Professional Real Estate photo improves Realtors online presence

I see a lot of listing photos in Real Estate business – and most of them can best be defined as ordinary.  Using pure percentages, the number of ‘marketing quality’ photos vs. the number of ‘could barely be bothered’ photography is astoundingly low. With the result that it takes more time than it should to find a listing with better-than-average photos. That’s not right.

In any business that has a presence on the internet (that would be everybody), visual first impressions are emphasized for even the most insignificant products.  Why then, is such little attention paid to real estate photography, probably the most significant purchase any consumer will ever make? It’s ridiculous to even mention the latest statistic of how many people starts their home search on the internet – 78% according to NAR – mostly long before they’re ever in a position to buy.

Apparently, some agents figure that a home’s features will be always be apparent to a casual browser – one who is flipping through and comparing hundreds of these home listings. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Like any competition, you need to stand out to get noticed.  And can anyone deny that real estate listings compete against others in their respective categories for the user’s attention?

So what’s an internet buyer looking at first?

  1. The property address (can’t change that)
  2. The list price (you’ve no doubt spent plenty of effort determining a price)
  3. The photos, which you have the power to optimize

Which experience, as a consumer, is the better one? (Click on each)

Image size comparison small Image size comparison large

Here are 2 steps you need to take to get a competitive edge in any online portal.

1. Optimize your photos

A pretty broad statement, but it may not be as hard as you think.

Use a pro every time you have a listing. You can’t go wrong with professional photography – in any listing price range. A better visual always adds to the perceived value. And the great thing about professional photography is that someone else does the work, albeit for a price.

Short of paying for a professional, consider some basic improvements on your own, starting with the camera you use.

A good SLR camera can give even an amateur a much better result in focus, lighting and range (wide angle). And with today’s SLRs, you don’t need to do much more than frame and shoot. Even some higher end point-and-shoot cameras take great photos. Just make sure you have good light.

These photos were taken by an amateur (that would be a friend) from the same spot using each camera’s automatic settings.  They have not been retouched in any way.

Droid Razr (Android)

Image shot with smart phone


Image shot with iPad

Point and shoot – Panasonic DMC-Z57

Image shot with point/shoot camera

SLR (single-lens reflex) – Nikon D80

Image shot with SLR camera

The case for a good SLR camera is pretty clear. And with some setting tweaks, even the above can be improved upon.

Most cameras today will give you the required resolution (pixel count), so that your images can fill a large screen in high-definition.

But be careful. Although megapixel is a camera buzzword these days, don’t misinterpret it’s meaning. A 1-megapixel camera can produce an image with 1 million pixels – roughly 1200 x 900. Yet I have an 8-megapixel camera in my Android phone, which takes (comparatively) lousy photos.  For an image to display well on a full-screen monitor – you need a high pixel count, but high pixel count does not equate to a quality photograph.  The Droid Razr (8-megapixel) image above is a good example of that.

2. Make sure your images get to all the important websites in their high-res format

Given that you graduate to or are already producing quality photography, your most important initiative now is to ensure that potential buyers see those images in their best light wherever they appear on the internet.

The problem with most real estate listing syndication processes is that they originate with the MLS. MLS listing photos are typically dumbed down in size which affects their ability to be viewed in full resolution. So they’re taking your quality images that would be viewable in sharp full-screen resolution and limiting them to a fraction of their potential visibility and impact.

Some listing syndication processes allow the automatic and/or manual upload of the original images with the intent that they be distributed to all real estate websites on a company’s syndication list. This is an ideal situation.

Short of that ability, agents should select what they feel are the most important real estate sites and when possible, upload their full-size original photos directly to their listings on those sites.

This quote in a Chicago Tribune article from the Chairman of VHT, a company that specializes in real estate photography, sums up the issue well…
“If you don’t have anything that’s unique about your property, then you want to make it look as good as possible. Good, clear photography of a neat, clean home may be your one competitive advantage if you’re on the market and competing against 20 similar starter homes. You may be able to make it sell before the guy who has the same house across the street.”

Brokerages should take the time and energy to educate their agents in the importance of Realtors understanding how real estate photography works and the benefits it brings to their listings. While a DIY approach is understandable, hiring a professional will bring much more money into your sales. Contact me at to give your listings an extra boost!