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


Fishing for Sales with Good Photography

July 29, 2009

bassAt UniqueHomeSites.com, we like to share ideas regarding real estate marketing on the Internet.

Today, we want to discuss something that many in the industry seem to ignore – great real estate marketing begins with great photos!

For consumers, there is nothing more frustrating than finding a listing through a search portal that passes the initial search parameters (i.e. price, location, size, etc), but fails to offer additional photos.

The typical reaction to a lack of photos is that something is wrong with the property.

In some cases, the listing agent may do this on purpose so that only the most interested home buyers will contact them personally for more photos.

Regardless, we feel that properties listed for sale on the Internet with only one or two photos are missing out on a huge opportunity to present their listing to as many Internet eyes as possible.

This is particularly true in today’s Internet age, where web surfers are becoming accustomed to open and instant access to information on-line.

One expert in this area is Larry Lohrman, operator of the Photography For Real Estate blog.

He offers some great tips and techniques for real estate photography, including the following tidbit:

“…the front shot is THE most important shot for marketing purposes.

Not only because Realtors have to use the front shot in all their marketing, but because of web site designs that make the thumbnail of the front shot the “lure” (as in fishing lure) that usually motivates the potential home buyer to take the first action (a click to look at more photos) that leads to a home buyer towards a home purchase.”

Fish on!


Custom Branded Single Property Websites

July 23, 2009

wright1We are often getting requests from our user community to develop a single property website template that matches their personal brand as a real estate professional.

This is why we have introduced our Custom Branding Solution!

Upon request, we will engage our team of Graphic Designers to work with you to create your own unique and completely customized property website design.

Need an agent site? Hey, we also do that!

They come equipped with a powerful control panel, and are completely integrated with our UniqueHomeSites product… but that’s another blog post altogether.

Check out a few of our custom property website designs:

Jim Cooper, RE/MAX Metro-City Realty Ltd. – http://www.1111waterpark.com/

cooper1

 

Sean McCann, Royal LePage Team Realty Ltd. – http://www.282friel.com/

mccann1

Andrea Morrison, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. – http://www.8lessard.com/

morrison1

 


Better Homes and Gardens enters Canadian Real Estate Marketplace

April 27, 2009

bhglogoBetter Homes and Gardens Real Estate officially announced recently that it will be expanding its real estate brand into Canada after reopening in the United States last summer.

BHG Real Estate is targeting the younger generation of buyers, who have been flooding the market in recent months, at least in Canada, thanks to historically low interest rates and falling prices.

Leading the BHG expansion into Canada, and adding a high degree of respect and familiarity, is former executive vice-president with Royal LePage CanadaSherry Chris.

According to an article by Garry Marr of the Financial Post, which discusses the BHG expansion, Ms. Chris’ company will go after some of the independent brokerages in those markets but has a hands-off policy when it comes to recruiting any brokers from Coldwell Banker or Century 21.

“If there was an independent company in a major city that wanted to grow and felt that they could grow better by partners and affiliating and utilizing technology Better Homes and Gardens has created, they would become a master franchise for a geographic area,” Chris said.

We’re not exactly sure why the hands-off policy with C21 and Coldwell Banker, but this could be an exciting opportunity for real estate brokers across Canada, particularly those who are familiar with, and heavily use, social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) and other internet marketing technologies.  

We’ve discussed BHG on this blog in the past, pointing out the numerous resources available on their website for anyone buying or selling a home, including an article entitled – ‘14 Ways to Add Curb Appeal’


Prudential Connecticut Realty develops Single Property Websites

January 29, 2009

prulogoA recent posting on GeekEstate blog by Vincent Socci, Marketing Manager of Prudential Connecticut Realty, discusses the benefits of single property websites.

Living in a web 2.0 world, consumers are demanding fresher and more descriptive information about homes for sale…. single-property sites are exceptional ways to not only ‘seal the deal’ by wowing your sellers but are also a great marketing tool that allow you to center your marketing strategy around an easy to remember URL. 

According to the blog post (and ensuing comments), it appears that Prudential Conneticut have taken the lead by developing their own exclusive single property website technology – Home Suite. Nice work Vincent!

If you are a broker operating in Canada and would like to have single property websites available to your agents, contact us at Base 10 Web Solutions

Here is a sample of our clients’ property websites:

http://www.5545dickinsonstreet.com/

http://www.635caracaradrive.com/

http://www.11cathcartsquare.com/

http://www.5354kilbylane.com/

 

 

 


Discover video marketing techniques in the blogosphere!

January 20, 2009

Peyman Aleagha from GeekEstate blog writes a great posting on the use of online video for real estate maclocktowerrketing.

For those real estate agents considering a video marketing campaign, this is a must read.

Here’s an excerpt:

What percentage of your real estate customers come from out of your area? They need information about the area, attractions, natural beauty, parks, schools and more. But, they also want to SEE what all of this looks like. Photos are great, but video rocks!

Joel Burslem from the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog (who knew he’s Canadian?) also comments on the use of video on his posting entitled Video Isn’t Just About Your Listings.


6 Real Estate Photo Tips to Draw Buyers

November 7, 2008

The content of the following was written by Dana Mattioli of the Wall Street Journal and was originally posted on MSN Real Estate.

In days past, selling a home depended mainly on “curb appeal”- the first impression a buyer gets after pulling up in front of the home. Now however, attractiveness of photos posted online are of the utmost importance. Eighty percent of home buyers used the Internet last year to search for a home, and nearly 25% reported that the Internet is where they first found the property they purchased, according to a National Association of Realtors survey.

Good photographs can lure buyers, and poor ones can turn them away. The following tips will help create flattering photos of properties:

1. Lighten up. For exterior shots, shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, says Gregory Haberstick, who trains professional photographers for Foxtons, a real-estate company serving New York and New Jersey.

For interior shots, Bill Bayless, a real-estate photographer in Damascus, Ore., suggests turning on all the lights and using a flash. “The flash adds in all of the correct colors and fills in the shadows, making the room look brighter,” he says.

2. More is better. Home buyers want to see more than just the front of the house. Buyers also want to get a look at the living room, kitchen, dining room, family room, master bedroom/bathroom and the backyard, Bayless says. He suggests including your residence’s best features, such as a home theater or an exercise room.

For condos and apartments, include shots of amenities such as a pool, tennis court or gym, says Kevin Grolig, a real-estate agent with Llewellyn Realtors in Rockville, Md.

If your home has a spectacular view, say of a beach, lake, mountains, park or golf course, by all means post photos of it, says Ron Luxemburg, a photographer in Pasadena, Calif.

3. Get a clear shot. Remove clutter from an area before photographing it. Clear counter space and remove fridge magnets, children’s toys, dirty dishes and other distractions, says Haberstick.

“I’ve been known to spend a few hours moving things around,” says Grolig. He relocates appliances and makes beds to get the best photo.

For outside shots, put away garbage cans and remove the car from the driveway, he says. Try not to include telephone poles, wires and other homes in the scene.

4. Go pro. Hiring a professional real-estate photographer may be the way to go. Examine samples from photographers and ask about their experience before making your choice, Luxemburg says.

Photographers’ fees can range from a hundred dollars to $500, he says. Using a professional photographer will greatly increase the quality of your photographs. They have special equipment and experience.

5. Give it your best shot. Quality counts when taking photos, and cell-phone cameras don’t cut it. A camera with a wide-angle lens is ideal.

For a clear photo, place digital cameras on a tripod or something solid so the camera is steady when the shutter goes off, says Luxemburg.

Set the camera on its highest resolution. If you decide to just use the photos online, you can always decrease the resolution, Luxemburg says. Never use fewer than 72 dots per inch for online photos, Bayless says.

6. Edit. Improve a shot using basic photo-editing software. Crop out ceilings or unnecessary background, says Luxemburg, and adjust the brightness or contrast.

Although these tips are made specifically for the non-professional photographer, they are important basic ideas even for people who take photographs everyday.

UniqueHomeSites has many featured photographers, all of whom can be viewed at: http://www.uniquehomesites.com/photographers/index.php.

For more information about UniqueHomeSites and our photographers, visit uniquehomesites.com or call 1.866.9UNIQUE.