The Modern Age

This may be a recurring theme here: getting people into the modern age.  For cohorts and customers alike.

If you haven’t updated your picture since the year started with ’19,’ it might be time.

There are a number of real estate agents I’ve met after seeing only their online profile and thought, “Um…WTF?!?”  I literally had one walk right up to me at the photoshoot and I thought it must be the seller because I’d never seen this person before.

One I overheard tell someone that she’d been in the business for almost 30 years and I then realized when her headshot was taken — her hair is a different color, she now wears glasses, she’s about 30 pounds lighter….  And don’t for a minute think it’s just women — one male agent I work for has significantly less hair than in his online picture.  One no longer has the facial hair that’s in his profile photo.

I mentioned this phenomenon to another agent I work for a lot and she said that she updates her picture every 2-3 years.  She knows a good portrait photographer and schedules a shoot right after she gets a haircut and has someone do her make-up.  She then updates her business cards and website accordingly.  Smart move.

Digital photography makes this easy.  So you may have to throw out half a box of business cards.

An Open Letter About Communication

I got an e-mail yesterday from someone trying to get me to use them as an editing service.  Here’s the e-mail…


Hi
  John am doing Real Estate images editing, with my well professional team,

Um…right…

In any endeavor, communication is key.  If you want me to use you for anything I’ve got to be able to know that if I say A that A will get done.  Not B, not F.

If you can’t even construct a simple sentence to explain, clearly, what you’re e-mailing me about, you’d better practice some more.  Take a class, read a book.

And before someone gets their knickers in a twist that this is racist or geo-centric — there are plenty of idiots in the US who can’t form simple sentences.  The e-mail above was from a “John Christopher” which is about as WASPy as you can get for a name.

Threshold

I believe that every real estate agent has a threshold price point in mind: anything over that number and they’ll use a professional photographer; anything under it and they’re using their cell phone.

For some the number is $0 — I’ve got any number of clients who call me whether it’s an $800,000, 5br, 4ba home on 5 acres or whether it’s an 800 sq.ft. 1-bedroom condo.

In my mind these $0-threshold agents are the ones who “get it” — professional photos market both the property and themselves well no matter what kind of property.  And the fact that they often call me 20-30 times a year to do photography tells me their strategy is working and they’re getting more listings.

I’ve had agents tell me to my face that their number is $350,000.  And they call me for more expensive listings but not when they’re marketing and selling a $200,000 condo.  Oddly enough, they don’t get very many listings that, in their mind, deserve professional photography…perhaps because sellers look at their listings and don’t want their home to get cell phone camera treatment.

And then there are some agents for whom the number is $1,000,000,000 — they’re never going to call a professional photographer no matter what.  They don’t see the need.

I often hear other photographers bemoaning the fact that someone isn’t using a professional on a high-end listing.  Or an above-average listing even.  Those agents are in that Billion-Dollar-Threshold category and nothing will convince them.  You can show them data and articles all you want but it won’t make a bit of difference.

The ranks of the $0-threshold agents are growing, and the latter are fading away as they get fewer and fewer deals.  I think there will always be some of the middle group, but I think their price-threshold is getting lower and lower if they want to succeed.

Occupants

Photographing houses can be a challenge sometimes.  Empty houses, while easy, are boring and it’s hard to tell scale — is that a 4′ wide window or a 6′ wide window?

Sometimes occupied ones are even harder.  Here are some

  • The Tenant – I don’t care how much you love your renter or they love you, if you’re selling the house or condo, you’re making work for them.  And they have absolutely no skin in the game.  If they make it pretty and easy-to-sell, they have to move faster.  Total pain.  Some are better than others, sure, but some are nightmares.  My photos were once used in an eviction hearing against a pair of hoarders.  Enough said?
  • The Divorcing – Divorce is hard, but sometimes it can be amicable.  When it’s not, neither party wants to do anything and the Realtor and the photographer can get caught in the middle.  Lots of fun.
  • The Decorator – “I want to try this shot with and without the lamp.”  My response: “Are you selling the lamp or the house?  Get the lamp out of the shot.”  We’re not taking photos for Architectural Digest or Better Homes And Gardens — we’re there to take photos that someone at MLS is going to compress to death and put online for, we hope, a very short period of time.  Your “vision” doesn’t apply.
  • The Photographer – Everyone who’s every gotten beyond the PHD settings on their camera thinks they’re a photographer.  And if they’ve ever been paid — even with compliments — they think they’re a professional.  They may even be a true professional wedding or portrait photographer — but just because I know my way around a camera and shooting a house I don’t think I could be a portrait or a wedding photographer.  The opposite doesn’t seem to be true.