Using professional photos for rental property

20 Replies

Is it a good idea to use a professional photographer and if so do you think $175 for a 1200 sqft townhome is a good price? Thanks for the help.

In my opinion it is not worth the cost, as long as you don't take terrible pictures yourself, even people who are looking for the differences between pro and amateur photos can't tell.  How do I know?  Because I ran a test, with multiple pro photographers and multiple amateurs (renovation people).

@Dimitri Paspalaris

I take my own photos for my rentals.  I think the quality of them is acceptable.  Even though I’m not a professional photographer they look fine.  Save your money.  With that being said if you take horrible pictures hire a professional.  It will impact renters.

IMO you do not need to do that. We manage over 100 doors and not one is a professional photo. Hell, some we don't even have photos because they're in a different area and the people renting the houses are not browsing the internet. The modern day smart phone is a very good camera.

If you're selling your house? Sure, get professional shots.

Hi @Dimitri Paspalaris personally I wouldn't hire a professional photographer, or videographer for virtual tours. I don't want to minimize the importance of the photos or videos, as they are extremely important alongside a well written property listing, but the technology you should have available (phone, camera, etc.) should be more than sufficient. Just be sure to take your time and get high quality photos/videos.

@Dimitri Paspalaris

I’ll hire a pro after renovations are complete. It’s a little cheaper, 100, probably because I’m an agent. He does matter port tours. Very high quality. Then I keep the photos forever and reuse. It’s a one time expense.

I take my own photos and videos with a cell phone. It's a newer phone with a wide-angle lens but it does almost as well as my $500 DSLR with a $400 lens and it fits in my pocket.

Photos and video are supposed to entice the individual to perform an in-person showing. Professional pictures tend to make a place look nicer than it really is and I don't want people renting something they won't be happy with.

@Dimitri Paspalaris

IMO only use phone pics. Professional pics give prospects an impression that is unlikely. They pics are typically more polished and refined than the actual unit. I’ve tried prof. Pics and prospects were usually disappointed when they did an in person tour.

My motto is to under sell and over deliver. If my amateur (non-glamorous) photos and tepid description and video get interest, than the prospect will definitely be impressed in person. I hate to waste my time with prospects who think they are getting new construction finishes for a 50% discount. And that’s what professional pics can do for your unit. DISAPPOINT.

@Dimitri Paspalaris Hello Dimitri, I have personally noticed that professional photos make a big difference and feel it is worth the price as they can be reused during turnovers and are usually a one time cost. In this day and age where everything is digital it is crucial to have quality images of your property to attract as many qualified tenants as you can. 

I would look for someone more in the range of $90-120 as $175 seems high especially for a smaller size home that would not need more than 20-25 pictures. Many photographers will charge by the square footage of the home or the total number of images needed. On my rental listings I only use about 10-15 of the images, but its good to have the others at the time of selling to show more detail. I would look for an amateur or student photographer in your area and show them references of the types of shots and quality you are looking for. Best wishes.

I would definitely recommend  having a professional photos taken. It helped Attract many more tenants then the terrible photos I had taken! At the very least if you do decide to do this on your own. Do Some research on what makes a photo a good one. 

I would suggest looking at rental websites and looking at all the truly terrible photos. My favorite of course is the photographer (or their arm) in the bathroom mirror. I bet if you asked these photographers they would say something very similar to what the majority of people in this post have said...I do it with my cell phone and it's fantastic!

Photography is what sets our rentals apart from other rentals and companies. It starts with making sure the blinds are all open and you get as much light in as you can. Use a tripod and a wide-angle lens. Use photo-specific software to both correct crooked pictures and properly brighten your pictures.

If you can't or don't want to do this all yourself you should hire a professional photographer. In my area, I pay about 1/3 of what you mention above for photographs (no drone or video). You'll have the pictures forever.

@Dimitri Paspalaris think of photography as an investment. You can reuse the photos when you have to find the next batch of tenants.

Also tax deductible expense! :) the price you quoted does seem high for that square footage though.

I use professional photos for flips, and phone pics for rentals. I used to fret about photo quality when I first started renting, but realized over time that just a handful of decent phone pics are enough to bring prospective tenants thru the door (I am speaking for the DC metro area, where there is a huge rental housing shortage). My first picture is the kitchen (because kitchens are usually the best feature of our properties), second pic is the front of the house, and the third pic always lists the open house timings. This helps us avoid a ton of calls that ask us when they can view the property (though we include the open house timings in the listing description and Zillow settings). Here is the picture:

This may sounds counter intuitive, but I always used my phone for my own rental properties that I manage but used a professional for the other people's properties that I manage.

@Dimitri I had professional photos taken of my corporate housing unit and the only thing that they did differently than I did is stood in the furthest corner of each room, turned on all of the lights and opened all of the blinds and windows so that as much light as possible could come in. If you can do that yourself, I do not think it’s worth the money.

Also if you take them yourself if you see small imperfections, you can fix them quickly where as a professional photographer will just snap the picture and you may end up with things in your pictures that you don’t like. For example the master bedroom comforter was crumpled at the end and that was an easy fix that I would’ve fixed. Additionally there was a empty orange juice gallon bottle container outside of the condo unit used to water the plants outside and they just left it in the picture whereas I would’ve moved it out.

It really depends on your market and the quality of your rental. If you are competing with other similar listings, professional photos will set yours apart. Also, if you are marketing a high end property, amateur photos often don't do it justice and don't convey the high quality, spacious rooms and closets, etc. On the other hand, if you are in a market where housing is tight, applicants just need photos to convey enough information that they apply or schedule a showing.

$175 sounds high, I would advise you to shop around.