First impressions are everything, especially in home buying. A gorgeous exterior vs. a crummy one decides whether you walk in the front door. Inside, spotless interiors are more likely to inspire a life there than a cluttered house that’s clearly someone else’s home.
And while this is where staging can play a huge role, it’s the listing pictures buyers see online that is often the first barrier of entry.
In 2013, a Redfin study found that homes professionally photographed with high-performance Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) sold quicker and for thousands of dollars more than homes shot with amateur photos. DSLR cameras are also the preferred camera of Drew Larrigan, Redfin’s national photography manager.
At the top of the page, the amateur photographer attempts to connect the front door with the dining area, but in the process, “misses all the wonderful entry storage, and the white walls look brown.” The professional photo on the right focuses on the expansive hallway, beautiful entry, great storage, and crisp color tones. “The professional photographer fully utilizes this space and frames key assets in the hallway,” said Larrigan.
Why Professional Real Estate Photos Sell Homes for More
“The iPhone is the No. 1 camera on the market right now, but we are still very far from it replacing a DSLR, which offers a higher quality image with higher pixelation,” explains Larrigan. “It’s the level necessary in this business.”
But you need more than just a fancy high-tech camera, you also need the know-how.
“The No. 1 thing people get wrong with listing photography is having the mindset that anyone can do it and deliver a beautiful photo,” he said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work you don’t see, capturing layers of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images to create one beautiful shot.”
Layers, he explained, refers to multiple exposures. “This allows us to highlight shadows and bring out brightness or darkness through the windows. And then you stack those layers, which creates the beautiful windows in our photos.”
As online searching and browsing is a critical part of the home-buying process, it makes sense that professional photos will entice people to visit the home as they know what they are getting before they even set foot in the home.
“Today we have more shoppers buying from abroad or out of state and making an offer sight unseen, and really want to see a home documented,” Larrigan said. “They want to see every corner of the home, and that’s the beauty of the DSLR is offering a resolution that allows the out of state or city buyer a chance to see the home in full.”
Amateur vs. Professional Real Estate Photos
To see these differences in action, Larrigan compares listing photos shot by an amateur, and those professionally photographed.
“Look at the data visually,” he said. “It goes to show how important it is … to offer quality to the client, and how important it is to make sure our listings are as beautiful as possible.”
“This bathroom is bright and light but the white balance is off, and as a result, the images miss key features like the upscale shower head, vanity and lighting,” said Larrigan.
In the above comparison, your eye is drawn to other objects in the first photo rather than the house itself. The basketball hoop, open umbrella, neighbors to the left and right are distracting and more obvious. Additionally, the home isn’t centered, and the lens distortion bends the horizon line. When photographed correctly, you will notice the sky and the framing. This is a shot that is composed, center and square. The color tones are natural and the backyard feels private.”
Looking back at a 2013 study, the data revealed that professionally photographed homes priced in the $400,000 range sold three weeks faster and for more than $10,000 relative to their list price, than their counterparts with amateur photos.
The 2013 findings also found that homes listed between $200,000 and $1 million sold for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices when photographed professionally with a DSLR camera. At the high end of the spectrum, professionally photographed homes for more than $1 million sold at prices similar to those with amateur photographs.