How to Win The Best Instructions Locally

How professional-looking photos can make the difference

You’re a great estate agent! You’ve got all the moves and can negotiate the skin off a rice pudding. You’re working from state-of-the-art offices with a cafe-style ambience and free Coca-Cola (the real stuff, not home-made) – oh, and there’s a 90” plasma in the window.

Your clients are the most important people in your life; family’s a close second. Life would be nothing without selling houses. You were BORN to be an estate agent, it’s in your blood; and yet, you’re still not firing on all cylinders. A loving public isn’t beating a path to your door and those that do can only think in terms of how little commission you’re going to charge. You’re certainly not attracting the area’s best homes to sell. There’s something missing!

I’ve met you. I know you better than you know yourself. You’re the agent who forgot that the most important thing when selling a house is the house! You forgot that so long as you’re honest, good at finding out what your buyers need, and resourceful, the most important job you have to do as an estate agent is to get your clients’ homes noticed for the right reasons. Your job is to make your properties the stars.

The properties you’re selling are, right now, in a beauty parade on any number of portals. Your first, and dare I say it, most important job, is to make them stand head and shoulders above the competitions’ houses. Once they’ve defined their search (in terms of bedrooms / price / type) your potential buyers will see dozens if not hundreds of houses to choose from. So if you fail to make your properties stand out, then chances are that your happy surfers will look (and possibly buy) elsewhere first.

A report from the USA puts it this way…

“A survey* conducted by VHT, Inc., highlights the impact that videos and professional photography have on the perceived value of a property. According to the survey, the use of a video in marketing a property increases the perceived value of a home by nearly six percent while professional photography increases the perceived value by nearly 12 percent. On a $500,000 home, this equates to an increase in perceived value of $30,000 and $60,000 respectively.

Additionally, when asked how likely they were to visit the homes marketed with professional photography, seven times as many respondents indicated that they were “very likely” to visit the home as compared to those who said they would visit a home which showed only property information.” Source: PRNewswire

If the job of an agent is to get a house noticed by the right buyers then this research is something of an attention-grabber. It might also cause many agents to consider that they’re not just in property sales – they’re in-fact in property marketing and sales.

Although the research was sponsored by a leading photography company, the logic that suggests that professional photography and video has such a positive impact on sales success is pretty hard to resist. It is the photos, after all, that create the first impression for every house you’re selling. And incidentally, it’s your photos that show your potential clients that you actually care enough about the houses you’re selling to get it right. Along with sold boards, your property marketing prowess is the only other tangible reason they have to instruct you.

But most agents aren’t good photographers – and professional photography can be expensive. High-end photographers in the South-East will charge several hundreds of pounds for a shoot – money well spent if you’re selling a home of a million pounds plus where top-notch photos are an essential marketing tool; but perhaps not a viable solution for marketing a studio apartment.

One alternative is to ask your floor-planner/EPC provider to take your photos for you. But be careful, while many are excellent at what they do, others are less so. I well remember being asked to teach photography to a group of self-employed EPC providers contracted to a large group; this proved an impossible task as several of them would not buy a camera – they insisted on using their phones instead! Others from this industry are targeted to visit as many as 5 homes in a day, preparing floor plans, EPC’s and taking photos – sometimes having to travel many miles between appointments. Under those conditions even the very best photographers would be hard-pushed to produce good work.

Another alternative is to learn to take your own photos. I was an agent myself for 37 years before specialising in country house photography around Surrey and Sussex as www.hello-photo.co.uk. Learning camera basics isn’t hard even for an ex-estate agent like me. The hard bit is finding the will to learn in the first place.

It’s also true that every photo straight out of a digital camera can be significantly improved with post-processing using programs such as Photoshop. But the challenge is that many agents don’t know that their photos could be improved, and even if they did, they don’t have the time or skills to ‘fiddle’ with them. Recognising this, I developed a second business – www.doctor-photo.co.uk – so as to provide estate agents with property photography workshops and inexpensive post-processing. If you have read this far and wish to try the service out for yourself, then email me at [email protected] mentioning this article and I will credit you with 10 FREE Facelift Edits so that you can try the service for yourself.

I am always pleased to help agents to improve their photography and will provide free advice too if you care to email me.

* Survey Results Summary:

  • 320 respondents viewed homes in the $400,000-$600,000 range.
  • Respondents that viewed listing information accompanied by professional photography ‘valued’ the property at an average price of $460,735, an increase of 11.5 percent or $52,896 over the average perceived price of the description-only property, $407,839.
  • Respondents viewing a video valued the home at an average price of $432,329, an increase of 5.7 percent or $24,490, over the average perceived price of the description-only property, $407,839.
  • Survey respondents believed a home with professional photography was three times more likely to sell within the standard listing period than a home marketed with only descriptive information.
  • When asked how likely they were to visit the homes listed with professional photography, seven times as many respondents indicated that they were “very likely” to visit the home as those who said they were “very likely” to visit a home with only descriptive information.

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