The raison d'être for estate agents everywhere is to get their properties noticed! It’s as simple as that.
These days you’re likely to need every trick in the book to do that if you want to attract the best available buyers and the most desirable houses to sell.
Competition is fierce, and long gone are the ‘good old days’ when any property would sell with photos that could make a £60,000 kitchen look like the lower deck of Noah’s Ark after a nasty storm.
What’s crazy is spending money online and on print advertising using photos that are less than optimal. These days, that’s money down the drain and bad photos are frequently the reason that homes can remain on the market for a year or more with not a lot of interest.
In short, your homes are in a beauty parade on the portals and in the newspapers and magazines. Once someone has plugged into a portal and said where they want to live, and defined the price range and type of home they’re looking for, they’ll be presented with dozens of homes, or more, to consider.
So, you need something that makes your homes stand out from the competition – the most obvious way to do that is to make your property photos look awesome.
You need your photos to not just show your properties, but to show them off! When that happens, you’ll see your clicks, viewings and sales increase. No question.
How do I get the best photos?
The easiest, but most costly solution would be to employ a pro-photographer. However, all pro-photographers are not equal, and on top of that you’re not always assured that you’ll get the angles you want.
If you want your brand to reflect 'quality' then you'll need pro photos for all of your properties.
In general, like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you want the best photos, the options are to pay someone who is very good, or take the photos yourself.
Paying for photos that are only average or worse, makes no sense when studies in the US have shown that there's a 12% increase in perceived value when a property is photographed well, against one that's photographed badly.
Taking your own photos can produce disastrous results, though. That’s because most agents have never been shown how to use their cameras properly.
Even fewer know about post-processing their images, let alone have the time to do that. Post-processing can improve the quality of a photo by around 30%.
Correcting colours, exposure, lens distortion and more can all be achieved by expert post-processing.
But, if it takes, say, five minutes to make a photo shine, editing 60 photos will take five hours. That’s time better spent selling or talking to your clients.
If not hiring a pro – then what?
For the past ten years, after being an agent myself for 37 years, I have travelled around the UK teaching agents how to use their cameras so that they can take photos like mine.
Workshops are available at our training room in Farnborough, Hampshire, or at agents’ offices. We teach our natural-light method – we don’t use flash lighting for any of our photos – to workshops of up to 10 people.
Currently, we make over 12,000 photos better every month for agents and property developers in the UK, Ireland and in continental Europe.
As well as the basic optimisation service – adding blue skies, adjusting exposure etc, we provide more complex editing including Virtual Finishing (showing what part-built houses will look like when they’re completed).
Never before has it been so important to market properties brilliantly. Photos are being looked at on HD screens around the world. We're in a highly visual age and we're dealing with average values of a quarter of a million pounds, so as an industry, we really should be trying harder to get it right.
*John Durrant is director of Doctor Photo