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When to Use Twilight for Listing Photos

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photographer Austin, TX
Exposed by Light Austin,TX Real Estate Photography

 Twilight photos have a tendency to grab the viewer’s attention when browsing through listing photos. Something about the glowing yellow and blue colors can really transform an ordinary home into a luxury listing. While that is a good reason to purchase twilight photos, it’s still a good idea to do your homework to ensure twilight photos are a good investment for the listing.

 

Does the home have plenty of windows?

While the color of the sky plays an important role in a twilight photo, how well the house illuminates is equally as important.  You don’t want the photo to just be a dark house at night.  Plenty of windows from well-lit rooms is attractive to us because it conveys a sense of “shelter”.  The contrast also adds a dramatic touch to the photos. 

 

Are there relaxing features to the listing?

Sunsets have a way of promoting calm and relaxing vibes.  One way to accentuate this feeling is by having relaxing features of the home photographed at twilight.  For example, if the house has plenty of patio furniture, twinkle lights, fire pit, or even a pool, then the listing should be considered a great candidate for twilight photos. Those features will help the potential buyers see themselves relaxing and/or entertaining during the evenings in that home, which is a big draw. 

 

Plenty of light sources?

We covered the importance of windows.  Another important feature needed is additional light sources. For example, exterior wall lights help illuminate the house and look amazing in twilight photos. Walkway lights around the backyard or in the front yard also provide an ample source of lighting.  I personally am very drawn to exterior lights that light up trees in the front or back yard.  They also photograph really well. 

 

Is there a lot of inventory in the market?

If the market is hot, you can be sure the listing will be one of many that show up in search results each morning.  Studies have shown that having a twilight photo as the cover photo can generate more clicks compared to listings with a cover photo taken during the day. Twilight photos will help the listing stand out amongst competition. 

 

Twilight photos can be a great choice when putting a new listing on the market. However, there are times that it’s not appropriate. As mentioned a couple of times, not enough light sources would make the listing not a good candidate for twilight. Additionally, if it’s a water front property, it would be better to take listing photos during the day so lake or ocean views can be seen.  Following the short check list above should help you quickly determine the right choice. 

Real Estate Marketing: The Advantages of Staging

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

It’s no secret that I love to photograph a nicely staged home.  Aside from the better results delivered in photos and print, there are many other great reasons to stage a home. Staging plays a big role in first impressions for buyers.  It can also create a more emotional purchase that can generate more money for the seller. If you’ve got a house coming on the market soon and are on the fence as to whether or not to stage it, take a look at the advantages listed below to determine if staging is the right direction for your listing. 

 

Taps into emotions

Home staging is successful because it considers the wants and needs of buyers through home décor.  81% of buyers say home staging makes it easier to visualize the property as their future home.  This benefit is twofold.  By having a home staged, buyers can understand how their furniture can fit.  Additionally, not all home buyers are interior designers.  Staging helps build a vision of how the home can be once it belongs to the buyer.

 

Staged home sells faster

Once staged, homes spend an average of 73% less time on the market. I’ve seen the reality of that statistic with my own clients.  Most of my clients with staged homes have had offers accepted in a matter of weeks or even days. 

 

Increased perceived value

A professional home stager can highlight the main spaces of the house to make it look it’s best. You want to make the space look and feel like the asking price. Buyers are willing to spend 1% to 5% more of the dollar value on a staged home than a non-staged home. It’s also been mentioned that appraisers are more likely to appraise staged homes at full value. 

 

Tax advantages

Purchasing home staging installments for the use of selling a property is a decent size tax deduction.  

 

While the list of advantages of staged homes can continue on, it’s important to understand if staging is right for your home.  If your listing has not been well maintained and the goal is to get out quickly rather than to get top dollar, staging would not be a wise investment.  Staging cannot replace countertops floors.  Seeing a return on that investment would be challenging. If this is the case, put your time and resources into professional photos or video.  Professional photos can attract buyers to the listing at a much smaller cost than home staging.  

 

Sources: https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/profile-of-home-staging

The Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Property with a Pool

Exposed by Light Austin Real Estate Photographer

It’s definitely another hot summer here in Austin, Texas.  We’ve made it to August, which means we’re well underway the hottest month of the year.  Those hot temperatures can really leave summer time home buyers finding themselves attracted to in ground swimming pools. This summer, I’ve been surveying my clients about their pools.   If you’ve got clients who are interested in purchasing a home with a pool, check out the list of pros and cons below. 

 

Pros:

 

Besides the fact that pools are a great place to cool off and exercise, there are other attractive points to having a pool in your home.

1.    Hours of fun for the kids (and dogs):  If you’ve got kids in the home, your place will quickly become the cool place to hang out. Nothing wears out kids like hours of swimming in the pool. 

2.    Private place to host BBQs or pool parties:  If you run around with a big group of friends or family, you’ve probably found yourself frustrated trying to fight for chair and BBQ space at the local apartment pools or community pool areas. A pool in the house offers a perfect solution for both adults and kids to enjoy a private place to cook out and cool off.  

3.    Installation and insurance costs: Having a pool installed is much more affordable now than years ago.  The feedback I’ve also received is that insurance premiums aren’t as bad as one would assume.  The average premium increase is only about $100 a year. 

4.    Looks awesome in your home:  Pools absolutely add a touch of luxury to your house, which will give a homeowner a leg up when they are ready to sell the property. Another reason an already installed pool is attractive is because it is less costly than installing a brand new pool.  

5.    Boost STR bookings: If a buyer is looking to purchase a property for short term rental use, a house with a pool with certainly increase bookings.  Nothing sells “summer vacation” like a private swimming pool. 

 

Cons:  

 

While the list of advantages to having a pool can be ongoing, there are some cons that should be taken into consideration. 

1.    Upkeep: The more you use your pool, more maintenance will be required. Specifically,  lots of time and resources will need to be put into chemicals and pool care knowledge. Repair costs can also quickly add up.  

2.    Health: If you don’t take care of your pool, health and safety issues can occur. 

3.    You may not receive back the amount invested in a pool: For example, if someone spends $25,000 to install a pool, they cannot just add $25,000 on to their asking price when it comes time to sell the home. All home upgrades and renovations equate to what the current market demands are in your area. 

4.    Safety: A pool owner is responsible for the lives of all of those swimming in their pool. Ensure proper precautions are taken if you will not be present while others are swimming in your pool. 

 

Pools are certainly a beautiful addition to a home. As with any investment, it’s crucial to do research to determine if it’s a right fit for the family and the property.  If it is, then go for it!

Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings with Professional Photos

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

Whether you’re thinking of turning your property into a vacation rental property or would like to see more bookings for your current rental, take the time to consider hiring a professional photographer.   A professional photographer can produce photos that prompt travelers to want to experience your property. The main reason for this is because a vacation rental photographer will know to look for both factual and emotional aspects of your home. Pulling both aspects together will help sell the “experience” to travelers. 

Before you get going with your photos, take a look at the tips below to ensure your property good to go for photos!

 

1.    Outfit your space with nice furniture:  This is key for a photographer to be able to produce photos for an “experience”. Create an inviting space with nice furnishings and décor. If you want top dollar for your rental, you need to make it look top dollar. 

 

2.    Consider twilight photos:  If the backyard has lots to offer such as outdoor dining, pool, hot tub, etc., consider a twilight shoot. Some nice shots of twinkle lights, a bubbly hot tub, lit fire pits will help increase your bookings.  As many travelers are out and about during the day, it’s very important to show them how they can enjoy your property during the evening. 

 

3.    Kitchens: Remember if travelers only needed a bed and bathroom, they would go to a hotel. Show off your kitchen and remind them of why they are doing short term rental as opposed to going to a hotel. Stock the kitchen with the essentials, but also make sure some of these essentials can be viewed from the photos. For example, if you’ve got a nice coffee maker, stage a coffee station on the counter with mugs, creamer, and sugar. For the bar, set out a bottle of wine with some wine glasses. Lastly, make sure the stove, microwave, refrigerator are in the photos. Lots of folks specifically look for those features when searching for a rental.  

 

4.    Bathrooms: Set out some travel size lotions, shampoos, and soaps along with some wash cloths and towels for the photos. As someone who has hosted plenty of guests, it’s important to let the travelers know they do not need to bring their own towels and basic toiletries.  

 

5.    Bedrooms: Make the beds look comfy and inviting. Guests will be looking for big comfy beds. They also look for private bathrooms or easily accessible bathrooms. If there is a connecting bathroom to the bedroom, make sure it’s seen in the photos. Turn on the bathroom light and keep the door ajar so it’s easily viewed from the photos. 

 

Always keep in mind the influences good photographs can have on your audience.  Not only can they increase the volume of bookings, but it also has an impact on price.  Professional photos reflect on you from a business standpoint and can help support a higher price range. 

 

Increase the Perceived Property Value of Your Listing with Virtual Tours

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

It’s common knowledge that people are more likely to view a home in person that has been professionally photographed and marketed.  More and more realtors use Virtual Tours these days to showcase their listing photos and for good reason. Below are a few reasons why It’s crucial to not skip out on virtual tours when gearing up your home or listing for the market. 

1.)  Virtual tours help attract the correct prospective homebuyer to your listing. They can help potential buyers relate to the space and simulate an emotional connection to the property.  

2.)  Virtual tours can influence buyers to make higher offers. In a recent study conducted by Redfin, listings with virtual tours and professional photos sell over $3,000 higher than homes with no professional photos or virtual tours.  That’s a small investment to pay for a potentially bigger return. 

3.)  Virtual tours provide an immediate open house for online prospective buyers. Viewers can “walkthrough” a property and get a feel for the home at their convenience.  Initially it may not seem like a contributing factor for increased perceived property values. However, the value is with the “open house”.  Researchers in Austin, TX found that listings that hold open houses during their first week on the market sell above asking price 30% of the time.  Furthermore, homes priced between $400,000 and $499,999 sold three weeks faster.

The list of benefits for virtual tours are abundant.  Embracing this new technology really caters to what home buyers really want from the home searching process. 

7 Tips to Achieve a Sell Worthy Master Bedroom

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

When marketing a new listing, the master bedroom is one of the most important rooms to showcase.  Assuming the buyer is purchasing the home for his or her personal use, this will be one of their most used rooms.  According to USA Today, 60% of home buyers said they would pay extra for a nicer master bedroom than they currently own.  It’s important showcase your master bedroom in the best possible way to make it attractive and sell worthy. Before you get started on your professional photos, check out these helpful tips below: 

 

1.)  Use neutral colors

Room colors can either boost or obliterate the attractiveness of a room.  While bright and bold colors can add tons of personality, it’s not wise to assume everyone has the same personality. We want potential buyers to be able to easily imagine their belongings and style in that space. Neutral colors also induce a calming feel to the room, which is an added bonus.  

 

2.)  Let in natural light 

Letting in natural light will help illuminate the room’s essential features. If you’ve got a great view – show it off!  If the views are underwhelming, then use privacy shades.  Privacy shades cover the windows and at most will only slightly diffuse the natural light.  If you’ve got some room in your budget, spring for motorized blinds. I’m beginning to see these used more often in the real estate market.  Most motorized blinds these days are equipped with timers. Good quality blinds last a really long time and will help boost the value of your home.  

 

3.)  De clutter bathroom counter tops

As a photographer, I can’t stress this point enough.  If there are medication bottles, lotions, toothbrushes, etc. sitting on the counter, it will ruin the photo. These lessen look and feel of usable space. Not to mention this never photographs wells. It also ties back to goal of wanting potential buyers to be able to see themselves using the space. Nothing can prevent this more from happening than having the seller’s very personal belongings left out for photos and showings. 

 

4.)  Ensure adjoining bathrooms or nooks are photographed

It’s important that these features are easily highlighted in the photos. It also helps potential buyers get a better idea of the flow of the room. My only exception to this rule is inside master closets. Unless they are immaculate (think magazine ready), closets really don’t photograph well.   Ensure the closet is neat and organized for showings to help enhance the feel of the space. 

 

5.)  Remove dog beds, baby chairs

This is more important for photos rather than for showings. We want to appeal to all types of buyers. Not just those with dogs and or/children.  

 

6.)  Keep wall art to a minimum 

I would limit the wall hangings to 1-2 pieces for no more than 2 walls. When we live in that room, it’s natural to want to fill empty spaces. We find ourselves thinking “that wall needs something…”.  It’s easy to go overboard and could eventually mask the feel of a big room with high ceilings, etc. to someone seeing that room for the first time . 

 

7.)  Declutter bedside stands/tables

A place to put cups, glasses, bottles, alarm clocks. etc. is the exact purpose of a nightstand or bedside table. However, these don’t photograph well or look great for showings. Try your best to declutter the tables. Keep it to just a couple of stacked books, a tiny plant and/or decorative figurine.  For both showings and photos, it’s a good idea to illuminate the lamps or light fixtures to help warm up the feel of the space.

 

For more tips on styling a master bedroom, check out this helpful blog post: http://roomfortuesday.com/room-101-master-bedroom/

 

 

 

Boost Your Listing’s Exposure with Virtual Tours

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

The real estate market in Austin, Texas is hot right now.  It’s essential to use eye catching listing photos to grab your viewers’ attention. Once you’ve got their attention, the next step is to keep their attention.  A great way to achieve this is through the use of virtual tours.  

 

What are virtual tours?  A virtual tour is a high definition presentation that displays property details alongside one or all of the following: still photos, panoramas, video, and interactive floor plans.  Agents and buyers alike enjoy these because the virtual tours are delivered in a URL that is both desktop and mobile friendly.

 

In addition to virtual tours being an easy way to consume the various types of multimedia and listing details, they also boost your exposure.  How so you ask?  Our virtual tours have the ability to publish to Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Google and other property search sites.  As a result of this feature, that listing now generates traffic from multiple referral sources as opposed to MLS alone. 

 

A key benefit to working with a realtor is being able to access listings that are listed exclusively on MLS.  While I wouldn’t recommend anyone go through the buying or selling process without a realtor, MLS search access is restricted to only realtors. When posting a virtual tour online, the general public is then able to return that listing from their own online search results. This increases your audience to more than just realtors. 

 

Finally, if you’ve got your own real estate website, our virtual tours will link back to your website. This increases search engine optimization (SEO), which is also an added benefit of increased exposure. It’s also a nice branding touch.         

 

 

 

For more real estate marketing tips, check back to the main blog page here.

8 Easy Tips to Prepare Your Event Space for Photos

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

If you’re looking to rent out your space as an event venue, then you’re probably in need of some photos of your space. Good photos are important as they give potential clients an idea of the space and a feel for what guests could expect from an event at your venue. 

Hiring a photographer who specializes in photographing spaces is important.  Chances are your space probably has large rooms and high ceilings.  You need a photographer who uses the right equipment to be able to capture the look and feel of those spaces in it’s entirety.

Whether you’re doing the photos yourself or hiring a photographer, you can benefit from a few simple steps below to help your venue look it’s absolute best in the photos:

1.)  Discuss selling points with the photographer. This step is important. Before you begin the photo session, do a walkthrough with the photographer. Let them know how you want it to be captured (dark and moody, light and bright, etc.). If you’ve got some great nooks you know potential clients will love, let the photographer know so they spend more time on those areas. 

 

2.)  If any of your space is indoors, turn on the lights and illuminate any light fixtures.  It’s important that enough light is in the space to be able to take a clear photo. 

 

3.)  Clean bars and countertops: Remove any clutter and ensure the area is wiped down.

 

4.)  Simple staging: If you’ve got a large outdoor area you intend to use for seating or dining, set it up as so to help potential clients visualize how that area can be used.

 

5.)  Clean the floors.

 

6.)  Neatly push chairs in to the tables and bars. This is especially important if you have a bar. You want to make sure all bar chairs are pushed in and angled the same direction.

 

7.)  Turn off TVs. Unless it’s a still photo screensaver, TVs always photograph better completely off.

 

8.)  Mow the lawn and ensure the landscaping is in the same condition as your clients would use it. 

 

I often get questions about having people in the photos. This is about as equally preferred as it is not preferred.  If you are on the fence, go ahead and take some photos with people and some without so you can have examples of both to use for marketing. 

Once you’ve got your photos complete, I suggest signing up with a venue management company.  Not only do they handle most of the client facing communication, they provide added exposure to help boost your bookings!

Questions to Answer Before Hiring a Photographer for Commercial Real Estate Photos

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

When selling or leasing commercial real estate properties and/or spaces, it’s important to have up to date photos. One notable reason is to entice the viewer to come and check out the property or development. 

A good photographer will ensure the property is photographed in the best way possible. They should also present the client with great images to be used as marketing collateral. 

Below are few questions that should be answered by either the client or the photographer. 

1.)  Square footage: While this might not necessarily be a determining factor for price, it would be useful to know beforehand so the proper amount of time is allocated to taking photos. 

 

2.)  Agreed upon response to existing tenants:  This one is often overlooked, but important.  I don’t think I’ve photographed one commercial property with existing tenants that didn’t result in them asking me why I am taking photos.  Reasons for their concern could vary of course, but it’s always good to have an agreed upon response on deck.  

Additionally, make sure the photo session has been cleared with the onsite security team. Time spent getting it sorted out cuts into the time allotted for photos. It’s just better to have everything worked out in advance. 

 

3.)  Turnaround time: For the photographer, always quote your turnaround time upfront. If the client need the photos earlier, then they should state that before the session begins.  This should also be stated in the photo agreement.

 

4.)  Image size requirements: It’s a good idea to share with the photographer how the photos will be used. Standard sizes for print will work great in brochures. However, if the client needs the images enlarged, make sure it’s stated before the photos are delivered so the client receive the right sizes for that use upon photo delivery. 

 

5.)  Licensing: This should also be in the photo agreement. Often times the question of owning vs. licensing is either not addressed or not clarified until an issue arises.  In most cases, the photographer owns the photos. The client purchases a license to use the photos for reasons specified up front and only during that time. Use of those same photos for future marketing purposes months or years in the future is often not included in the initially purchased license. 

 

6.)  Important selling points and highlights of the property or space:  These should be discussed up front so that those features are photographed. For example, if there is a great seating area for tenants to utilize during breaks, parking garage, downtown views, etc., the broker would need those photographed so they can use it in a brochure. 

 

For more information about photo agreements and usage licenses, check here

A Step-by-Step Guide to Prep Your Home for Professional Photos

Exposed by Light Real Estate Photography Austin, TX

According to the National Association of Realtors, 83% of home buyers used the internet to search for homes in 2017. Now that we’ve entered the digital age, great photos are more important now than ever. 

Beautiful listing photos can make all the difference when trying to sell your home. Great photos will get a buyer through that door. On the contrary, bad photos might result in a missed opportunity (in a matter of seconds).  

If you’ve  hired a professional photographer, then consider it a step in the right direction. Before you pull out that “SOLD” sign, run through the checklist below to make sure your home is properly staged and ready for photos.

Curb appeal! You can help your photographer achieve optimal results for the exterior by following the basic steps below:

1.    Ensure the lawn is mowed.

2.    Remove weeds and dead plants (replace with new plants if possible).

3.    Sweep the porches and steps.

4.    Remove cars from the driveway or from the front of the house.

5.    If a “for sale” or any other signage is up, take it down for photos.

6.    Remove any toys, gardening equipment, or seasonal decoration.

7.    If you’re taking photos at dusk or twilight, turn on all exterior lights and any room lights that face the front of the house.

8.    Clean the pool.

 

 

Review and complete the steps below for eye catching interiors:

1.    Hire a cleaning crew for a clean and polished house.

2.    Clear off bathroom and kitchen countertops as much as possible (clutter does not photograph well).

3.    Make all the beds. 

4.    Remove toiletries from showers and bathtubs. 

5.    Turn off all ceiling fans.

6.    Slightly open blinds to let in natural light.

7.    Turn on lamps and ceiling lights as needed to achieve a well-lit room.

8.    Replace burnt out lights. 

 

Once you’ve completed the steps above, your house will be in great shape for photos.  Think it needs something else?  Don’t be afraid to reach out to a home stager.  They specialize in feng shui and will always use up to date furnishings and décor.  And finally – good luck!