“Marsaili taught our administrative staff the importance of using keywords for image search. We were able to evidence the success of this by the number of hits on our website. She is an incredibly competent trainer and has a passion for both brand photography and ecommerce.”
Lindsey Vance - Branch Manager, Corum Property.
How teaching Corum Property to take quality photos broke their open home booking system.
Last year I spent four months coaching Glasgow real estate agents Corum Property to up their photographic game.
Quality photographs sell houses faster and for more money.
Realtor.org found 92% of homebuyers search for homes online. Your listing photos determine how many people visit your property, your selling price, how quickly it sells, and even whether it sells at all.
A 2014 study by Chicago real estate photographers VHT Studios, found that listings with professional photographs sold 32% faster.
2015 research by US firm Redfin Real Estate showed that listings with professional images fetched $3,400 more on average.
That same research found that homes priced between $400,000 and $499,999 sold three weeks faster when photographed with a professional camera.
If you’re selling your house, make sure your real estate agent is investing in quality photography. If you’re a real estate agent, invest in my photography coaching for real estate agents, architects and interior designers.
Begin at the beginning
After working in the photo industry for 20+ years, as senior photographer for Amazon, for advertising studios in New York, and for Getty Images, I know a thing or two about taking images that seduce people to buy.
First, I introduced the Corum admin team to the gentle art of Photoshop. Even a mediocre image of an interior can be improved by straightening it, cropping it, and applying a decent filter to make it feel light, bright, and airy.
Post-production is a powerful tool, but to get the best results, you want to start with decent imagery.
Corum had been getting some of their higher value properties shot by a professional photographer. But most of their properties were being photographed by their valuers, who had little training in how to take quality images.
So, we went back to basics
I started by equipping the Corum property valuer with photography equipment. And then I trained him how to take better images.
This starts with understanding what makes a good image.
First, I make sure that your team understand what homebuyers are looking for, so that they know what features to showcase to make a property more desirable. This knowledge should be a given for real estate agents, but I find that isn’t always the case.
Then together we review effective real estate imagery, so your team understand what sort of images increase enquiries and know what best practice and bad photography look like.
I had a beautiful moment with the Corum team a few months into my time there. They called me over and said, “Marsaili, we’ve been looking at pictures of houses and we’re starting to understand what you’ve been going on about.’ Then they showed me a real estate magazine and pointed out how the pictures could be better. I was so proud.
Shifting the slow movers
Corum had a few properties that had been sitting on the books for a while without selling, and when I looked at the images I could see why. Rooms were dark and cluttered. No effort had been made to style properties, or to present them in the best possible light.
I learned how to photograph properties in LA. Real estate is big business there and hyper competitive. Realtors employ teams of builders, gardeners, and professional stylists to come in and stage houses for photographs and open homes.
This isn’t just a case of whacking a bunch of flowers in a vase and hoping for the best. These guys will repaint whole houses, ship in new furniture, even replant gardens. This might sound extreme, but these are minor cosmetic investments that ensure that properties sell for many tens of thousands of dollars more. I like to bring a bit of LA professionalism to the UK real estate game.
We’ll do a recce around a home with the owner of the property to identify its best features. I’ll show your team how to style the house and set the scene to show off the home’s best aspects.
I also offer advice on how to have sticky conversations with property owners about ways to present their house for a better price. Sometimes people don’t realise that their treasured Dungeons & Dragons poster collection isn’t adding value to their home.
Then we get stuck in with hands-on coaching on how to take high quality photographs, introducing you to composition and how to use lighting and props to achieve different effects. I did all these things with the Corum valuer.
Optimising your images for search
Visual search is growing in importance year on year. 2017 research from ViSenze indicates over 75% of customers have been inspired to purchase products based on visual content. ViSenze also found 62% of Millenials prefer visual search over any other new technology.
Retailers using visual search technology to sell include Ikea, Marks & Spencer, ASOS, Ted Baker, Walmart, EasyJet, Levi’s, and Disney. If we’re playing follow the money, nailing your visual search looks like a mighty good idea right about now.
I taught the Corum team how to rename images for visual search, identify relevant keywords and create meaningful alt text. As part of this, I taught them how to use Bridge software, because it makes batch naming images quicker and easier.
This process had the happy side effect of making it far easier for the Corum team to find images. Before I taught them how to use naming, all their images were filed without file names. The admin team were wasting hundreds of hours each year searching for images that they should have been able to find instantly.
Where it all pays off
Property sales at the Corum Property office I was coaching went up until they exceeded those of the top-performing offices in the region.
Houses were selling within a week.
Houses that had been stuck on the market sold, once we re-photographed them and optimised their images for visual search.
Optimising images for search led to an increase in organic website traffic and enquiries.
The admin team had to reorganise their booking system, as they were inundated with requests to view homes for sale.
Improving the quality of their real estate photography paid off for Corum Property big time.
I can help you replicate their success.
My photography specialities are luxury ecommerce and promotion for real estate agencies, interior designers, and architects. I’ve taken thousands of real estate photographs and styled more homes than I can remember.