a picture’s worth a thousand words

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. They also say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Nowhere is that more evident than in the buying and selling of real estate. According to the Wall Street Journal, a good picture can be worth more than you would guess in time and money.

When it comes to selling real estate, the number one carrot agents have to coax potential buyers to schedule a visit is great imagery. If that carrot isn’t big and tasty looking, you may never lure them over to take a bite. Enter your photographer. That photographer could be your assistant with an iPhone, or an experienced professional with top-of-the-line gear. Whoever you choose, his or her task is to represent your listing in a flattering and realistic manner. If they can’t do that, then the mission has failed. Good photography is a must!

We’ve all been entertained by the truly egregious real estate photo “fails” on the web. Those obvious blunders aside, what I’m talking about here are more subtle variations that can make the difference between spending months waiting for some action, and getting the volume of showings necessary to make a sale.

So why should you pay a premium for photography? Why not take the photos yourself or hire someone on the cheap? Saving money is always a good idea, but it can come at a cost if it’s money that’s supposed to ultimately generate more money. Sure, you can buy inexpensive running shoes, but if they wear out twice as fast and give you ankle problems in the process, no money is actually saved. The same goes for real estate photography. It’s all about the “click”. Bad pictures can actually hurt the success of your listing because people will be more likely to click another, more appealing listing, and just like that, some other agent is showing a property to a buyer who could’ve been yours.

Take a look at the two images below. One of them is bright, properly framed and color corrected, and has been given proper time in editing. The other is dingy, yellow and distorted, and has a car parked outside in the snow.

The first photo took me time to consider, set up, light, shoot and edit. It was deliberate and thorough. The second photo took no thought, no effort and no time. It was, in a word, a snap. People ask me why it takes so long to shoot their house. This is why. It takes time, and that time is an investment. Awesome photography may cost more and take longer to obtain up front, but it’s nothing compared to the hours and days that get wasted tending a listing that’s not getting any action and a seller who may leave you. That time and those sellers can end up costing you more money in the long run than initial investment of professional imagery.

The next photo is an example of HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) that real estate photographers often employ so you can see detail outside as well as inside the building. It’s milky, and has subtle, competing color balances within it, while the next picture is crisp, well-balanced and sharp. It’s faster to make an HDR photo than it is to take the time to light and edit a clean shot. But what’s the point of saving a few dollars and an hour or two if the result means your listing might sit on the market much longer and could sell for less?

137 Upper Shad Rd., Pound Ridge, New York, Michael Neeley, real estate, photo

137 Upper Shad Rd., Pound Ridge, New York, Michael Neeley, real estate, photo

In fact, you can’t afford not to invest in quality. Again, turning to another Wall Street Journal article, good photography can actually boost the final sale of the house, because it sets the buyer’s expectations in advance of ever seeing the property. They perceive the property to be worth more because it looks better, and that initial perception imbeds in their subconscious. You’ve made a good first impression and it paid off. That money and time you invested in professional real estate photography netted you more than you otherwise would have made in your commission. And you saved time. And you look better because, like your car and your clothes, the images you choose for your listings reflect you.

Jim Henson house

The Jim Henson house in Bedford, New York (pictured above) took a few hours to photograph, but it sold quickly at the asking price. Coincidence? Possibly, but the listing agent told me the seller was advised to drop the price if they expected to move it. Instead, he made them wait. Then he hired me to take a shot at it to see if the property could get the response he felt it deserved. It did.

You may be the best agent in your office, but if you can’t get people to click your listings, you’ll never be given the opportunity to do your job. You must get them in the door. Using quality photography as your tool, you not only stand a better chance of getting a good turnout, you’re less likely to loose a seller, and your chances of closing at a favorable rate are increased. But don’t take if from me, the man who’s only sold one property in his life (though in actuality, I hired an agent to do it for me), take it from the agents who insist on hiring professionals like me because they see a positive net result. Quality pays off.

When I’m not busy shooting with Michael Jurick or working on one of my creative projects, I shoot real estate. To see more of my architectural work, click here.

NJohnston Photography & NY Luxury Photography.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Claire Cocke says:

    Nicely written. Informative. Enjoyable.

    On Monday, April 4, 2016, NJohnston Photography blog wrote:

    > nwjohnston posted: “They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. They also > say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Nowhere > is that more evident than in the buying and selling of real estate. > According to the Wall Street Journal, a good picture can ” >

    Like

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