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They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but when it comes to buying and selling luxury real estate, it could be worth millions of dollars. The quality of listing images can have a powerful impact on the immediacy and quantity of inquiries — not to mention the value of those initial offers.
To help agents make the most of their property photos and videos, Marilyn Wright, Real Estate Professional at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty – Asheville, and Sarah Stone, Broker Associate with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, share their top tips.
1. Set your photographers up for success
Selling homes on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Stone ensures her photos are optimized to promote the beach lifestyle her buyers seek.
“First, I work with the seller to declutter the space, giving them specific, room-by-room instructions on what to keep and what to remove,” she says. “Then, to get the best images possible, I lift all blinds, open all drapes, and turn on lamps and overhead lights.”
Not only is natural light best for the images, but it allows the photographer to capture the natural landscapes outside the windows — which complements the final step.
“I love to add green plants and pops of color wherever possible.” Stone takes advantage of northwest Florida’s abundance of scrub palmettos. “I often cut fresh fronds and put them in clear vases throughout the home. They look great in any room and add the perfect color and coastal touch.”
2. Don’t be afraid to challenge convention
Many photographers specialize in real estate — but for luxury agents, more needs to be done to truly elevate listings. “I utilize a different approach than most agents and work with an architectural photographer,” notes Wright. “I need a photographer who understands the elements that set a home apart from the rest of the properties on the market.”
It pays to embrace change. “I recently relaunched a stale listing by hiring a photographer with a different eye,” recalls Stone. “I sent him the old photos and communicated my desire to capture several features of the property that weren’t visible in the initial photo shoot, but I found myself repeating over and over on calls with agents. It was time to show, not tell.”
The success was instant. “It got my phone ringing, many immediate showings, and an offer. It felt like it was a brand new listing.”
3. Quality is key — but quantity counts too
While beautiful shots may help sell the home, Stone still tasks her photographers with capturing every angle of every room. By doing so, you can be intentional about which ones make it into the listing site. “If you have a hundred photos, you don’t have to include all of them. Leave room for curiosity, so buyers come to see it in person,” says Stone.
And with several photos in reserve, you can constantly compete for attention. “Once a week, I change the first three photos in Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so buyers think it’s a new property when scrolling through listings,” she adds.
4. Make amazing post-production a priority
“The photographer has the ability to edit, but you want it to look real and not washed,” cautions Wright. “We review every photo before signing off on the editing.”
If you want to finesse photos on the fly, Stone recommends a tool like Boxbrownie. “It’s a great tool to easily get virtual post-production staging and sunset skies for your images. Nothing beats the real thing, but timing a perfect sunset shoot may not always align with a seller’s timeline to bring a property to market.”
5. Develop videos for different audiences
When the day comes to film the listing, Stone also suggests doing a walkthrough video. “Buyers and agents love how helpful these are for understanding the flow and floorplan of the property,” she says. “An added benefit is that they can watch them over and over.”
Wright makes a point to ensure her property montages are structured in a way that captures the feeling of walking through the home. “I focus on the ‘wow’ elements and details that you would note in person,” she says. “Video reels using a vertical format doesn’t work for MLS, but it’s perfect for social media.”
6. Think outside the box to enlist the best
“I highly encourage agents to look at the photos of builders, architects, and designers — and when one’s photos of their projects impress you, make that connection,” says Wright. “I feel it makes an incredible difference.”
She notes that talented image-makers can come from any field. “Maybe they haven’t done as much in real estate, but they can be game-changing for your business.”
With photography and videography, work with professionals open to new thoughts, ideas, and influences from high-performing campaigns and markets. This can help you markedly improve listing images and convey the story you hope to tell.
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