There is no question about the fact that, in almost every case, it’s the visuals that are the first – and most important – step in selling a property.
Everyone understands that descriptions can be embellished slightly to make a home sound amazing, but the camera never lies, does it? Or does it?
Yes, some properties sell themselves on first look. Some, on the other hand, may require a couple of viewings, whilst others may take a little work, persuasion (or even incentives) by an agent.
But all these scenarios have one thing in common:
Whoever and however the properties were eventually bought, in almost every case, the buyer has, in the first instance, been attracted to the property by seeing photos or videos of it.
Photos – and more recently video – are fundamentally key to the sale of a property, yet they are often overlooked or treated as an afterthought.
Scan through various estate agent’s websites and you can demonstrate this to yourself in just a few minutes. You will find some amazing properties which have been beautifully photographed; and yet you will also spot the opposite.
Sometimes it is almost too difficult to believe, but an incredible property can look tired, dull and drab, simply due to the photographer who creates the images that are used to market it.
And importantly, this impression goes beyond the first glance at the photos.
First impressions last (a long time)
We have all heard of the studies on the subject of first impressions count, and that we make up our minds about a person within the first three seconds of meeting them.
Well – it’s not just people. By the time a buyer has looked at a handful of images of a property – they have already formed an opinion about it, and it is this opinion they will carry with them when they go for a physical viewing.
This is not the place to dive into the workings of the human mind and heuristics (you can do that later), but suffice to say, on a physical viewing, the buyer will be unconsciously looking for evidence that their initial impression about the property was correct.
Their opinion on the property has already been formed by the photos and (with the odd exception) at the subsequent viewing, their mind is working hard to convince them that their first impression was accurate.
How to achieve the best property photos
So the question before us now is how to get the best photos of a property you wish to sell.
Broadly, you have three options:
- Owner’s do it yourself photos
- Estate agent photographer
- Hire a professional property photographer
Do it yourself
Owning a camera, unfortunately, does not make a person a photographer.
Today, with almost everyone owning a smartphone with a camera, we have become very snap-happy and we post and share images to apps such as Instagram and Facebook all the time.
We think we have taken a great photo – but snapping ourselves, or the sandwich we had for lunch, is not in the same league as marketing a property worth a several hundred thousand pounds.
Even with some guidance on property photography, most people are unlikely to be able to capture the best images of their homes. Framing a quality image takes experience and a good eye – and that is before we get to the equipment.
The truth is that quality equipment is required for a quality image. That, and some good post-processing software (such as Photoshop).
If you are going to take your own images, however, here are a few simple rules to follow to make them the best possible:
- Stage your rooms. Here are some great tips on property staging.
- Use as much natural light as you can (have windows closed, but curtains open wide). Only use artificial light if essential. (Usually, you’ll need it in the bathroom). Most home lighting is not suitable for photography.
- Keep the camera level and at around chest height.
- Room shapes can vary, but for a rectangular room, take the photo from a corner and face the corner diagonally opposite. Capture as much of the room as possible and try to be facing the two most attractive walls!
- Take the photos in the order you would naturally walk around the home, e.g. downstairs rooms first, front to back, followed by upstairs.
- Don’t forget to include views of the garden and one of the property from the street.
That’s a very brief overview, but these simple rules will have you taking photos far superior to those that most DIYers will achieve.
The estate agent’s photographer
Most often, photographing your home will be included in the estate agent’s service package, although some may have different levels of service available for an additional fee.
Almost always, these images will be of better quality than most people can muster of their own homes, however, this is not always the case.
As with any photography service, take a look at other photos they have taken to get an idea of the quality – there’s a whole heap of them on their agency website!
Few estate agents have a full-time photographer whose role is only to take property photos – it’s simply too expensive for most agencies to have one full time, although larger ones may. This means that most times, your sales agent will be the one taking the photographs.
Estate agent photography is usually better than DIY simply because of the equipment they use and the experience they have, but it will vary from agent to agent, and this is why you should factor in the quality of photography when choosing an agent to market your property.
As we have already seen, photo quality is essential for successful sales, so if you feel an agent’s images are not up to scratch, then this may influence your decision as to which agency to sell through.
Hiring a professional photographer
Without a doubt, the best images you are going to get of your home will be created by a professional photographer.
A professional will have the right equipment, the eye for the perfect shot and a heap of experience, and will bring all these factors to the photoshoot to create something special to represent your home. They will even have you looking at your property in a way you haven’t seen it before!
Increasingly, you will find estate agents who do hire professional photographers to do their photoshoots for them – and they are to be commended for this. These are the agencies who have calculated the numbers and discovered that – even though paying professionals costs more than doing it themselves – the finished images usually result in more sales, faster sales and higher values.
Even if your estate agent does not do this, it doesn’t mean you cannot hire a professional yourself. Several high-quality photography agencies will create a set of property photos for a fixed fee and you may be surprised how little it costs. £100 or £200 may initially sound like a large sum, until you compare it to the property sales value and potential extra buyer interest.
Higher quality photographs equal more interested (and usually more enthusiastic) enquiries.
And as well as the essential photographic equipment, a pro photographer will have professional lighting if it’s needed, an assortment of lenses for every room size and shape, plus a host of optional extras, such as drones for an overhead image. Some will even offer video services.
Finally, the professional photographer has access to, and the best skills with, post-processing software. Almost every photograph you see today, in advertising, magazines and online, has been Photoshopped in some way to improve it.
As buyers, we have been spoiled by this long exposure to high-quality imagery, and we are quick to disregard any image that is not pixel-perfect.
These same retouching skills will work wonders for the photos of your home, and a great professional photographer will always be found working with a great photo editor.
Professional property photography wrapped up
As with many things in life – always go for the best option that you can afford.
The difference with property photography however, is that spending a little more to get professional results is not really spending – it’s an investment, much like the property you are about to sell.
This article was brought to you by Malcolm, content manager for Splento.com – a source of professional photographers and videographers, that can be booked online from anywhere in the world.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to read more, be sure to check out our latest property news, advice and tips. Also, if you’re a property marketing expert like Malcolm and would like the chance to voice your opinion, do reach out to our editor.
Myles is a first class ‘word nerd’ currently working at the heart of the property industry. He’s particularly passionate about all-things property, interiors and D.I.Y.
Be sure to connect with him via LinkedIn.