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Photography

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Are Drones the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

When you hear the word “drone,” you’re more likely to think military target than residential listing. But drones could be the next big thing in real estate photography—that is, if they don’t run afoul of the law.

Technically known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones have swooped and dived into the public consciousness in a big way within the past year. In addition to the amusing tiny model helicopters that have been found under many a Christmas tree over the few holiday seasons, their more ambitious cousins, remote-controlled, lightweight flying vehicles have begun to be used by firefighters, filmmakers, and the military. And as the technology becomes less and less expensive, everyone expects to see drones in more applications than you could imagine—for instance, CBS’s 60 Minutes report that previewed Amazon.com’s plans to test online purchase deliveries via driveway drop-offs by creepy four-rotor drones.

What’s the connection with Bainbridge Island real estate? Just ask commercial photographers, who think the lightweight vehicles would be their key to the perfect high production value property shots. Think of it: instead of chartering an expensive helicopter flight to photograph a site from the air, a real estate photographer could use a much cheaper and more easily controlled lightweight drone. The result? Dramatic, breath-taking shots that used to be only rarely seen in listing video tours (and then, only in million-dollar listings). With more than 90% of prospective home buyers now using the Internet, those kinds of shots could make the difference between a stagnant listing and a quick turnaround.

But don’t hold your breath for the rise of drone-based real estate photography—at least not yet. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a permit for each flight whose goal is the “commercial use of airspace”—even by small devices like photography drones. As a consequence, the National Association of REALTORS® is advising real estate pros not to use drone-based photography until next year, when new FAA guidelines will be announced. Until then, a special FAA waiver has to be obtained for each flight (and you can bet a local property would have already been sold long before that came to pass!)

While we may heave a sigh over the exciting drone videos that might have been, the real possibility that drones will become a factor in Bainbridge Island's residential real estate reinforces the importance of having your home sale-ready from all angles. Imagine the fallout if drone photos revealed a leaky roof—or an unkempt backyard!

Bottom line: it’s always going to remain vital to prep a property to shine in more than just the “curb appeal” photo. That planning can start with a call to my office for a no-obligation review of how to set into motion a proven marketing plan that gets your home sold!

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Photos That Make (or Break) A Listing's Success

Your home listing is, hands-down, the most likely place prospective buyers will get their first glimpse of the home you are selling. Most serious prospects will go online as an early step in the process of winnowing candidate properties by area, asking price, number of bedrooms, etc.—so the photos in your home listing will be your offering’s face to the world.

You probably already know that—and that not all pictures are created equal. What’s important to realize is that some home listing photos actually scare away buyers! Whether you are preparing for a professional photographer’s shooting day or just helping your REALTOR® choose the shots that will be included in your area home listing, here are some red flag/don’t go there/bad idea/just-say-no off-kilter ideas for real estate photos. If you steer clear of these approaches, you home listing will benefit:

Adorable Pets in the Shot

Resist the temptation to make your home more appealing and homier by include the cuddliest member of the family—your pet. “But,” (your may be thinking) “half the commercials on TV have a dog or a cat in them! Apparently, animals sell!” Madison Avenue might be able to use four-legged actors to promote some products, but the sight of Fluffy or Fido in a home listing will turn off most buyers. Although no one can smell your pet through an online photo (at least not yet), many people can imagine what smells might be associated with that pooch or feline. “One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor,” says Don Aslett on the MSN Real Estate website—and few REALTORs would argue the point. So be on the safe side—leave pets on the cutting room floor.

Odd Camera Angles

It can be tempting to shoot photos from a low angle, pointing the camera toward the ceiling. The idea might be to make rooms look as if they have higher ceilings—or to fit everything into the shot—and sometimes the result does look fine. But equally likely is a photo that ends up looking, well, odd. Off-balance shots can make viewers feel uncomfortable, as if something’s just not right. You want your photos to look as realistic as possible, as if it’s what everybody sees on a home tour. IOW, if a photo is in any way jarring, opt for one taken from a normal point of view.

Focus Misdirection

Most listings show everything in acceptably sharp focus: in photographer jargon, they exhibit wide Depth-of-Field. But where lighting or lens dictate shallow depth, only part of the shot will be in sharp focus…and that’s the area that will attract the viewer’s eye. Use this to your advantage. For instance, it’s good to show pictures of the master bathroom—especially if it resembles a spa retreat—but it’s bad to focus on the commode instead of the Carrera marble vanity.

Putting together a killer listing is an important part of the comprehensive service my clients receive.

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