Good real estate photography could mean the difference between a slow sale and an all-out bidding war. Many sellers, however, find themselves wondering if it’s really worthwhile to hire a professional. After all, they’ve got a perfectly useable smartphone camera right in their own pocket!
While it’s true that digital photography is making it easier than ever to get quality photos on your own, photographing your property is a completely different animal than your usual family snapshots. Let’s look at a few reasons why real estate photography is so important, what a professional can offer, and how to get semi-professional results if you do decide to go it alone.
Why is real estate photography important?
First impressions are just as important in real estate as they are anywhere else. It’s up to you to make your property stand out from the comps and highlight its unique advantages.
Even though most buyers will hire a realtor to help them in their search, a large part of that search will probably still happen online. Even if your house fits a buyer’s criteria, they might consider it a red flag if you only show photos of the outside of your house or if the photos you do show aren’t well lit or staged. After that, it’s all too easy for them to scroll down to the next listing.
On the other hand, if your property lacks some of the features found in the same price range, you can use photography to encourage interest in the features you do have. Too few bedrooms? Highlight that amazing kitchen reno!
How can a professional help?
Real estate photographers have a different skill set than portrait, food, or product photographers. They know about lighting dark rooms attractively and getting a full view of tight spaces.
Want an example? Try getting a shot of your powder room with your smartphone. Challenging, right? You can’t back up far enough to get everything in the frame.
A professional real estate photographer will have a wide to ultra-wide angle lens to solve this problem, as well as a tripod. But here’s the catch: while those lenses might allow you to get the whole room in one shot, they’ll probably cause some distortion too (meaning, the walls might appear to be tilted or curved). A pro can fix those distortions with a professional photo editing program.
They can also optimize your photos for use on social media, so your images don’t appear stretched from being taken at the wrong aspect ratio. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone take all that off your hands?
How to find the right photographer:
Make sure the photographer you choose has experience in real estate photography. They should have a portfolio to show you! Some photographers will even offer extras like drone shots for large properties or a 3D walkthrough.
Your realtor may be able to recommend a good photographer, but make sure your house is staged and ready before they get to work. Taking photos of your house in the wrong state could be a worse idea than foregoing the photography altogether!
Make sure you understand how you are allowed to use your real estate photos! Your photographer will be happy to talk real estate image rights over with you to make sure everyone is on the same page.
What if I decide to take the photos myself?
Though a professional will give you the best results, it is possible to take listing photos on your own if the budget is tight. Start by treating your photoshoot like you would a showing:
- Open your curtains to let in lots of light…unless there is something unsightly outside the window that might turn buyers off.
- Close your toilet lids, cabinets, and shower curtains. It just looks nicer.
- Move your cars before taking the exterior shots so they aren’t blocking the driveway.
- Don’t spend too much time on arty details. Buyers would rather get an idea of the scale of your rooms and the flow of the property.
- Put away any personal items. This is important for your privacy, but also because too many personal touches make it hard for buyers to picture themselves living in the space.
- Watch out for your own reflection! Stand to the side of mirrors and other reflective surfaces as you shoot.
It’s best to use a DSLR or mirrorless to take listing photos, leaving your smartphone as a last resort. Consider renting a wide-angle lens (24mm or wider is ideal) if you don’t want to buy one, although there are several affordable third-party options on Amazon.
You will most likely need an off-camera flash. Your camera’s built-in pop-up flash will create distracting flares and unflattering lighting. An off-camera flash can be mounted on top of your camera and pointed at the ceiling to “bounce” softer, more even lighting down into the room.
If you must shoot with a smartphone:
Stand as far back as you can to get as much of each room as possible. Look for free apps that will help you “stitch” multiple photos together to get more of the room in one shot. If the images turn out on the dark side, you may be able to boost the exposure in your smartphone’s native photo editor.
If your homemade listing photos are too big:
You may have trouble uploading photos to the web because the file size is too large. If you are comfortable using a photo editor, open the image sizing options (or in Lightroom, the Export options). Save images for web at 72dpi. Make sure they are JPEG files and not RAW, TIFF, or PNG files. 1000px for the longest side is usually a safe bet.
If photo editing software is a little further than you want to go, you can use a site like TinyJPG. There you can automatically compress your image to a useable size with a simple drag and drop.
Whether you go with a professional or take the shots yourself, real estate photography is an important step toward listing your property. It will generate interest, show off can’t-miss features, and encourage buyers to schedule a showing and see the place in person.
Your realtor will help you along the way. They likely know which local photographers do great work and can help you get in contact. A realtor can also give you any pointers you need as you stage your property and get it ready for its close up. Then, all you have to do is get your photos uploaded, make the listing official, and sit back and wait for the showing requests to start rolling in.
Now that the snow has finally started to melt and the sun is showing its face again, you may be seeing your home with fresh eyes for the first time in quite a while. This is a time of year when many homeowners become aware of roofing issues that may have escaped their notice over the long winter.
Have those shingles always looked a little uneven?
And what are all those little granules coming out of the downspout over there?
If you’re wondering whether a total roof replacement is needed or if you just need a roof repair, here are some signs that will give you a good idea.
Drooping and sagging
The good news: minor sagging can be fixable when it is the result of small design flaws in the framing or too many layers of shingles. So it’s possible a roofing professional will be able to address the issue without giving you an entirely new roof. This is not an issue to put off, though. The sooner you take action, the better your chances.
The bad news: major roof drooping, sagging and waviness are strong indicators that your roof is at the end of its lifespan—especially if it’s starting to show its age in other ways too. It could also be a warning sign of rot caused by moisture, which could lead to big problems if left unchecked.
Knowing when to replace your roof is a delicate process. You don’t want to pay for an overhaul if there are still a few years left in it, but you don’t want to wait for a major issue either. The materials that make up your roof will help to give you a rough idea:
- Wood shingles can last up to thirty years if they are being regularly inspected.
- Asphalt shingles, the most common roofing materials, can last anywhere from fifteen to thirty years.
- Architectural shingles are thicker and sometimes more aesthetically pleasing than other asphalt shingles, and often have a longer lifespan as well. They can last for twenty-five to thirty years.
- Clay tiles can last fifty years, which makes them well worth the higher investment you or the previous owner made on the front end.
- Metal roofing can vary depending on the type and thickness of the metal used. Lifespans range from a mere twenty years up to seventy or more!
- Slate can last over a hundred years if the rafters are strong enough to support them.
If you know that your roof is starting to near the end of its lifespan and you are starting to notice warning signs, it may be time to look at a roof replacement.
Moss and algae
Plant life may be picturesque on a forest floor, but it should never be allowed to grow on your roof. Moss and algae are synonymous with moisture, which is the last thing you want leaching through your shingles!
A small amount of growth may be no cause for concern if you address it right away. Scraping it by hand and washing away excess with a garden hose is the gentlest route. You can also try a moss control powder made from zinc sulfate. Once you’ve cleared the existing moss, keep branches trimmed away from your roof and regularly clean your gutters to keep it at bay. If moss is a big concern for you, there are zinc strips that you can apply to your roof each year to help with the problem.
In some cases, too much moss and/or algae means a full roof replacement. Roots may have made their way between shingles, causing buckling, loosening, and maybe even leaking. Be sure to discuss options with your local roofing professional to see how you can keep your new roof plant free.
Don’t worry if you have a couple of missing shingles or even a small leak. It’s not uncommon to need minor repairs after a big storm or a run in with falling branches! If your roof is still relatively young, these repairs are short work for a roofing professional. The most important thing is to call before these small issues grow into something more serious!
If your flashing is showing wear (that’s the material sealing the openings in your roof around chimneys, gutters, etc.) it may be a matter of simply replacing your tar flashing with an updated metal flashing system.
A see-through attic
If you can see daylight streaming through the roof in your attic, it is rarely a good sign—particularly with asphalt shingles. If light can make it through, so can moisture. This does, however, make it easier to identify problem spots, which is always a good thing! As with the other issues on this list, if you are seeing light in an isolated spot, it may mean you just need a quick roof repair. If your attic is starting to remind you of disco night at the bowling alley, you may want to budget for a roof replacement.
Rogue shingle granules
If you’re finding more shingle granules than usual in your gutters or downspout, it could be an early sign that a roof replacement is in your future. Older roofs tend to shed more granules as they age. You can also look at the shingles themselves to see if the coloring has started to look inconsistent. If your roof is getting on in years and there’s evidence that the shingles are starting to wear thin, you may want to call a local roofing professional to come out and inspect it.
In fact, whether you think you need a quick and painless repair or are worried you’re headed for an entirely new roof, it’s always helpful to get a professional opinion. When it comes to your roof, it’s not just a matter of curb appeal; it’s about keeping your home safe, dry, and structurally sound. The superficial things you’ve noticed may be warning signs of a less obvious problem, or you might be pleasantly surprised at what can be fixed with the right knowledge and tools!
Looking to buy or sell a home on a budget? Your first thought may be to cut out the REALTOR® and go it alone with a FSBO, or For Sale by Owner. After all, these days you can find anything you need to know on the internet, right? Not exactly.
Look at it this way: If you wanted to know where something was in a store, you’d ask an associate. If you had questions while shopping online, you’d probably use that handy customer service chat feature. So why would you try to navigate one of the biggest investments of your life without a professional backing you up? There are a lot of things REALTORS® offer that a FSBO experience just can’t. You may even find that using a REALTOR® turns out to be more cost efficient in the end! From an easier overall experience to inside info you can’t find on Trulia or Zillow, here are six things your REALTOR® brings to the table that you won’t get with a FSBO.
Buying—or selling—a house is a lot more time consuming than most people realize. When you’re selling, there’s a lot of invisible work to do on the front end. When buying, it’s important to make sure your ducks are in a row financially before you start seeing properties in person. Buyers will have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of potential properties to sift through. Sellers have to organize showings and escort interested parties around while answering their questions. Your REALTOR® can not only narrow down your search to properties that fit your needs but research comparable sales (or comps). This will make sure the price is right before you get in too deep. They can also facilitate showings so you aren’t tied to the phone.
Professional networks are strong in real estate. A good REALTOR® will be able to recommend local bankers, inspectors, contractors, real estate photographers, cleaning companies…the list goes on and on. It’s also highly likely that they will be familiar with other REALTORS® in the area, which helps with organizing showings, writing or responding to counteroffers, and more. An established REALTOR® will already have a platform, as well, which makes it easier to get the word out on a property you want to sell. Their website and social media already have followers who pop in specifically to see what’s on the market.
REALTORS® also have access to properties you won’t find on websites like Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com. They can use the MLS to see properties your internet search won’t bring up, and possibly find more detailed information about properties you like. The MLS is more accurate and reliable than generic listing sites, and it can’t be accessed by just anyone.
Realtors in Ohio are required to complete thirty hours of professional development coursework every three years, so they are well versed on developments in the real estate industry. They know their area like the back of their hand and can point out pitfalls, alternatives, and bonuses that may never have occurred to you alone. In addition, they are used to the complex paperwork and legal requirements you’ll need to navigate. Multi-page purchase agreements, addendums, and the many rules that go along with them are not to be taken lightly. Your REALTOR® will be able to walk you through these documents so that you not only do them correctly, but understand what they mean.
Your REALTOR® stays with you throughout the process. For sellers, they start with helping you stage the property, advertise it, and find the offer that will give you the best ultimate outcome. A buyer’s agent will answer your questions about the properties you see, help you strategize and write a strong offer, and possibly sit in on inspections. It is their fiduciary duty to put the client’s needs first. That means it’s not only in their best interest to keep you happy, but it’s their legal responsibility to keep your private information confidential. There’s no guarantee of confidentiality when it comes to a FSBO!
We can even take it a step further. Flag City REALTORS® (and many other brokerages and agents nationwide) are heavily involved in consumer rights at the local and national levels. They dedicate their time, and in some cases, their own money, to promoting fair public policies related to homeownership, regardless of which side of the aisle a political candidate sits on. That means that even after—and well before—your closing documents are signed, your REALTOR® should be working toward a better and fairer homeowning experience for you.
When it comes to real estate, and home buying in particular, buyers and sellers sometimes need help to stay objective. There may be a lot of emotion tied to this decision, but a REALTOR® can offer perspective, especially during negotiations.
As a buyer, you’re probably thinking mostly of your “wants” and your “don’t wants,” but your REALTOR® is looking at the property as a whole. They know to look into things like school zones, flood zones, noise pollution, and HOA requirements, in addition to basics like the number of bedrooms or the size of the yard. Sellers, on the other hand, may not have a good idea of what will appeal to the market. Seller’s agents are skilled at adding curb appeal and can give you pointers on staging the property to its best advantage.
6. Possibly, a better deal!
If you are a seller planning to go the FSBO route to save money, you could end up doing just the opposite. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has found that FSBO homes actually tend to sell for significantly less than their agent-assisted counterparts.
Buyers trying to save a dime should still consider a REALTOR® as well. In addition to having a savvy negotiator in your corner, it’s important to remember that, technically, a buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you a thing. Under normal circumstances, your buyer’s agent will be compensated by the seller. They share the commission the seller pays to the listing agent.
Most people who consider diving into real estate without a REALTOR® do so because they hope to save a little money during an already expensive process. However, using a REALTOR® could actually save money in the long run, and the benefits they offer are well worthwhile. Want to talk with one from our qualified team? You can get started here today!
For many households, spring cleaning is a ritual that marks the beginning of the warm weather months—and a fresh start after a winter holed up inside. You may be planning on cleaning out your closets, scrubbing out a few forgotten corners, and finally organizing the garage this year…but there are a few important spring maintenance tasks you may not have on your list. (Or maybe they are on your list, but always somehow land at the bottom.)
This year, we’ve got five often-overlooked spring maintenance tasks for you to put at the very top of your checklist. If you make these jobs a priority, they’ll make a big difference in keeping your home feeling clean and safe all year long. Stay with us all the way to the bottom for some bonus ideas you can read up on right here at FlagCity.com!
Check out your garden hose and sprinkler system
Step one to keep any sprinkler system in top shape? Don’t use it too early! Remember that the ground where your system is buried may not be completely thawed, just because everything on the surface is. It’s a good idea to do a quick dig to make sure the soil is free of frost so you don’t damage your pipes by running water through them too soon.
Next, look for any debris like small rocks or dirt buildup that could affect the flow of water when you turn your system on. If any valves, nozzles, or sprinkler heads look damaged, now is the time to replace them! When you are ready to test the system, make sure the pressure is set to an acceptable range and open the main valve slowly to avoid an initial high-pressure surge that could damage your pipes and/or valves.
If you don’t have a sprinkler system, you probably still have a garden hose. Hopefully you emptied it and stored it inside over the winter, but if not, no problem! You can check now for any cracking or leaks and repair them with a patch kit. Ideally, you’ll store it out of direct sunlight during the warmer months to keep additional cracking to a minimum.
Give your windows a little extra attention
Window washing may already be on your list, but don’t forget to clean the window sills, tracks, and screens, as well. Aside from the nice appearance, clean tracks and sills may help keep pests away and discourage mold growth. And of course, screens do their job best when they are in good shape.
To clean window and sliding door tracks:
- Vacuum out as much dry dirt and debris as you can
- Spray a cleaning solution and let it sit for a few minutes
- Use a small brush or sponge to clean out tough-to-reach spots
- Gently rinse the area, if needed, and wipe off the residue by hand with a cloth
- If you see any evidence of mold, call a professional!
To clean your screens:
- Remove them from the frame
- Use mild, soapy water and a cloth, sponge, or brush to gently scrub the screens
- Rinse your screens and dry them completely
- Replace the screens into your frames!
Clean out your major “cleaning” appliances
You may think your dish and clothes washers stay pretty clean because, well, that’s what they do. But these machines can actually get very dirty indeed, just from the sheer amount of use they get. Spring is the perfect time to give your major appliances a little TLC, so clean out your dishwasher filter, give the drain pump filter on your washing machine a good rinse, and do a deep clean of your dryer’s lint trap, exhaust hose, and outside vent.
These chores take less time than you would think, and they help your appliances to run more efficiently and use less energy, possibly lowering your bills! In the case of your dryer, it can also avoid turning your home into a giant fire hazard. To get a full clean, wash out your machines with hot water and vinegar too or buy a dedicated cleaner to run through an empty cycle.
Do some spring maintenance on your fireplace
Did you relax by a picturesque, roaring fire this winter? Then you’ll probably need to add your fireplace and chimney to the list.
The fireplace is mostly a matter of elbow grease. If you choose to do it on your own, it can be a messy task, so lay out a covering and wear old clothes and a dust mask as you work! Wait until the fireplace is completely cooled after your last fire of the season and sweep the dust, soot, and ash into a bag or trash bin. Then use a brush attachment on your vacuum to remove any remaining bits from the corners and edges. Finish up with a deep scrub, but make sure you use a cleaning solution that’s suitable for your fireplace’s particular material.
Chimneys can be tricky—although you can maintain them yourself if you are comfortable. Regardless, they should be cleaned (or at least inspected) annually for safety.
Clear your gutters and downspouts
Clean gutters direct water away from your roof, house, and foundation. But unless they are cleared out during certain times of the year, leaves, dirt, and twigs can clog the system. That could lead to pooling and, eventually, water damage to your home. A good cleaning before the spring rains come in should keep everything flowing where it’s supposed to.
After you empty any debris that has accumulated in the gutters, pour some water through the downspout to check for clogs. If the water doesn’t come out on the other side (or only trickles through), seal the top around your hose and turn it all the way on. The pressure should send your clog right out! If not, you can try removing it by hand or with a plumbing snake.
Want to know what else you can do?
These overlooked spring maintenance tasks may not be the first things you think of as a homeowner, but they’re an important part of keeping your home clean and safe throughout the year. For more spring upkeep ideas on your home, check out our guides to early spring lawn care, getting your air conditioner ready for action, and deciding whether your roof is due for a replacement or repair.