Awful Real-Estate Listing Photos: How Not to Take Them
Original Post Date: July 22, 2010
By: Sarah Max
With the market in a post tax-credit slump, you’d think home sellers would be bringing their A-game in trying to unload their property. But a search through some recent home listings reveals some pretty horrid house photos. A recent post on Seattle Bubble has some great examples of bank-owned listing photos that would scare away most buyers, save for maybe Gomez and Morticia Addams.
You don’t need to be an expert in consumer psychology to know that when buyers troll through a sea of online listings, they’re going to click on the pretty pictures and ignore those showing unkempt yards or an explosion of chintz. Yet, many sellers – and the real estate professionals they’ve hired to know this stuff – are still so bold, or clueless, that they showcase their homes with really, really bad photos.
Of course, taking good listing photos isn’t just about cutting the grass and asking the neighbor to move his pick-up truck away from your front curb. It means staging the shot, finding the best angles and paying attention to lighting, says Larry Lohrman, a retired real estate agent who offers detailed tips on his site, PhotographyForRealEstate.net.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:
- Don’t clutter your listing with a lot of pictures just for the sake of having… a lot of pictures, says Pat Giles, vice president of marketing and interactive marketing for John L. Scott in Seattle. Every picture should have a purpose and be consistent with look and feel.
- Do put extra effort into the primary exterior shot. This shot is the virtual equivalent of curb appeal. If buyers don’t like what they see, they won’t click further. Take this shot about 10 or 20 feet above street level, says Mr. Lohrman. Put your garbage cans away, pull the ‘For Sale’ sign out of the yard and make sure your car – or anything else that detracts from your house – is out of the picture.
- Do pay attention to the weather. A professional photographer can make your house look good rain or shine, but too much of either isn’t necessarily a good thing. “If it’s too sunny you get a lot of shadows,” says Linda Monforton, a virtual tour photographer for Coldwell Banker Select in Tulsa, Ok. Seasons are also something that buyers pay attention to, at least subliminally. If you’re marketing a ski house in January, pray for snow. But if the house hasn’t sold by spring, take a new exterior shot.
- Do rearrange the furniture. Whether you want to show off a room’s best features, make it seem more spacious or get that outdated La-Z-Boy out of the shot, the time you put into staging a room before you snap photos can pay dividends. Pay particular attention to lighting; turn on overhead lights, open the drapes, or remove them altogether. Another secret to nailing a real estate shot: Use a wide-angle lens, says Mr. Lohrman.
- Don’t give Fluffy or Spot a starring role in the photo. Unless you’re bent on selling exclusively to dog or cat lovers, keep your pets – or any signs of them – out of listing photos since buyers may associate them with bad smells, allergens or patchy yards. “The worst one is when people leave cat food dishes on the counters,” says Ms. Monforton, virtual tour photographer for Coldwell Banker Select in Tulsa, Ok.