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Real Estate Photo Pricing

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by PJohnP, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    I've been approached to do some occasional real estate photography for a realtor (should I be placing the symbol here ® and capitalising that name ? :twisted: ). The contact came through a builder/architect colleague who I had done some photos for a bit back.

    The use would be in the adverts for the local newspaper, and very possibly on the internet listings. They'd want two or at most three representative photos of the house, exterior and maybe an interior.

    It would be a little extra cash as I doubt I'd shoot five days a week, but I'd legitimately be selling photos, not "hobby shooting", so I want to play this one carefully.

    I'm puzzling over the pricing for this. I'd thought of $100 per house shoot (assuming it's staying within the deliverable of two or three shots), but that seems low on the face of it. OTOH, if I can shoot five houses in an afternoon, that's not at all unfair to me as a return on time.

    Any experience with this kind of thing and pricing for it ? TIA

    John P.
  2. If I could get $100 a house I would be all over it. That is a fairly simple shoot and would not require a lot of processing. Your looking at 10 to 15 minutes to shoot it. I took eleven shots of a house yesterday and it took me about 15 minutes. Processing was very minimal and they were on the internet to my customer (in this case my daughter in Minnesota who is building a new house). Here are a couple of examples of an upscale Bob Timberlake designed house that is just over my back fence.

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  3. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gordon :

    Hmmm... Thanks for the reply. You've given me more food for thought.

    Am I overpricing at $100 a shoot ? I was figuring that I'd get these in very small batches, maybe one or two, but could occasionally aggregate them into a longer shoot. I was also factoring in that I'd have to drive to the house at least once, perhaps returning for better lighting conditions.

    It's an interesting conundrum for me. I know the realtors will get $5K and up personally for each house sale, so it's not a high overhead. OTOH, I also know that most realtors have a cruddy digital camera sitting in the office to use, so they'll see the charges as a new expense.

    Lots to think about.

    John P.
  4. I think the pricing would vary greatly by area. Here in Southern Utah that would be a little higher than the market would bear. In a spread out city that would probably be a good price. Many Realtors carry a small digital around with them and shoot their own images. You can separate yourself from them by carrying a ladder around with you and shooting from a better perspective (I did not do that on the above images). There is no question that you can promise them higher quality images than they can produce.
  5. tweber


    Feb 12, 2005
    St. Louis
    My 2 Cents


    I've been considering the same issue, as I just sold my house. Gordon makes very good points here. Most agents figure they can do it themselves. It's not a matter of them earning a good commission. It's a matter of what value you add and whether they recognize that value.

    My shots of our home were head and heels better than those taken by our agent. But I'm not sure she'd see the added value.

    If I were to offer the service I'd start at $75. It's indeed a 20 minute job with minimal processing to produce online ready shots.

  6. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Re: My 2 Cents

    Tom :

    Thanks for the input. I'll think on this a bit more. Given the personal connection with the guy making the referral, I could make the case that I'm giving them a "preferred rate" at $75, and then I could re-assess the rates if a lot more work were to come in.

    John P.
  7. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gordon :

    I'm going to ponder this a bit. I don't want to under- or over-price the service. I know very well that almost all of the photos that I've seen taken have been shoddy and poorly exposed/composed/colour balanced, so I can see definite value. And the person making the referral won two competitions using my photos, so I'd guess this will factor into the perception of my work as well.

    John P.
  8. For sure John, it is all about value. If you can sell the added value you will get the job. One of the biggest problems is that so many Realtors fail to recognize a good photo when it hits them on the head. That is especially true of those that pack a low end point and shoot digital and fancy themsleves as photographers. I was just hired by a realtor to furnish the image for the cover of a business directory. It will be out shortly and we'll see if it translates into further business or not.
  9. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gordon :

    Well, in that, I'm probably lucky. The builder/architect does high end work here, and I'm assuming that the realtor will be in the same bracket. I just have to demonstrate the value.

    John P.
  10. Hi John,

    I think this person who won two competitions using your photos is good exposure for you. More work could come your way from this and as you said you could offer 75.00 as a special rate and up your prices depending on what comes next.
  11. As a Realtor® and a Photographer 8) , I completely understand the situation here. Most RE types will step over a $20 bill to pick up a nickel and they don't realize the value of good photography in presenting a HIGH END house. The rest of the houses seem to 'sell themselves.' For a while I did my own virtual tours and tried to give properties the exposure they deserved to increase my chances of a sale. If I could guarantee that I would sell a place, I would gladly pay somebody even a grand to do the photography, but there are many that DON'T sell. The Realtors who have good stuff don't worry about not selling it. They know if it is overpriced and won't sell, for the most part. To some of them having that one photo that is required on the MLS is nothing more than a pain, and you can tell their hearts are not in it by the quality they produce.

    A point and shoot digital camera seems to be the norm. Most of us (photographers) have more money invested in camera gear than the average broker has tied up in their automobile (myself included in that one).

    I don't claim to have the answer, but if anybody is going to try and make any money shooting real estate, it better be the broker trying to better promote his own listings. I have even done FREE virtual tours on other listings so I could sell them as a buyer broker. Nothing seems to work, so just keep slugging away. Show the clients EVERYTHING they could possibly want to see and they will not bug you unless they really want to see the house. Confusing the numbers of people traipsing through a home with how much 'business' a broker is getting is a common thing. I would love to spend a whole day photographing a house and then having only one person come to see it..............and buy it. Wishful thinking.

    Standing by to dismount soapbox............

  12. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Regardless of how the picture starts out, these photos end up as a scan of a scaned fax that was printed out from a 72 dpi web image. Ride around and look in those 'document holders' on For Sale signs. Once in a while there's a good color reproduction, but more often than not, you'll see a chunky 3"X4" literally black and white with no shadow detail, no highlight detail and a very thin middle.

    These photos get taken by the realitor with a digicam during a walkthrough. Generally there is very little value placed on the quality of the photo. They serve more as icons to remind potential customers of what the home looked like in person.

    If you have found a Realtor® who will buy photographs from you for near their actual worth, BE GOOD TO HER (OR HIM AS THE CASE MAY BE.)
  13. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    I think the best value added service you could provide as a real estate photographer would be in the composition of interior images. Most point-and-shoot cameras do not give you enough options of shooting angle, color/brightness, and composition to do a house justice.

    If I were preparing a portfolio to demonstrate the power of good photography, I would try to find some interior pictures taken by a realtor (or make your best attempt with a cheap point-and-shoot) that look flat, cramped, or just amateurish then shoot the same interior, attempting a more "Architectural Digest" or "Southern Living" type view -- wider angles, good lighting, etc.

    If a realtor can see side-by-side comparisons that show the value of doing professional photographs, they might be more inclined to pay more for the service. I know when we were house shopping, the pictures were almost useless. I never saw a picture that looked *better* than the actual house, but I saw a lot of pictures that looked *worse* -- often enough to not make me want to look at the house. We were looking for open floorplans with lots of light and most of the pictures looked dark, cramped, and cluttered. In reality, most of the houses didn't actually look like that, but the photos made a bad first impression.
  14. I agree, 100%.

  15. Photography is not a Real Estate Business...

    It's a side line. Believe me, I'm a California Real Estate Broker and a Photographer too. There's a lot that goes into packaging a house for sale and photography is just a small part of what's involved. For marketing materials, many professional Realtors use Marketing Communication firms or in house staff for these services. There's a whole cadre of suppliers selling services to Real Estate agents, most notably Real Estate firms themselves. The margins are quite variable so to gain more income, services get combined. To be a business, from my perspective, you'd have to put together a whole range of marketing programs to make a go of things in the Real Estate field.

    BTW, Gordon, that's a lovely neighborhood you live in and great pictures of your neighbor's home. It would probably be a $4M+ home around here (Silicon Valley - San Francisco Peninsula).

    aka beaucamera

    P.S. Steve, it's great to know there's another Realtor in the Cafe. Please send me your referrals! :) 
  16. Virginia: and ANOTHER realtor here in Toronto *LOL* I'm a big fan of quality pictures in real estate brochures, esp in the $2M+ bracket. I had a difficult listing last year (don't even ask about the fire!) and the one thing that kept bringing prospective purchasers back was the 8 page brochure chock full of pictures. Wide angle shots, shots taken from up on a ladder to get a better view of a room, french doors swung open to show the garden, etc.
    John, if you give them a "first time price" option, and say "I'll even take out that telephone pole smack dab in the center of the lot" type of gimmick, feather the main house pic out to white, maybe put a "Hayes Island Cafe" (type of watercolour) style to it, they'll eat it up. They're always looking for something different. Hope this helps. Sandi
  17. Sandi, you're not just another Realtor! You've got a good eye for design and that's a real plus. After all we have to work around all kinds of situations and make reality look even better than it is.

    Sure is great to have the talent and fun to control of one's own marketing. I've taken classes in InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop and now I'm deep into Web Design I and Color Management.

    Hey, if you've got any referral for the SF Bay Area, particularly Silicon Valley and the SF Peninsula, please send them my way. And, if I learn of anyone headed for Toronto, I'll be sure and have them contact you.

    aka beaucamera

    P.S. I like the picture of your kayak, but it was a little hard to see. How about another one? I've been curious how you loaded it with your gear...and kept things dry.
  18. I do a lot of real estate pics over here in New Zealand. We have a site www.open2view.com. For the standard photoshoot the agent or vendor gets charged approx. $NZ200, the photographers gets approx 60% of that. A simple shoot might take 20minutes plus 30 minutes processing and upload, a more complex one, double that time. For the virtual tour images the price is doubled. Extra charges can result from taking night shots, elevated shots, "magazine lighting setups" etc.
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