crop, color correction, etc. Most amateurs don't edit all their photos.”
Attention to Detail
Another thing you get from professionals is their attention to detail. Scheduling shoots around weather is one example of where Houston’s flexibility and attention to detail come into play.
Being in Arkansas, we tend to experience 2-3 types of weather in one 24 hour period. Houston excels at explaining why a certain requested day or time will not be conducive to the quality of the product we desire and works with us to schedule the pictures of a home for when it is most beneficial to all parties, including the desired product.
Real Estate Photography Tips for Sellers
1- Remove Clutter
The first response from Houston when asked about possible mistakes he sees when he arrives at an appointment- is clutter. No matter how great the photographer is, they can’t make clutter disappear. This is the responsibility of the agent and the seller. As Houston puts it, “The BEST TIP for home owners to prepare your home for photos is getting rid of everything that is personal stuff. Such as kids toys, your toiletries in the bathroom, etc. Less is always more! Get rid of all pets and evidence of a pet such as bowls, beds, etc.”
In photography, it is all about lighting and angles. A great photographer can bring out the best features of a home by mastering angles and lighting. “Every light in the home needs to be on.” Houston adds that, “the best hidden tip would have to be to change all your light bulbs to a daylight balanced WHITE bulb. Most people have the cheap yellow and it makes it really hard to have even light in the home. Also just having all the same bulbs helps. It’s not appealing to have a vanity light with 3 different bulbs.”
Hire a professional cleaning service (or do the work yourself). Baseboards, ceiling corners, mirror/appliance surfaces, walls – all the ‘little things’ we don’t normally acknowledge or think about, need to be noticed, addressed and eliminated before a photography comes in.
Your furniture might be situated in way that works for you/your family, but that doesn’t always mean that it utilizes the room in the best way. The way that the couch or a table is positioned in a room can either add to the space or end up making the room look smaller than it actually is. Which is why taking the time to make the space look bigger, more inviting, and more desirable to a potential buyer is essential.
5- Don’t forget the curb appeal
When preparing the exterior of the house, think about the home from a buyer’s point of view. Is the landscaping tended to, are shrubs pruned? Has the yard been mowed? Are toys, garden hoses, etc put away? Has patio furniture been cleaned? Little things like this not only make the photos look better, but they make the exterior of your home more inviting and entices potential buyers to want to see more
Homes don’t just sell themselves. Great marketing, including great photography, is important. When it comes to photography, it’s best to make sure your real estate agent is someone who understands the marketing side of selling a home and is committed to professional photography.
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