How to Build a Real Estate Brand in a Low Inventory Market
February 10, 2022
This article first appeared in Houston Real Producer’s magazine.
A couple of realtors were standing around (outside) having drinks and catching up with each other when one of them asked me where I worked.
“A real estate photography company,” I replied.
“Ha!,” one of the guys laughed. “You don’t need professional photography right now to sell a home. You just need an iPhone.”
Technically, he is correct. The average days on market for a listing in Houston hovers around 40, but anecdotally agents are sharing stories of homes going under contract in 4 days. Sometimes even less and almost always for more than the asking price. Only a few months ago, housing inventory hit historic lows with only a 1.6 months’ supply, whereas a healthy market would have around four months.
But in the big picture, top producing real estate agents know that guy was wrong. You do need professional photography on all your listings. Why? Because every property you list reflects on your brand. If your listing presentation is full of amateur photos, why would a client look at it and choose to work with an amateur?
Top agents know they are their brand, and they invest heavily looking sharp at every turn, which includes quality and consistency in their visuals. It doesn’t make sense to be polished and keep your appearance up only to show up to a very hard-to-get interview with Crayola drawings of your previous listings.
Property photos are needed for places than just MLS, so they should be taken by a professional because they will be around for more than just four days.
Here are a few places where your investment in hiring a professional will pay off
The Listing Presentation
The first thing experts recommend for a successful listing presentation is a display of previous experience. Showcasing other homes you’ve sold proves you know what you’re doing and prospective clients can see that you’ve done it well. Using low-quality photography undermines the confidence you are trying to build in the client’s mind.
Why use stock photography when you have sold so many homes already? Using eye-catching photos on your website, or even your social media headers, will make you stand out and help build trust. Sellers interview approximately three real estate agents before choosing the right one — even if one of them is a friend or family member, because the stakes are so high.
Higher quality photos with more light and clarity increase the perceived value of a property. If you are trying to get your client more money for the sale of their home, using HDR photography taken by a professional will increase those chances. Even virtual tours are now available in high resolution display settings.
If you think all those celebrity influencers are always using a cell phone to take those selfies, you are sadly mistaken. They hire professional photographers to make them look good because they can’t afford one bad post. Real estate photographers can take vertical shots of a home with their DSLR cameras for you to use on Instagram. #WorthIt
Instead of looking at a listing as a quick win, treat it like a piece of artwork for your gallery where you have lots of visitors. You want every piece to be something you’re proud of. By shifting your mindset about your listings, you’ll see them in different light and start to invest in them the way the pros do.
This seller’s market won’t last forever. Real estate is a commodity, albeit a personal one. All commodities fluctuate, going in cycles according to supply and demand. If there are more real estate agents than there are homes for sale (and there are), sellers are going to go with the ones who look like they know what they are doing. They are going to choose a professional, so the more polished your look all around, the more likely you are to win that client.