New Study Highlights Importance of Photography in Real Estate Listings

REAL Trends, in partnership with Virtuance, surveyed hundreds of top-producing real estate professionals across the country to find out how real estate brokerages and agents use professional photography in their businesses.

We found that there were five clear and compelling reasons why real estate sales associates and/or broker-ages choose to invest in professional photography.

1. You Have a Duty to Your Seller
Of those surveyed, 94 percent of the agents and 73 percent of brokers felt passionate about the importance of using professional photography. Several agents and brokers cited that the importance of using professional photography stemmed from their obligation to their seller. One independent broker in Arizona went so far as to say, “You have to [use professional photography]. You are doing a disservice to your clients otherwise. People are visual, and you have to grab them.”

2. Drives Your Online Traffic
According to the National Association of Realtors® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 83 percent of homebuyers rated photos of properties for sale as the most useful website feature. In the same report, 43 percent of buyers looked at homes online as their first step in the home-buying process. This was up from 35 percent in 2011. This trend will continue to increase incrementally over time, and it makes sense to give your buyers the quality content they are seeking on your own website.

3. Wins You More Listings
This may be the most obvious reason to use a professional photographer for your business. One of the primary responsibilities of a listing agent is to successfully market a property to get a seller the best sales price possible. The majority of that task relies on a strong visual representation of the home, especially as homebuyers increase their online home shopping activities.

4. Solidifies Your Brand Image
We know that photos often serve as the first impression of the home and must capture the attention of the buyer. The truth is that they also serve as the first impression of your brokerage or your personal brand as an agent. If you aren’t producing the same quality of photos for each of your listings, you have to ask yourself, “What message are you sending to your potential clients?” We asked what one feature agents felt to be the most important. Some 75 percent of agents and 73 percent of brokers ranked “quality of property photographs” as the most important feature. The second highest ranked feature was “consistency in the look and feel of property photographs.” These two features together are the basis for creating a reliable and trustworthy brand.

5. Best Bet for Your Time and Money
The cost of professional photography has dramatically shifted in the last 10 years. A service that could cost around $1,000 is available now at about one-tenth of that cost. Agents and brokerages combined reported paying on average $160 for property photos. When asked whether or not the agents and brokers felt they received a good return on their investment, the answer was a resounding ‘Yes’! Even agents who were paying closer to $300 or more for their property photos still felt that it was worth the investment. 

Hands down, professional photography for your listings is one of the simplest ways you can shape your brand and business. What’s even better about it is that you don’t need to do the heavy lifting. Using a professional photographer allows you to focus on the activities that only you can do to build your business. If you are a broker/owner or manager, consider finding a way to bring professional photography into your company on a consistent basis. The incentive of having a photography solution in place for your agents is something that benefits you both.

In April 2015, REAL Trends emailed a 38-question survey to the nation’s top-producing real estate brokerages and agents as identified by the REAL Trends 500 and America’s Best Real Estate Agents by REAL Trends in partnership with the Zillow-Trulia Group. The email survey remained open for 45 days and had 437 respondents.

In addition, REAL Trends interviewed 10 real estate professionals between May and June 2014. These professionals ranged from broker/owners, managers, agents, and coaches. Some were a part of major national brands, and others were a part of independent brokerages. These professionals had all been involved in the real estate industry for a period of 12 years or more. All of those interviewed had used or were familiar with the company Virtuance.  

REAL Trends requested all parties to provide complete data from their 2014 calendar year. The average is the primary statistical measure used throughout this study. Due to rounding and omissions for space, percentage distributions may not add to 100 percent.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter and is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015. 


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