Frequently Answered Questions for Homeowners
I want to work with a real estate agent to sell my home. What's the best advice you can give me?
Find an agent who cares about you and your home.
How can I tell if she cares?
- When you first meet, she'll ask you questions about what you need so she can determine how best to serve you. If she starts immediately into her sales pitch, look elsewhere.
- She'll work hard to market your home.
In addition, here are five red flags to watch for.
And great photography is one way she'll market my home?
You beat me to it.
Look: 92% of home buyers start their searches on the Internet. Great photographs of your home will get noticed—and buyers will click through to see your listing.
Even if you have a stunning home, bad photographs are the quickest way to ensure your home gets ignored by buyers.
A great agent will market your home like a hamburger.
How can I recognize great listing photographs?
Professional real estate photographs share these three qualities (at a minimum):
- Solid compositions of clean rooms
- Straight vertical and horizontal lines
- Even, bright lighting throughout
If the pictures your (prospective) agent shows you are dim, cluttered, and skewed/tilted, they've probably shot the pictures themselves—and possibly with an iPhone. Few agents are professional photographers. Ask your agent to hire a professional for your listing.
Here are some examples from homes I've photographed in central Illinois—and you can click over to the blog to see many more.
Why do so many of the real estate photos I see online look so bad?
That's a great question. Ask some agents and see what they say.
So what do you do that’s different?
That’s another great question!
First, I’ll consult with you to learn about your home and the features you (and/or your agent) think need to be highlighted. Then you'll get a copy of my home preparation checklist to ensure your house looks its best when I come to make the pictures.
On the day of the shoot, I’ll arrive at your house and take a few minutes for a walkthrough, making notes about the rooms and features. I’ll typically photograph the exterior first and then I’ll come indoors with a couple cases of gear. Once inside, I usually photograph the bedrooms and bathrooms, and then move on to the other living areas: family room, living room, dining area, and kitchen. I'll also look for interesting features and appealing architectural details that will attract buyers to click through the listing photographs.
The images you'll receive will have straight verticals and horizontals—they won't be skewed in goofy ways or have horizons that tilt at odd angles. They'll be attractively composed and lit. My goal is to make pictures that could just as easily grace the pages of a magazine as they would your online listing.
I’m selling my home myself (FSBO) and can take my own pictures; why would I want to pay you to do it?
Because beautiful photographs will entice your buyers and have them (literally) lining up at your front door.
Professional real estate photographers bring a sense of design, an eye for composition, and their technical knowledge of camera and lighting gear to create the kinds of images that people want to see while they're shopping.
Sure, you can take the do-it-yourself approach to every aspect of selling your home, including the listing photos. Understand, though, that hiring a real estate photographer can make your home much more attractive to buyers.
I realize that one of your primary goals as a For Sale By Owner seller is to save money. Great photography is a place where it's wise for you to make an investment. Your listing will get more views and you're likely to get a higher offer for your home as well.
And it's more affordable than you may think.
I already own a nice camera (DSLR). Why should I hire you?
Think of it this way: I have a basketball but I sure can’t play like Michael Jordan.
And I’ve seen lots of people wear Air Jordans but there’s still only one Michael Jordan. In fact, I’ll bet no one ever said, “Mike—those are really nice shoes. I’ll bet you score a lot of points with those sweet kicks on your feet!” (Well, Spike Lee thought it was the shoes but we know better.)
I have a hammer but it doesn't make me a carpenter.
You have a computer but you’re probably not writing novels like Stephen King.
In the same way, owning a “nice camera” doesn’t make you a photographer. And there’s a lot more to making great property photos than simply having a camera.
You said you bring “a couple cases of gear?” What in the world are you packing?
I have at least two camera bodies, multiple lenses, flashes, light stands, a tripod, and some other odds and ends at every session. Want to know more about what I use? You can see everything in my camera case in the video below (or click here).
Like I said, it takes more to do this right than simply having a camera.
Wow—that’s a lot of stuff. Do you really need all that just to photograph my house?
In a word, yes. Some property photographers use a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. This involves taking multiple exposures of the same scene and then blending them together in post-production.
Others put a flash on top of the camera when the rooms are dark and snap away. Here is the truth: this is the worst way to add light to a scene. As I mentioned in the gear video above, you will NEVER see me do this.
I use the HDR approach occasionally but I prefer to place lights in strategic and flattering locations within a room and then make one exposure. Whenever possible, I like to get the scene right in the camera since this minimizes my time on the computer later (which means I can get the finished photographs to you faster as well).
So how long will it take you to photograph my house?
It depends on the size of your house, the complexity of the job, and how well staged the property is when I arrive, but 2-4 hours is pretty typical. If we have to move furniture or stuff, it takes longer.
What happens after you’re done?
The photographs are post processed and then uploaded to a private online gallery for you. I’ll email you the gallery login details and you can then download the photographs to post them online. Turnaround time is almost always less than 24 hours.
The photographs you'll receive will be perfectly sized for your listing, Facebook, and wherever else you plan to post them.
Who owns the photographs and how does licensing work?
Since I’m the creator of the images, I retain copyright ownership. The photographs are licensed to the agent (or you, the homeowner, if you're going FSBO) for the purpose of marketing your home. You may use them in your online listings but you may not give or sell them to any other third party (agent, builder/developer, etc.). If you'd like to use the images in additional ways, I'd be happy to discuss pricing for those uses with you.
Should I be home while you’re photographing my house?
That's preferable. For liability purposes, it’s good if you can be at the home while I’m working. I may also ask if it’s OK to move something in order to get a better scene in a room.
Speaking of liability, do you have insurance?
Yes. I carry a $500,000 business liability policy.
In what areas do you work? Can you photograph my house?
I'm in central Illinois (Lincoln) and travel throughout the area: Bloomington/Normal, Springfield, Peoria, Decatur, Champaign/Urbana or farther. Locations beyond 20 miles from Lincoln (62656) may incur a travel fee. See my services and terms for details.
This sounds like a good idea. What do you charge to photograph my home?
You have three choices depending on your needs:
- Starter session - $149 - Includes 15 finished high-resolution photographs. Best for homes up to 2,500 square feet.
- Standard session - $249 - Includes 25 finished high-resolution photographs. Best for homes up to 4,000 square feet.
- Premium session - $499 - Includes 30 finished high-resolution photographs. Includes a pre-session walk-though consultation. Best for your showcase properties.
How do I pay you?
A check on the day of the shoot is great. Alternatively, I can email you a PayPal invoice that you can pay online with a credit card or from your PayPal or bank account.
We just did some neat remodeling in our home; can you photograph it for us?
I'd be happy to do that. Let me know what you'd like and we can discuss pricing.
This is all interesting but I think I'd still like to photograph my own house. How would I do that?
If you're going to do it yourself and you want to do it the best you can, then I'd suggest you do the following:
- Read my post on photography tips for home sellers
- Read my post on what it takes to make good property photographs
- Read how photographer David Hobby sold his house by using a free blog and photographing it himself
Yikes! That may be harder than I thought. Can you do it for me?
Of course. Send me a note and we'll get you started!