Common Qualities Of The Best Realtors To Work With As A Real Estate Photographer
Realtors are an interesting group of people and the personality types can range from an ultra-intense micromanager to a laid-back “let the market do the selling” type of approach. However, all of the realtors that I consider to be my best clients have a handful of qualities in common.
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What Makes a Realtor a Good Client?
Not all clients are good for business. When considering whether or not you want to work with a specific realtor, you should take a moment to think about whether a longterm business relationship with them will be worth it.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you can deal with a specific realtor as one of your clients, check out our article How to Handle Difficult Clients as a Real Estate Photographer. It suggests some tips to dealing with tough clients and talks you through whether or not a client might be worth it at all.
When you just begin a new business relationship with a realtor, there are a few qualities that you can look for which will tell you that they will be a great future client. Here are my personal favorite qualities of all my best realtor clients:
Walking into a Photo Ready Home
One of the most disappointing things for a real estate photographer is showing up to a house, walking in the front door, and immediately seeing a house that is not photo ready. This presents a huge range of problems.
Are you going to help clean and stage? Do you have another shoot directly after this one? If so, is there going to be enough time to get the house photo ready and complete the shoot before you need to leave?
Early in my real estate photography career, I would walk into unprepared homes and roll up my sleeves in preparation of adding ‘home cleaner and stager’ to my job title. I felt like it was my job to help.
Then I started to realize that the hour I spent cleaning someone else’s home was an hour that I could have spent at another shoot or at my computer editing. It felt like I was just losing money even though the photos were coming out looking good.
Once this realization hit me, I noticed that it was always the same realtors that would spring this problem on me. They were nice people and always would pay on time, but I was spending up to an hour more on a shoot for them than I was all my other realtors.
That wasn’t fair to me or to my other clients, so I decided to create a Real Estate Photography Staging Checklist and send it to them before every shoot. I stipulated that if the house was not photo ready, I would not be able to complete the shoot and that a travel fee would be charged.
This immediately changed my business for the better. A few of the realtors I had this problem with fixed their ways and had the homes ready, and a few became ex-clients of mine.
This has now saved me countless hours of work which I dedicate to other clients and I no longer need to clean up other peoples homes for free.
The Ability to "Deflect" an Anxious Homeowner
An anxious homeowner is an extremely common problem for real estate photographers. If you’ve been working as a real estate photographer for even a short period of time, chances are you’ve had to deal with this person.
They might want to include themselves in the photographic process (possibly my least favorite thing imaginable on a job) or overthink the placement of everything in the home and then want to rearrange mid shoot.
No matter what their anxiety is about or how well intentioned their actions are, they’ll only make your job more difficult and jeopardize the end quality of the photos.
Enter in a realtor who understands this and is ready to help. My absolute favorite realtors to work with are the ones that either tell the homeowners not to be there for the shoot or are excellent at deflecting their attention away from me.
It’s even better when they give me a heads up that the homeowner may “want to be a little hands on” but assure me that they will take care of it.
Having the realtor understand that the images look best when the homeowner is not present is possibly my favorite client quality. It lets me complete the job in a timely manner and guarantees that the quality of the images won’t suffer due to me being distracted.
If you can land a client that does this for you, do everything you can to keep them!
Providing Payment Up Front
It’s becoming more common for real estate photographers to take payment upon scheduling or before photo delivery, but it’s still not how all real estate photographers run their businesses.
I have some clients that I’ve been working with so long that we never even discuss payment anymore because there is so much mutual trust. However, there are some realtors out there that simply don’t want to pay up front and will make you chase them down to collect.
Frankly, these are the realtors that I will simply not work with. It doesn’t matter if they get the best homes or if they’re a top realtor in my market. If they don’t pay on time, or if they complain about needing to pay before the photos are delivered, then it’s just not worth it.
As real estate photographers, we need to be aware of how much money the realtors stand to make off the sale of the home and remind ourselves that our services are necessary and valuable. Paying on time shouldn’t be negotiable.
On the flip side, I love showing up to a shoot where the realtor has a check (or cash!) in hand right away. Even though this might seem like a small and expected thing, it shows a respect for your time and skills that not all realtors have.
If you find yourself experiencing this problem and are hesitant to start taking payment upfront, remind yourself how much value you are bringing to the table. Out article Photos Don’t Just Sell Houses, They Sell Realtors Too will help you get your confidence up and remind you just how important photography is.
As I’ve mentioned in several other articles, real estate photography is a profession that can suffer from a “race to the bottom” pricing mentality. Who can charge the lowest and steal all the clients.
I absolutely refuse to take part in this race to make less money and happily say goodbye to realtors that want to save a few bucks per shoot. I have some clients that have been working with me since I first started nearly 8 years ago and I always prioritize their shoots.
Knowing that my clients are loyal allows me to not worry about my competition and instead worry about my clients needs. I always thank them for their loyalty and then show them that loyalty cuts both ways by being as consistent as possible.
Just recently a realtor that I started working with roughly 3 months ago texted me about a home they needed photographed. Unfortunately, they texted me while I was camping and I was unable to respond for about 36 hours.
When I was back in cell service I responded and let them know that I was sorry for the delay, I was available, and I understood if they already hired someone else since I pretty much ghosted them for a day and a half.
Their response: “Great! Oh no don’t worry about it. I only hire you.”
To me, this shows 3 things:
- They really love my work
- I don’t need to worry about them reaching out to my competition
- I have a client for life if I simply stay loyal to them in return
I love doing things like adding in free drone photography every now and then for my clients like this. An excellent and trust filled working relationship is somewhat rare in real estate photography, so when realtors like this one become my client, I do my absolute best to keep them happy.
This article was a general outline of my favorite qualities that many of my best clients all share in common. And while I think these are all excellent qualities, they are definitely not the only good qualities that you can be on the lookout for.
When developing what will hopefully become a longterm business relationship, you’ll need to figure out what works best for you and your business.
It can be better for you to say no to a potential client if you think they are going to be a perpetual headache rather than let them distract you from your other clients for the next few years.
If you can find a client that is respectful of you and your time, likes your photography, and is willing to rehire you for their future jobs, then chances are you have found a real winner.
Figure out which qualities you appreciate most in your clients, then seek out clients that have those qualities. Once you have a few that make your life easy and are enjoyable to work with, show your gratitude with consistency and respect.