Ashley Morrison's Blog

December 11, 2010

How good…

.. do the images need to be to help sell a home ???

That was the big Question-of-the-day, during the shoot yesterday …
First picture taken in the sitting room of Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
.. where there was much discussion, about whether or not the owners of this particular home…
The sitting room in Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
.. in the university area of Belfast, should perhaps invest in better images than these:
The sitting room.

The dining room.
.. which are being used by the estate agency – to at least help get more people through the door – which after all, is a big part of what ‘advertising’ is all about.

It’s a difficult one to answer – because if someone is looking for a certain type of home in a particular area, will they find it regardless ?
Is it really therefore all about: Location, Location, Location ?
Or will better images…
The dining area in Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
.. perhaps widen the net ?

For the most part, we know there really isn’t the budget set aside for Estate Agent photography, to be more than a series of quick shots – so that does need to be taken into account – even though their actual Usage requirements are often a lot.
(Which usually is the thing that will determine the importance of the images to the client – and therefore their budget).

With Estate Agents – because of their pricing structure – which is more based on the final sale value – it’s very different e.g.
1% of 300,000 = 3,000
1% of 275,000 = 2,750
So as you can see, the difference to them is relatively small – and therefore it’s not worth their while worrying to much about this.

By comparison, shooting an editorial feature for magazines, will usually mean the photographer will have a much larger budget to play with – even though the client’s actual Usage requirements are often less – so the photographer can afford to spend more time on the job – light, style, hire others to help, and even re-arrange the furniture, etc, if need be.

Naturally the Editors of the magazines will be more demanding as a result – and will want their Readers to be “drawn into” the home, rather than simply show them the space…
The upstairs living room.
Make it look real…
Mairead and Owen McIntyre in the upstairs living room of their Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
.. but complete the dream as well.

Having said that, the features are usually more about the decor, the homeowner’s style, what they did, and even the homeowners themselves in some cases.
So a different set of images is required – all be it the same subject matter and even the same framing (as seen here) – for these two different clients – who are actually targeting very similar markets, in a different way.

Still, back to the original question: How good do the images need to be to help sell a home ?
.. and where does one draw the line between: Good, Very good and Good enough ?

Do you simply just need to show the ‘Steak’ …
Bedroom.
.. or should you be actually trying to sell a bit of the ‘Sizzle’ too …
Guest bedroom in Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
.. more inline with what you expect to see in the magazines you buy & read each month.

It’s a huge market – and for many, it will be the single biggest ‘thing’ they will ever sell – which means there is often a lot of money on the line.
So should they invest more money in this .. and if so, how much ?

Note: In the world of Advertising, the rule of thumb is up to 5% of your media spend.

We don’t have the answers – but we often hear of the homeowner’s disappointment, as to how their home looks – at a time when it’s important to them. So we keeping coming back to these questions – to see if we can find the answers.

Any suggestions or comments are most welcome.

(Added note on the 18th January 2011: Ideal Home – Britain’s best-selling homes magazine – said ‘Yes’ to this home, so you will be able to see the full set of images we produced in their magazine later on this year.)

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9 Comments »

  1. Featured in the April 2015 issue of Period Ideas magazine…
    Pages 38 to 45 in the April 2015 issue of Period Ideas magazine featuring Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
    .. on pages 38 to 45.

    Pingback by Riviera living SAVOIR FAIRE… | Ashley Morrison's Blog — March 11, 2015 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  2. Featured in the April 2012 issue of Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living magazine…
    The cover plus pages 62 to 74 in the April 2012 issue of Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine featuring Mairead and Owen Moore's Mid Century house in the University area of Belfast.
    .. on pages 62 to 74 plus on the cover too.

    Comment by Ashley Morrison — November 25, 2014 @ 8:21 am | Reply

  3. https://ashleymorrisonphotography.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/mid-century/
    Featured in the October 2011 issue of Ideal Home magazine…
    Pages 16 to 22 in the October 2011 issue of Ideal Home magazine featuring Mairead and Owen McIntyre's Victorian terrace in the university area of Belfast.
    .. on pages 16 to 22.

    Comment by Ashley Morrison — September 21, 2011 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  4. i like it

    Comment by jim — January 6, 2011 @ 6:26 am | Reply

  5. However, it is not necessarily just about selling the home; the photos can help the estate agent to market himself or herself at the same time, in which case there might be even more of an incentive to show some sizzle. Also, the incentive to produce higher quality photos may be stronger in areas that have a relatively high average cost of housing (meaning higher average commissions, but also probably a higher cost of living), a large number of especially attractive homes (sometimes with exceptional surroundings), and a tech-and-media-savvy population. The San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, is one such example. In some of the the upper-end markets here an average 2,000 sf suburban home on a 1/4 acre lot can sell for $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.

    Comment by David Eichler — December 22, 2010 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  6. Which I guess is one the big differences between going to the likes of an ad agency or design company – and asking them to handle your marketing and advertising needs for you – verses asking an Estate Agency to handle the sale for you – based on what they feel they need, to get a result.

    It’s like the reverse of what I would usually say to people i.e. it’s all about the ‘value to them’ (the client), rather than the ‘value to you’ (the seller) – but in this case, you (the homeowner) are the actual client.

    Comment by Ashley Morrison — December 12, 2010 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  7. Ay — there’s the rub!

    How to effectively market yourself to people that have little experience purchasing marketing images…

    Not to say it can’t be done though, a lot of people in the higher demographics are usually very visually literate and would probably be very disappointed in the standard fare proffered by most RE photographers, their expectations would be that it should look like the magazines.

    Comment by Charles Lynch — December 12, 2010 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  8. “.. so what you are saying is it is in the home owners interest to invest a greater amount on marketing images as the ROI is better for them, whereas the agent is less concerned as it makes little difference to their commission.”

    I think that’s basically it… but because the homeowner has little say in the matter – then it’s totally left up to the Estate Agency to ‘call the shots’.

    Comment by Ashley Morrison — December 12, 2010 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  9. Good argument Ashley — so what you are saying is it is in the home owners interest to invest a greater amount on marketing images as the ROI is better for them, whereas the agent is less concerned as it makes little difference to their commission.

    Although there is little factual evidence (although there is a Redfin survey that seems to support this), there is plenty of anecdotal evidence it seems that good photographs of a property for sale can increase the value of a property 5 to 10%

    For a home owner, that means tens of thousands of pounds in most markets.

    It might be a viable market for a photographer to exploit, especially in higher income demographics.

    The difficulty is though, you have to convince home owners. Most people have no experience of purchasing media so you will find it a difficult job to convince most.

    The beauty of working with agents, is that you get repeat business from them once you have a relationship established, and they are essentially winning business for you.

    In some markets, you may be establish a business model where you can charge a premium for your photography and get enough of the agents in the market to make it viable.

    Very nice images BTW — the originals certainly aren’t the worst RE shots I have seen but yours are certainly more evocative.

    Comment by Charles Lynch — December 12, 2010 @ 8:34 pm | Reply


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