A Question About Getting into Real Estate Photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by chrisburke, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    so we have 2 real estate companies in my small town... they both put their listings online with pictures.. the pictures out right SUCK.. and really make a lot of the houses look bad...

    my question is this... how would you go about approaching a real estate company to offer your services? would you offer a freebie to start? would you just take shots of your house, showing them how much better the photos are than theirs?

    I live in a small town, and houses go up for sale ALL THE TIME.. and I can see this as a good way to 1 - get my name out there more, and 2 - make some moula ch cha...

    For those who do real estate photography, what do you charge for your services, and what does a client get for the amount they pay???

    i'm just really interested in this, and know almost nothing about it (other than the taking of the photos)
     
  2. eyeye

    eyeye TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't offer a freebie at all. Then they wont think you are worth much. Put together a little sample book or portfolio of houses and show them. Make sure to put some in smaller size like it would print.

    Real estate companies are hurting so make sure to spin it "this will make you money"
     
  3. Parkerman

    Parkerman TPF Noob!

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    Wouldn't be worth it from the real estate companies point of view. Generally the pictures of the houses are small.. and only serve one purpose, which is to give you a general idea of what the house looks like. If you like it.. and the price/size are right.. then you would go and look at it more closely in person.

    They can easily achieve this own their own with a simple P&S... Because with a picture as small as they put in the booklets and online... quality doesn't really matter. Saves them money.. and means they don't have to rely on someone outside the company for pictures.
     
  4. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    if its not worth it from the real estate companies POV, how are there people out there making a living at real estate photography?
     
  5. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I believe in small towns the realtors shoot the pics themselves with P&S. I know that is mostly the case here. Now if you have some who deal in strictly upper end properties then they may use a photographer.
     
  6. In business, you need to know what your cost of goods are - or in this case, what s the cost for you? What is the value of the time (shooting, processing, delivering), what is the travel expense, what is your internal equipment amortization schedule. Then you need to take into account what discount you're willing to incur as part of your start-up costs - not much, I would suggest, because if there's only two realtors your market isn't exactly scalable, so what you charge isn't going to increase much in the future. Finally, you need to have a sense of what the market would be willing to pay. If the delta between cost and price strikes you as attractive, it means you have a business. If it doesn't, you have a hobby.
     
  7. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH TPF Noob!

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    Go to the houses and take some exterior shots. You should be able to do that pretty easily, then resize to the same as theirs, and show them the difference.

    For interior shots in some houses, you'd be better off taking the photos at night or on a very cloudy day when you can do it without having blown out windows. If you need a daytime interior shot, to show the view from a window, for example, it'll almost certainly have to be an exposure blend.
     
  8. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Homes are listed on the internet now days with lots of pictures being made available to online shoppers. I know that when I was in the market for a new home, I spent hours upon hours pouring over online listings and pictures to decided which house I wanted to see and which I didn't.

    Exmaple: Real Estate Listings, Homes for Sale and Rental Property Listings – REALTOR.com® (enter your zip code and take a peek at what's available)

    You'll notice from the sample site above that most of the images are bad to really bad. First impressions are everything.

    I would say there is money to be made in selling photography services to companies that list properties online. But that's just a guess on my part.
     
  9. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Put together a portfolio and go talk to them. You never know until you give it a shot. I've made a chunk of my living from real estate and vacation rental photography in a small village.
     
  10. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    I know what you mean, those pictures are generally pretty bad. I know that in my small town, the realtors take the pictures themselves and say they are "good enough".
    However, this summer my DH and I were considering a transfer within his company which required a move. We looked at a couple towns just outside of that new city. One was a pretty upscale town and you could tell right away, just from the photography on the realtors websites. They had much better pictures and video, panos, the whole thing. They KNOW that better pictures bring more interest. The next town over that we looked at was not as uppity and it showed in the realtor photos as well. There were the familiar, crappy P&S shots that showed no detail of the house.
    I guess it would depend on the realtor and if they even care. I know the one we were using finding our new house was aware and she took the time to learn photograpy, used the proper equipment and the results were excellent. The realtor we were going to use to sell our house had the "good enough" attitute about her P&S pictures. I told her when we were in discussions that if we listed with her, *I* would provide the pictures because I had the know-how and the equipment and that I wanted better than what she offered. She just shrugged her shoulders and said "whatever".
    I have no idea if there are people out there making a living at real estate photography or not. If you want to approach them I would put together a portfolio of what you can do (take pictures of your own house and several other peoples houses - note, make sure they are CLEAN houses, pristene with NO toys, clothes, dishes or any other peronsal effects to be seen. Some with modern styles of paint and decore will help. Along with the pictures put together a press release of sorts to sell yourself and your service to the realtor. Use the 5 W's - who you are, what service you provide, where you service area is, and most important WHY is this service of value to them.
    Maybe research and see if you can find information on how having great photography can help sell the house quicker (stats, $$ values) and include that information.
    As for your price, I would use the same prices I use for other services. It's a service. NO freebies.
     
  11. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Rubbertree makes some good points.

    Here's a couple things I've found;

    Since I work in a small community and operate a community web site for the area, clients see the photos I take of their homes and list with the brokers I work for, so that I will take the photos. This makes the brokers I work for very competitive. Their competition comes to me to do the same for them. After a few years I was shooting photos for all 6 of the offices in town, plus doing vacation rentals.

    When I speak to the people selling their homes during shoots, I mention that my clients are professional enough to know that they should have a professional take the pictures. This lets them concentrate on what they do best, sell. I don't know a thing about loans, escrows, whatnot or anything that they do, but I know how to take pictures.

    One other advantage that I can think of is that the competing brokers use the photos I take to sell homes my clients have listed. This has the effect that they are working for my clients- which I've heard it is best to list the homes and have the other offices do the selling if they can't handle both the buyer and seller ends.
     

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