Twenty years ago, property details consisted of printed sheets stapled together with a few poor to average resolution photographs included. Imagery was secondary to spec, and was treated as such. Today, most people start their search online, and with high-resolution screens on laptops and tablets, PCs and smartphones, your photographs need to be up to scratch or you will be doing your vendors a disservice.
Traditionally, the valuing agent will carry a camera with them and snap shots as they walk around to use in their marketing. Digital cameras today are high-quality, low-cost items that any estate agency can afford. They are simple to use and as long as you make sure your consultants stick to a few simple rules, they can come back with decent enough imagery every time.
Blurred photos are a complete no-no in today’s property world. No matter whether you are indoors or out, use a trusty tripod to steady your camera and get the sharpest image.
If you are inside, it’s always good to turn the lights on. People hate to see dark and dingy interiors and even the best cameras can produce a dull indoor photo. Flash can be too harsh, but if you have your own portable lighting this could help create even more stunning images. If you are outdoors, remember that the time of day will dramatically change the way a property looks. Though it isn’t always best, it’s often good to take external photos in the morning.
Property photos work best when they sell the dream, so dirty socks and kids toys strewn all over the floor may be more ‘nightmare’ than ‘dream’ for most people. Ask the vendor to make sure each room is clean and tidy, – this goes for the outside of the house as well. It’s also good practice for viewings.
This is making sure that there are flowers in vases, cushions on sofas, a set dining room table – anything that will sell a lifestyle to the viewer so they can visualise themselves living in that home. Don’t go overboard with staging though or you could alienate the viewer, and always get the vendor’s permission before moving furniture or rearranging items in their home.
Once the photos have been taken and you’re back in the office, thoroughly review all images with a critical eye and ask colleagues to do the same to make sure that an errant slipper, finger or reflection hasn’t gone unnoticed, and get a consensus on which ones will best sell the property.
More and more estate agents today are working with professional photographers. As better informed and more constructively critical vendors are becoming used to seeing your competitors offering professional photography ‘for free’ or ‘as standard’, this is one more reason why they may win the instruction over you. Also, as full-time visual specialists, professional property photographers are often better equipped and able to achieve better results than the average consultant on a valuation.
If your budget allows, I would always advocate going for the professional photography option. We are all driven by the visual and never more so than when we look for property online, which is where most of us start our search these days. A good photograph can mean the difference between you or your competitor getting a buyer, it could shorten the time a property is on your books, it could help new vendors to have confidence that you’ll do their homes justice, and it could result in a positive impact on your bottom line. Quality photography matters more today than ever before.