Sign of the Times

photography in real estate marketing

by Jay Zenner on November 14, 2009

One of the blogs that I subscribe to is Larry Lohrman’s Photography for Real Estate. Frankly, many of his posts are pretty technical and way over my head but he also writes about the business of RE photography and sometimes shares feedback from others in the business.

On November 11th he shared  something one of his subscribers, Rusty Freeman in LA, had forwarded to him. In an effort to generate some business Rusty had done a search of the local MLS that had yielded over a 1000 homes priced over $2M.  By his estimation, about 40 of these homes actually had had professional photography done.  I don’t know how he knew this but he related that some of the photos were cell phone quality.

After contacting about 10 of the agents for these homes, he got tired of the rejection and gave up.  The agents that he contacted said that they just weren’t spending any money.

Larry offered some interesting perspective on this situation in the post but there are a few other points that I think are important for the real estate industry.

First of all, this situation doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve described in another post an easy to duplicate experiment you can conduct any time you want . I think it’s best to do in a market that you’re not familiar with in order to get the perspective of someone moving to a new community. Simply do a search for high end properties and look at the information from a marketer’s point of view.

Rusty was focusing on the photography. I was focusing on the copywriting. They were both found lacking.

Larry seems to draw the conclusion that this is a cyclical thing. I tend to think it’s more of a lack of marketing sophistication on the part of agents that have never had to market in a buyers’ market. That’s the point of this whole effort to promote 4 P’s RE, that is, to promote best marketing practices in Real Estate…not to generate leads…but to sell homes.

The other factor that holds us back is the current traditional compensation structure. It’s hard to blame agents for not wanting to spend money when there is no guarantee that the home will ever be sold and the agent compensated. As Rusty recounted many of the homes in his experiment had been on the market well over a year.

However, there is absolutely no reason why a professional marketing plan shouldn’t or couldn’t be funded by the seller.  Especially in the high end market the costs are relatively low.  Rusty’s packages start at $130. Try to get a plumber to even show up at your door for less than $150.

If you somehow equate a home listed at $2M with a business with the same revenues…which, by the way, is way more than most small businesses,  I absolutely promise you that most of them got to those revenue levels with significant marketing efforts.

This opens up the whole compensation can of worms, however, an owner with skin in the game is much more likely to price the listing realistically and cooperate with a well crafted marketing plan.

A downturn is not the time to cut back on marketing. To be competitive that’s when it is needed most.

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