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A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars

Real Estate Technology

I ran across an article filled with great stats on how pictures affect the sale of a listing.

Quick Summary:

  • Listings with more pictures generate more leads
  • More pictures = quicker sale (1 photo = 70 DOM, 20 photos = 32 DOM)
  • More pictures = higher list-to-sale price (1 photo = 91.2%, 6+ photos = 95%)

For the full article, see The Successful Combination of Photography and Real Estate.

The statistics didn't even attempt to deal with photographic quality, but I would think that the numbers would be even better if they tried to take photo quality into account. 


Julie Chapman
Julie Chapman Broker - Ormond Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

Hello Alan,

Great post and so to the point and on the mark......I like it.......

May 04, 2008 07:03 AM
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

I did a survey of sales and expireds in the Phoenix area MLS for 2007 back a couple months ago. Our MLS permits 6 pics, 2 links to outside websites (virtual tours, single ppty websites, etc.) & 1 pdf upload. I can't search virtual tours or pdf uploads unfortunately (short of pulling every listing and manually counting) but I can search by # of photos.

A few findings (For reference, off the top of my head median in our market for 2007 was about $230-240k.): 

- I found that listings with the full 6 pics did sell for more. . . .until you get to about $1M or so, then they actually sold for less! For the market overall, listings with 6 pics sold for $185.07 per sf while less than 6 sold for $153.91 per sf. 

- Listings with 6 pics did NOT sell faster except at a couple mid-high end price points and then only a little faster.  Overall, listings with 6 pics sold in 119 days while less than 6 sold in 97 days.

-  IN the market overall, 65.12% of solds had the full 6 pics while 62.70% of expireds had the full 6 pics.

- The # of solds with 6 pics is lowest at the lowest price points (under $200k) at 51.93% and peaks in the $600-700k price range at 81.58% and then curiously, tapers off as you go up in price. At over $2.5M, the # is 75.09%.

- The # of solds with 6 pics is higher than the # of expireds with 6 pics at every price point, peaking in the $200-300k price range where the difference was 5.46 points (64.21% v 58.75%).

My study was done at $100k increments up to $700k where I split it into larger chunks to get enough data points. I searched for #s at every # of pics and also did chunks for less than 6 pics and 2-5 pics (to get the 1 pics listings out of there theorizing there are a lot of bank-owned properties with only 1 pic). It was an exhaustive study and took me quite awhile to finish but provided me with lots of info that I now use in my listing presentations.

In the end, given that more pics doesn't sell quicker but does sell for more, I determined that moreso than more pics   selling the house,  more pics is evidence of a better agent. . . .

Would love to expand on that thought but need to run 

May 04, 2008 07:34 AM
Alan Pinstein
Decatur, GA

Eric: those are some great local stats. It's really tough to do go research due to the whole link-off-to-virtual-tours thing.

It is curious that the price-per-sf starts to drop on expensive houses with lots of pictures (that is the observation you made, right?)

I wonder if that might be due to "quality", or that a much higher % of $1M+ houses have 6 pics. It would be interesting to get more data and see those results, but for now we'll just have to resort to wild speculation ;)

May 04, 2008 01:03 PM
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

My assumption on high-end homes is two-fold:

- first, I assume that high-end homes have a higher percentage of virtual tours and so on. Agents might just provide 1 or a couple front photos and then a link to a virtual tour counting on that to cover the photos . . . .Again, I cannot search my MLS for % of homes that have a virtual tour except to pull each listing and hand-count which would take days. As curious as I might be, I don't have that kind of time :-)

- second is that once you get to ultra-luxury, say $2.5M+ (or 10X median in my market), it becomes less about your marketing and more about who you know. For example, there were 23 sales at $5M+ in Phoenix last year - those listings were handled by a surprisingly small # of agents and/or teams, something like 4 agents/teams had over half those listings. I know there are some listings that sell outside the MLS for privacy reasons and the only way to sell is that the agent can market to the same small group fo agents since they are likely to have the buyers anyway. 

May 04, 2008 06:21 PM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX
I read the same statistics in an article on REALTOR.org.  However, I agree with Eric's assesment when it comes to the correlation between the number of photos and the time on the market or the sales price.  It is very hard to separate out the many factors that cause a house to sell.  I too would assume that more photos means the agent is doing a better job all around.
May 05, 2008 12:12 AM
Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

Thanks  Alan for this post and info that Ive hoped and thought was true. That the more number of quality photos and good info on a agent's listing that answers buyers questions will get them to walk in the door to take a look and put the property on their short list and hopefully will lead to a sale! 


Cape Cod Realtor sdw1

May 08, 2008 06:11 AM
Tony Flora
Tony Flora Photography - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Hey Alan,

Great post, thanks for the information, should come in handy for a client presentation this week.



May 08, 2008 12:07 PM
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno
I was in a class recently and we learned that besides location, location, location, you have to have presentation, presentation, presentation. I agree with the article and you. Thank you so much for sharing.
May 08, 2008 12:59 PM
Maggie Dee
Maggie Dee Photographer - Hamilton, ON
Specializing in Corporate headshots that count
Are real estate agents supposed to be professional photographers too? Or should we the pros in photography be shooting the houses to make them sell. I am curious as to how the photography is approached?
May 08, 2008 01:10 PM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Maggie, do photographers wait to get paid when the house sells?  That could cause me to use a professional photographer more.  Plus I only want to pay a quarter of the price for a $50,000 house as I do a $200,000 house and I don't want to pay that much for the $200,000 house.

The discussion has been had.  Photos don't sell the house.  Bad photos won't help and no photos may be worse.  These statistics show that more photos will help a house sell for more money in less time.  It's my opinion that good photos will cause a person to want to see a house when bad ones didn't, but photos are only part of the marketing plan.  The bottom line is that an agent must compete.  If the agent has to hire a professional photographer to compete with an agent who has become a proficient photographer, then that's what they have to do.
May 08, 2008 02:46 PM
Nyles Courchesne
Peskin, Courchesne and Allen, P.C. - Springfield, MA
Massachusetts Real Estate Attorney
I heard on NPR that Columbia University did a study regarding precise pricing, i.e., pricing a home to the dollar like $301,274.00  as opposed to a round thousand dollar figure such as $299,000.00 and found that a home with a precise price was perceived as a better value than a higher priced round figured home.  There seem to be may similar tricks!
May 08, 2008 03:20 PM
Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

I dont understand precise prices Nyles if it works like but I see some agents use it. Maybe it just stands out from the rest! Anyone on AR use it and get any results with it?


Cape Cod Realtor sdw1

May 10, 2008 09:55 AM
Alan Pinstein
Decatur, GA

Photographers get paid when they do the service, and they are paid basically based on their time.

However, the price you pay to shoot a house is usually roughly proportional to what it costs; more expensive houses usually require more photographs and thus the price goes up. Prices for photography services range from about $75-$500, depending on quality, number of shots, and features (panoramas, floorplans, etc).

I can understand your not wanting to have to pay for the photographs until the house sells. It is no fun to have to pay for marketing materials and then run the risk of losing the listing and being out that money. However, the fix is not to move that risk to the photographer, that wouldn't be at all fair. The fix is for you to ask the homeowner to pay for the photographs. This way they own them, and if they switch agents then they can keep the photographs. Of course, maybe that makes it a little easier for them to dump you as an agent, but hey, if you don't want the risk of putting up the money on your own, then that's the best way around it, in my opinion.

May 10, 2008 10:51 AM
Alan Pinstein
Decatur, GA

Maggie: I don't think that agents are supposed to be professional photographers. If a particular agent does photography as a hobby, that's one thing.

However, taking good pictures requires equipment, experience, skills, and time. Since you can get quality photography done of most houses for about $125, I'd think in most cases it's worth it to use a professional.

Remember, except for drive-by's, these pictures will be the first impression most people experience of the house. On the MLS, web sites, flyers, postcards, etc. Having a great photography improves the odds that someone will want to check it out in-person, or even buy it sight-unseen. And yes, it does happen, more than you'd think! 

May 10, 2008 10:55 AM
John Gray
Windermere Real Estate - McKenzie Bridge, OR
McKenzie Valley Realtor

Great photos are a big marketing differentiator.  Want more visitors to your website?  Lots of flattering, high quality property photos will bring people back.  Want to really differentiate yourself?  Get aerial shots of your listings.  A google earth picture is definitely not the same as a high quality aerial shot.  Your sellers will love it, too.  Great local photography can also differentiate you on localism.com. 

Good photography is a learned skill. Anyone can learn to take impressive shots - but it's not everyone's cup of tea.  With today's digital photo technology it doesn't take a lot of time or money to learn do an exceptional job photographing your listings.  But if you don't want to do it yourself, you should definitely hire a professional or local semi-professional to do it for you. 

The other photography differentiator for us is getting additional shots of high interest properties for our long-distance clients, and putting them up on the web.  We use Google's Picasa to quickly and automatically create a photo folder, automatically upload to Picasa's web photo sharing site, and email the link to our client.  I have yet to meet a client who isn't impressed with that level of service.

Picasa is a free download at http://picasa.google.com/.  Try it - you'll like it!  Unfortunately, it doesn't yet run on Macintosh.  Bless all you do-it-yourself agent/photographers!


May 10, 2008 01:31 PM
Alan Pinstein
Decatur, GA


I am surprised to hear you say about what you do with Picasa. We built a system about 4 years ago to do just this, specifically for real estate. Now it's just a feature in a complete realtor web site system used by thousands, but that feature is practically never used, despite my pushing it hard. I could never get any agents to see that it was a really useful thing to do for clients. Oh well...


May 12, 2008 08:19 AM
Stuart Wade
Envision Web LLC - Gainesville, GA
Envision Websites & Virtual Tours, Mobile ipad & iphone IDX

This is old news for me, but maybe the light will come on soon for some of the others.

Jun 29, 2008 09:58 AM

Alan: Right on, right on, right on.

I agree that waiting until the house sells for payment is ludicrous. My husband (my sarcastic half) would ask, "Will the real estate agent wait 60 days for his commission after the house closes? I don't *think* so."

Many people who don't have an "eye" for photography don't realize it, which is the sad part, don't you agree? We've all seen Refrigerator Magnet nightmare photos.

We send out checklists to our clients to share with homeowners because we've been there and seen it. We shoot as-is. When homeowners see in black and white that we're not their housekeeper, they realize they must be accountable for how the home looks. Refrigerator magnets and "corkboard spaghetti" catch the viewer's attention (people try to decipher what that says) and detracts from the home.

Dawn Shaffer, www.AllAboutVirtualTours.com

Jun 30, 2008 01:48 PM
Greg Fox
Realty World Wichita - Wichita, KS
Techy Broker in Wichita Kansas

I did a quick study yesterday.  900 listings between 150K and 200K active or pending.  Less than 300 had virtual tour links (and some links don't work).  Now I guess I should check and see if the pendings do anything...

Jul 04, 2008 02:32 AM
Paul Viau
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog - Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog + Photo Services

Excellent article in your blog! If only every agent had this in their presentation! In my town there are only 10 -20 agents doing a proper job out of 1000!



Aug 04, 2008 12:56 PM