Photo Tricks to Sell Your Home

Last Updated Jan 21, 2010 8:56 PM EST

One of the great things about selling real estate is that the landscape changes. As an agent, you're always adapting and learning new tips and tricks.

That's why I was surprised and pleased to see a blog post from Larry Lohrman, who is a real estate photography guru, talking about photography in the context of the new Realtor.com iPhone app.

Well, of course it makes sense that our photography of properties should change as the way potential buyers view those photos changes, but I hadn't really thought about it.

So I caught up with Larry, the author of the Learn Real Estate Photography and Real Estate Photographer Stimulus Package e-books, via phone to his home base in Oregon. He noted that in this slower market, good photography can give a seller an edge. "Market times are very long, and in any given submarket, the inventory is huge," Lohrman said. "So I think the real issue is how you stand out among the competition. To me, one of the best ways to stand out is photography."

Here are five of his top current photography tips:
  1. Consider where your photos are going. "In almost every real estate site, when a buyer searches, they get about 25 thumbnails, and that thumbnail is the primary exterior. So I recommend that you spend ten times as much time in choosing that exterior photo than you do the rest of the shots, because that's the hook that will get buyers to look at the rest of the photos.On Realtor.com, with the four-photo layout, you have to have front exterior photos in the top left because that's where people look first, then you have to think about the three other strongest photos of the home," Lohrman said. (Bonus tip: On Realtor.com, he thinks landscape shots -- short wide rectangles look stronger than portrait shots-- tall skinny ones. )
  2. Think about the strongest points of the home. If you're a photographer, make sure that you talk to the listing Realtor about this. "The Realtor may know what the buyers are really psyched about," Lohrman notes. Secondary exterior shots, especially, should be of a home's very strongest point. "Usually it's a deck or a patio, or a wonderful backyard," Lohrman says.
  3. Time of day matters. "Early in the morning or at twilight are the best for exterior shots," Lohrman says. "However, when you're shooting, you rarely have the latitude to choose. If I had the latitude, the sweet spot is half an hour before sunset to half an hour after; you do the exterior shot with all the interior lights turned on. That can look really nice." He adds that since it's such a specific demand on a real estate photographer's time, you might pay extra for it: "Many real estate photographers have a package where they come back and do a twilight shot."
  4. Get your shots straight. "The number one mistake that Realtors and real estate photographers make is that their verticals are not completely vertical, so it looks like the room is going to fall in," Lohrman says. "If you use a wide-angle lens and shoot up or down, it can look like the walls are converging instead of parallel."
  5. Remember that great photography is no substitute for a great price. "Everyone thinks that their home is worth what it was in 2006 at the peak of the market," Lohrman says. "So the first step is price. If you're overpriced by one hundred thousand dollars, it doesn't matter what kind of photography you have."
Read More Interviews:
  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.

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