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I'm starting a real estate photography side business and could use some tips

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NC Bidniss

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It occurred to me the other day that a side business doing real estate media could be a great way to make some nice spending cash. My main business is family owned, so there wouldn't be much virtue for me in doing this on that business' time and dime.

I noticed that both drone photography and 3D Matterport tours are picking up in popularity for real estate listings. However, there is nobody in my area which provides both services, and it is something I could use a little bit of my free time to do.

So, here are my questions. Does anybody have experience in real estate photography? Anybody with experience with Matterport? With drone photography? What sort of specific services do people look for? Should I focus on marketing to realtors, property owners, or both? What sort of price-point is reasonable? What is the best way to demonstrate added value through advanced types of photography? Is there any?

That's all I can think of for now. I look forward to having a discussion!
 

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Jaden Jones

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I would focus on Realtors, start by just asking what they need and how much they would pay
 

Red

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You'll need FAA licensure to be able to use the drone for commercial purposes, but I believe it's not too expensive & just a google search away.

Creating a website with packages that the agent can select from is a great start, I now use all on my luxury listings. (ie: Pictures only, Pictures w/ drone footage, Pics w/ drone AND Matterport, a la carte prices, etc)

The one thing that sets apart the company I use (and specifically why I use them) is that they offer a package that not only inputs the data (as well as the pictures) into the MLS for me, they also place my For Sale sign AND my lockbox installation. This saves so much freakin' time & frustration and I LOVE THEM FOR IT. I would pay double what they charge. Instead of having to coordinate 4 different services, I just submit my next listing in their system online. F*cking amazing.

I would definitely research why nobody is doing this in your area. The price point of the homes for sale may not garner additional or expensive marketing. And research other photogs in the area, as you may not want to charge what they do as it may be too cheap for your time.

To market to agents, consider sponsoring some CE classes in your area, that way you can give a few minute commercial to some captive RE agents and make sure you show how much time you'll save them with your services. You can also ask to sponsor the larger brokerages meetings & bring in donuts or bagels or something -most agents will show up just for that, in my experience.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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You'll need FAA licensure to be able to use the drone for commercial purposes, but I believe it's not too expensive & just a google search away.

Creating a website with packages that the agent can select from is a great start, I now use all on my luxury listings. (ie: Pictures only, Pictures w/ drone footage, Pics w/ drone AND Matterport, a la carte prices, etc)

The one thing that sets apart the company I use (and specifically why I use them) is that they offer a package that not only inputs the data (as well as the pictures) into the MLS for me, they also place my For Sale sign AND my lockbox installation. This saves so much freakin' time & frustration and I LOVE THEM FOR IT. I would pay double what they charge. Instead of having to coordinate 4 different services, I just submit my next listing in their system online. F*cking amazing.

I would definitely research why nobody is doing this in your area. The price point of the homes for sale may not garner additional or expensive marketing. And research other photogs in the area, as you may not want to charge what they do as it may be too cheap for your time.

To market to agents, consider sponsoring some CE classes in your area, that way you can give a few minute commercial to some captive RE agents and make sure you show how much time you'll save them with your services. You can also ask to sponsor the larger brokerages meetings & bring in donuts or bagels or something -most agents will show up just for that, in my experience.
Thanks for all the tips! About the sign and lockbox placement, are you a realtor? Is that "need" unique to you, or is it pretty common for other realtors to use that service?
 

Seamster

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I'm photography hobbyist. This means that all my photos are more interesting than "professional" photos because pros do "normal" photos that you're used to seeing. I did my cousin's wedding in addition to the professional photographer and he had the better lighting and everything but my photos were of people in casual situations and more interesting than people looking at the camera smiling.

I'm also a real estate investor. "Professional" real estate photos are taken with iPhones. Mine are taken at special angles with special lenses and edited on the computer. My rental listings always have the best photos. No one would argue this.

However, I've made pamphlets and given them to realtors and taken them to real estate investment seminars. I said I'd charge $179 for 40 photos (or 2 of each room + 5 exterior, which ever is higher) and had comparison photos on the pamphlet and gave a couple speeches about my service. I've taken photos for free friends, etc., and they were very happy.

I could have advertised better, sure, but, I never got my first phone call. It's a job, not a "business," so no biggie, but, what you can learn from my experience is that people think their cell phone photos are "good enough." They don't get the hits that my listings do, but they don't really see the value. You'd have to make them see it.
 

Matt Hunt

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I think these services would only be used on luxury homes. I've looked into doing real estate photography/videography, but I've noticed no Realtors are using video, and research of real estate photographers has given me such small numbers I don't think it's really worth my time. That being said, I haven't actually tried, so I may be wrong. But the way I would do it is just search the most expensive listings in your area and contact those Realtors. Chances are those Realtors specialize in luxury homes, so they stand to make a much greater commission, and they likely have an actual marketing budget. Any Realtor listing $200k homes is gonna take photos themselves with their iPhone & throw the listing up on the MLS.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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I'm photography hobbyist. This means that all my photos are more interesting than "professional" photos because pros do "normal" photos that you're used to seeing. I did my cousin's wedding in addition to the professional photographer and he had the better lighting and everything but my photos were of people in casual situations and more interesting than people looking at the camera smiling.

I'm also a real estate investor. "Professional" real estate photos are taken with iPhones. Mine are taken at special angles with special lenses and edited on the computer. My rental listings always have the best photos. No one would argue this.

However, I've made pamphlets and given them to realtors and taken them to real estate investment seminars. I said I'd charge $179 for 40 photos (or 2 of each room + 5 exterior, which ever is higher) and had comparison photos on the pamphlet and gave a couple speeches about my service. I've taken photos for free friends, etc., and they were very happy.

I could have advertised better, sure, but, I never got my first phone call. It's a job, not a "business," so no biggie, but, what you can learn from my experience is that people think their cell phone photos are "good enough." They don't get the hits that my listings do, but they don't really see the value. You'd have to make them see it.
Great advice, thank you. I am also a real estate investor, and the way a lot of realtors create listings is abysmal. I have taken over on a couple of occasions and had far better results. Maybe I can speak from experience and do a little bit of research to help show value.
 

JAJT

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I could have advertised better, sure, but, I never got my first phone call.
Out of curiosity - did your pamphlets only (or mainly) focus on the photography aspects?

Everyone loves a good before and after photo, but that's not what a realtor is buying with your service - they are buying a higher asking price, a quicker rental turnaround, increasing their "reputation" as a professional realtor, etc...

If I were starting a business like this, I'd contact local realtors and ask to do their photos 100% free of charge for their next 2-3 houses. Then after those houses sell I'd find comparables in that market that didn't use my photos and see how much added value my photos added to the sale and collect variables.

Did my photos sell or rent the house quicker?
Did it attract 20% more people to the open house?
Did it sell for 5% more?
Did it get 2-3x more offers?

I'm not a realtor so I don't know how much this stuff matters but I'd also argue that if your photos can't change those important selling metrics, then I'd agree with the realtors who say that iphone images ARE, in fact, good enough.
 

Seamster

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Finding realtors and offering them FREE photos is a great idea (if I really wanted to do this as a business, which I don't, but the OP might). I did it free for an investor friend and she never requested it again (it'd be free for though so maybe that's why).

Yeah, the pamplet had a couple comparison photos like the one below and some other photos as well.

1.JPG

2.JPG
 

minivanman

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Just last week I met a guy that does this. I asked how it was and he said it pays the bills. But as with any business, it can be better or worse depending on the person and how good or bad of a business person and marketer they are.
 

Red

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About the sign and lockbox placement, are you a realtor? Is that "need" unique to you, or is it pretty common for other realtors to use that service?
I would think that if any agent out there knew about it, they'd pay for it. I'm in the Phx metro area & I only work the east valley, which is still HUGE. Sometimes my clients are an hour drive away, so if I can eliminate even one "swing by" in having the lockbox installed prior to it going live, it's worth it.

Agents almost always put up a sign because they know it's going to get them leads & they almost always pay for a service to do it (installing a post is no fun here). The lockbox installation was an added bonus with this company. I think I pay about $149-$199 for this service each time (I don't even know, I just have a card on file with them & tell them to charge it) & I'd pay $250-$299 for it. I might even go into the $300's as their service & communication is excellent and they save me so much time.
 

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fatherj23

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Used to be a real estate agent, so here is my two cents. Recently, a lot of brokerages such as CB and KW are offering their agents in house photography/ 3d virtual tours for their listings. I'm pretty sure the price point is between $500-700 coming out of their commission checks. I know a lot of the top producing agents are starting to turn to this service instead of using their own personal photographers.

Not saying you can't make some extra cash doing this, it just might be tough to add enough value to make a realtor choose you over what their brokerage is offering and the incentives for them to do so.
 

Get Right

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We use both drones and Matterports to sell our spec houses. Our realtors hire these companies directly. Look for the young professional realtors. They are the ones using these services.
 

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