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Robert L. Bo…, Real Estate Pro in San Diego, CA

Who pays for professional listing photography? The seller or the listing agent?

Asked by Robert L. Boerner, San Diego, CA Thu Oct 18, 2012

We all know that decent quality photos make a huge difference in a listing's first impression.

In my local San Diego market, it seems about 25% of the listings have photographs taken by a real estate photography company or someone who understands balancing interior/exterior lighting, composition, and basic technical skills. A small number of photographers show up quite a bit on our MLS and usually charge about $200-$300.

When you are the listing agent, do you:
1. Take your own photos.
2. Hire a professional photographer and pay their fee yourself?
3. Ask the seller to pay for professional photography?
4. Go a different route?

When representing a seller, I feel an obligation to make sure the a listing gets the attention it deserves and will either hire a pro or use my own equipment and techniques to provide high quality images. (I am not a professional photographer but my photos are not too shabby.)

Thank you in advance for your input!

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Answers

38
Of`course, to make well pictures is a real estate agents` work. I always do that by myself on professional camera.
12 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 24, 2014
I take my own photos but have invested in an expensive camera to make sure they are of the highest quality--not professional by any means but much better than most agents in the area. On a high end listing I would not hesitate to hire a professional.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
I do my own photography. I have a professional camera and it takes great photos. When I get high end listings I will hire a professional to do it. I consider it part of my marketing expenses. I enjoy photography so I try to do most of it myself.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 22, 2014
You state: We all know that decent quality photos make a huge difference in a listing's first impression.
A: Totally correct. And savvy agents can differentiate themselves very quickly by making sure their pictures are better than the rest.

You asked: When you are the listing agent, do you:

Q: Take your own photos.
A: Although I am a good photographer, I always hire a top-notch professional to take my listing pictures for all normal sales. ALWAYS. I want all the pictures to be magazine quality shots.

Q: Hire a professional photographer and pay their fee yourself?
A: Since we are a full-service team, I consider it a part of our listing package and pay for it myself. We also pay for a custom website to display the pictures and provide an upscale virtual tour – and we cover the costs for those as well.

Q: Ask the seller to pay for professional photography?
A: Wouldn’t think of asking the seller to pay for it – they are paying me to sell their home in the form of a commission – I pay for all related marketing expenses.

Q: Go a different route?
A: Such as?

You state: When representing a seller, I feel an obligation to make sure the listing gets the attention it deserves and will either hire a pro or use my own equipment and techniques to provide high quality images. (I am not a professional photographer but my photos are not too shabby.)
A: We go beyond that – we also provide free comprehensive staging at our expense. We want to make sure the house shows the best it possibly can and we leave nothing to chance. We feel this is so important we actually own our own staging company. We will also work with sellers to help them prep the property so that it shows like a model home (as much as possible). The better your pictures look online, the higher the number of visitors you’ll get through the front door and the better your chances of getting top dollar and best terms. To make sure all of our pictures are out there, we pay extra to showcase listings on sites like Trulia.com and Realtor.com.

We also include shots that are not so much about the property as they are about lifestyle. We want to make sure people see the pictures and say, “That feels good,”

Here is an example:

Custom website with picture gallery: http://www.1217curtner.com
Virtual Tour: http://tours.bayhometours.com/38600

.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
Depends on the 'Program' the seller selects AND the 'Items" within the program they my choose from which to benefit.

In some cases a buyer or seller will act in defiance of the guidance of a knowledgeable professional. In the long run, CHOICE has a durable quality that allows for a reset when a change of strategy is needed. The agility within the real estate industry to provide that which the consumer wants is what keep real estate professionals in a perpetual learning environment.

Best of Success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
727.420.4041
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
To my knowledge, the norm is that the agent assumes the responsibility for this expense.

In my opinion, any attempt to pass this expense along to the seller would provide them with ample motivation to seek other options......
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
Professional photographs are part of our cost of doing business. As you rightly point out these are a critical component of marketing. I always have a professional shoot my photos for me and I always pay their invoice. While we're discussing it I also always offer my sellers to have a professional stager come in and give them an hour consultation which I pay for (this is before I'd have the house photographed.

None of that I know of get paid to list homes, we get paid to sell homes and like anything else there's a cost to doing business. Successful agents know this (that's a significant part of why their successful) while most agents think this is a low overhead business and spend and earn accordingly. I am constantly amazed at how crappy so many photographs I see are and how little the listing agents seem to care.

My only other comment is that the photographers in your area seem to be getting paid too much. The average amount I pay to have a photographer shoot a listing in my area is $100, on occasion for a large property that's really special I might pay as much as $200 - $250. I guess it's all relative, I suspect that the average sales price of a home in San Deigo may be twice what it is here in Chapel Hill / Durham area of North Carolina.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
Answers for me are 1 & 2. In a higher end listing, I have had professional help for my photos and my company does pay for some or most when property is 7 digits.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
In our area of the country the listing Realtor® usually takes the photos. (90% of the time) We have companies which offer a photo service and when they are used the listing Realtor® usually pays for them.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
Traditionally photography is paid by the listing agent, but it's negotiable. I know agents who take a reduced commission and then bill the seller directly for marketing costs. This is more common with estate homes ($10M and up), I've never seen it on properties under $1M.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
I often hire a professional photographer if I think I can't get top notch photos myself. I pay for the service myself. It's actually one of the reasons I recently moved to RE/MAX - I'm paying so much nowadays on the marketing end of things that the move made sense to me.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
I agree with Pete and Cindy. It is the listing agent who should provide and pay for these services.
Good luck,
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
I too have always paid for the photographer as a listing agent. The fact that I offer this to my potential sellers is always seen as a plus. I feel that professional photos make my job so much easier!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
HI Robert,
I hire a Professional photographer and a interior designer to consult the seller about staging. I do this out of my own pocket, but I will not just take any listing.
Hope that helps, Pete
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
So - know a ton of info has already been given.

You are being paid to market the property. This means you should pay for the professional photography - it is relatively cheap $199 - $349 for most listings.

Look over photos - you can tell agents that take their own photos. If I was selling and had some of the photos I see I would fire the agent immediately. Just saying.

You have the right thoughts - wanting to represent the seller - so good for you, you get it.

Bets of luck and congrats on your listing!

David Rudd
Kindred Real Estate / KW
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 22, 2015
This would depend on the listing agreement. When I offer discounted commissions I would expect the homeowner to pay for professional photos if they feel my photos are not sufficient. On a non-discounted commission listing I would pick up the tab for any professional photos.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 20, 2014
We always hire a professional at our expense. We also pay for a staging consultation, a professional floor plan and a final cleaning right before closing. Cost us some money but makes a big difference.
Web Reference: http://www.myNCHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 19, 2014
I think that it is that agents job. Every agent that I have hired has brought their camera in and took the photos. They did bring a really nice camera too. http://www.geraldevansphotography.com/services/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 19, 2014
I hire a pro, with a wide angle lens.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2014
I think if the listing is worth selling it is worth spending for professional photos and virtual tour.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2014
I use both-- my own pictures and a professional photographers. And when I do I pay for the cost of the pictures.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2014
I always hire a professional photographer on all my listings! It's one of the most important things we can do to market your property since most buyers start their home search on the internet!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 27, 2014
I usually hire a professional photographer for listings. However, when I'm performing forensic work as an expert witness It's imperative I take my own photos as only I know exactly what I need to look at whence instigating a case.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 23, 2014
You should either take the photos yourself if you have the skill and hardware to do a good job, or use a pro. I would assume the cost as marketing expense.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 20, 2014
I take my own professional photos. I look at this as something that sets me apart from other agents. You can easily take a class or workshop to get to that point quickly and invest in a nice DSLR camera. If I were to hire the photography out, I would pay for it. It's a small fee in comparison to a commission. There is so much poor photography with other listings that it will truly set you apart. It's worth learning or offering.

You mention your photos are not too shabby. That means they are most likely better than most. Maybe set a price where you will take your own (say listings under 300k) and anything above you will invest in a professional. Seems like a pretty reasonable plan.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 24, 2014
Listing picture(s), sounds like the listing agent/brokerage is paying for it. Just a part of the listing plan.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 24, 2014
As part of our services, we provide a professional real estate photographer. He does not do any other sort of camera work, no landscape, kids parties, family portraits etc. Just Real Estate. We pay for it. the client does not cover the charge for this, or for the professional stager that we will also use.

I have a Canon DSLR. I have several high end lens', an have been shooting pictures for most of my 52 years. I have Photoshop too. Given time and inclination, I could do the work myself.

However, I am NOT a professional, and what I think might pass as good, may not, in the eyes of my peers, who will be looking at the MLS and adverts rather closely. Facebook has a page devoted to BAD MLS pictures, and I DO NOT want to end up as a poster child of that page.

Given our commitment to provide exceptional marketing services to all our clients, it is well worth the added expense to insure that the house "pops" insofar as outer and interior appearance is concerned.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 24, 2014
The Agent usually absorb the cost for photography. However depending on what the client wants, he or she might provide professional photos without these being requested by the agent. This is especially true of high-end properties.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 21, 2014
I will always use a Professional who does High Def pictures and pay for it myself. I also have a choice of using my favorite photographer too.

I think it should always be standard operating procedures for a Realtor to use a top notch photographer and it should be a part of your services provided. I use OBEO
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 21, 2014
Hi Robert,

The listing agent normally pays for the photographer. The draw back to that is if the listing doesn't sell the agent is out of the funds used to market the property.


http://www.mybronxhomesearch.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 21, 2014
I either pay a professional photographer or I take them myself, it depends onthe price and condition of the property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2012
Good question! Beautiful photographs are super important when marketing your home for sale. When searching online, buyers want to see as much as they can ... so the more the better ... and professional photographs really do make a difference. Statistics show that online buyers often don't even look at listings without photographs. When you hire a real estate professional to list your home for sale, their job is to get you the most money possible for your home, and a good marketing plan should include beautiful shots of your property. When I list a home, professional photographs, as well as a virtual tour of the property are both provided to my seller at no additional cost. Your agent should also provide "staging" advice when marketing your property for sale in order to showcase your home in its very best light for those photographs and during its marketing period as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2012
In today's market, homes sell without photos. If you have to, then it is your investment not the seller unless seller is overpricing the property and you do not believe will sell.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 21, 2012
There are exceptional listings I've had that require a true professional photographer to take still photos both inside & outside as well as daytime and nighttime shots. That photography would be in addition to a high quality professional video of the property. And, I pay the fee for both.

For other listings I take the photos. I take many photos and highlight the best features of the property though sometimes that's easier said than done. There's a fine balance between being truthful in what is photographed so that agents and their customers aren't disappointed when they personally view a property and shooting features that might negate any showings at all. You can't avoid the evident if you know what I mean.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 21, 2012
Hi, Robert: Great questions. I take my own photos for most homes. For those that are exceptionally well staged, I might use a local virtual tour/photo service that will produce even more images for me. (Houses not well staged would not benefit from this "extra" as it would actually pinpoint their flaws.) I also create an address-specific website for each listing and a virtual tour. I've never asked the seller to pay for marketing materials/photography, but I suspect some do build that into their fees.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2012
The listing agent usually pays.

With the great digital phone photo capabilities I find myself taking at least the initial photos so that they are available as soon as the listing is up. I do however schedule to have a professional with the proper lenses take the photos as soon as possible. In place of virtuals I prefer to do my own video clips and post to UTUBE for better presentation. Even as an agent if I do not see photos right away I move on to other properties so it is not hard to imagine that buyers will do the same.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2012
Hey Robert. We used to pay a local photographer to do our pictures. Recently I recruited a new Realtor to our team, and he is also a professional photographer. I teach him to excel in real estate, he takes our pictures. Win/win!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2012
All very good feedback and what I was expected. Now, the reason for my question is confirmed. I was casually talking to an agent the other day at her open house. I mentioned that the property shows so much better than the MLS photos would suggest and that using a photographer might be worthwhile. She seemed a little surprised but said that she would ask the seller if he wanted to pay for good photos. Well, that surprised me. I, like the rest of you, would have a difficult time asking a client to pay for marketing the property they listed with me.

Thank you everyone for confirming my suspicion!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2012
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