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How to Take Listing Photos without Infringing on Anyone's Privacy


Anyone who’s ever searched for a home online has seen plenty of terrible listing photos. Unfortunately, low-quality pictures can completely deter potential buyers and renters, especially as more people rely on the Internet to begin their house-hunting process.

In order to capture prime listing photos, you might feel pressured to take things into your own hands. But, dropping by when the weather is ideally overcast because you didn’t want to miss a photo opportunity is still rude, even though your intentions are good.

You hopefully know what’s best for selling or renting your clients’ home, but don’t risk making them uncomfortable to get a good shot. Keep these three best practices in mind next time you list a home:

1. Stick to the schedule.

  • Nobody appreciates spontaneous drop-ins. If you need to take photos for a listing, set a date and stick to it. Selling or renting a home is stressful enough. Don’t create added pressure for your client in one of the most important areas of real estate — advertising the unit.
  • Make sure to give ample notice so the seller or landlord has enough time to clean up and get the place photo-ready. It goes beyond professional courtesy. Do you really want to risk your listing showing up on the website Stopping by unannounced is annoying to your client and narrows the pool of interested parties.
  • Although you should always be polite, you probably know a bit more about real estate marketing than your client. Even if it’s more convenient for them, kindly explain that you should not take listing photos at night or when the weather is too cloudy.

2. Get it right the first time.

  • If you haven’t been trained in photography, you’re probably not going to get the perfect shot at first. Coming back multiple times for retakes is not helping your professional reputation. In fact, you risk looking incapable of doing the job right the first time.
  • If your photos didn’t turn out perfect, but are still workable, you can always edit them after the fact. Photoshop, Camera+, Snapseed and VSCO are just a few photo editing services that can be operated by a beginner. Many are even free of charge as long as you don’t mind advertisements.
  • If you’re new to photo editing, be conscious of obvious filters. Avoid Instagram, as the preset filters tend to make images look fake and overdone. If you’ve edited before, feel free to use Instagram for adjusting brightness, contrast and highlighting.

3. When in doubt, hire out.

  • If you’re just not comfortable with your skills, or you fear that taking listing photos might harm you and your clients’ relationship, just hire a professional.
  • In a study by VHT Studios, a real estate photography company based out of Chicago, Chicago-area homes that were professionally photographed sold 32 percent faster. Additionally, they spent an average of 89 days on the market compared with 123 days on the market for other homes.
  • Having someone else go in to take pictures is a little less awkward and helps maintain the relationship between agent and seller or agent and landlord. Plus, professional photographers move things around to complement the space. Unless you have an eye for photography, you probably don’t have this skill set.
  • No one expects you to be an amazing photographer, but they do expect you to behave courteously.