We all know that the home shopping experience begins online. As a real estate agent competing for buyers & sellers, the photos you upload to the web say a lot about your professionalism. Making your photographs stand out from the crowd is critical to your success.
Successful Agents Create Impressive, Professional Looking Photographs and Leverage Them into Buyers. Here’s How They Do It.
1. Get the Right Camera
To get the very best shots, especially for interior room shots, you need a camera with a wide angle lens, a strong flash and 10 mega pixels. No more and no less. People get all caught up in the whole mega pixel thing but it’s important to note that more pixels DOES NOT mean better quality! Actually 14 and 16 mp cameras will often give you lower quality. Why? Because every time a camera manufacturer adds megapixels onto a sensor, all the pixel have to be smaller to fit the sensor. This means less light for each pixel. Get it?
People ask me if there’s something wrong with their camera because the pictures look “foggy”. Most of those people are using 14 mp cameras. More does NOT equal better. The reason the manufacturers release these high megapixel cameras is simply due to people’s ignorance. Forget all the high megapixel marketing and just get a decent 10 mp camera like this one – Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
If you don’t want to spend over $300, for just under $200 I recommend this one - Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1
You can also save money by searching online for a used one. Check ebay and Craigslist. On a side note, when you search on Craigslist, you end up just searching in your own city. That can be annoying when trying to find a particular product. But now you can search all of Craigslist instead of city by city, I posted this listing of helpful websites: Search All of Craigslist
Okay. So besides the camera, you should also have a tripod, at least a 1 Gigabit Memory card. But for less than $20, get this Kingston 8 GB Memory Card8 GB memory card. Also, you should have a back up battery. Watch the battery indicator – if its running low and you don’t have a backup, turn off the flash to save your battery power.
2. Always Use Your Flash
When photos don’t come out looking great, its almost always because a flash was not used. Non-professionals do not use their flash often enough. If you’re not sure whether you should use your flash or not, take 3 photos like this:
1) No Flash (Self Timer mode to remove shake, or long exposure (use with a tripod or monopod)
2) Forced Flash (Look for the lightening bolt, not Auto)
3) Fill Flash (Look for the man and a star or sun behind him)
3. Turn On The Lights
Not only in the room you are shooting but also in the adjoining rooms as that additional light will spill in. Typically, the more light the better.
4. Take More Pictures
Take at least 30 photos for a normal sized home… more for McMansions. Think that’s a lot? It’s not. Try more close ups – countertops, appliances, trim details, wood floors, etc. Shoot the laundry room, the garage, the attic, down the street, a few neighborhood shots, nearby parks. Get creative. Hey… its digital! Just snap away and choose the best ones to upload.
Here’s a few more tips for all cameras
Try holding the camera over your head unless there are low ceilings or beams. Try shooting either 3 shots at a time or 1 at a time and make adjustments as you go.
Try to cut off the photo at the beginning of the next wall
Move some furniture. Make room for your photo such as the backside of a couch… if you don’t need it in the picture, try to move it out of the way… clutter looks bad in photos.
The best time of day is twilight, colors seem more vibrant.
Don’t use a flash if there is something in the foreground
Do these little tips and your photos will come out vibrant and professional looking.
Now… what are you going to do with all those nice photos?
So now you’re on way to creating gorgeous photos. Put them to good use by getting them online. Here’s how to create a single purpose Web 2.0 site for the property.
There are a number of companies that offer Property Websites. These are companies that allow anyone to create really nice websites for each property they have to sell or to list. I will show you what I have found to be the best one in just a moment.
When you create a website for your property or listing, you should definitely get a domain name for your site. This is the “.com”, “.net”, “.info” or other domain extension that people will enter in their browser to view your site. When your site is created, you’ll get some crazy name for it like www.website name.com/9485760. That’s ugly and forgettable. You don’t want that. Some website companies will offer you domain names but they’ll charge you around $10 or more. I’ve got a better idea. By the way, this whole process is known as registering a domain name.
Here are two recommendations:
1. Register the actual property address as the domain. They’ll always be available and you’ll always be able to remember what the website name is. If the house number and street are already registered (doubtful) just add the City/Town name… that will definitely be available. Also, if someone searches for the address at Google or Yahoo, your site will come up first. So it’ll be www.1767JacksonSt.com. Or 1767JacksonStPleasantville.com. You get the idea.
2. I started a domain website for real estate professionals because too many agents overpay for their domains. At MyRealtyDomains.com, you’ll find the lowest prices on the net – only $7.49 for a .com and right now, we are running a special – only $1.99 for any available “.info”. Everyone wants a .com but truthfully, for this purpose a .info is fine… maybe even better. After all, the website is providing info so what better name could you have than 123MainSt.info?
After you create your listing or property website, you’ll come back to your MyRealtyDomains.com account and you will then “point” or “forward” your domain to the new site “URL” (another term for domain name) which you will be given.
Okay, so how do you create this “Property Website”?
There are a number of companies that provide this service but the one that I recommend is: http://www.SimplePropertySites.com. I found it to be the most user friendly and the one of the least expensive.
Create an account. Upload your photos, enter the property description and all the features, the price, etc. You will be provided URL – something like www.simplepropertysites.com/897hdkjh. Copy that domain. Now, go back to your MyRealtyDomains.com account. You will now go to the domain you registered, you’ll click on “Forward” and you will then paste the domain name provided by SimplePropertySites.com into the Forward field. Simple, right?
Okay. So now you know how to create super nice photographs. If you want to take the next step, that would be to learn how to edit. It’s easier than you think. There are 2 websites which can help you. Free PC software - www.Picasa.com.
Free Photoshop style software -www.Gimp.com (more advanced)
Take this to a whole other level by creating a Property Photo Album
You know how you felt when you first got into the business and went out looking at listing after listing? Remember how difficult it was to remember which house was which and what house had what? Now put yourself into the buyers position… some buyers will look at 30 – 40 homes before making an offer!
Give your home buyers a way to remember all the homes they’ve seen by creating an album of the days previews. Here some websites that make it easy to do this:
Here’s a few tips when creating these preview albums:
- Start your album with a photo of the street sign.
- Then have a picture of the house number.
- Then show a picture of the front of the house
- Then you have your 20 – 30 photos.
- Do the same for each property you looked at.
- Send your potential buyers a link at the end of the day