Last week we talked about the importance of hiring the right photographer for the job and why you would want to hire an architectural or real estate photographer for your real estate listings. But how do you find and hire a reputable architectural or real estate photographer in the Baltimore area to take photos of your listings? What kind of information do you need to know about them and their skills? What about pricing? How can you ensure you get the best results which are representative of your brand as a realtor?
This week we provide some answers to these questions for you.
1. How do you find and hire a reputable real estate photographer?
One option would be to talk to your colleagues and ask them to recommend a professional real estate photographer. Of course that’s assuming that they use one. You can also browse listing on the local MLS (MRIS in the Baltimore Metro area). Carefully look at the photos. Which ones do you find appealing? Do you feel they are representative of the property? Is the photographer’s style one that would match your brand? Once you’ve narrowed down the photos that you like, you can contact the listing agent(s) for those properties and ask them the name of the photographer(s) if you aren’t able to determine who they are. Be forewarned that some agents are reluctant to share this information with their competitors. Another option is to do some online research. MRIS has a list of approved virtual tour providers with links to their websites. You can also check The Best Real Estate Photographers directory. Another directory is Real Estate Photographers of America & International.
2. What do you need to know about the photographer you select?
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices and identified a few photographers whose work you like, you may want to find out some additional information. Of course, equipment is one consideration. Do they use a wide-angle lens? Do they have additional lenses for closeup photos of architectural details? Is the camera they use high-resolution? Are they reliable and dependable? Do they carry Liability Insurance? How well do they interact with homeowners? Are they easy to work with? How well will they represent you and your brand? What can you expect the day of the photo shoot? Some of the answers to these questions may be found out by talking with agents who have hired the photographers on your “short list” and some you may be able to determine after talking with the photographer about his or her services and products.
3. What about pricing?
Professional architectural and real estate photographers have many expenses associated with their work. Expenses include camera(s), flashes (if used), computer hardware and software, affiliate memberships with the local MLS board, professional memberships, vehicle expenses and maintenance, insurances, etc. All of these operating expenses are taken into consideration when the photographer prices his or her products.
Some agents will select a photographer based on price alone, looking for the cheapest photographer. Unfortunately, they are often disappointed when the photos do not meet their expectations or there is an issue with the photographer’s service. We are often called to re-shoot these properties, costing the agent additional money. Savvy realtors know that professional photos often result in a higher sale price with fewer days on the market. They also know that very good photos make them look stand out as real estate agents and they will often get higher-end listings.
It’s difficult to discuss pricing without at least a mention of copyright and licensing. While lower priced photographers may not be concerned with these two items, professional photographers will implement licensing agreements with their clients. US Copyright Law stipulates that the photographer retains the copyright (ownership) of photos at the time they are taken. Copyright can be transferred to another party by written agreement only. Licensing fees are implemented by almost every professional photographer and the license stipulates what you are and are not able to do with the photos. So, in other words, the licensing fee grants you the right to use the photos in specific places for a specific period of time, but the photographer retains ownership of the photos. Purchasing the copyright is much more costly. We’ll discuss copyright and licensing in further depth in an upcoming post.
Communicate with the photographer so you get the photos you want.
4. How can you make sure you get the best results?
We’ve previously provided a Checklist for Sellers to prepare their home for a photoshoot and to go on the market. Communication between the listing agent and the photographer are key to ensure you are getting the best photos possible. Prior to the photoshoot the agent should walk through the property to ensure everything is ready to be photographed. If there are specific areas of the interior or exterior you do (or do not) want photographed, provide that information to your photographer. Professional photographers know which angles will show the home’s best features in a pleasing manner, so you generally don’t need to follow them from room to room as this will slow down the process.
Once the photos have been returned to you, make sure the photographer captured the interior and exterior areas of the home as you requested. Also check to make sure that the editing is in compliance with the MLS rules for photos. Evaluate the photos and determine whether they are appealing to potential buyers. Were the photos edited in a timely manner? Was the photographer easy to work with? Is the quality of the photos reflected in the photographer’s pricing?
Weigh the pros and cons of having a business relationship with the photographer and determine whether you will continue to work with them for future listings, or if you need to return to your list of potential photographers and try again.
If you need photos and/or additional services for your listing, Charm City Virtual Tours would be happy to assist you. With over 11 years of experience and thousands of happy homeowners in the Baltimore Metro Area, we have the skills to provide you with high resolution photos that will appeal to prospective buyers and make you look good as an outstanding real estate agent!