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How to Take Better Photos for Your Property Listings

modern homeIf you’re having trouble filling your vacancies, or you’re just looking for a way to spruce up your marketing efforts, take a closer look at your property listings. Do they have photos? If the answer is no, then what are you waiting for? Get snapping! Today’s renters expect photos of the property—how many times have prospects driven down to see a unit, only to realize it’s not what they are looking for at all? You could have saved so much time by sharing photos right out of the gate.

If your property management website and property listings on third-party websites do include photos, how can they be improved to gain even more traction?

Common Property Photography Mistakes

If you’re serious about taking better photos of your apartments, then you must take a critical look at your existing photos to see whether they suffer from common mistakes like:

  • Do your photos reflect the camera flash?
  • Are they filled with clutter on counters? Can you see cords and pipes along the floor?
  • Can you see dirt, debris, mold, mildew, or anything else that would turn off a viewer from coming to see the apartment?
  • Is the photo tilted, so that the home looks lopsided?
  • Is the image way too dark to make out the details?
  • Is the photo blurry because there was not enough light in the room and you did not want to use a flash?
  • Can you only see a portion of the room, or an odd angle of the wall and ceiling?
  • Does the property look smaller than it actually is?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then prospects might say no to your apartment before they even read the details.

The good news is, most of these common problems are quick fixes for property managers who are motivated to become better photographers (and marketers). By learning how to correct these mistakes, you will not only fill vacant units faster, you will be flooded with renter applications because your listing photos will be dramatically better than the competition.

What Equipment Do You Need?

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy digital SLRs to get good real estate photos. A tripod is highly recommended, as it is essential for taking crisp pictures even in low light situations.

You will also need to upgrade from your old cellphone camera. Look for a simple point-and-shoot digital camera with at least 5 megapixels and wide angle zoom. The wide angle factor helps you maximize space in photos, showing the room off at its best angle. Some high-quality smartphone cameras will do in a pinch.

That’s really all you need! You can use free photo editing software to crop shots and adjust the lighting. Once you’ve got the equipment, read your camera manual so you know how to use it, then follow the below tips.

Photography Tips & Tricks

Instead of just showing up and expecting to take great photos, plan ahead. Homes actually photograph better on overcast days than on sunny ones, as the sun creates a lot of shadows. Aim for a day when the sun is trying to burn through the clouds to maximize natural light and reduce shadows.

Before you take any photos, clean and de-clutter the property. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned, stage each room with a few props. Try a vase of flowers on the table, a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, or a stack of books on a coffee table. While you don’t want clutter, empty rooms have no character and aren’t likely to impress. You want to help renters imagine what the property could be.

Next, set up the tripod and take photos from every angle, leaving the camera on the widest angle. Compose your shots carefully. Standing in the doorway or corner usually gives the best perspective. Keep the camera straight or adjust photo tilt later so images appear level.

If sunny windows are making the room look dark, try focusing on a wall or floor first. This should adjust the exposure for a balanced shot. This way, viewers can see the details of the room clearly.

The learning curve up front is steep, however, you only need one set of great photos per unit. Once you have the amazing pictures you need, you can continue to use them to advertise that same listing until you make renovations that alter the appearance of the unit.

Property managers, do you have any other photo tips that we didn’t list here? Share in the comments.