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5 Things Real Estate Photographers Wish Sellers Did -- and Did Not -- Do

September 28 2022

Working with hundreds of photographers nationwide who have delivered more than 4,000,000 images to help real estate agents sell and rent more than $35 billion in listings, we've come to feel their pain when something doesn't go as planned.

That's why we polled more than 100 professional real estate photographers who work with HomeJab to get their "rants and raves" for listing shoots.

We already know from a large body of research that professional real estate photography helps sell homes faster and for more money. The good news from the survey results is that most of the time – 67% – of professional real estate photographers have a great experience with highly cooperative sellers.

But that still means that sellers are not as cooperative as they should be during one in three listing photo assignments, and, sometimes, surprisingly, they are uncooperative.

Fortunately, our "rants and raves" survey uncovered a series of "best practices" for home sellers – comments, ideas, and suggestions shared almost universally by our photo pros.

Photographer rants

Here are the top five things professional real estate photographers wish all sellers did — that still is missing from too many shoots:

  1. Declutter – 95%
  2. Remove objects in the way of a photo (toys, bikes, hoses, etc.) – 86%
  3. Clean the house – 75%
  4. Fix light bulbs – 73%
  5. Clean pathways and driveways (remove cars) – 54%

HomeJab Rant Rave Survey Infographic

Again, remember that most shoots go well, and most of the things on this list are taken care of before the photographer arrives. Overall, real estate agents are doing an exceptional job of educating sellers and ensuring they take the steps necessary to prep their homes before the appointment.

However, one item shared by photographers was a bit surprising – and this might be an opportunity for all agents to clarify the concept of when to declutter. The survey found that the "one thing that sellers forget" that bothers professional real estate photographers most is decluttering during the shoot. It turns out that many sellers attempt to declutter while the photographer is shooting, going room by room, clearing clutter one room at a time just before the photographer shoots!

A photographer from Lakeland, Florida described the impact of doing this best, saying, "Moving clutter room-to-room like musical chairs disrupts the flow and slows down the process." In addition, he points out that this approach can add significant additional time to a shoot.

Another photographer from Chicago shared the frustration, explaining, "Many sellers begin prepping after I arrive. They should know the home should be ready upon arrival."

That's excellent advice for sellers, but it also should nudge real estate agents to ask their sellers to finish all decluttering before the photographers shows up at their door.

Seller raves

The survey also asked professional real estate photographers about the one thing sellers do that they appreciate most.

The consensus is no surprise: having the house ready when they arrive.

An Austin-based photographer says puts it succinctly: "decluttered – neat and tidy" is a huge help. A veteran photographer from Greenwood Village, Colorado, adds, "A place that's ready to go when I arrive – that's awesome."

Photographers also were asked, "What is the one thing a seller can do to make your job easier?" Again, the answers were mixed, sometimes even contradictory. One point of contention: should the seller hang around during the shoot – or get out of the house?

What was clear was the need for sellers to stay out of the way during a shoot. Some suggested that sellers should leave during the shoot. But other photographers want them to stay "within earshot" if they need permission to move an object that's in the way, for example.

Another point of disagreement: some photographers don't want the seller to interrupt with questions, while others enjoy a good banter back-and-forth with a seller.

The best approach: sellers should ask what they can do to make the professional's job easier upfront. The professional tells us they will get better photos if they do.

For sellers, photographers had a few other suggestions to make their shoot easier, including controlling pets, parking cars away from the property, and ensuring the photographer has access to the home when they arrive.

Advice to real estate agents

Photographers often rely on the seller's real estate agent to make sure everything is ready before they show up. But, again, three out of four times, that happens. Yet, for all those other times, photographers shared some advice for agents.

"Good agents will arrive at a property ahead of time and turn on all the lights and clean up anything that shouldn't be there," said a Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based photographer, adding, "Bad agents show up late and demand that everything be cleaned to perfection."

The survey points to three things photographers wished every agent told their seller, including:

  1. Photographers cannot retouch photos or remove something (the seller's agent provides editing instructions, and HomeJab handles the editing)
  2. How much time the photographer will need.
  3. Photographers can't send the photos directly to the seller. Instead, the seller will get them from their agent.

The survey also found three things that professional real estate photographers appreciate most when they arrive at a shoot:

  • All the lights are on, fans and TVs are off, and blinds or shades are open
  • Pets are secured, the house is clear of other people, and the seller stays out of the way
  • Access is available for photographers when they arrive.

One professional offered this parting comment:

"Do not underestimate the photographer. We are part of the success of the property's sale."

Joe Jesuele is the founder and CEO of HomeJab, America's most popular and reliable on-demand professional real estate photography and video marketplace for real estate pros and architect of the real NFT Marketplace at real.art. HomeJab delivers over 4,000,000 images to help agents sell and rent more than $35 billion in listings.