I was recently talking with Colton Thompson, an entrepreneur who started as a Realtor, then used his real estate knowledge to fuel his successful photography business. Colton is an expert in real estate photography, and not just traditional photos but also drone photography and virtual 3D modeling.
The technology he employs allows him to take 360-degree photos and then feed the images into a program that makes an incredible model of the house. You can twist and turn the model for different perspectives, “remove” the top story so you can see the downstairs floorplan as though looking in from the ceiling. In many ways, this is better than a walk-through video; that only provides one perspective.
When it comes to selling a house, it can be difficult to know where to spend money for the quickest and most profitable sale. How much should you spend to promote it? Is it worth hiring a professional photographer? Well, recent surveys suggest that having professional-grade photos can make a huge difference.
Trulia, one of the many online listing services, notes that 84 percent of homebuyers won’t consider a home without professional-quality photos. Zillow, another online listing service, says homes with professional photos have 61 percent more traffic. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says listings with professional photos sell 32 percent faster than the national average, and 87 percent of buyers rely on photos to make a final purchase decision. So, I’d say high-quality photos are important.
In 2021, 93 percent of prospective home buyers began their search online, so it’s not just Millennials and Gen Z anymore. I think COVID forced the few remaining luddites to stop circling newspaper advertisements and go online.
Prospective buyers are tech-savvy and if your property doesn’t stand out with an engaging photo, it’ll get passed over.
So, what does it mean to have a good photo? The basics include things like attractive lighting and sharp focus, but there are more subtle qualities that professional photographers know and that’s why their photos are so much better.
Is your photo squared up or was the camera tilted when you took the picture? A skewed photo is unsettling. Do you know where to stand to get the best view? Can you stitch multiple photos together so you can see the whole room? Can you cut out a boring sky and replace it with one full of clouds and sunshine?
Also, composition is a big deal. Did you remember to move the trash cans out of view before you shot the main exterior photo? When photographing the bathroom, did you put the toilet seat down? Are the beds made? Are there dishes in the kitchen sink? These things matter.
As I spoke with Colton, I got a good sense of why I like his photos. He grew up helping his dad, Bud Thompson, a Realtor here at my office, and he quickly learned what makes one property more sought after than another. He said, “When I photograph a kitchen, for example, I want to show the triangle, the functionality—so people can imagine what it feels like to work in that kitchen, not just look at it.”
Good photographs pull people in. They also help buyers remember which place they liked and why. If you haven’t been house hunting recently, let me tell you: houses can start to run together in your mind. Was that the one with the oak cabinets or the cherry cabinets? Did that house have the walk-in closet in the master bedroom? And so on. Photos can also make you fall in love with a house all over again.
If you are thinking of selling, ask prospective listing agents about their approach to marketing. See if they give you advice about how to clean up your home for the best possible presentation, and whether they recommend professional photos. Ask about how they use online resources to promote your listing. Obviously, the cost of marketing a million-dollar home is a little different from marketing a tract home, but good pictures matter regardless.
To check out one of the 3D models, visit zillow.com/homedetails/750-Watson-Rd-Ukiah-CA-95482/19222361_zpid. If you’d like to learn more about this technology, get in touch with Colton via his website: coltonthompsonphotography.com.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.