Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aerial Photography for Real Estate

Have you ever seen one of those magazine cover photos where it looks like the photo was taken from a crazed pilot buzzing 50' over the neighborhood? Perhaps from a very tall photographer standing on a very tall ladder? Whatever the method, the shots just look cool, don't they?

We believe that while elevated real estate photos are not for every listing, they can be the single most important marketing photo and the biggest "bang for the buck" on many properties. It's all about first impressions, and the fact is that in most cases prospective buyers are combing through many properties in the MLS or online real estate syndication site looking their first impression from the main photo - the one you as the real estate agent chooses to best represent the home.

What about the home that backs to open space, or to a golf course, or a lake? Maybe it's a mountain property that sits high up on the mountain and doesn't lend itself to a great exterior photo. Most of the time, the real estate agent is forced to decide between the front of the home, or the killer view to be the "main shot". But, wait - you can have both! An aerial or elevated photo brings the A-game to your marketing plan because it will show the view and the front of the home in a single photo for a stunning first impression. Take a look at the before/after sample shots and give us a call for your elevated real estate photography!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

How do you respond to "cheap" real estate clients?

We've all experienced the "pain" of paying out an average of 6% commission to the selling and buying agents when putting our homes up on the market. On a $300,000 home, that's a cool $18,000 that you're handing over for services rendered. For the real estate agent reading this article, I'm sure you can recount plenty of discussions with prospective clients asking for you to negotiate your commission. What do you tell them? How do make the case that your services are worth the price the seller will pay to you and your agency?

There are many approaches that can be taken, but let me suggest one. It's not about the 6% commission, it's about the difference between your 6% commission and the next lowest rate. In other words, it's impossible to sell a house for free as even a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) will have associated costs. For arguments sake, however, let's say the client is deciding between your real estate services at 6% and a competitors services at 5% -- a difference of $3000. The client likes you and your real estate marketing plan, but would rather keep the $3000 extra to themselves! With the understanding that you're no longer debating over a $18,000 commission (double-sided), but over a $3,000 difference between you and your competition, your pitch might sound something like this:

     "I can appreciate where you are coming from understand you're doing the smart thing by researching various real estate agents to help you sell your home. I'm just glad you gave me the opportunity to show you how I (my team, etc.) can serve you better! Tell me what it is you like about what I (my team) has to offer vs. other real estate agents you may have interviewed?" You will likely hear things such as your sales record, recommendations, your marketing package, average days on market, personality mesh etc, to which you may respond: "I would agree with those things. We (I) work very hard to be the best in this market and the things you have mentioned like shorter days on market, the recommendations you were given and our superior marketing plan are among the reasons why we are the best at what we do. Since we are the best at what we do, and serve you with a superior product, we command a modestly higher commission to do so in order to justify our expertise as well as cover the additional expenses associated with effectively marketing your home. So, Mr. and Mrs. Client, wouldn't you agree that you could potentially pay $15,000 in commission to a sub-par agent, or only $3,000 more for the quality, experience and expertise that you deserve from someone who would like to partner with you to sell your home?"

Many real estate agents are familiar with this approach and yet when it comes time to photograph real estate they shop for the cheapest rate or take their own photographs that do not show well to prospective buyers. We have had agents at various real estate conventions inquire about our services only to shy away when they discover that our superior real estate photography, virtual tour and real estate video services come at a price modestly higher than the run-of-the-mill competition. After all, at Colorado Virtual Tours, with non-contract real estate photography services starting at $150 and the next-best competitor starting at about $110, we're really only talking about a $40 decision. Wouldn't you agree that you could pay $110 for real estate photography for a sub-par photographer, or only $40 more for the quality, experience and expertise that you deserve from someone who would like to partner with you to sell your listings?

Tim Ray
Colorado Virtual Tours and Vantage Point Imagery, Inc.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Wage War Online" To Market Your Real Estate Listing

Barbara Corcoran, the TODAY Show Real Estate expert and Shark Tank star was the keynote speaker at the Denver REALTOR Rally this year. I found this video excerpt from last year where she highlights 5 ways to effectively sell homes - including how critical it is to "Wage War Online" by presenting your listing with professional real estate photography. The statistics range from 89% to 95% of all buyers doing their research and finding the homes they want to see on the internet. Take a look at this video and hear why professional real estate photography is a must! After all, your clients hired you as a professional - you owe it to them to ditch the iPhone camera and become proficient and skilled with your marketing photography, or entrust it to someone who is. Let us know if we can serve you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pro-photos = More showings and shorter days on market

I came across this post and thought it was WELL worth sharing. The real estate agent that wrote this offers personal testimonial to the shorter days-on-market and more showings when good quality professional photos are used to showcase listings.

Thanks to Ryan Hukill for the article! (used with permission)

Original link here: original article

One of my colleagues, another local agent, brought up an interesting conversation on Facebook earlier today, and since I‘m always up for the opportunity to educate others on something I believe in, here we go.

She said: “OK for all you realtors using this fancy new photography!-It is an illusion and it makes the house look way better than it does in person! It is deceiving and disappointing when you get there! I would rather have the real thing and not waste my time….”

Some of the replies from other agents went as far as accusing agents who employ “fancy new photography” of “masking defects.”

Here’s the deal. As a specialized listing agent, my sole responsibility is to sell my clients’ homes. Quickly.
3 things make that happen:

  1. Pricing them correctly
  2. Marketing them well 
  3. Insuring that they show well and often (staging) 
If one of those things is off, the house simply won’t sell as quickly as it should. The longer a house takes to sell, the less it will sell for. Common sense, right?

I won’t go into the pricing or the staging right now. Those are conversations for another day, but let’s talk photography. I guess the question is, is there something wrong, deceiving, or misleading in hiring a stand-out photographer to create incredible, colorful, jump-off-the-page photos of your house?

The short answer is that there’s a fine line that must be adhered to. NO agent should EVER photoshop material facts of a property (i.e. removing power lines, adding double-ovens, or hiding material defects).

The longer answer is that EVERY listing agent has a duty to their client to present their home in the best possible light and get it SOLD! After all, what do you hire a listing agent for? It’s not for their brilliant personality, right? It’s because you need an expert at marketing homes. If not, you’d do it yourself, wouldn’t you?

Ask yourself this. The last time you saw a Braums commercial late at night, showing that luscious ice-cream sunday, hopped in the car, and raced up there to get one before they closed, did it look as amazing and perfect as the one you saw on TV? Or how about that burger you bought last week? Or the last time you bought a new car, was it as fast, shiny, and sexy as the one in the magazine? The last time you drank Bud Light, did it make you instantly popular and attractive to the opposite sex? Well, OK, maybe that one works as advertised.

The point is, those advertisements are designed to SELL sundays, burgers, cars, beer, etc. Shouldn’t your real estate agent be making the same efforts to SELL your home? If your agent is not a MARKETER, you’ve hired the wrong person.

FACT: More than 90% of home buyers start their home search online. Half of the challenge is getting those online shoppers through your door.

One of the most common complaints agents hear from home buyers is that the listings online don’t show enough of the house. They say things like:
“Why are there no pictures of the back yard?”
“Why are there only 3 photos?”
“Why does that picture only show the bed? I can’t tell how big the room is.”
“There are no pictures of the inside, so it must be a wreck.”
“The photos are so dark, I can’t tell what room that even is.”
“Is that carpet old, or just dirty?”

You get the point. Buyers want to see lots of clear, colorful pictures. If they don’t, they’ll cross your house off the list.

Still doubt? Here’s what I know from cold, hard experience:
My listings used to sell at an average of 38 days on the market.
When I first hired my current photographer, the showings on my listings tripled.
The listings for which I’ve hired stand-out photographers have sold in an average of 9 days on the market.

Plain and simple, more showings mean quicker sales, and quicker sales mean higher SOLD prices.

There’s only one other way to sell a house quickly. Grossly under-price it. Which method would you prefer?

Now it’s your turn. Whether you’re a home seller, a home buyer, or an agent, do you agree or disagree?

Thanks again to Ryan Hukill for the insight. For more examples of pro real estate photography and video, visit us at

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A $200K Bottle of Aspirin -- Real Estate Photography Tips

I know the iPhone has gotten pretty good.  I also know I’m biased, but really?  I was browsing through real estate photos of properties online to see what might be available for my expanding family.  You know what I noticed?  Some properties didn’t even have photos.  I didn’t even bother to look at them.  There was way too much out there to waste time looking at listings without a photo.  Then there were those clearly photographed in a hurry - with a smart phone.

A friend of mine who is now a real estate agent used to work in the lighting and photography field in a Hollywood studio.  He recounted to me one day how they would spend hours upon hours lighting a $2 bottle of aspirin just to get the perfect shot for the ad.  We laughed about how a $2 bottle of aspirin could justify more time, money and effort than a $200K property!  Hopefully you’re persuaded that good photos are a must in this “online” age.  Let me offer a few pointers for the do-it-yourselfers.

1. Equipment isn’t everything - but it is something!  Ditch the iPhone camera.  You’ll be well served by a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera with a wide-angle lens.  While most architectural photography purists will never shoot over 28mm wide, most real estate agents and potential home buyers want to see as much as possible of that property, and some degree of wide angle will help.

2. Ditch the flash.  Turn on all the lights in the home, much as you would do for a showing.  If you have a camera like that DSLR we talked about, you should be able to manually control the shutter and aperture.  Expose longer to brighten the room without flash.  In most cases, especially in smaller rooms or when looking away from any windows, the natural light from daylight and lighting in the home will look better than with flash.  In cases where you’re shooting toward a window, invest in a good flash that sits on the hot-shoe and bounce the flash at the ceiling or the wall behind you.  Like with everything there are exceptions, but give it a try.

3. De-clutter.  De-cluttering is important for showings, and doubly important for photos!  That same shot will be showing up over and over and over again and can be scrutinized.  Cleaner and simpler is almost always better in photography.

4. Consider shooting real estate photography at night.  You’ll minimize the window glare and reflections on floors, counter-tops and other smooth surfaces and get a more even exposure of the room.

5. Know where the sun is and use it to your advantage.  If you have an East facing property, photograph the front of the home in the morning hours when you have sunlight helping brighten the photo and making the colors more vibrant.  If you can come back to do the back side later in the day with good sunlight that’s a bonus!

6. Consider a professional.  Of course this is always a good bet since real estate photographers are experts at what they do so that you don’t have to be.  

Happy photographing!

Tim Ray

Tim Ray is the owner of Colorado Virtual Tours and Vantage Point Imagery, LLC.  A full-time business owner and part time military pilot, he got his start with a camera providing aerial photography services to commercial and residential clients.  He can be found at a coffee shop near you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Real Estate Filmmaking

"As Phil Di Giulio, co-founder of WellcomeMat, says, "Cutting your own hair is fast and inexpensive. Does that mean you should do it?"

Consumers want more video and we have open arms for people creating their own. However, there's no question that high-quality, professionally produced filmmaking is pushing video into the mainstream of real estate. We also acknowledge that most brand-centric people (from personal to multinational brands) want nothing to do with user-generated content."

I just read the above excerpt from #inmannews by Tom Flanagan writing about WellcomeMat, a real estate video host of sorts that is positioning itself as a better alternative to YouTube.  It's nice to get some confirmation that we're on the cutting edge with our professionally produced real estate video services and hope the trend continues! I've always wondered why everything in our society seems to understand marketing while real estate lags far behind. Take a look at this real estate video and let me know what you think: (We'll have to look into posting this on WellcomeMat instead!)

See the complete Inman News article by Tim Flanagan here.

Colorado Virtual Tours
Vantage Point Imagery, Inc.