That is a great question! I spend a fair amount of time browsing real estate listings and checking out the photographs, and low priced homes tend to have the highest incidence of poor pictures. They are often blurry or dark, the colors are muted, the details don’t stand out, the vertical angles are all askew, and sometimes the rooms even have clothes strewn all over the floor.

This is a poor sales pitch for what is likely the seller’s most expensive asset regardless of whether or not the home is the least expensive listing in their realtor’s portfolio. However, since the real estate profession doesn’t function if it doesn’t make money, the real question is… do professional images actually bring in an adequate ROI on lower-priced homes? Let’s take a look.

Thank you, Redfin!

In both 2010 and 2013, RedFin conducted studies on the impact of professional photos vs. amateur photos in real estate listings across all price points. Here are a couple of charts (used with permission because who doesn’t love a good chart, right?):
Sale Price Increase with DSLR Camera |
The above chart shows how much closer to list price professionally photographed homes sold compared to amateur photographed homes. While this looks like the price advantage is very low or non-existent for both the under $200k and over $1m price brackets, for every other price point the increase in price is significant (there are other advantages though, which we’ll get to in a minute). Even a home in the $200k to $299k range shows a $3400 increase in the sales price just by using professionally shot photographs. The next bracket up, $300k to $399k posts a $7000+ sales price increase. These are numbers your seller will surely find significant.
Increased Likelihood of Sale w/ DSLR Listing Pictures |
This chart shows how many days faster a professionally shot home sells over a house shot by an amateur – a week faster for <$200k, nearly two weeks faster for $200k-$299k, nearly three weeks faster for $300k-$399k. Professional photographs have a direct impact on how fast a home sells.
Professional Photos and Selling Price |
One of the benefits of professional photographs is that the DSLR cameras and lenses are designed to capture more light and sharper details. For houses priced between $300k and $1m, professionally photographed homes are 44% more likely to sell at or above list price than houses which are not shot by professionals.

So Why Don’t Realtors Use Professional Photographers for Every Listing?

My guess (and since you are a realtor, please let me know if I’m wrong) is that the numbers are close to a wash or even a loss for the realtor. We’ll use a $250k house as an example.

Going with the figures on the first chart, let’s assume that professional pictures increase the sale price by $3400. Hurray for the buyers! They pocket a few extra thousand dollars to spruce up their new place, pay for their kid’s braces, or go on vacation. But what does the realtor get? Let’s say the listing agent charges 6% and gives the buyer’s agent 2.5% upon close. That leaves 3.5% for the listing agent. So, how much of the $3400 price increase does the listing agent get?

$3400 x 3.5% = $119

And how much does real estate photography usually cost? Anywhere between $100 and $200 just for pictures plus another couple hundred bucks for video. (We’re fast, easy to work with, and really good at our job, so our base price is $175 for pictures and $375 for a photo/video package).

From the realtor standpoint, real estate photography in this price bracket represents a negative ROI. From the seller’s standpoint, however, real estate photography even in this price bracket gives a return of ten to twenty times the investment, and the seller’s ROI jumps tremendously from there in the next two sales price brackets.

Realtor ROI: ($119 – $175)/$175= -32% return on the $175 investment (the $$ amount is only $56 though)

Seller ROI:  ($3400 – $175)/$175 = +1843% return on the $175 investment (the $$ amount increase is $3225!)

That’s stunningly beneficial for the seller while representing a comparatively minor expense for the realtor!  Noticing this trend, Redfin now offers free, professional real estate photography as a standard component of every listing and seller package. Because of the clear and tremendous benefit professional real estate photography provides to the seller, we expect this trend to become the industry standard over the next few years.


To book a shoot, contact Rachel:

About The Author

Rachel Shubin

Head Bosser. (Also, customer care, booking, billing, marketing, everything else that doesn't involve an actual camera). Need something? Just holler... Email: Phone/text: 503-975-3776

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