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2007-03-09 11:45:00

Create a Digital Presence for Your Business with Photos

Amy Chorew
The National Assn. of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (2006) once again stresses the importance of certain features that need to be on your web site and listings. In fact, if you don’t have this information buyers will probably pass your listing by.
Let me share a few of these statistics: 87% of consumers go online to look at real estate before they ever call you. 

What are they looking at? Ninety-six percent look for homes, period.

So in theory the first showing of your listings is on line.

Make sure you have the property search, hopefully one that includes the multiple listing service (MLS), easily accessible on your web site. You will be missing opportunities if you don’t.

NAR's home buyer study also lists the top features that a consumer found useful on a web site:

Detailing Property Information
Virtual Tours
Interactive maps
Neighborhood/Community Information
Real estate agent contact

I highly recommend that you purchase this report. 2006 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. It is item number Item # 186-45-06 and costs only $50 for members.

Your digital presence starts with photos. Eighty-three percent of consumers found photos very useful, and listen to this, 80% would not click on a listing without photos. So, consider this, NO PHOTO equals NO SALE. It does not take long to search the Internet and find, frankly, horrible photos. I would never look at a home with those photos. So what are some easy tips to improve photo quality?

Quality Counts in Listing Photos

First of all, take lots of photographs. There is a memory card in your camera, shoot until it is full. You are bound to get a few good ones.

Check all of your listings online from the eyes of a potential buyer. Ask yourself this question, "Would I be interested in this home if I was a home buyer?" If not, take a new set of photos.

Use different photos on different web sites. Don’t use the same photos everywhere. Display different photos on your web site, on,  and on your company web site.

Choose a time to photograph when there is even light and the fewest possible shadows on the house. Early morning and late afternoon are often called “Golden Time” because of the warm, horizontal light. Try to shoot exterior photos on a blue sky day.

Invest in a tripod. Many of us have a shaky hand or just can’t get the right angle. There is a great one available right now called the goriillapod. It is totally flexible and reminds me of Gumby. It is bendable, wrappable and is small and compact.

Leave sufficient space in the frame to see the entire property, think about the space around the house. Make sure there is not too much foreground.

Check the foreground and angle: Is there anything in the photo that will detract from the overall appeak of the property? If so, move it. Consider the angle of the photograph, never take the house straight on and never emphasis the garage side.

Gail Bjork, owner/editor of offers these comments. Check out her web site for some great tips on taking digital photos for real estate.

Highlight positive areas of property.

    • When framing a shot, check that strong vertical or horizontal lines are straight.
    • Try to have something in the foreground to add interest to a photo.
    • Take shots from different angles so nothing obstructs an important part of the scene.
    • Take some shots at dynamic angles to catch the eye of prospective buyers. Moving slightly to the left or right, or moving back a few steps, before taking a photo can improve composition.

Inside, use a wide angle lens so you can get more of the room. This is where a tripod is useful. Just for information a true wide angle lens is 28Mm. Make sure the digital zoom in the camera can accomplish this so you don’t need to add an extra lens.

Use the horizontal light that is available. Don’t turn on over head lights. Use table lamps the light feels warmer. If there are blinds on the windows, make sure they are all at the same level.

If you must turn on room lights, adjust the white balance setting to match the dominant source of light. Proper white balance helps prevent photos from having a color cast.

If the sun is shining in through the windows, you will have back lighting issues, which fools a digital camera's built-in light meter. Back-lighting causes the contents of the room to appear dark while the scene outside the window is better exposed. A solution is to use fill-flash.

Virtual Tours

Sixty percent of consumers report that they enjoy seeing a virtual tour of a home. The good news is that there are lots of programs out there to create these multimedia experiences, and they all have different features.

The full-blown 360 tours are still in demand for those picture perfect, higher priced homes. Don’t be afraid to invest the money to these properties. Often professional photographers can take photos that you can use elsewhere.

Some virtual tour companies provide single domain sites for your listings. They include all the features that today’s consumer is looking for. It can be expensive but may be worth the investment.

Some virtual tour companies include floor plans. An appraiser will come and help create a floor plan and the consumer can see photos attached to each room.  One company also offers furniture to place in the rooms and if you want to change the color on the walls they give you a palette to play around with. Quite impressive.

I believe that you need to invest in a virtual tour program that you can use to create your own virtual tours. The main reason is that virtual tours are great for listings, but can be used as a marketing tool in other parts of your business. You can upload your own photos, add text and music. The virtual tour can be sent directly to your MLS unbranded and uploaded to and other web sitesl.

Many of these programs allow you to create and burn a CD. Think about creating what I call the E-Wow Tour. A personalized CD for your listing that you leave there alongside your flyer. Your younger clients will take these CDs before they take your flyer. Include photos of the home as well as the area highlights.
(Amy Chorew of Matthew Ferrara and Company teaches REALTORS how to use technology. She is a Certified e-PRO Trainer and teaches CE, GRI and skill-development courses for REALTOR Associations and brokerages across America and Canada.)

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