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#463653 - 02/25/19 01:08 PM Question from a Photographer
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Hi, I am a professional real estate photographer. Please help me understand why Realtors are so worried about the cost of quality photography. I have never been a Realtor so I don't know your cost of doing business.

My work has been featured in magazines and my services have been requested by sellers, so please assume I am shooting at a high level of quality.

Last summer I had to raise my rates. This resulted in my top agency dropping me. I expected this and it's ok because this is a side job for me, I do not depend on it.

Recently that agency approached me again saying they wanted me for a high end job, but would I consider giving them a discount. I agreed, and met them in between my old rate and my new rate, which amounted to a $150 discount. My rate is based on the listing price of the property. I photographed the home and provided the pictures. Today I see the listing online complete with my photos and a listing price that is $69,000 more than the agent told me.

This agency charges a 6% commission, which I believe is typical. On this property that is over $40,000. My question is, why is a $150 discount going to make a difference on a $40,000+ commission?

I am very frustrated because frankly, photographs do a ton of work on the Realtor's behalf, in several ways. They get potential buyers in the door; they give the agency and the seller a professional impression; they are critical during the buyer's decision making process when they are narrowing down their choice between a few homes.

I am feeling undervalued and honestly, cheated. What is it about the Real Estate business that I don't understand?


Edited by Photog (02/25/19 01:55 PM)

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#463659 - 02/26/19 05:47 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2392
Loc: Outer Banks
The person paying you only takes home a fraction of the commission.

They are not guaranteed they will make any commission unless they sell the house. So money we spend on a listing might never be recouped.

If they dropped you then you are probably overpriced compared to your replacement.

Around here, a $300k house can be the same size as a $1m house so you charging by the price of the house is wrong. You are doing a fixed job that should be priced by size of house and time involved.

We use professional potogs but someone charging by the price of the home would be a non starter.

Ps. When you get hired to take pictures the pictures no longer belong to you. You perform a service for a price and the end product belongs to the person who hired you.
_________________________
Your Outer Banks real estate agent. Helping people buy and sell OBX real estate since 1989.

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#463663 - 02/26/19 09:56 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Bigtoe]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe
The person paying you only takes home a fraction of the commission.


Interesting, what fraction might that be?

Quote:
They are not guaranteed they will make any commission unless they sell the house. So money we spend on a listing might never be recouped.


Cost of doing business. If you want to sell the house, put your best foot forward with professional photos. Sure, if the house is not worth it, then do your best with your smartphone or your own camera.

Quote:
If they dropped you then you are probably overpriced compared to your replacement.


I am more expensive than my replacement, and the photos show it. The replacement's photos are distorted. This is why they came back to me.

Quote:
Around here, a $300k house can be the same size as a $1m house so you charging by the price of the house is wrong.


1, no it is not "wrong". That implies immoral or unethical, which it obviously is not. I can quote whatever fee I wish, and the realtor can decide for themselves if it's worth it. 2, Then why does a Realtor charge based on the price of the house? $60,000 commission on a $1MM house seems more wrong to me.

Quote:
You are doing a fixed job that should be priced by size of house and time involved.


Not true. The photos act as another sales agent, performing a job equally important to that of a Realtor. The photographer needs to be compensated appropriately. I'm not saying anywhere near as much as the Realtor, but certainly more than the outdated traditional amount you are cozy with. 0.1% of listing price would be more fair and still insignificant compared to your 6%. The photos are working many hours for you long after the photographer has stopped. A photographer is not an hourly laborer who performs a one-time repair or upgrade. You are not only paying for the time it took them to create your photos. You are paying for the hours of work the photos do on your behalf. The photos are selling the house as much as you are, or more. You are also paying for the photographer's expertise accumulated over years of practice. You are paying for them to bring about $5000 worth of equipment, and their knowledge and skill to use it.

Newsflash - home buyers do not want to deal with you, the Realtor, until they absolutely have to, and then for as little time as possible. So what do they do? Examine photos online. For many hours before you even know they exist, and for many hours after you have met them. Your photos are your first impression, and your deal-closer.

Quote:
We use professional potogs but someone charging by the price of the home would be a non starter.


That is only because you are in an area where there is a supply of naive wannabe-professional photographers who are willing to work for non-living wages. As soon as they wise up and either exit the business or raise their rates, you move on to the next one. Also your attitude towards photography is antiquated. The buyer's online experience is now more important than their in-person experience with you or correspondence with you. Case in point, for-sale-by-owner services that rely on online photos and data, without a Realtor at all. The buyer is buying and falling in love with the home and what it looks like, not you or your services. If they love the house, there is not much you can do to spoil that deal other than demand an unfair price, or perhaps physically assault them.

Hey I'm all for free market forces, and if you have a stream of pretend photographers willing to shoot "good enough" photos of houses for $150 and then gift you the ownership of the photos, more power to you. Just know that you are exploiting them.

Quote:
Ps. When you get hired to take pictures the pictures no longer belong to you. You perform a service for a price and the end product belongs to the person who hired you.


I didn't mention anything about this, so I'm not sure why you want to discuss it, but OK. Ownership of the images is determined by the contract between the photographer and their client. No worthwhile photographer would ever give up ownership of their images without a higher fee. They will give you a usage license limited to the one-time sale of the property, and a perpetual use license for the purposes of marketing your business, and that is all you can do with them. Owning the photos means you could then sell them to any 3rd party for whatever purpose and profit from them, or use them multiple times to sell a property multiple times. You do not need or deserve those rights.


Edited by Photog (02/26/19 01:27 PM)

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#463676 - 02/27/19 07:23 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2392
Loc: Outer Banks
Your .1% of the list price is actually closer to 10% of the listing agents portion of the commission, if the house sells for list price and if the house sells. If you want a percentage of the commission you should be willing to wait until the house sells to collect your commission just like we do and take the same risks of not getting paid for your work just like we do.

It would help you understand things better if you had a clue about how our business works.
_________________________
Your Outer Banks real estate agent. Helping people buy and sell OBX real estate since 1989.

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#463682 - 02/27/19 04:06 PM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Bigtoe]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe
Your .1% of the list price is actually closer to 10% of the listing agents portion of the commission, if the house sells for list price and if the house sells.


I understand the agency takes a cut of the commission, and the commission may be shared among all agents in the agency. And if the buyer has an agent, there may be further sharing. But the cost of photography should go against the agency, not the agent. It should come out of the total 6% commission, not the agent's cut. In any case, 0.1% is more than fair for architecture magazine quality photos.

Quote:
If you want a percentage of the commission you should be willing to wait until the house sells to collect your commission just like we do and take the same risks of not getting paid for your work just like we do.


That's fair. I may propose that.

Quote:
It would help you understand things better if you had a clue about how our business works.


I've been shooting r/e for over 10 years, so I have some clue. I'm sorry if my above response was tough love for you, but everything I wrote is true. My tone was also affected by being lied to about the listing price of the home I just shot. Your profession is going to go the way of the Travel Agent in the not so distant future. Your forum agrees. Photographs are necessary to sell a home. Realtors are not always. If you want to set yourself apart, pay for the best photography available.


Edited by Photog (02/27/19 04:17 PM)

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#463723 - 03/05/19 09:59 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
Granta Omega Offline
Member

Registered: 05/01/15
Posts: 182
Loc: Dallas, TX
The agents aren't getting anything until the home sells, and there is a chance they may go into the listing believing it probably won't sell unless the seller comes to terms with reality, and in that case, if they don't lower their asking price, they are going to take it off the market.

Many of the top agents also lead a team where they have a team photographer, and some teams are set up where they take a certain cut of the team's profits instead of an expensive price for each project.

It's not that they don't want the high quality photography or they don't think you are worth the money you are asking, but sometimes they just can't pay what they don't have and are unsure whether they will get it.

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#463750 - 03/07/19 08:30 PM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Granta Omega]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Granta Omega
The agents aren't getting anything until the home sells, and there is a chance they may go into the listing believing it probably won't sell unless the seller comes to terms with reality, and in that case, if they don't lower their asking price, they are going to take it off the market.

Many of the top agents also lead a team where they have a team photographer, and some teams are set up where they take a certain cut of the team's profits instead of an expensive price for each project.

It's not that they don't want the high quality photography or they don't think you are worth the money you are asking, but sometimes they just can't pay what they don't have and are unsure whether they will get it.


I appreciate that, Granta. It would be fair for me to wait until the house is sold to collect my fee. I still feel that 0.1% is more than fair though.

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#463755 - 03/08/19 07:31 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
Long Walk Offline
Member

Registered: 06/27/08
Posts: 381
Loc: New Hampshire
Originally Posted By: Photog
It would be fair for me to wait until the house is sold to collect my fee. I still feel that 0.1% is more than fair though.
I wonder if you would feel the same about the fee if you were hiring a photographer. Quite often, the views people hold change substantively when their perspective changes. In this case, you are providing the service and have a view of the worth of that service based on your skill and your perception of how real estate is bought and sold.

So, hypothetically and assuming you are not a photographer, would you feel good about paying $1,000 to do photos for a $1,000,000 house you are selling? Or, like most people, would you do the photos yourself or find a cheaper photographer?

How would you feel if the equity in the house (sale price less expenses and mortgage pay-off) was less than $100,000? That would make the photography fee equal to 1% of equity.

What if there was even less equity? In a falling market, what if there was no equity? What if you had to wait two years for the house to sell? What if you took the photos and the house didn't sell during the listing period?

To echo BigToe's comments, I think it would help your pricing if you understood the basics of real estate sales.

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#463775 - 03/12/19 05:56 PM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
Z06Fanatic Online   content
Veteran Member

Registered: 08/06/16
Posts: 516
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Photog
Hi, I am a professional real estate photographer. Please help me understand why Realtors are so worried about the cost of quality photography. I have never been a Realtor so I don't know your cost of doing business.

My work has been featured in magazines and my services have been requested by sellers, so please assume I am shooting at a high level of quality.

Last summer I had to raise my rates. This resulted in my top agency dropping me. I expected this and it's ok because this is a side job for me, I do not depend on it.

Recently that agency approached me again saying they wanted me for a high end job, but would I consider giving them a discount. I agreed, and met them in between my old rate and my new rate, which amounted to a $150 discount. My rate is based on the listing price of the property. I photographed the home and provided the pictures. Today I see the listing online complete with my photos and a listing price that is $69,000 more than the agent told me.

This agency charges a 6% commission, which I believe is typical. On this property that is over $40,000. My question is, why is a $150 discount going to make a difference on a $40,000+ commission?

I am very frustrated because frankly, photographs do a ton of work on the Realtor's behalf, in several ways. They get potential buyers in the door; they give the agency and the seller a professional impression; they are critical during the buyer's decision making process when they are narrowing down their choice between a few homes.

I am feeling undervalued and honestly, cheated. What is it about the Real Estate business that I don't understand?


I think it's funny you raised your rates yet complain that you lost business. So it's ok for you to raise your rates yet you don't get why Agents want to save money on their business expenses? Agents are in business to make money - smart ones will monitor all their expenses and trim the fat where necessary. It doesn't matter how much someone is making - frankly if you feel Agents make all this money you should become one! Show us how easy it is to make the big bucks - you could even shoot your own listings!

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#464103 - 04/04/19 10:38 PM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Photog]
C4talyst Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Washington D.C.
Originally Posted By: Photog

I am feeling undervalued and honestly, cheated. What is it about the Real Estate business that I don't understand?


Focus on working with, and marketing yourself to agents who value and understand the importance of good marketing imagery.

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#464104 - 04/04/19 10:41 PM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Bigtoe]
C4talyst Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Washington D.C.
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe

Ps. When you get hired to take pictures the pictures no longer belong to you. You perform a service for a price and the end product belongs to the person who hired you.


It's amazing how many Realtors think this. Unless copyright is transferred to you, you've acquired nothing but a license/permission to use the images.

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#464114 - 04/06/19 06:10 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: C4talyst]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2392
Loc: Outer Banks
Originally Posted By: C4talyst
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe

Ps. When you get hired to take pictures the pictures no longer belong to you. You perform a service for a price and the end product belongs to the person who hired you.


It's amazing how many Realtors think this. Unless copyright is transferred to you, you've acquired nothing but a license/permission to use the images.

If the copyright does not transfer they don't get the job. If you want to be some kind of artist with copyright protections for your work then you should not be taking pictures of bathrooms.
_________________________
Your Outer Banks real estate agent. Helping people buy and sell OBX real estate since 1989.

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#464396 - 04/20/19 07:56 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Long Walk]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Long Walk
Originally Posted By: Photog
It would be fair for me to wait until the house is sold to collect my fee. I still feel that 0.1% is more than fair though.
I wonder if you would feel the same about the fee if you were hiring a photographer.

So, hypothetically and assuming you are not a photographer, would you feel good about paying $1,000 to do photos for a $1,000,000 house you are selling? Or, like most people, would you do the photos yourself or find a cheaper photographer?


That depends on whether the seller or realtor is capable of taking decent photos that will do the property justice. For a $1MM house the likelihood of that is not high. If I was not confident in my photography I would not want to make myself look like a fool by putting poor photos on my listing. It would be like wearing jeans to a job interview. I would feel good about paying for quality. You get what you pay for.

If I were the seller, I would feel even less inclined and even more bitter to hand over $60,000 to a realtor for their 6% commission. I would seriously explore for-sale-by-owner first.

Quote:
How would you feel if the equity in the house (sale price less expenses and mortgage pay-off) was less than $100,000? That would make the photography fee equal to 1% of equity.


So what? That would make the realtor's commission 60% of equity. Are you telling me realtors adjust their commission based on equity?

Quote:
What if you had to wait two years for the house to sell? What if you took the photos and the house didn't sell during the listing period?


As I said above, because I consider the photos to be doing the job of a second agent, that's a risk I'm willing to take. Because I still own the photos (only a hack photographer would give up ownership of their images), I can charge the next realtor to use them.

Quote:
To echo BigToe's comments, I think it would help your pricing if you understood the basics of real estate sales.


Well, that's why I'm asking. It has been helpful to realize that the realtor has a significant risk of losing the sale, which is why I have adjusted my business model accordingly. Since then I have proposed this new model to 3 different agencies and none of them have batted an eye at the 0.1%. In fact they have been quite relieved that I am willing to wait until the house sells, and that I won't charge them if they don't sell the house.


Edited by Photog (04/20/19 08:38 AM)

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#464397 - 04/20/19 08:05 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Z06Fanatic]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Z06Fanatic
I think it's funny you raised your rates yet complain that you lost business.


No that's not what I said. I said I fully expected to lose that business and that I'm ok with that.

Quote:
So it's ok for you to raise your rates yet you don't get why Agents want to save money on their business expenses?


What I said was I didn't understand how my price increase of $150 amounts to a hill of beans next to a $40,000 commission.

Quote:
frankly if you feel Agents make all this money you should become one! Show us how easy it is to make the big bucks - you could even shoot your own listings!


I may do that someday as a 2nd act type thing. I think I'd be good at it.

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#464398 - 04/20/19 08:18 AM Re: Question from a Photographer [Re: Bigtoe]
Photog Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/19
Posts: 15
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Bigtoe
If the copyright does not transfer they don't get the job. If you want to be some kind of artist with copyright protections for your work then you should not be taking pictures of bathrooms.


Funny you say that, I don't shoot bathrooms unless they're a showpiece.

I am an artist and I take architecture magazine quality photos. If you don't need that level of quality that's fine. It's obvious you don't value photography.

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