Real estate photography is an indispensable part of the research process for both buyers and sellers. According to RISmedia, listings that feature high-quality real estate photos sell 32% faster than their competition—and the more photos attached to the listing, the less time the property will stay on the market.
Most luxury real estate agents understand the value that high-quality images offer their listings, and many will happily pay a professional real estate photographer for their guidance and expertise. But how much should a real estate photography service cost?
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Real estate photography pricing models
Nothing catches the eye of potential buyers like professional real estate photography. The best photoshoots produce comprehensive imagery of a home or property. It requires more attention to detail than your average homeowner with a digital camera can provide.
There are a number of ways to figure out the actual cost of real estate photography for your listing in advance. Below is a look at the most prominent models for pricing.
The most common form of billing for real estate photography is by an hourly rate. The total bill for the service will be reflective of the time spent at the photo shoot and could require a minimum of hours. This is the most straightforward method for calculating the cost of real estate photography services.
Number of deliverables
Another common billing method that professional real estate photographers use is based on the number of images they deliver to you. A real estate photographer might charge $10 per image. The more pictures they take, the more the bill increases.
Size of the property
It’s the job of a professional real estate photographer to make their clients’ property shine. The better the images, the quicker the sale. However, no two properties are shot exactly the same, and the scale of a luxury home can add to the cost.
In the case of a property with large square footage, the photographer may create a bid based on the size of the job and the number of details that need to be captured. The larger the property, the more time and photos it will take to properly showcase it.
The three real estate pricing models mentioned above are the basis of how the industry sets prices. There are, however, additional factors that some photographers will take into account when figuring out their real estate photography prices.
Number of properties photographed
In the case of commercial real estate, the photographer might be under contract for multiple properties. Think large-scale apartment buildings or newly developed subdivisions. Be aware that the number of properties that the photographer handles will likely have a material effect on the cost of their services.
Distance to the shoot
While it would be nice if every real estate agent operated in an easily located, suburban footprint, much of the U.S. is rural. If a real estate photographer has to travel to remote photo shoots, they may charge an additional premium to compensate for travel time.
Amount of editing and post-production necessary
While professional real estate photographers are capable of setting up many quality shots while on site, post-production touch-ups will still be needed. Many photographers will charge a premium for extensive editing and retouching—but the striking quality of the images produced should make the costs worthwhile.
Time of year
Each season has its own quirks when it comes to photography, and may influence real estate photography prices. Be aware that muddy, rainy, or snowy seasons may increase the client’s out-of-pocket costs depending on their geographical region. Always ask your professional real estate photographer about weather contingencies and their strategies for troubleshooting a day impacted by bad weather.
Real estate photography pricing by experience level
Below is a more detailed look at the ranges involved in average pricing for hiring a professional real estate photographer.
Price range for new photographers
A new real estate photographer generally has less than three years of experience. A novice real estate photographer will typically charge $110 to $170 per project, or $55-65 per hour.
Price range for mid-level photographers
Mid-level photographers have approximately five years of experience under their belts. On average, these individuals charge $170-$230 per completed project, with hourly rates easily eclipsing $100.
Price range for expert-level photographers
Expert-level photographers have at minimum seven years of experience in their field. Their services are typically between $230-$300 for a full project, or up to $200 per hour in some cases.
Average real estate photography prices across the U.S.
The estimates above suggest the average price by photographer experience—but what about the style of the images themselves? Let’s take a granular look at the cost of different types of real estate photography you may choose to purchase.
The price of standard listing photos
For reference, a typical photo shoot involves up to 25 images for use within the MLS, all in buildings 3,000 square feet or less. According to RubyHome, the national average for standard listing photos is approximately $203, with major cities like New York leading the way at more than $300 per project.
How much does drone footage cost?
In recent years, drone footage has emerged as a major technology for real estate photography. Through drone footage, photographers are capable of capturing an incredible, bird’s-eye view of the property. Usually, the photographer will add this on as an option for anywhere from $50 to $200+ in high-volume regions.
How much do real estate videos cost?
Real estate videos are guaranteed to accelerate the sale of your clients’ property. Unlike photos, there is a much wider variance in terms of video cost. For a short, simple video, expect to pay approximately $400. Mid-tier services retail for $800 for a video, and the highest-quality, luxury services can charge $5,000 or more for a completed product.
How much do virtual tours cost?
Virtual tours represent the pinnacle of digital real estate service. They use software, still shots, and video footage in order to create an immersive, three-dimensional version of the property. Potential buyers can visit and revisit the home’s interior remotely via a well-constructed virtual tour.
Due to the technology involved, creating a virtual tour can be costly. You should expect a high-quality virtual tour of your luxury listing to cost around $2,000.
Money saving tips
Real estate photography sells, but the cost for implementation varies. Below are some ways to get the most value out of your real estate photo shoot.
Ask for a discount directly
The ranges listed above should serve to give realtors a valuable starting point for negotiating real estate photography pricing. Sometimes the best way to get a discount is simply to ask.
Compare photo packages
Aside from direct negotiation, comparison shopping is your best bet for securing a good deal on real estate photography. Make sure to analyze each individual package, including the number and type of deliverables included, to find the right deal for you. Oftentimes, as order size increases, photographers will offer prorated discounts for buying images at scale.
Aim for the right time of year
Every industry has a peak season. For many, warmer weather makes operational activities easier to carry out, meaning cold, winter weather will come with premiums attached. In order to get the best value from your photographer without breaking the bank, try to schedule photo shoots during optimal times of the year.
Benefits of professional real estate photography
For a majority of people, vision is the most powerful form of sensory experience. For this reason, assets like photography, videography, and 3D-rendered virtual tours are helping drive the modern real estate industry. Below are the chief benefits of using high-quality photos and videos to connect with potential buyers.
Most buyers shop online
Zillow and Redfin are popular for a reason: they democratize the sales process. As a result, an overwhelming majority (97%) of home buyers start their search online.
Many consider pictures to be the most important aspect of the listing
The majority of shoppers believe pictures to be the most critical aspect of the property’s presentation. In fact, 90% of potential homebuyers rely on high-quality images to guide them.
Professional photography moves houses
Real estate photography drives sales. Listings that are professionally done generate 61% more buzz online.
Curb appeal is number one with layout as number two
What visually drives potential buyers? Curb appeal and layout. Most (95%) shoppers will look at photos of the home’s exterior the longest, while virtual tours generate 31% more sales.
How to best use professional real estate photography
Implementing real estate photos into your listings will have tangible effects on the success of your real estate business—but what are the most effective ways to circulate those images?
Your agency needs a solid digital footprint in order to keep up with the competition. That means a well-built, data-rich website is an absolute must. The site itself should use professional real estate photography to attract potential homebuyers and build subtle trust in your brand.
Digitally-targeted ad campaigns are highly effective in generating exposure. Social media ads, display ads, and paid search ads provide a quick and data-rich approach to selling to your audience while gaining insights about potential clients.
Traditional advertising methods like television, billboards, and print require high-quality real estate photography but offer little data to your team. Digital campaigns allow you to reach a wider audience with your investment in real estate photos, and also provide better visibility into who is viewing and engaging with your ads.
Do not underestimate the power of social media. The majority of today’s homebuyers maintain an active social media presence across multiple accounts. It’s your goal to meet them (and track their behavior) where they choose to share.
Your company website serves as a vehicle for your brand, and blog content can be an engine to power your website across search engine results pages. Adding high-quality real estate photos and videos will help to break up text and make your content more visually engaging.
Your digital presence should contain equal parts branding and actionable content. Your listing website is a core part of your business strategy, but in order to thrive, it requires image-rich listings to support it.
Leverage real estate photography for your business
Real estate marketing heavily relies on captivating visual storytelling. If you want to explore innovative ways to leverage technology to enhance your real estate business, reach out to Luxury Presence today!