Real estate agents have a difficult enough job to do. Especially in the year 2022. They must find clients, conduct open houses, create marketing materials, meet with prospective buyers, and get paid.
One of the most important aspects of selling a listing is marketing: professional photographs, professional video, and even a virtual tour. There are many tools available today that were not available a decade ago. Smartphones, drones, 360-degree cameras to name a few. These tools, if used correctly, can make a listing stand out. They can attract more buyers, and in some cases increase the sales price of the home or property. I believe we can all agree on that. Buyers expect to get a good, thorough feel for a property before they even step foot on it. IF they even step foot on it.
But agents or brokers should not shoulder the responsibility of utilizing today’s technology to market their listing. That should be left up to professionals. At least that is our opinion. After all, a plumber doesn't fix cars, a baker doesn't build houses, a lawyer doesn't perform surgery, a ... you get the point. While it may be more cost-efficient for a realtor to take on the responsibility of capturing professional images and video, in the end, it may be pennywise and pound foolish.
The purpose of this article is to give you the right toolbox of questions and the answers to look for when using a professional real estate photography and video agency to capture photos and video of your listing.
What is your turnaround time to deliver the final product(s)? This is usually the first question an agent or broker may ask as they think it is the most important. After all, time is money. While we agree it is important to get your images and or video back promptly, we suggest you don’t dismiss quality for the sake of expediency. Remember, you are hiring a professional agency for the best quality to market your listings. Some photography “experts” might promise you the results in a few hours after leaving the property, but the results are not going to be much better than if you shot the property yourself.
For photography, it is reasonable to expect the final images with a turnaround time of no longer than 24 hours. For video, up to 48 hours is reasonable. Depending on the size and complexity of the project. For complete detailed virtual tours, two to three days should be enough time. Some listings may require a very fast turnaround and some professional photography agencies may very well be able to accommodate. But expect to pay a premium. Like anything else, it always makes sense to plan ahead so that whoever you hire has time to deliver the best possible results.
What time are you planning on shooting the property? If the photographer/videographer tells you “Whatever time is best for you”, think twice about using their services. While this answer might seem like the most convenient for your schedule, it’s not the best answer that is going to produce the best images. Most photographers in almost any field usually produce their best work in the “ Golden Hour.”
The golden hour is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset that produces warm natural light. That window of time is obviously determined by where you are geographically, as well as the season. A true professional should be able to deliver high-quality results no matter what time of day the shoot takes place, but they should almost always want to do their work during the golden hour. This is particularly the case when photographing or filming the exterior of the property.
What happens if the weather doesn’t cooperate? When you are working with a photography agency it is important to plan when they will be on-site based on weather conditions. This along with the best time to shoot the property is always going to produce the best results. No matter who you work with, make sure they are aware of what the weather conditions are going to be like for the date they give you. It sounds like a no-brainer, but we have seen instances where all the planning takes place and the most important element, the weather, is not considered.
Do you know the main selling points of the property? A seasoned, professional photographer should have a knack for capturing the standout features of any listing. But it is always a good idea to have a conversation before they arrive on location to go over what makes the property stand out.
What are some details they might overlook?
Are there particular rooms, other than the usual dining, kitchen, bath, and bedrooms they should pay attention to?
Are there outdoor features that separate the listing from others in the neighborhood?
If they are performing aerial photography or video, how much of the surrounding area should they capture?
It is always easier to preplan than to have the photography and video team go back and capture areas they might have missed the first time around.
Do you offer virtual staging for empty homes? Some photography agencies perform these services. Some do not. If you are going to require virtual furniture in the home, apartment, or condo you should ask them before hiring them if they offer this service. Asking them after the fact, needing this feature, and them telling you “no” is just going to require an extra step to complete the pictures.
Do you do all the necessary post-production work in-house or do you outsource it? Post-production usually consists of cleaning up unwanted items in a picture and lighting corrections. Some examples may be fixing cracks in a driveway or marks on a wall via Photoshop. Adjusting the lighting for the entire shoot via Lightroom for consistency. Or using Luminar for a sky replacement. Most reputable photography companies should have no problem taking care of the post-production work to produce the best results in-house. Be wary of companies who outsource this work to another country as it often produces less than desirable work.
When you deliver the final images and video, does my agency own them or are we licensing them from you? This will vary depending on the photographer you use. Some photographers will deliver the final results for an agency for them to use however they want. Other photographers will license the images and videos. There is no right answer here as it depends on your needs. If you need to own the files outright then a photography agency that licenses their content might not be the best choice for you. Owning the images and video makes it easier for the agent or the private home seller to continue using the photos and videos for as long as they need for whatever purpose they need them for. Photography agencies realize this which is why this stick with a licensing format to get the most profit out of their work. There is no right or wrong way for either party. It’s just whatever suits both parties best.
How will you deliver the final photographs and video? This answer will be different for each photography agency. Most, if not all, agencies will simply deliver their work through some digital platform: Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc. The options have become so plentiful that they will usually work with a realtor in a way that is most convenient for you. Keep in mind that not all photographers offer their finished work in print format. If you should need printed images make sure you ask if they offer that service.
What do you charge? Ah, the ever so important question of price. We can write an entire article on price alone. Since it varies so much depending on the location of the property, the experience of the agency you are working with, the scope of the project, etc. etc. We don’t want to suggest what the right answer is. We have adjusted our pricing over the years depending on the marketing and the needs and budgets of our clients. We feel our prices are competitive within the industry while still providing the highest quality available. Here is a link to our pricing for the individual services we offer as a guide when working with other agencies.
Well, we hope we covered almost everything you should ask an individual photographer or photography agency before hiring them for a project. Every listing will be different so there may be some additional questions that will come up. This list is to serve as a foundation for the fundamental questions and answers you will want to address. If there is something you aren’t sure of or need further clarification on, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and we will be happy to help you out. Good luck!