3 trends real estate photographers must watch for in 2021

Top 3 US housing market trends real estate photographers should watch

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Written by Quan Ta

Packed with buyers who love surfing the Internet and scrolling through social media, the market now sees a meagre housing inventory. Read on to discover why you should strive more for quality and comprehensive service as a real estate photographer or a media company.

#1. Foreclosure, fast selling, drastically low record supply

Red-hot. Booming. Demand inflated. Supply drained. Those are the keywords to label the current US housing market that all players including real estate photographers know well. The market sees 3.8 million homes short of buyer demands, according to the new data from Freddie Mac. But, back to economics 101, a bullish market makes the price climb higher, and that exactly is the case in the market now. According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices climb by 16% year-over-year. On that note, Realtor.com also points out that the popular asking price reached another new high ($380,000) in May 2021, an increase of 15.2% on 2020 data.

Realtors demand higher quality

As oxymoronic as it sounds, most sellers and realtors give it a harder crack even when the property sells fast. Why? They want higher sales. Many realtors are happily selling in the current market frenzy with minimal marketing effort and no pro photography. Savvy realtors, on the other hand, are serious. They require a sexier real estate content package to drive the home value up above the asking price. The nicer the materials, the better. That explains why realtors become pickier when finding real estate photographers or production teams. They do not only want the shoot done but also done beautifully.

realtors want better quality
Realtors are calling for high-quality images – Photo by Richard Caplan – New York

Competition amongst real estate photographers grows tougher

Short supply means fewer properties to shoot and stronger competition amongst photographers to win a deal with realtors. So it is time for real estate photographers to either step up or be left behind. 

You have to both strengthen the photo, video quality you offer and solidify your business values in the mind of realtors. Undoubtedly, shooting and editing are equally important in real estate media production. If you already have a team of real estate photographers and videographers, reinforcing in-house shooting and editing skills is a must. Meanwhile, to keep the quality consistent, you can outsource the editing part to a specialized partner who can ensure consistency.

Service-wise, if you provide real estate photos, videos, or floor plans only, you need to expand your portfolio ASAP. Architectural renderings, virtual staging/renovation and virtual tours are amongst the hottest solutions sought by real estate agents. Many real estate photographers have started looking into these areas and are already making profits. The possibilities for you? The same! You can advertise these solutions to realtors while having post-production partners churn them out in the backyard. The beauty of it? You don’t have to acquire any new technical knowledge and skills but can still make a big profit.

Featured solution: 3D rendering and virtual staging
Featured blog: Virtual tours challenge the classic way of presenting properties

#2. The world goes online at crazier speeds in Covid time

Buyers stay at home and search with ease

Social distancing turned the homebuying process into an Internet surfing experience, and people are used to the habit. Coupled with the increased market pressure is the widespread utilization of proptech or property technology. This enables buyers across generations to search, property-inspect, make deals and process paperwork, all digitally. 

Not in the headlines but moving the needle are tools and platforms like Zillow and Redfin, which speeds up property marketing and sales, especially after the COVID hit. In a 2020 survey, Zillow reported that 36% of American homebuyers are inclined to completing the process entirely online. Also, nearly 63% of buyers on Redfin.com placed an offer on a house they had never seen in person. Though the idea of buying homes sight-unseen is unfathomable to many, online tools like virtual tours make the process much more straightforward. In addition, first-time buyers are tech-savvy and equipped with the online tech to help purchase decisions even before any physical inspection.

Sellers want something different

As nimble as the market may be, sellers and realty agents have picked up new property presentation trends including 3D virtual tours and interactive floorplans in addition to the undeniably powerful walkthrough videos. For instance, in the early months of the pandemic, the number of 3D home tours on Zillow.com skyrocketed by 750%. Meanwhile, walkthrough videos receive 400% more traffic and engagement than any other medium of marketing in real estate (Virtuets.com). Another study by Wyzowl found that 84% real estate agents use videos to drive traffic to their listing.

A sample of walkthrough video with custom editing

Implications for real estate photographers?

Again, it comes down to the service offering level. Have you got 3D tours, property videos on offer? Are your services up to date to accommodate changing demands of realtors yet? 

New to the virtual tour and wondering how to start? The simplest way is to use your panoramic pictures. Already have a 360 camera already? Sweet! Don’t have one? No worries! The solution is stitching a series of images to make panoramas. Then, if you have the panorama ready, a specialized editing provider can help with tour making and hosting. As a result, you can stay ahead of the competition and start earning from this highly profitable service. More importantly, you don’t need to invest in fancy but expensive tools when you aren’t ready.

Featured solution: 3D Virtual Tour

An excellent alternative to virtual tours is walkthrough videos. If you are a stranger to the practice, see below for the ultimate guide you would ever need. It’s simpler to start than you think. Many real estate photographers have picked up their smartphones to start out. It works! But in the long run, having a dedicated camera is more sustainable. Once you are familiar with recording techniques, the editing needs attention. There are endless ways to make your videos catchy: music, animated texts, graphics, jump/speed effects, color blending, etc,… Show the best you can offer!

Featured blog: the complete guide to Walkthrough Video – tutorial video included

#3. The dominance of social media and younger homebuyers

Younger buyer groups take the power

Not only in the 5 US housing market but also worldwide, Gen Y (Millennials) are dominating homebuying cohorts. Meanwhile, Gen Z is beginning to enter the market and is moving the needle. As reported by the US National Association of Realtors (NAR), Millennials constitute the largest share (37%) of homebuyers in 2021. Interestingly, Gen Z, comprises 2% of the homebuying population and 20% of the US population. The size of this buying cohort is blooming exponentially in the next decade.

With their unique media consumption habits, these young demographic groups have changed the way both realtors and real estate photographers present properties. Realtors and home sellers are embracing online listing sites and social platforms like TikTok and Instagram (as per The New York Times), where buyers are gravitating towards apart from traditional Facebook. For example, 50% of real estate agents agree that social media is the best source to generate high-quality leads. Additionally, 80% of Millennials and Gen Z found a home through social media on a mobile device. Social media videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined (Small Biz Trends).

Implications for real estate photographers?

Changing media preference has reshaped the advertising practices of realtors and sellers. In particular, the new approach encompasses property presentations via social media. As a result, real estate photographers should adapt to the new way of creating photos, videos, and other property presentations. It makes your presentation package more appealing, thus satisfying new realtor’s needs while capitalizing on the trends. 

An upbeat video slideshow to capture buyers’ attention

With Millennials and Gen Z, pictures are worth a thousand words, videos a million and live tours (3D tour or live stream) a billion. But in reality, are static images or an okay video enough? Not quite! Buyers need something disruptive and catchy like the rising trend of vertical videos (Instagram Reels or Tiktok) or a dynamic horizontal slideshow.

A simple way to start is to pull all the images into a short, snappy, and upbeat video. If the editing sounds like too much, you can start outsourcing your video editing. Find a post-production provider who knows their work. Preferably, they should help you create videos and slideshows for social media use with your photo/video input. As the vertical video format is relatively new, staying on top of the shooting techniques is beneficial. The key here is to keep yourself and your business ahead of other real estate photographers. 

Featured solution: Social Media Videos

Step up now, real estate photographers!!

Is not it an exciting time to update and expand your offer package?

While the bullish housing market makes the competition amongst real estate photographers harder, it offers a wider range of new opportunities. As a photographer, strive for better quality and a more attractive property presentation package to best service realtors and sellers alike. Embrace virtual tours and social media videos as the new norms of real estate marketing.

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