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Do Your Listing Photos Drive Traffic In or Away?

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By Brett Monk

You see them all the time when searching the MLS: listings with no photos, just one exterior shot, or photos that are so poorly taken they’re (almost) comical. In an age where buyers lack the attention span to read text, the pictures are more important than ever. Yet many agents don’t seem to have a handle on taking attractive photos.

In today’s real estate marketing environment, the photos of the property are the foundation of all other advertising, including:
• The MLS Listing
• All the websites that are fed from the MLS listing
• Website slide shows and virtual tours
• Social media used to market the listing AND the agent
• Brochures and other printed materials
• The listing presentation to prospective sellers

Most buyers start their search online, and they want to see pictures. Listings with great photos capture buyers’ attention, drive traffic into the home, and set a higher expectation for the buyers. (i.e. They’ll expect to pay more for the home.)

An article in The Wall Street Journal titled, “In Real Estate, a Picture is Worth $1000 or More” reports on a study done by a national real estate brokerage that compared homes photographed with a DSLR camera and those photographed with a point-and-shoot camera. Though the homes were comparable, the sales prices of properties with better pictures were significantly higher than the others.

With the right equipment and a little training anyone can learn to take great listing photos. Today’s digital cameras are smarter and more forgiving than older film equipment. Here are some helpful tips to make listing photos more inviting:

1. Use a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with a wide-angle lens
A point-and-shoot camera just can’t zoom out wide enough to get a full shot of the standard 8’ by 10’ second bedroom. It takes a wide angle lens set at about 10mm – 11mm to show a room of that size in its entirety. Without that, your pictures will make smaller rooms look cramped and uninviting.

2. Use a second flash attachment, set to “slave mode” to fill in dark spots.
Most people don’t know that you can set most flash attachments to “slave mode,” where a light sensor on the flash causes it to fire when it sees another flash go off. Professional photographers use these all the time. The slave flash gives you a powerful second lighting source so the light doesn’t just come from the same angle as the lens.

3. The tripod is your friend
Many amateur photographers view the tripod as an unnecessary expense and encumbrance. However, when shooting interiors it can be a huge time-saver. Once you have set the tripod up and framed the shot, you can then make minor adjustments to the lighting, fluff pillows, etc. The camera stays in the same position and you can clearly see what needs to be changed. This saves lots of time in the long run and keeps you from wondering where you put the camera.

“When I learned to take great photos of my listings, my business tripled over the previous year,” says Mark Wozniak, a real estate agent in the Northern Virginia area. “I prefer to shoot the pictures myself now. I know the features of the home that I want to emphasize and I have full control over the marketing campaign for my listings.”

Brett Monk is the co-founder and instructor of www.RealEstatePhotographyClass.com, which trains real estate professionals how to take pictures that sell homes.

Through this article, RISMedia readers are eligible for a 25% discount from RealEstatePhotographyClass.com. To participate, go to http://www.RealEstatePhotographyClass.com and use discount code THANKSG for a 25% discount on the registration to the online video training on real estate photography.

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