Let’s take a look at a few things to do when establishing prices in your real estate photography business.
Follow these 10 tips to ensure you’re charging what your real estate photography is worth.
[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
10. Study Your Competition to Learn the Local Rates
The more you know about current real estate photographers in your local market, the better. Learn what rates your competition charges. Research the starting rates and the price range.
Make sure you know what level of quality your competitors deliver. Knowing your local market will help you define your real estate photography business offerings. You will also know where you fit in.
If you want to charge higher than the average, you need to justify it. Emphasise why your real estate photos are worth paying more for. You should also consider the region you work in.
A real estate photography business in an expensive and big city can charge more than one in the countryside.
In my local market, there are real estate photographers who charge anywhere from $100 to $500. And this is for photos only. Rates go up for things such as twilight photos or video tours. Larger-than-usual homes also mean higher rates.
Have a look at your competitors’ portfolios. You’ll see that the quality of work delivered can also vary from one end of the price range to the other.
9. Talk to Clients to Explore Market Needs
Asking clients what they’re looking for and what turns them off is a simple way to improve your offering. It helps you to see how well you please the clients’ needs. This will influence the prices you can ask for.
Do your clients love that they only deal with you directly? Fantastic! Now you know that you need to remain the face of the company, even if you bring in outside help.
Do your clients look for the fastest possible turnaround? Then you want to make sure that your process is streamlined so you can deliver as quickly as possible. With real estate, turnaround time is often very fast.
Real estate agents are anxious to get the home on the market as soon as possible. This tends to mean a 24-48 hour turnaround.
Real estate agents can also tell you what extras they need most often. These can include video tours, twilight photos, or neighbourhood photos.
Be sure to take these into consideration when thinking about your rates. Think about offering them as add-ons agents can choose for individual listings.
Besides talking to agents, don’t be afraid to reach out to other real estate photographers in your area!
8. Decide Between Quality vs Quantity
There are two basic routes that you can take when it comes to real estate photography pricing. You can focus on quality or quantity.
Do you want to do standard listings, but streamline your process to do a large number of shoots? Or do you want to photograph high-end listings, but take more time with each shoot? This would mean doing fewer total shoots.
If you choose high-end listings, you’ll get more caught up in the editing. You’ll also take your time a bit more during the shoot. Photos tend to show off unique design elements or sweeping views. This kind of real estate photography comes with higher rates.
You’ll be investing more of your time, energy, and expertise into each shoot. This means that clients need to pay accordingly.
If you choose to focus on quantity, then you’re still delivering quality work. But the expectations are set a bit lower. Instead of focusing on artistry, you’ll want to make your process as streamlined as possible. This way you can provide a quick turnover.
The focus will be on delivering sharp, clear, and well-lit wide shots. Potential buyers will be able to see each space in the home. Many of the listings will feel the same, so the process can feel a bit repetitive.
The advantage of this route is that there’s a larger market looking for these services. There are more listings in the median range. This means clients will be easier to find at the beginning, which makes this option a great one to start with.
With lower price tags, this is also a great range to fall into while you learn the ropes. You can refine your workflow until you’re ready for high-end property shoots. The price tag for each shoot will be smaller. Your investment of time and energy should be as well.
You can offer your services for all types of properties. But I’ve found that most photographers fall into one niche or the other for the bulk of their work after some time.
7. Set the Number of Images You Provide to Your Clients
In general, real estate photographers provide 25-50 final photos for their clients. But there are circumstances when you have to produce more.
It can be because of the size of the real estate or due to special features the real estate agent wants to highlight.
Either way, more photos mean more work for you. You have to spend more time taking images and editing them.
You can set a limit for the number of pictures your basic package includes. If your client is asking for more photos, you can ask for extra money.
As another alternative, you can set different prices based on the size of the property. For example, there are real estate photographers in the US who charge more for properties that are bigger than 3000 square feet.
6. Consider Different Factors When Setting Your Pricing
Many people think that the major part of real estate photography is taking photos. But you should consider every single factor that requires time and money from your side.
Consider the amount of time you spend with emailing or phoning your clients. It takes time to talk about the services they need and the timing of the photoshoot.
You also have to educate your clients about the photoshoot. You want to make sure that they clean and declutter their homes. You don’t want to waste time with tidying up when you arrive at the property.
Whether you are driving or using other types of transport, it will cost you money. You have to calculate this also into the prices. Or you can set lower prices but agree with the client to reimburse your transport expenses.
Gear and Equipment
It’s easy to lose profit if you spend money on your gear but don’t calculate prices to earn it back.
5. Decide on Your Post-Processing Strategy
As a real estate photographer, you cannot avoid post-processing your photos. Your clients need immaculate photos to sell their real estate.
You might need to replace the sky in Photoshop or make a lot of adjustments. You can end up spending more time editing than taking photos.
You can decide to do the post-processing yourself and calculate it into your prices.
You can also outsource the editing part. There are freelancers you can hire, and their prices are quite fair. You would spend money on hiring them but you gain time to focus on the growth of your business.
You can end up working for more clients if you optimise your post-processing strategy.
4. Ensure Quick Turnaround for an Extra Fee
You might have a proper work-schedule when you do real estate photography. But you need a flexible schedule for this type of business.
Real estate agents want to sell the property as soon as possible. They need a quick turnover of the photos. You can decide to charge extra for last-minute calls or short notices.
You can also ask for higher fees if they need the photos quicker than 24 or 48 hours. You could also differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering extra flexibility. Then you can set higher prices because you are available anytime for the clients.
3. Reverse Engineer Your Real Estate Photography Pricing
To reverse engineer means to take a look backwards at your process. This way you can have a better idea of what to charge upfront.
For example, think about how many hours you spend on a typical real estate photography job. From client communications to travel time to the actual shoot and the editing time.
Now consider how much you need to make hourly to cover expenses, pay taxes and other costs. Then leave yourself enough profit. Multiply that hourly rate needed by the number of hours that you take for a shoot. And voila! This should be the real estate photography rates you charge.
This can be a tough one to carry out. We often spend a different amount of time on each shoot. It works to at least give you clarity on what you’ve been getting hourly. And you’ll figure out whether you need to go up or stay at current rates.
Keep in mind that in the early stages your shoots will take longer and the times will vary more. As you develop your workflow more, the time spent on each job will stabilise. The time spent on each job will get shorter.
This is a great exercise to try early on to see how different rates break down. You can also try it when you’re a more seasoned photographer to audit your rates (which is a good idea every year or so).
2. Charge for Premium Services
Real estate agents often have extra needs you have to cater for. These can include twilight real estate photography, videos or drone photography.
Twilight real estate photography requires different lighting equipment and different editing presets. You also have to work overtime to capture the photos.
Videos are popular and efficient ways to show around the complete real estate. It gives better impressions about the space and the property’s atmosphere. Editing the video means you also have to buy the rights for the music you use. Post-processing can take more time and effort, so you want to make sure to get your work’s worth.
Drone photography has been getting more and more popular in various photography niches. Real estate photographers started to use drones too. You can show the surroundings of the property. Drone photography makes perspectives clearer and easier to understand.
In some regions, you need to buy a license for drone photography or get a permit to use it. These are extra costs you can ask higher prices for.
1. Test Your Offering and See If Your Rates Work
At the end of the day, there will still be some trial and error. Once you’ve done your research and decided on an offering, put it out into the world and take note of reactions.
Stay open to the possible need to make adjustments but don’t let yourself get swayed by every tiny bit of feedback either.
It’s always a good idea to go through the above steps about once a year to audit your rates. You’ll then know if there’s anything you need to change.
Incorporating client feedback into your process is also another great option.
You could have a follow-up email that you send to your client after each shoot to see if they’re happy with the results. Ask if they have requests for future shoots moving forward. Learn if anything stood out as exceptional from this shoot.
When faced with the decision to make a change to an offering, I consider two things:
- Does the suggestion come from a client or potential client that I want to work with?
- Has this suggestion come from several people?
If the change is for someone that is not a good fit as a client, then I would most likely not do it. They’re not in my target market.
Likewise, if I only got the request from one client out of thirty, then I’ll most likely hold off on making any changes. If anyone else brings it up, I will reconsider.
Settings your real estate photography pricing can be nerve-wracking. But it becomes easier with time and practice!
Getting to know your market and having a lot of information are key aspects. These will help you gain clarity on rates for your services. And once you have those real estate photography rates set, remember to adjust them from time to time.
Want to learn more about how to improve your photography technique? Check out our ebook Photography Unlocked! For more great tips, check out our great article on real estate photography marketing ideas that work.