Real Estate Marketing: Great Photos Aren’t Enough, Nor Are They Required.

“All consumers really care about are great photos of the home.”

This is a statement that agents, brokers, and professional photographers consistently offer as an argument against doing more in the marketing of a listing. Standing alone, it’s hard to quarrel with the statement. Consumers do REALLY want great photos and studies have consistently indicated that homes with quality professional photos sell faster and at a higher price than homes without them. But this argument carries the more than subtle undertone that great photos are “enough,” and as always, there is the tendency to equate correlation with causation.

It’s also usually buttressed with, “the house is going to sell whether I do (fill in the blank with anything more than great photos) or not.” This line of reasoning is also hard to dispute. A house with great photos that’s priced right is going to sell, whether it has a video, a 3D tour, a floor plan or any other “extra.” But here’s the thing, a home is also going to sell even with average photos, or even bad photos, provided price and condition match the consumer expectation.

“In my Association, the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®, of houses priced at or above the median home price, 204 sold in the last year with 0 pictures and 826 sold with just a single photo. In fact, more homes had 1 or fewer photos than had a 3D tour attached. Only 249 had a 3D tour attached. These are not investment properties, folks.”

Steve Bintz, active REALTOR® & immoviewer Director of Sales

There are entire sites and Facebook groups dedicated to bad real estate photos. And while I’d certainly maintain that the general quality of real estate listing photos has improved over the last decade, truly bad photos still exist in surprising numbers and even those homes will sell. Today it took me less than 30 seconds to find an example in a search of homes in Santa Clarita, CA. The home below is listed for $380,000 and every single one of the 12 featured photos is bad.

I have a suggestion. If you’re searching for the least amount of effort and cost you can put into marketing your listings, since the home is going to sell anyway, then ask your client to take the iPhone out of their pocket, and go snap a few photos of their house for you. They can simply send them to you and you can move on with your day. If you ask nicely, perhaps they could take care of the open houses for you as well.

Yes, that is pure sarcasm. My apologies. But if you carry this argument to its ridiculous extreme, you end up here — a home priced right will eventually sell, even without an agent involved. Some variation on this argument is part of what is channeling insane amounts of venture capital money into the real estate space. It’s a slippery slope.

The Pro Pushback To 3D

Professional real estate photographers have been consciously and unconsciously complicit in slowing the adoption of 3D tours, and not for nefarious reasons or because they’re trying to thwart the advance of media innovation. Professional photographers are merely trying to make good business decisions. They want to fulfill the desires of their clients and meet the quality standards they’ve set for their work product at the same time.

The expense of a Matterport camera, while considerable, is not the reason for their pushback. Their existing pro camera equipment often costs more. Pros are used to that kind of equipment expense. No, their hesitation is a result of the ongoing costs that come as a result of the extra time required to shoot the home and the impact of different camera workflows. These are real considerations and the increased fees required to cover this extra time is not a price most real estate agents are willing to pay in addition to the quality photography. This presents a conundrum that often results in pushback.

What Do Professional Photographers Really Want?

What professional photographers tell us they desire is an option to use their existing equipment to achieve the quality results their clients hire them for and not dramatically increase the time they spend at the home. This makes sense. As I’ve said, pros have typically invested a significant amount of money into their camera equipment and photo processing workflows.

We have a solution. It’s a simple one… don’t force photographers to use different equipment, give them full control over image quality and photo processing workflow, and make sure the result gives the consumer the immersive experience they really want as part of their home search.

A Quality Example

One professional photography company, TruPlace, is tapping into the fact that immoviewer is truly camera agnostic. They love that all of the features of the immoviewer platform work with any standard 360° image. As a result, TruPlace is using their existing DSLR technology to shoot some of the most beautiful 360° images we’ve ever seen. Here’s a sample tour. We think their results speak volumes.

“By adding TruFusion 3D Tours, powered by immoviewer, to our suite of products we are meeting the needs for our clients looking for a 3D immersive experience with stunning high quality images.”

Suzi Cusack, Vice President at TruPlace

Is a quality immersive 3D tour necessary to sell a home? No. But when my wife sends me a link to a listing she’s found, I’m really, really happy when I find great photos, an immersive tour, and a floor plan to help me understand the layout of the home. I’m rarely happily surprised. When I receive one that does, and far less than 3% of all listings have those extras, they really stand out.

Here’s a better suggestion without the sarcasm – stand out, don’t blend in.

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