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Photography and Selling Homes....

Real Estate Agent with Re/max Elite

How To Sell Your Home Faster
Using Photography As A Tool


Quick! There's a big one. Get close, blur the back ground - Snap!

PeachThe I-do-not-believe-in-photography listing agents are on to me again. My client requested pictures of a home that had no pictures on MLS. Doesn't it feel like they are laughing at you knowing you'll get those emails? Sometimes I feel like it's a conspiracy. They post pictureless listings and send demanding buyers your way. Ha ha, now you have to go look at the house and take pictures yourself or tell your clients that it probably is an ugly house and therefore it has no pictures. But the description doesn't say so and we are not going to lie...

Experiences like this have made me appreciate photography more. I know I'm supposed to outsource little meaningless things and non dollar-producing activities, but what if you like the activities? So what if they don't make you money, you get to enjoy life and that's what it's all about....

One thing about pictures when it comes to selling your home is that the picture itself won't sell the home. It will simply let the buyer make a decision whether or not they want to look at the house or not. The question then becomes, how many pictures to use?

Flower In Washington

The answer obviously varies depending on the house, location, price and yes your camera. I used a point-and-shoot sony camera when I first got started in real estate and it did a great job at taking pictures. My upgrade to a better camera came when I started seeing the plethora of it-is-not-about-the-pictures agents who use their mobile phone (did I really just say mobile phone instead of cell phone or camera phone?) to take pictures of the house they intend to sell. These pictures are smaller than my thumb and blurry so I don't really know what the point of uploading them really is.

Or what about those who take pictures of a room using a standard lens and therefore you get a nice shot of two walls and the corner of a room. If this is the picture you are hoping will get the buyer to jump out of their seat, call their agent and arrange a showing, trust me you are better off to just have a picture of the front of the house. At least it builds curiosity on what the rest of the house looks like. So, unless you have a wide angle lens, I would stay away from taking pictures of small rooms and bathrooms.

What makes good photography, umm.... good? Well it's not so much about the camera, it's more about the lens and the lighting. I personally use a Nikon D60, but if you don't want to look like a tour guide (or where's waldo), and if you are not into photography then a good point-and-shoot camera should be sufficient. Keep in mind that with point and shoot cameras you don't have to worry about ISO settings, shutter speed, aperture, etc. We have enough to learn as agents to even bother.... 

Origami SushiYeah it's nice to take good pictures, but really you don't have to go spend hundreds to promote a listing as long as you keep in mind what pictures are doing for you and how they are helping you sell the listing. It's as simple as looking at your own listing and thinking to yourself "if I were a buyer, would I want to go look at this home based on the picture(s)?". If your answer is no then you need a better picture or you are selling a home that doesn't need more than a picture of the front.

Good pictures can really help you drive traffic to your listing, but I think that more pictures and better quality should be left for higher end listings that really require more attention to detail.

Pictures are like the SAT's. If you get them right you get points towards selling a home. If you don't use them well you don't get points, but if you get it wrong, you can actually lose points. So use pictures to drive traffic and know that some pictures can actually cause you to lose traffic. (It's worth repeating)

Now get out there and sell some houses.....

Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I like good pictures and always post as many as I can.  What frustrates me is the intentionally deceptive pictures, like using the wide angle lens to photo the front of the house so I get a fish eye view.

May 26, 2009 03:37 AM
Chad Boyers
The Danberry Co.- Toledo, Perrysburg, Sylvania, & NW OH - Toledo, OH

You've definitely hit on one of my pet peeves! I did make the investment in a nice DSLR (Canon 40D) last year (along w/ the wide-angle lens) and I can definitely see the difference between that and my point & shoot. I have received many compliments from my sellers as to how nice the pictures look. One of my sellers even joked about the fact that I had him hold a portable light for some of my shots like he was my assistant (he liked that I cared enough about the pictures to have him do this).

I think everyone has had great comments. I know that in my market, it doesn't make sense to hire a professional for every listing b/c of lower average selling prices and budget constraints right now. It amazes me how many high end homes have very poor pictures. I wonder if the sellers ever look at them...

Now if only the quality of my pictures could remain high once uploaded to the MLS and syndication sites...


May 26, 2009 04:47 AM
Jorge Zarate
Re/max Elite - Gilbert, AZ


I've found that to be a problem. What I found that works is to edit the photo in photoshop and reduce the size of it using their image size reduction feature in bicubic sharper mode.

Luckily our MLS keeps the quality of the pictures but other syndication sites don't.

Hope that helps,


May 26, 2009 05:02 AM
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Jorge:  We could not agree more with what you and others are saying, in fact we blogged about this fact a while back.  We cannot believe the quality, or lack there of, of photos we've seen and continue to see on our local MLS.  Are people even trying?!  They're blurry, dark, too far, too close, only in half the shot, or worse yet, there are no photos at all.  Please couldn't we all try a little harder.

May 26, 2009 05:49 AM
Gina Zimmerman
North Eastern Group Realty - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate

One of the realtors in my office had 20 photos on line but three of them were upside down.  He had no clue had to position them.  Perhaps no picture in that case would be better.  Gina

May 26, 2009 08:20 AM
Laura Staude Flood
Brokered by eXp - Lake Mills, WI

I just used my new wide angle lens today at a new listing and it was amazing what a difference it made.  I didn't have to crunch myself back into a corner to get most of the room!  I didn't know that those lens were so reasonable, I ordered mine from Magneticlenses.com and it was shipped for under $50.  I highly recommend using one if you're not already!



May 26, 2009 10:33 AM

Hi Laura - a wide angle lens (WAL) sure does help 'fit more in'. If I can suggest a couple of things to help avoid the distortion inherent in these lenses.

* Bend at the knees and shoot from around 4 ft while keeping the camera level. If you stand at normal height and tilt the camera up or down, vertical features such as walls, door and window frames will lean alarmingly and you risk having the room look like a carnival funhouse.

* Avoid having straight-edged features (eg door frame or wall corner joint) at the left or right edge of your frame. WALs make such lines appear curved.

Lots of tips for RE photography at www.photographyforrealestate.net

May 26, 2009 10:57 AM
Carlos Delgado
Re/max - Chicago, IL

How are sellers still allowing an agent to take pictures...?  A professional photographer will capture the listing better everytime.  An agent that asks a seller for 6% and then takes their own pics with a digital camera is not a professional.

May 26, 2009 12:08 PM
Jorge Zarate
Re/max Elite - Gilbert, AZ

Laura - Congratulations. Isn't it fun to actually take good pictures.

Jon - Thank you for your tips

Carlos - I don't necessarily agree with your statement.
Agents can take pictures just fine. They just need to learn. If they can't learn and still decide to take the pictures then you would be right, they are not professional.


May 26, 2009 12:43 PM
evelyne hunt
Exit Realty NE Houston - Humble, TX

Yes Jorge - you are right about pictures taken with a cell phone! I could never figure out why the pictures were so grainy. No matter what price the listing is, you should treat it the same (take good enough pictures), that's tells a thing or two about the agent. And the seller, I guess they just trust their agent... 85% of buyers initiate their search on the Internet, and having crummy pictures lessen the chance to capture buyer's attention, they will just skip over!!! 

May 26, 2009 03:53 PM
Maria Cutrona
Century 21 Lakeside Realty - Austintown, OH


I'm a firm believer that taking pictures will get more buyers to call you!  Whether is a buyer working with another agent it does not matter... they key is taking pictures of all your listings. 

Now I had foreclosures that I even taken pictures after the home was cleaned out!   I sometimes take pictures of lime green paint on the walls etc.,  The more pictures you have the more activity you will get on your listing.

You are so right!  By the way love the pictures that are being displayed.   Good job!


Maria Cutrona




May 27, 2009 02:31 PM
John Foster
Keller Williams Realty - Cumming, GA
Your Family Realtor for Life

Great post - do you shoot your own virtual tours?  If so does you cameria take wide angle photographs?  I am looking for one that does.

May 31, 2009 07:24 AM
Marilyn Robertson
Lifestyle Properties - Johnson City, TN

May I suggest an effective and cheaper "virtual tour?" It's not a 360° shot with a fish-eye lens, but a slide show using the "walking tour" of the property that I mentioned earlier. I, personally, don't like the feel of something rotating around me, so find this method preferable and have been told by others that they agree. I upload my shots (as many as 75) to the provided in the order that I want them used, select background music, post descriptions, have my credit card charged with $9.95 for each tour and expect it to be posted automatically on Realtor.com within a short time. The comments that I have received from these have been very positive, both from sellers and buyers. I'll be happy to share the information re the company I use.

Did I mention that I use a Nikon D50 and shoot most views with wide angle?

One other tidbit--our firm has a videographer who makes videos of each listing. These are on the MLS and any personal sites with IDX. This is a perk provided by the firm for each agent.

Marilyn Robertson

May 31, 2009 07:47 AM
Jorge Zarate
Re/max Elite - Gilbert, AZ

I don't do my own virtual tours. Ever since our MLS changed and allowed for us to post many pictures, I don't see the advantage of having a virtual tour. I agree with Marilyn, my website has a feature that plays a slideshow of the pictures, so as long as I have good ones and place them in some sort of order, it's just as good as a virtual tour.

I have a nikon D60 and have an 18-55mm lens. It is a wider angle than your normal point and shoot cameras, but not wide enough to capture a full picture of a small space. If you get a wider lens you'll get the fisheye effect. In my opinion, I don't want to take pictures of spaces that are too small to fit on my lens. If that is the case, I rather take pictures of the outside of the home and any open spaces. If that's not enough then I take pictures of the sorroundings (common areas, shopping centers, etc.). If those options are not available, I probably won't be listing the home (not my target market).

My friend recommended to buy a D40 or a D60. It's an entry level SLR camera and you can find one that comes with a wide angle lens kit. I am personally very satisfied with the lens that I currently have and don't see the need to buy a wider lens.  

May 31, 2009 12:38 PM
Marilyn Robertson
Lifestyle Properties - Johnson City, TN

I use the same 18-55mm that Jorge uses--not a fisheye, put effective for rooms as well as exteriors. I do editing with Photoshop Elements 6. Of course the better photograph that one starts with the better the end result! I think that, were I not a photographer, I would either pay someone, perhaps another agent or even barter services with other agents, if possible, to provide good photographs. With the high percentage of buyers using a computer during their buying process and with sellers also checking what we post, how can we possibly NOT provide good photographs?

May 31, 2009 01:25 PM
Stephen Hodge
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage - Cobourg, ON

I recently had a house I've listed professionally photographed. I thought my photos with my higher end Canon PowerShot were pretty good (and by and large they were) but the SLR photos taken by the pro captured so much more of the rooms, and the time he spent in photoshop making colours pop, framing and cropping, and whatnot... well I'm sold. When I can I'll be getting an SLR for my lower end listings due to the incredible difference in photo quality and breadth - and the upper end homes are being farmed out because I'm a Realtor and I believe in professional services!

Jun 02, 2009 01:22 AM
Olga Diaz-Potter

Jorge!  So true!  You need to have pictures to sell anything really.  Most people are visual...you have to see it to entice interest.  Especially in today's technological world where you can see prior to buying you have to offer that to prospective buyers.  Have a nice evening.

Jun 02, 2009 12:12 PM
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

HiJorge~ I have to admit that your sushi photo made me crave some sushi!  Good photos of our homes make buyers crave more- they want to see more of the home!  I think it is disgraceful for any agent to ever put a house on the internet or the MLS without many photos taken to the best of their ability, and if their ability isn't very good, hire a professional! 

Jun 02, 2009 01:43 PM
Walter Espejo
Weichert Realtors - The Andrews Group - Nashville, TN
Bellevue TN Homes for Sale


I just don't get listings without pictures (well, unless they're LLF). That's the first thing I look for, the more the better. Our MLS had just increased our limit from the previous 8. If the property has problems, then take pictures of the high points of the property. This way you are still creating interest.

Jun 03, 2009 01:48 AM
Jorge Zarate
Re/max Elite - Gilbert, AZ

Stephen - It's amazing the difference in quality between SLRs and regular point and shoot. Photoshop is a different story. It can be hard to do and unless you are artistic and like doing it, I would hire someone. However, if you are good at taking photos you shouldn't need to edit them in Photoshop. Search some of your higher end listings and notice how some of these photographers go to an extreme with the editing. They'll brighten up the lights and make the pictures look artifical.... not visually appealing in my opinion.

None of the pictures I took and posted up above have any kind of editing. They were just taken with good lighting. If anything lighting can be a problem when taking pictures in a home... good luck

Vickie - That sushi is from a small town called Silverdale in Washington. The place is called Origami. It is by far one of the best Sushi places I've been to.

Thanks everyone for your comments

Jun 03, 2009 02:20 AM