Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can a Professional Photographer Sell my House?

Okay, so you're ready to put your home on the market, you have cleaned, painted, repaired, landscaped, staged and have your home looking downright perfect!  As you interview the prospective REALTORS® one states that they will have a photographer come out and photograph your home.  They tell you that visually, this is what is needed to really make your listing standout online.  You think to yourself, "self - that sounds hard to argue with" so you hire that agent and their brokerage and then....wait - and then... wait - and then...well, you get the idea.  You notice that your listing is online, but there are no photos - and since this is such a popular service, you have to wait for up to 14 days before the photographer can get to your home.  Meanwhile, in listing land, numerous buyers have passed up your listing, quite possibly never to return, because you have no photos.  When was the last time you bought a pair of boots online with no idea of what they looked like?  Right, me too.

So, how do you avoid this?  Simply, make sure your agent does not put your listing in until all photos are taken and approved by you, for one.  But there is more at work here that you need to be aware of.  Are these "Photographers" really photographers?  Or are they just someone that was hired to take photos?  In my experience with professional photographers - well, they're expensive.  They kind of need to be since one of those little cameras can cost upwards of $10,000 - not to mention the lenses, the lighting, the stands, the training, and the trade organizations.  Yes, that's right, just like REALTORS® Photographers have organizations that they belong to.  They are not required to belong to them, but much like Home Inspectors, I don't know that you would want to hire one that wasn't a member.  My point, make sure you know what you are getting.

There are, for example, the Professional Photographers of America, the American Society of Media Photographers, or more locally, the Professional Photographers of Ohio.  While membership to these organizations is not mandatory, it at least tells you that this photographer is serious - these things cost money after all.  Your first question when bringing this up should probably be to see the photographer's resume and go from there.  Also, question if they have liability insurance, and ask to see it.  If they're coming into your home, lugging equipment around, you want to know they have coverage before they knock over that gargoyle fountain your mother-in-law gave you as a wedding gift. *ahem*

Most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, do NOT put your listing in the MLS or online, without having images to go along with it!  No one will look at it, in fact they will say, "clearly something is wrong with that one.  There must be a reason the seller doesn't want to show anyone what the house looks like".  Trust me - that's what they're saying.  So while a professional photographer is great, do you really need one?  With camera technology today, most agents can take pretty good photos of your home and property.  Just make sure that they do and that they get them online when the listing goes active!  Otherwise, what are you selling?
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