By Cindy Atoji Keene
Photography has never been more integral to selling real estate than it is today. Statistics show that most home searches begin online, so prospective buyers are lured when price range, location, and property details match their specifications – and when attractive photos stir their interest. “Today’s real estate listings don’t just document that a house is on the market. Professional photography of a house stirs the emotions and makes people say, ‘I want to live in that house,” said Matt Murphy, founder and president of Boston Virtual Imaging, one of the largest providers of real estate media in New England, including video, photography, and floor plans for residential and commercial brokerage firms.
Q: Why are there so many bad photos of homes on realtor websites?
A: There’s the belief that the more photos that you post, the better. But it’s really hard to get even just 20 amazing photos of most houses, especially if taken with a point-and-shoot camera. Throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks is not a good idea. Rather, a good real estate photo sells an emotional connection – something that can’t be measured with a tape measure. Since most home buyers are looking at hundreds of photos in one sitting, you want a photo that slows someone down and makes them think, ‘Hmm, maybe that is a place I should see.”
Q: Does the market for real estate photography follow the housing market swings?
A: it does, and a lot of that has to do with the sheer number of transactions. In 2008 and 2009, for example, we slowed down a bit. But ironically, when the market is on fire, there’s a certain mentality that brokers don’t have to do as much marketing for listings because the inventory is tight anyway; when the market is lower, they’re thinking ‘I need to get more eyeballs on this thing.’ Overall, though, data shows that listings that include photos, video, and interactive floor plans sell closer to the original asking price and have less days on the market.
Q: Bathrooms, basements, kitchens – what part of the home is the most difficult to shoot?
A: Exterior photography can be a challenge because so many factors are out of our control. Maybe we plan to shoot of a $2.5 million dollar house in the Back Bay on a street-cleaning day so no cars block the view, but suddenly a dumpster appears and is parked right outside the residence. We try to keep our fingers crossed and pray for sunshine and hope that nothing weird happens.
Q: Why has the real estate industry has been an early adopter of drones?
A: For years, we shot expansive pieces of land – like places with a pond or proximity to a golf course – with a helicopter. But it’s very difficult to fly super low and slow. That’s why drones are great – they allow us to get much lower, maybe 8 feet up, and go right over a backyard or pool and get really amazing shots. The client can also watch on a monitor and talk through the decision on what to shoot.
Q: In your free time, you also enjoy flying model aircraft that are similar to drones?
A: One of my hobbies is flying multi-rotors, remote controlled helicopters – they have features like retractable landing gear, folding propellers and can hold a camera. I like to fly it a lot around my house in Wellesley or a bunch of parks nearby.