Interview with a Real Estate Photographer

February 2, 2010

At UniqueHomeSites.com, we are actively developing partnerships with real estate photographers from across Canada, providing them with a platform to showcase their work and expand their businesses.

One such photographer, Jeff MacGregor of MacGregor Media, is well established in Ottawa’s real estate marketplace and knows what it takes to run a successful real estate photography business.

We caught up with Jeff recently to ask him a few questions on life as a real estate photographer. 

1. As one of the more active real estate photographers in the Ottawa area, you must get to see some interesting home designs, as well as some ‘not-so-inspiring’ living spaces. As a photographer, how much emphasis do you place on capturing the unique features of a property?

Each property is unique and has it’s own features and qualities – some are designed that way and many take on the personality of the owners, which makes every shoot different.  It is our job to capture these elements while showing the property through our pictures.  Our team of photographers are trained to recognize features and make sure to capture them in a creative manner that gives a great impression to the potential viewer.

2. I would imagine that some homes, for which you are hired to photograph, are messy or cluttered and not really suitable for a photo session. Do you have a process in place for ensuring that a property is ready to be photographed upon your arrival?

We often consult with clients and suggest things to do to prepare for the photos.  While it would be ideal that every property we stepped in to was ready to be photographed, will still encounter some that aren’t.  As a result we recommend that Realtors work with Stagers to give the best possible impression of the property through staging and photography.

3. Looking at your portfolio, you offer your clients both still photography and panorama’s or 360 degree photos. Without giving away all your trade secrets ;-), can you give us an idea of the type of equipment that you use and the approximate cost to get set up (for all those budding real estate photographers out there!)

All of our photographers shoot with professional grade Digital SLR’s and speedlites. Wide angle lenses and various other items dependent on the photographer.  Separate camera kits are used for our 360 degree photography. Start up costs on semi-pro gear would run you an approximate cost of $4-6k.

4. Video seems to be the latest trend among certain real estate agents in marketing both themselves and their listings. Is this something you have ever considered offering as a service?

We are launching our video services in Feb 2010.  We’ve been finalizing our techniques and process, to what we believe is a very clean, concise way of providing video tours that don’t leave the viewer feeling sick, all the while, showcasing any property effectively.  We believe that the online trends in the Real Estate and other sales oriented markets show that people are no longer window shopping.  They’re “PC shopping”.  By offering videos
we’ll be opening up new doors for our clients and allowing them to reach larger audiences.

5. Who do you think is the main driver of the real estate photography business in Canada?

More and more sellers are expecting their house to be professionally photographed. Remeber that sellers are usually also buyers and have been on the MLS looking at properties, they don’t want their house giving a bad first impression on the Internet. As we all know, most home buyers are starting on the Internet before even contacting a realtor.

This is where the realtors are quickly realizing that how the home is presented on the Internet reflects on them as sales people, and the commitment they offer to clients.

For example, my business partner was shooting for a realtor here in Ottawa and she was telling him how she had to argue with a client to go see a property (listed by another realtor)…the cause of the argument: the client had seen the listing online and dismissed it because of the pictures. Our client (the agent) knew it was the perfect property for her clients and had to fight to show it! – a great set of pictures could have saved a lot of time for the buyer representative agent and the selling agent could have had a potential deal a lot faster!

6. Do you have any plans on expanding your service to other centres?

We have recently expanded in to the Toronto and Niagra regions and are excited about the opportunity to help more realtors sell more houses!  Our long term goal is to be across the country showcasing homes.

To contact Jeff or the team at MacGregor Media, check out their webpage at:

http://macgregormedia.ca/

They are also active on both Twitter and Facebook:

http://twitter.com/MacGregorMedia

http://www.facebook.com/MacGregorMedia


Create Quality Content to become the Neighbourhood Expert

September 20, 2009

teresaThe legendary real estate blogger Teresa Boardman of Saint Paul, Minnesota gives us the goods on the power of content in developing community connections.

Posted on ‘The Real Estate Tomato – Juicy Blogging Advice for Realtors’ blog, Boardman highlights the multiplier effect that creating unique and interesting content can have on your business as a real estate professional.

We all know that measuring the actual return on investment for social networking is difficult, if not impossible.

However, anecdotal evidence from ‘veteran’ real estate bloggers, such as Ms. Boardman (4 years!), are a great motivator to get out there and own your niche!

New to real estate blogging? Check out the Saint Paul blog and do what they do….seriously.


Higher Levels of ‘Walkability’ Linked to Higher Home Values

August 25, 2009

walkscore-logo.gif

As reported on BuzzBuzzHome blog (weird name, great blog!), a new study shows that higher levels of ‘walkability’ are directly linked to higher home values.

The report, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” looked at 94,000 real-estate transactions in 15 markets across the U.S.

The report was commissioned by a group called CEO’s for Cities and uses the Walkscore web service that we have integrated within all of our UniqueHomeSites.

WalkScore allows you to view the ‘walkability’ of any known location, drawing in community points of interest from Google‘s vast directory of local stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. to calculate a walking distance score.

You can even interact with Walkscore to improve the walkability of your listings.

To improve your listings’ Walk Score, you can easily add and delete amenities yourself.

1. From the local amenities link on your UniqueHomeSite click on the “bigger map” link in the top right corner of the Walkscore box.

2. On the right, above the list of amenities is a link titled “missing something“. Click on this and follow the instructions to add the missing amenity to Google maps.

For any point of interest, you only have to add it once. It will be available for all your future listings for that neighbourhood. 

Its a great way to provide potential homebuyers with valuable information and perhaps fetch a higher price for your listings!


Reinforce your real estate expertise with free educational handouts from NAR

August 13, 2009

education.jpgReal estate professionals looking for content to add to their marketing material should check out this comprehensive list of informative handouts for buyers and sellers, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors).

According to the NAR website, anyone is free to print copies of the handouts or customize them with their own branding. These handouts are perfect for newsletters, Web sites, and promotional kits.

For Canadian real estate professionals, keep in mind that the information is from an American perspective and may need to be modified slightly to reflect the Canadian marketplace.

Nonetheless, this is a great resource!

If you are a Canadian realtor in need of a website for your business, give us a call or email and ask about our UniqueHomeSites website product and services.

1-866-9UNIQUE or sales@uniquehomesites.com

Get Ready for Homeownership
10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership
5 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes
Why You Should Work With a REALTOR®
Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR®
7 Reasons to Own Your Home
Tax Benefits of Homeownership
Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Finance Your Home
Specialty Mortgages: Risks and Rewards
Loan Types to Consider
6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home
Lender Checklist: What You Need for a Mortgage
Get Your Finances in Order: To-Do List
Budget Basics Worksheet
What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit
5 Factors That Decide Your Credit Score
How Big of a Mortgage Can I Afford?

Buyers: Find the Right Property
8 Tips to Guide for Your Home Search
How High Tech is Your Home?
5 Property Tax Questions You Need to Ask
10 Questions to Ask the Condo Board
Your Property Wish List
Tips for Finding the Perfect Neighborhood
Tips for Buying in a Tight Market
Pros and Cons of Going Condo
10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors
What a Home Inspection Should Cover

Buyers: Prepare for Closing and Beyond
5 Things to Know About Homeowner’s Insurance
Tips for Lowering Homeowner’s Insurance Costs
5 Things to Know About Title Insurance
What’s a Home Warranty?
What Not to Overlook on a Final Walk-through
Common Closing Costs for Buyers
Moving With Pets
Closing Documents You Should Keep
17 Tips for Packing Like a Pro

Sellers: Before You Sell
Does Moving Up Make Sense?
8 Reasons Why You Should Work With a REALTOR®
12 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your REALTOR®
5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market
Understand Agency Relationships
What is Appraised Value?

Sellers: Get Ready for Showings
Simple Tips for Better Home Showings
How to Improve the Odds of an Offer
How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale
Prepare Your Home for a Virtual Tour
Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home’s Exterior
12 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor
5 Feng Shui Concepts to Help a Home Sell

Sellers: Prepare for Closing and Beyond
Understanding Capital Gains in Real Estate
What to Leave for the New Owners
10 Tips for Moving With Pets
Moving Checklist for Sellers
Forms You’ll Need to Sell Your Home
Checklist: 17 Service Providers You’ll Need When You Sell
Open House Safety Tips
How to Prepare for the Open House
Is Your Buyer Qualified?
Tips for Pricing Your Home


Sears Canada Launches ‘Certified Agent’ benefits

March 10, 2009

logo

According to a press release last week from Sears Canada, the company has launched a Certified Real Estate Services program in the Greater Toronto Area.

Certification allows qualified sales agents to provide their buying and/or selling customers with 0.6% of the home’s selling price in Sears gift cards.

For example, a $250,000 sale price will get the home buyer or seller a $1,500 Sear gift card.

Sears Certified Agents are from leading brokerages, and are thoroughly reviewed for their sales abilities, licensing and professional achievements. They possess at least three years experience, and are knowledgeable and dedicated in the complete real estate process including: listing, home searches, negotiations and closing.

Currently servicing the GTA bordered by Oakville, Newmarket and Oshawa, they have expertise in their markets and know property values for the area, understanding unique benefits and issues of their communities.”

We’re not exactly sure how one becomes a certified agent. However, the services is operated by QV Realty Inc. in Toronto:

Phone:       647.728.4817

Toll-Free:     1.877.SEARS.51

Web:         www.searsrealestate.ca

Email:       contact@qvcanada.com


Web forms as Lead Generators

March 31, 2008

mouse.jpgIn this month’s edition of Michael Russer’s ‘Ask Mr. Internet‘ column in the National Association of Realtor’s online magazine, he discusses how to generate leads from your web forms.

In fact, this is not the first time he has discussed the value of web forms in generating leads.

Back in August of 2007, he wrote an article entitled ‘Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse’, which offered techniques to get prospects to interact with your Web site by crafting appealing incentives that will set you apart from the competition.

To get consumers’ attention nowadays you need to step it up with an “irresistible offer” — the term I use for a special package, piece of information, document, or item that will be viewed as extremely valuable by your customers.

Examples of an irrestistable offer include:

  • Local real estate market report
  • Free home price evaluation (i.e. What’s my home worth?)
  • Neighborhood discount coupon book
  • First-time buyer teleseminar

This month, he offers three strategies to help get your web visitors to interact with you. 

The forms on your Web site shouldn’t be an intimidating barrier to having online consumers engage with you. Instead, make them your welcome mat, a friendly inviting threshold that will help turn casual visitors into serious clients.

Strategy 1: Tell them they don’t have to complete it.

Strategy 2: Reassure them of their privacy

Strategy 3: Give them visual cues to complete your form fields 


Century 21 reaches out to Consumers with Web 2.0

March 19, 2008

c21.jpgWith many real estate agencies stuck in the Internet dark ages, it is refreshing to see how companies like Century 21 have enhanced their web presence with consumer-friendly initiatives.

Take Century21.ca, for example. Their website was recently recognized by Joel Burslem, founder of Future of Real Estate Marketing, as one of his favorite real estate search experiences on line today.

It includes a blog and an awesome new Google map search functionality, which displays the locations of their listings. 

Meanwhile, Century21.com just launched its own YouTube channel. Aimed at sellers, buyers and enthusiasts, the Channel will provide the opportunity for customers and agents to create and submit user-generated content. 

“The CENTURY 21 System understands that in order to serve our clients and meet the demands of today’s market, we must lead the industry with the most current home buying and selling platforms,” said Robert Schwartz , vice president of national marketing for Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “During the next year we will continue to build on this momentum with additional Web-based innovations to help our agents and our clients navigate the world of real estate in a digital era.”

At Base10, we promote the use of web 2.0 and thats why we have an integrated set of features in our UniqueHomeSites.com product, which allow Canadian real estate professionals to better serve consumers through compelling web content.