What the realtors might not realize is that they sometimes unwittingly sabotage a real estate photographer’s efforts to get them those great photos.
Often times, the real estate photographer shows up to the site to take pictures and capture images for the 3D virtual tour, and the space is messy, not staged, and not presented in the best light.
This works against the photographer for two important reasons.
First, shooting a poorly staged house compromises the quality of the images. A house that feels messy, disorderly, and cluttered is not going to get the same results as a house that is bright, clean, and inviting.
What will often happen in this case is that the photographer, knowing how important it is to create beautiful images and tours for the realtor, will bite the bullet and do some impromptu staging and lighting.
Sounds reasonable, at first – after all, the photographer’s reputation is at stake here: poor virtual tours and photographs will reflect negatively on the photographer’s brand, and this impairs their ability to grow their business.
But the important thing to realize is that this unplanned staging and working around obstacles costs the photographer time. And in business, time is valuable. Time is money.
Which brings us to the second reason why shooting a poorly staged property isn’t in the best interests of the photographer.
As a real estate photographer, you should also strive to get as much done in as little time as possible. After all, the less time it takes you to shoot a home, the more homes you can shoot in a given day. It’s just dollars and cents. It’s just good business.
After all, the less time it takes you to shoot a home, the more homes you can shoot in a given day.The thing is, these hurdles could easily be avoided, if only the realtor prepared the property beforehand. But what is obvious to the photographer might not be so obvious to the realtor, as they are focused on the many aspects of selling a home.Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the real estate photographer to educate and inform the real estate agent on what they need in order to do their job effectively and efficiently.
If you want to be a successful real estate photographer, with a reputable track record and ability to build meaningful relationships with many realtors, you need to take on this responsibility.
Communicating effectively about what you need from real estate agents is an important skill that you must develop as a real estate photographer and a business owner.
Show the Realtor the Benefits
With a little communication, there should be no trouble in getting the realtor on board with helping you do your job effectively, and in less time.
After all, the realtor and the photographer both want the same thing, right?
Both want stellar photos and images for a 3D virtual tour that depict the sale home at its best.
Getting better photos means more potential buyers will be emotionally connected to the space and show interest in the listing. Thus creating more demand, and then the property can be sold for a higher price.
The realtor is happy, their client (the seller) is happy, and that makes the photographer happy. It’s a win-win-win situation.
If you want the realtor on your side, you need to show them why it’s in their best interests to help you. You need to show them what’s in it for them.
Before the photo shoot, engage with the real estate agent for a meaningful conversation about how they can help to ensure that they get the best results and most value.
Explain that they’ll get better pictures if they stage the property properly. Tell them if they want the highest quality images will create the greatest demand for their property, your energy is best spent on creating great photography and 3D virtual tours, not staging and cleaning up.
Explain that your time is their money. Explain that if they properly prepare the space for a photoshoot, you can get more done in a fixed amount of time, or you can get it all done in less time, and that will translate to more value added for them.
Explain that less time shooting means that their client, the homeowner, will be displaced from their home for less time. Caring for their client is their priority, and you can speak to that.
Use this opportunity to build rapport with the real estate agent. Consider this a part of your networking strategy as a business owner. Your ulterior goal here is to forge a long-term, mutually beneficial, professional relationship with the realtor.
Which is why you always want to be collaborative and professional. Try not to be too blunt with your requests. Remember, you are trying to create a win-win-win situation here. You are working together as a team here; no one is trying to boss over or micro-manage anyone. Build mutual respect.
Manage the Realtor’s Expectations
The pre-shoot conversation would be a good time to ask for a list of required shots the realtor might have.
You should also come with a few suggestions based on your experience as a real estate photographer.
Emphasize that while you are willing to do what you can to ensure that the shoot goes smoothly, you will not be responsible for staging, or moving furniture and objects, as there could be liable issues if you should break or damage anything.
Make it clear that you will not wait while they “stage as you go” and that staging should be done well before you arrive at the site.
Don’t be afraid to ask when the staging will take place. You can even go a step further and ask who will be doing the staging. Offer a list of professional stagers you’ve worked with to help the realtor out, if needed.
Educate the Realtor on the Importance of Lighting
Great photos require great lighting.
Photographers already know this.
Realtors may or may not already know this.
And a while skilled photographer can shoot in any light and bring external lights if required, interior lighting issues will still affect the final product. These issues can include missing bulbs, mismatched bulbs, dim overhead fixtures, dirty fixtures, ugly lamps, misaligned blinds, dark curtains, etc.
“The better the space is staged the better it will look on camera.”
“the mark of a professional is they get great results regardless of the conditions, but if you can walk into a space that is already lit well, you know you’ll be in and out of there faster, and with good results. Who doesn’t want that?”
Barnaby Decam, Leading Image
In addition, get the realtor to turn on all lights in the home and open all blinds and curtains. Hopefully, all the windows have been cleaned. The place should be lit up and ready for you to shoot when you arrive!
Put Away all Personal Items
Personal touches make a house a home.
But they have no place when staging a home for sale.
Potential buyers will subconsciously want to envision themselves living in the space. This emotional bonding with the home will encourage them to buy.
But if the place is littered with personal items belonging to the seller, that connection won’t be made, at least not as easily. The bond will be broken, and this could affect the sale of the home in a negative way. The house may not sell, or it may sell for a lower price because demand wasn’t high.
Make sure that before you arrive, all personal items are removed or hidden.
This means all family photos, knick-knacks, and toys need to disappear. Clean off the fridge door so that there are no magnets, schedules, shopping lists, and children’s artwork visible.
Further, make sure the place is spotless and all “signs of life” are removed: waste baskets and hampers should be empty, shelves should be uncluttered, and the kitchen sink should be free of dirty dishes.
Protect Your Brand as a Real Estate Photographer
Unfortunately, as with any business, you can plan for every situation and things still won’t go according to plan.
What if, despite your best efforts, a house doesn’t meet your staging requirements when you arrive to shoot?
Sometimes, things happen that are out of everybody’s control, and you need to roll with it. It’s called being a professional.
If this happens, know your threshold and ask yourself, “Can I realistically get this house ready and shot in the time I have?” Be brutally honest with yourself.
Then talk to the agent and ask them for their opinion: do they want to shoot the home in the current condition or should you come back? Rescheduling the shoot would, of course, inconvenience the agent and the homeowners – you would have to weigh the pros and cons of this awkward situation and then take action.
“If the property is not ready always offer options leading to a solution for your client. Offer to shoot what rooms are ready in the time that you have allotted him/her and reschedule the rest for another time at an extra cost.”
“Alternatively postpone the appointment for another time when the whole property is looking its best.”
Barnaby Decam, Leading Image
But what if it’s not just a one-time occurrence? What if the situation could have been avoided?
If you feel like you just aren’t being heard, it is important that you stand your ground. When building rapport with real estate agents, there must be mutual respect. And you won’t earn respect if you keep compromising your needs and principles as a real estate photographer.
Further, recognize that you want to work with real estate agents who value your input and act professionally and respectfully.