Artificial intelligence, floor plan stitching, virtual reality. When it comes to listing photography and other property visuals, the technology has never been more advanced. But where’s the line between improvement and misdirection?

In a panel at the Inman Connect New York 2019 real estate conference, Teresa Boardman, broker-owner of Boardman Realty, and Peter Schravemade, BoxBrownie‘s strategic relationship manager, talked best practices, listing photo tips and what buyers want.

What makes a good listing photo?

“When we look for good photos, the imagery really needs to reflect what the eye sees,” Schravemade said. “It’s a common misconception that cameras represent what the eye sees.”

As a salesperson, Boardman sees photography as a marketing opportunity rather than documentation. She believes that if a photo doesn’t look picture perfect, you shouldn’t use it.

If I can’t get sellers to take it out or clean it up, I just won’t take pictures of that room, Boardman said. You kind of want to paint a picture of the home in its best possible light.

“We want the photograph to be better than what the eye can see because we know it’s going to be the first thing the buyer sees,” she said.

For example, you wouldn’t want blurry, backlit photos. Other bad images include toilet seats, an overwhelming amount of felines and signs or art that might offend potential buyers.

A few best practices for real estate photography

  • Showcase twilight photos first: Twilight photos get four-times more clicks, so it should be a no-brainer to use those dusk photos as the opening shot on marketing and the multiple listing service (MLS), Schravemade said.
  • Imagine what the home could be: Schravemade said that agents can walk into a room and immediately see what a home could be, but potential buyers might not be able to envision the possibilities. That’s a driving force behind the popularity of using virtual staging in real estate marketing. “America has really jumped on our virtual staging product. That’s probably what we’re best known for.”
  • When you’re not sure, disclose: “I feel that if you’re editing an image, a disclosure needs to be displayed in a more prominent way,” Schravemade said.

Where’s the line with misleading?

Our MLS has rules against photoshopping things out of photos, Boardman said.

“There is a line there. We never want to misrepresent a property,” she added. It’s probably not the best idea to remove things that are permanent structures from a photo.

Schravemade agrees. There’s definitely a line — taking out a fixture, or a tree, or the sewage plant that sits behind a home would be too far.

Is good photography expensive?

Good photography doesn’t have to be expensive. However, as Schravemade pointed out, the word “professional” in front of the word “photographer” is very subjective.

To make sure you’re hiring the right photographer, Boardman suggests you ask to see a portfolio and a contract and ask for a release. And most importantly, get it all in writing.

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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