As a realtor that has been in the business since 2006, I have seen a lot of listings and a wide variety of quality for the photography in those listings. From high-end luxury homes with magazine-quality photography to out-of-focus photos that were uploaded to MLS upside-down (seriously), photography among real estate listings runs the full spectrum.
I am always amazed when I see a high-end home listed with photos that look like my toddler took them. They are often blurry, dark, or framed so poorly that you can’t even see the whole house. When I see these photos, I always wonder how the Realtor got the listing. And I get a little frustrated that I didn’t get a chance to interview with the seller…it would have been the easiest listing appointment of my career.
Consider that an overwhelming majority of buyers shop for homes online. According to National Association of Realtors, 86% of buyers say the internet is the most useful source of information for home shopping, and 89% of those buyers said photos were very useful. Both of these figures are increasing. And 48% of buyers first find the home they actually end up buying online (up from just 8% in 2001). Second is through their agent (33%). And guess where agents usually find the home…that’s right – online through MLS!
Think about the average buying process for just about anything these days (shoes, cars, etc.). It starts online. Everything you buy on Amazon has been professionally photographed. It’s what we, as consumers, have come to expect. Why should it be any different for the most expensive purchase in our lives?
Professional Real Estate Photography Statistics
According to Redfin (real estate news & analysis website), listings between $200,000 and $1,000,000 that are professionally photographed sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more.
Additionally, homes with professional photos are more likely to sell, and in less time. The statistics vary across price ranges, but more details are available at Redfin.com.
Another study by Imoto, a real estate photography company, studied 350 listings that were professionally photographed. The findings were phenomenal. The professionally shot listings:
- Sold 50% faster than average;
- Sold 39% closer to starting list price;
- Increased online views by 118%.
While these numbers are encouraging, it should be noted that professionally photographed houses often meet other criteria as well. They are typically show-ready homes in good-to-excellent condition. Professional photography is a tool that helps these sellers realize the maximum value for their well-maintained investment.
Exceptions to the Rule
So what about less than stellar homes? For your average fixer-upper, it may not make sense to hire a photographer. In fact, it may actually work as a deterrent. Photos from a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone may be just fine. The goal here is not to make every defect overly obvious, but to get buyers into the house to walk through and see the potential.
There are also some situations when a house is just not kept in photo-ready condition. Tenant-occupied homes or homes with messy owners may not be clean and tidy enough for a professional photographer to be of any benefit.
These homes will likely sell for less than if they were kept neat and clean and in good repair, but that’s because of the condition more so than the quality of the photos.