First impressions are everything, especially in home buying. A gorgeous exterior vs. a crummy one decides whether you walk in the front door. Inside, spotless interiors are more likely to inspire a life there than a cluttered house that’s clearly, well, someone else’s home.

And while this is where staging can play a huge role, it’s the listing pictures buyers see online that is often the first barrier of entry. So they better be really good.

In fact, a 2013 Redfin study found that homes professionally photographed with high-performance Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) sold quicker and for thousands of dollars, more than homes shot with amateur photos. DSLR cameras are also the preferred camera of Redin’s national photography manager, Drew Larrigan. Redfin provides professional photography to all its listing clients, free of charge.

Why Professional Real Estate Photos Sell Homes for More

“The iPhone is the number one camera on the market right now, but we are still very far from it replacing a DSLR, which offers a higher quality image with higher pixelation. It’s the level necessary in this business, that will be continued to be used in the market for years to come.”

But you need more than just a fancy high-tech camera, you also need the know-how.

“The number one thing people get wrong with listing photography is having the mindset that anyone can do it and deliver a beautiful photo,” he said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work you don’t see, capturing layers of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images to create one beautiful shot.”

Layers, he explained refers to multiple exposures. “This allows us to highlight shadows and bring out brightness or darkness through the windows. And then you stack those layers, which creates the beautiful windows in our photos.”

As online searching and browsing is a critical part of the home-buying process, it makes sense that professional photos will entice people to visit the home as they know what they are getting before they even set foot in the home.

“Today we have more shoppers buying from abroad or out of state and making an offer sight unseen, and really want to see a home documented,” Drew said. “They want to see every corner of the home, and that’s the beauty of the DSLR is offering a resolution that allows the out of state or city buyer a chance to see the home in full.”

Amateur vs. Professional Real Estate Photos

To see these differences in action, Drew shared listing photos comparing those shot by an amateur, and those professionally photographed. “These examples are a chance to really look at the data visually, of the difference between a team approach that builds out quality, versus independent third parties,” he said. “It goes to show how important it is for Redfin to offer quality to the client, and how important it is to make sure our listings are as beautiful as possible.”

Home entry way side by side real estate photos

“In the above photo to the left, the photographer attempts to connect the front door with the dining area, but in the process, misses all the wonderful entry storage, and the white walls look brown. Redfin’s professional photo on the right chose to instead focus on the expansive hallway, beautiful entry, great storage, and crisp color tones. The professional photographer fully utilizes this space and frames key assets in the hallway.”

Dining room real estate photos with professional camera

“In the professionally shot photo above on the right, the color tones, wood tones, and white balance are perfect. The walls are WHITE. The frame orientation is centered around the chandelier and the photo invites you into this room. In contrast, in the other photo, the room appears to be leaning, the white balance is off, and the colors are dark, almost reddish.”

Master bedroom listing photos side by side

“Once again, a proper color balance comes into play here. When incorrect, the master bedroom feels small. It also misses an opportunity to show the adjoining bathroom. The composition should highlight the full room to its entirety.”

Master bathroom professional real estate photos

“This bathroom is bright and light but the white balance is off, and as a result, the images miss key features like the upscale shower head, vanity and lighting.”

Exterior of brick home shot with real estate photography

“In the first photo, your eye is drawn to other objects, rather than the house itself. The basketball hoop, open umbrella, neighbors to the left and right are distracting and more obvious. Additionally, the home isn’t centered, and the lens distortion bends the horizon line. When photographed correctly, you will notice the sky and the framing. This is a shot that is composed, center and square. The color tones are natural and the backyard feels private.”

Homes professionally photographed with DSLR cameras are proven to sell quicker and for thousands of dollars more than homes shot with amateur photos.

Inspired by Drew’s insight, we took a look back at the 2013 study. The data revealed that professionally photographed homes priced in the $400,000 range sold three weeks faster and for more than $10,000 relative to their list price, than their counterparts with amateur photos.

For each price range, the days indicate how much faster a professionally photographed home sold compared to a home with amateur photos.
Data 2013 study by Redfin

The 2013 findings also found that homes listed between $200,000 and $1 million sold for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices when photographed professionally with a DSLR camera. At the high end of the spectrum, professionally photographed homes for more than $1 million sold at prices similar to those with amateur photographs.

For each price range, the dollar figures indicate how much closer to list price professionally photographed homes sold versus amateur photographed homes.
Data based on 2013 Redfin study

Additionally, The 2013 findings also looked at photo sharpness, or, the detail added to a picture by using a good camera, lens and lighting. Whether a crisp reflection, or bright flowers, a sharper picture will show a house in its best light. The sharpest 10 percent of photos sold at or above list price 44 percent of the time, while listings with average sharpness sold at or above list just 13 percent of the time.

Better looking, sharper photos are more likely to sell above list price
Data based on 2013 Redfin study

Drone Photography

Drone photography is becoming increasingly popular within the real estate industry. Aerial photography provides agents and sellers with a new way to display property highlights, acreage, and features. Using drone photography for your real estate listing can show your home from a unique perspective. It can allow you to show the surrounding areas of your home in a single shot. As real estate drone photography is becoming more popular, many listings are still solely using traditional images to feature their home. Adding aerial images to your listing will draw more attention to your home and help you stand out among your competitors, potentially leading to a faster sale. https://www.aerialimagingservicesofmaine.com/hiring-a-drone-pilot-for-new-real-estate-listing/

Aerial photographs were most common among luxury agents, solo agents with a large operating budget, and brokerages. These photos of listings were previously very expensive and cost agents and buyers a large sum of money. However, the invention of drones has significantly reduced this high cost and has given more buyers and sellers access to the latest affordable technology. While there are many things to take into consideration when hiring an aerial photographer, we suggest focusing on prospects with a developed portfolio, proper licensing, and favorable customer reviews. This will help you find the perfect aerial photographer for your listing. 

Ready to professionally photograph your home to list? Make sure you’ve completed these 10 steps first.Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on linkedinShare on pinterest

Emily Hochberg

Emily Hochberg

Emily Hochberg is Redfin’s Lifestyle Editor, covering topics related to culture, trends, personal finance, decor, style and more. When not busy typing away, find her daydreaming over Redfin listings (seriously, should she buy and fix up a beach house in Hawaii?) or obsessively planning where to travel next. Email Emily

Also check out/here-are-11-things-most-people-forget-to-do-when-selling-there-house-in-2019/

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