Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Started 3 months ago | Questions thread
Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,431
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:


I guess it comes down to standards you wish you and your business to be associated with and how you want to be perceived. It is about how you present your product and what would separate you from the rest and if that matters to you or not. There are realtors who present their listings with high quality photos and they are others who do not care. Same can be said about architects, interior decorators or designers, builders etc. It is all about standards and perhaps pride to some extend. Not compromising on quality of the presentation will say a lot about your business and is likely to attract more afluent clients and will pay off in the long run. That has at least been my experience.

I agree.  But there is a point of diminishing returns.  At some point it isn't worth spending additional dollars on marketing.

I think we all agree that it would not make business sense for a Realtor to spend $10,000 to market a $100,000 home.  Assuming the home sells, the Realtor's share of the commission will likely be less than $2,000.  While he will make a great impression on potential customers, he will lose around $8,000 on the sale.   That's not a smart way to run a business.

Suppose the going rate for reasonable real estate photos is $150.   You can certainly get better photos by spending more, but is it really worth it?  Does it make business sense?

We've heard from a Realtor who is also a photographer.   He makes multiple visits to a site and takes photos at various times of the day.  Let's suppose he makes 5 visits, each of which represents an 1.5 hours of his time (travel, shooting, and processing).  let's assume his time is worth $50 an hour.  Those photos are costing him about $375 (not counting gas and depreciation of his camera gear).  That's about $225 more than if he hired someone else to take the photos.

Now his photos are probably much better than the $150 photos.

The question is how much of a role do they play in the "quality" of the presentation.

Obviously, if they are presented poorly, and the Realtor is not dressed well, and has crumpled business cards, then great photos are not going to make the presentation great.

What does make the presentation great is the whole package.  You want a web site designed by a good designer (that's an investment that can be leveraged across multiple homes).  You want a Realtor who looks good, wears the proper clothes, and drives a nice car.  Again those can be leveraged across many sales.

On the other hand, the photos only promote one sale.  A typical home sells for around $350,000.   The total commission is about 6% ($21,000).  That usually gets split with half to the listing agency, and half to the selling agency.    The listing agency commission gets split again, with typically about half going to the agent, and half to the broker.  That means the listing agent is getting about $5,250 on the sale of that $350,000 home.    That  extra $225 represents a reduction of about 4% of the Realtor's gross.   If you take into account other expenses, and the fact that not every home sells, spending an extra $225 on photos for every home can easily educe the Realtor's profits by 8%.

Now, it's possible that the better photos will increase his business by 8%.  If that happens, he ends up working 8% harder for the same profit.

Obviously, these are ballpark numbers, and the specifics will vary with different markets. However, the point I am making is that at some point it doesn't make business sense for a Realtor to spend additional funds for better photos.   In some markets that point might be the $150 real estate photo service.  In some circumstances, it may make sense to get better photos. But that's not always the case.

Getting back to our Realtor/Photographer, I get the impression that he enjoys taking those better photos.  I am not sure that he wouldn't be better off financially by paying someone else $150 to take the photos, and using his extra time to list a few more homes.


For instance, a situation where it might make sense to pay more for better photos is an apartment building, condo, or new housing development.  This is a situation where one set of images can be used to promote multiple units.   If better images raise the sales price of 100 units by $10 each, then it makes sense for the developer to spend an extra $500 on those photos.  However, it might be silly for a Realtor handing the sale of a single unit to do the same.

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