Real estate photography has come a long way since it began to emerge as a primary means of marketing properties on a mass scale with the advent of “listing books” in the 1980’s.

Fast forward a few decades and widespread internet access has changed the way we process and distribute media – and so those listing books have evolved too. As MLS systems migrated online and digital listing photos became the standard – multiple photos of each property even! – savvy agents soon realized that the better the pictures, the better a property was received by potential buyers. Professional photographers who could use their technical knowledge to best showcase, or even enhance, the features of a home began to show up. These people learned from principles used in architectural photography and began to apply these techniques to residential real estate and a new industry was born. At first it was only common on the most luxurious listings, but gradually it spread into more and more sectors of more and more markets. Now professional photos have become the standard in real estate.

In the South Bend area however, that’s not exactly the case.

It could be a product of median home values in our market sitting comfortably below the national average. A couple hundred bucks for photos just eats up a bigger chunk of an often smaller agent commission. It could just be that our market seems to lag behind when it comes to the trends of larger metropolitan areas. But whatever the reason may be, the greater South Bend market suffers from a somewhat low penetration of professional real estate photography. It has also fostered a climate where many of those agents that do contract out to real estate photographers often opt for low skilled, bargain providers. I’ve seen countless photos paid for by local agents who could have delivered a better finished product themselves with an iPhone and a little knowledge of what makes a good image and how to capture one.

The benefits of *quality* professional photography in real estate are well documented. If you don’t believe me then do a Google search. And in a market like ours where not every agent is on board the pro photographer train, I would argue that those benefits increase substantially since the homes that are showcased with great pro photos stand out from the competition that much more. But how are you supposed to know if the photographer your agent sent over is a stud or a dud? I’ve provided a textbook example of a high quality photograph, the type that gets results, to illustrate some things to look for.

So now that you know what makes a good real estate photograph and what the benefits are, I would strongly suggest that if you or a friend are thinking of selling your home, the quality of the photography provided should be one of the top items on your list when choosing a Realtor, as it is one of the most consistent, impactful, and easy methods to positively influence how homes perform in the market. Just having an agent who uses a “professional” photographer won’t do you any favors unless the level of the work they deliver lives up to that label. Because at the end of the day, not having quality listing photos when you bring your home to market will cost you no matter who your agent is.


About the author

Chris Arrowsmith
For the past decade Chris has worked as a licensed real estate agent, real estate acquisition specialist, freelance real estate photographer, and real estate marketing consultant. Currently Marketing Director and staff photographer at Irish Realty, he puts his experience to use feeding a personal obsession with continuously raising the bar when it comes to how properties are marketed for sale in our local area.

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