Yes, we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of a professional Realtor, a picture may also be worth several thousand dollars. Real estate is a visual business and the high percentage of people who start their buying process on the Internet has made it even more so. This means you need to invest some time and money in making your clients’ properties look good. Yet you would be shocked (or maybe you wouldn’t be) at the abundance of seriously bad property pictures floating around out there.
Here are 10 rookie mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Ditch the smartphone. Oh sure, we know the technology has improved in the more recent models, and if you absolutely must email something to a potential buyer immediately, go ahead and snap a few shots. But for your web site, email marketing, and newspaper ads, take your time and take your best shot. If you’re going to do your own photography, invest in a good camera and learn to use it. If you’re not, hire a professional.
- Clean it up. We all know about curb appeal. The concept applies to exterior photos too. Make sure the lawn is mowed before you start snapping photos. Get rid of kids’ bicycles, basketball goals, and anything else that makes the view look cluttered. As a general rule, it’s best to remove evidence of children anyway—not every buyer has them—or wants to know where they’ve been.
- Camouflage the garage. Most buyers are in the market for a home, not a garage. Yet when you scroll through almost any Realtor’s web site you’ll see an exquisite collection of garage photos. Yes, we know many homes have the garage-in-front configuration. But you don’t need to feature that view prominently. Shoot from another angle. Take a close-up of the entryway, the front door, or some other more inviting feature.
- Think Architectural Digest. When you’re photographing the home’s interior, imagine you’re doing a layout for some slick home décor magazine. That means nothing—absolutely nothing—is out of place. Not a spoon on the counter or a wrinkle in the bedspread. This is one time you’re not going for that lived-in look.
- Have 20/20 vision. A bad photo is worse than no photo at all. Yes, you promised the seller his house would be on the web site today. So you took some quick shots and they are really not in focus but they’ll do until you can get something better. No, they won’t. Take your time and stick with it until you get clear shots, inside and out. An inexpensive tripod will keep your camera still and save you a ton of time and bothersome retakes.
Pay attention to lighting too—if you have to shoot into the sun to get the front exposure, pick another time of day. If someplace in the interior seems dark, either move some lighting into the space or skip that room.
- Not here, kitty kitty. Our favorite shot from the Realtor Photo Hall of Shame—a close-up of the litter box, complete with cat. Of course your client thinks her Fluffy is adorable, but many buyers are likely to disagree.
- Crop, crop crop. Learn how to use your computer’s photo editing program. Many times a mediocre shot can be made acceptable by cropping out irrelevant objects or just bringing the original photo to a close-up. Color and brightness can be adjusted too.
- Forget human interest. Potential buyers want to visualize themselves in the home and they can’t do it with someone else in the picture. Make sure the current occupants of the property are not visible anywhere. It’s best if they are not even on the premises when photos are being taken, especially if children are involved. Kids (and their toys) have a way of showing up in unexpected places.
- Practice good housekeeping. Of course you want to illustrate the home’s key selling points, and that may include the fact that there’s lots of storage. But unless the linen closet looks pristine and the garage shelves are clutter-free, skip these areas until someone can get them cleaned up.
- Look before you post. When you’ve finished your photo shoot, go through your file and first delete all the pictures you know you’re not going to use. That way, nothing bad will get posted by mistake. Then put the photos in order, as though the buyers were walking through the house themselves. Review each shot carefully to make sure none of the mistakes we’ve mentioned above are visible.
Of course you can always add new photos during the selling process. If the seasons change the exterior look or the seller adds some upgrades, do whatever it takes to keep things looking good. Above all, don’t be tempted to put up a mediocre shot because that’s all you have. Your buyers and your sellers deserve better.
So tell me down below if you agree. Better yet, share some of the photo mistakes you’ve seen (or done).