People are visual creatures. We stop to look at things that get our attention—especially when they stand out against similar things that aren’t as striking. There’s no better example of this than flipping through property listings. You’re likely to sift through page after page of listings with lacklustre photos until you come to one that makes you stop and stare. You’ll automatically pay more attention to this listing because it caught your eye.
Table of Contents - Take Great Pictures, Attract Great Tenants, Reap Great Returns
- Good pictures provide context
- Tips for taking great photos
- Should you hire a photographer?
- How many photos are too many?
- What NOT to picture
- Be honest and be informative
- Learning to Take Pictures of Houses and Real Estate
If you’re looking to rent out a property, this psychology works in your favour. Instead of slapping together a few photos and listing information, take the time to be more attentive to the photos you’re posting. Consider the power of good pictures in attracting equally good tenants—people willing to pay higher rent and take better care of your property.
Good pictures provide context
The best photos of a property operate on a set of rules. First, they need to be true-to-representation (within reason). Second, they have to provide context. Finally, they should inform as much as they attract.
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True-to-representation simply means that your photos reflect what a tenant can expect to find if they rent from you. If you take a picture of a bathroom with glass shower doors and overhead lighting, your property needs to offer these amenities. Picturing features not offered is disingenuous at best, fraudulent misrepresentation at worst. This shouldn’t be a problem for most landlords since photos should almost always come directly from the source (i.e. walking the property with a camera).
Photos must be contextual—meaning they give viewers an understanding of the property. Taking an up-close picture of the crown moulding might be a nice thought, but it doesn’t give context for how it looks in each room (or if it’s even present in every room). As a rule of thumb, take photos that give a thorough representation of the focus feature and everything around it. People should understand the focus of the photo, as well as how it exists in space.
Take informative photos. If you list “central A/C unit” as part of the property’s amenities, show a photo. Or, if you say “updated kitchen,” provide photos that show things like appliances, countertops, flooring and other materials. Photos should support the text description of your rental listing, as well as provide visual cues for what people can expect in terms of condition, layout and general feel.
Tips for taking great photos
Even with an understanding of context, taking great photos is easier said than done. There’s some skill involved in framing pictures, setting the tone and capturing the right angles and depth. Here are a few good tips for taking photos that’ll attract responsible tenants to your listing:
Take pictures with warm, natural light wherever possible
Plan to take photos in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun is highest. Open blinds and drapes to let that light stream in and illuminate the scene. If there isn’t good light in a room, rely on overhead lighting.
Consider the height and angles when photographing rooms
Don’t get fancy by crouching low or standing on chairs—instead, think about the average height of a person and take photos at eye level. This sets the tone for proportionate understanding and gives people a clear perspective.
Take multiple photos in each room
The first should be from the doorway looking into the room. From there, shots of different features and a photo looking back out the doorway are usually enough to provide a good context. In kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, take more focused shots of important variables like appliances, built-in woodwork or living accommodations (cabinets, shelves, plumbing, lighting, etc.).
Get out of the shot!
Before you snap a picture, make sure you’re not reflected in any mirrors or windows. It’s also a good idea to make sure any unnecessary items are out of frame. For example, if you’re cleaning the unit, move the vacuum and any tools out of the shot.
It’s also a good idea to go through each room and tidy up before taking pictures. No one wants to move into a messy abode! Plus, it’s also a good time to prioritize minor repairs, like patching drywall holes or replacing window treatments.
Should you hire a photographer?
The decision to hire a photographer for your property is entirely your own. Often, it’s a matter of cost. Professional photography isn’t cheap! Paying a couple of hundred dollars for property photos might not be worth it—that’s a couple of hundred dollars you could use to improve the property itself. Then again, if you have a friend or know someone looking to spruce up their portfolio, bartering may be one of the best ways to get professional-calibre property photos for your listing.
How many photos are too many?
Too much of a good thing is a real problem when it comes to property photos. No one is going to click through 100+ photos, no matter how interested in the property they are. As a rule of thumb, try to keep the number of photos you take more than 10, but less than 50. Here’s what the 30-photo breakdown on a 2-bedroom, 1-bath property might look like:
- 6 total photos of the bedrooms
- 3 photos of the bathroom
- 5 photos of the kitchen
- 2 photos of the living room
- 4 photos of the basement
- 4 photos of misc. living (closets, hallways, stairs, etc.)
- 6 photos of outside (garage, lawn, entrance, curb, etc.)
The total number of photos and what those images focus on depends greatly on the property’s size and features.
What NOT to picture
Oversharing is a great way to drive off interested tenants. There are two types of photos you shouldn’t share: photos of general wear and photos of the damage. Settling cracks in your plaster or a few missing shingles aren’t worth the trouble they’ll cause for you if you post a picture of them.
It’s important to realize that this doesn’t mean you should hide things from your prospective tenants. Always be upfront about property condition! Not listing pictures of damage is just a precaution against scaring people away. You want the opportunity to show any potential issues and explain them yourself as part of a walkthrough, instead of having people overreact to a photo.
Be honest and be informative
Think about the purpose of good property listing photos. First, they should capture people’s attention. Second, they should inform them visually about your property. Third, they should encourage responsible renters to contact you. Are your photos checking these boxes? Ask yourself before you post your next listing.
Learning to Take Pictures of Houses and Real Estate
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