Originally posted at The Real Estate Appraisal Group Blog on December 2, 2015
Putting time and money into taking proper real estate listing photos may seem like a waste- after all, technology has reached a point where most current cell phone cameras are far superior to any camera you would buy from the store 5 years ago. Snapping a few quick pictures on a stroll across the property may seem sufficient- after all, the house should speak for itself right?
Wrong. Even the nicest of properties can turn away potential buyers if the listing photos don’t properly highlight it’s features. As real estate appraisers, we sort through hundreds of listing photos every day. Having seen some of the best- and plenty of the worst- we can honestly say that the quality of the listing photos is definitely reflected in the days on market of a home. Better photos attract more buyers, get more offers, and sell faster- but what do I need to do to really take a good listing photo?
1. Include a shot from the curb
Everyone’s heard the term “curb appeal” before, and if your home has any, this one should be a no brainer. Be careful to always take photos parallel with the roof line– or else, you can create “landslide” effect, making it look like the property is on a tilt or needs some landscaping when in reality it’s perfectly flat.
2. Keep people and pets out of the photos (including the photographer in mirrors)
Mirrors may help light a room, but buyers don’t want to picture anyone in this house other than themselves- that’s why their thinking about buying it. Also, not everyone is a dog or cat person, and they don’t want to see your pets waiting to be let inside while you photograph the backyard.
3. Be sure to photograph your decks and patios
We can’t say how often when doing an appraisals we see agents forgetting to do this. When selecting comparable houses on appraisals, we often need to know if there is a patio, deck, or porch when writing up the report. If it’s not mentioned specifically in the listing, and there’s no photo showing it definitively (not just a corner or single concrete patio square visible from around the corner), we’d never know it was there. Let your buyers know it’s there.
4. Natural lighting is your friend
Open the curtains, turn on all the lights, and most importantly, don’t use your camera’s flash. Light coming from a single direction creates unattractive shadows and makes mirrors look even worse. Also, don’t take any interior pictures in the dark if you can avoid it- the more lighting the better (as long as it’s not the flash).
5. Take photos from corners
Snapping pictures from the doorway or corner of room helps to show off as much space as possible. The same is true for exterior photos, always try to take photos from a slight angle instead of straight on to showcase the properties depth.
6. Touch up your photos
Touch up your photos. You don’t need to be a photoshop expert- heck, you don’t even have to know what photoshop is- but you do have to take advantage of the incredible number of photo touch-up programs and websites available free of charge that can really make your photos pop. Websites like Pixlr and BeFunky only are both free and easy to use, and offer a wide array of editing options and filters that can clean up a dark or overexposed photo in a single click.
Jonathan Montgomery Founder and President of the The Real Estate Appraisal Group. He has been a real estate professional since 1998. He’s been a broker, and investor, and now serves as an appraiser. He currently works as an appraiser, doing real estate appraisals in Washington D.C., Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia.