With potential homebuyers searching the Internet first, it’s vital to present your home in the best light with professional photography.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a professionally photographed home is worth tens of thousands of webpage clicks. That’s the consensus among Realtors in today’s digital marketplace.
“The market has changed so much that 95 percent of homebuyers are finding their homes through the Internet,” says Bo Julian of Julian Properties in Orlando. “That’s where most buyers are starting their search, so the first thing they’re seeing is a photo, and that can make all the difference in the world.” Which is why you won’t find Julian whipping out his iPhone to snap photos of new listings. “I exclusively use professional photographers,” he says. “Depending on the price point of the home and the features of the property, I’ll many times use architectural photographers for the home.”
With the proliferation of home-related websites, the Internet has transformed Realtors’ marketing strategy, says Brian Balduf, CEO of VHT Studios in Chicago, which provides visual marketing services to the industry. “It used to be that an agent would market a home to another agent,” Balduf says. Now you have to market to the consumer, who is seeing striking images of homes on the hundreds of websites devoted to home sales. “They’re looking at a lot more properties in a much shorter amount of time, so you really have to stand out, get their attention very quickly,” he adds. “One of the best ways is stunning photographs that jump off the page, affect their emotions and motivate them to contact the agent.”
VHT research has found that homes marketed using professional photography sell 30 percent faster. “It’s not just pushing a button on a camera to capture a scene. It’s really capturing the essence of that property and creating an experience in connecting that person to the property,” says Balduf.
Cindy Kuykendall of Fannie Hillman & Associates in Winter Park includes virtual tours in the marketing of almost all her properties, relying on a cadre of professional photographers. “If I took the pictures myself, I’d probably just stand at attention and take them,” she says. “The professional photographers know how much ceiling and floor are good; they know when to close or open windows.”
Location, location, location is still important, but the new mantra is lighting, lighting, lighting. “Lighting changes from room to room,” Balduf says, “from natural to incandescent to fluorescent.” It takes a certain eye and certain experience to showcase a home—especially because home marketing today can include everything from stills to virtual tours to YouTube videos and more.
“In some cases, we can upgrade it to hiring professionals who will do voiceovers for an audio tour,” Julian says. “You can get as elaborate as you want.” The cost of a professional photographer typically is included in the agent’s marketing costs. Says Balduf: “It’s more expensive in Manhattan than in Kansas.” And worth every dollar to the buyer and the seller, Julian and Kuykendall say. “I can’t tell you how many times I get phone calls from people from all over the world,” Julian says, “just because of a photograph.”