Real Estate Photography Fundamentals: Deciding Your Pricing

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The bulk of your money that you’ll receive for real estate photography will come from your additional service offerings, your "add-ons".

This is pulled from Section 1: REP Fundamentals: Business & Pricing, Chapter 2 of the Master Real Estate Photography Course. If you’d like to sign up for the course, you can sign up for our email list to be notified when the course is live here.

Now, here’s where you can spend way too much time doing market research, analyzing your competition, figuring out how you can still be profitable while undercutting your competitors, all that jazz.

It’s a waste of time in the beginning if you ask me. What you need to understand is that you’re new. You shouldn’t be charging crazy premium prices, because your quality probably won’t demand that.

You’ll want to attract clients, start making some money, and get consistent shoots to improve your skill and build your portfolio and your online presence.

You’ll absolutely want to do some more in depth market research later on when it comes time to raise your prices, but I’ll go over all that in detail later in the course.

A lot of people will tell you to just find 2 of your competitors, see what they charge for similar services, and subtract about 15-20%, and there’s your pricing. Now, if you’ve spent the time learning how to be an absolute boss with real estate photography services, you’ll be able to charge higher prices from the get go.

This is what I did, and it did make it slightly more difficult to get initial clients, so it’s really a toss up between charging less for more work, and charging more for less work. When you charge premium prices, but don’t have an extensive portfolio for people to look through, some people will laugh you off.

Don’t let that deter you. We can set your prices so you’re not the lowest in your area, but you’re also not the highest. Find a few competitors, get a price range (not taking into account luxury, unless that’s your niche), and set your pricing right in the middle.

If the range for photography in your area is $100-$300 for a single family home up to 2000 sq ft, then you’ll charge around $150 starting out. Don’t worry, we’ll raise those prices quickly.

Now, some of you might be tempted to be the lowest priced in your market to try and pick up more clients, and you totally can do that, but you’re going to have to deal with more annoying clients on average that your competitors have successfully weeded out. The clients with the lowest budgets also have a reputation for coming up with the most demands, the least respect for your time, and this can be detrimental to your business, not to mention your mental health.

This does NOT mean that you should turn away clients that are simply asking you to meet the level of quality you promised to them, as we should all be held to that standard. But, if the more difficult clients are moving away from you because they don’t want to pay your rate, be glad. You’ve dodged a flurry of bullets, so consider that a net win.

You’ll be better off without them. And, your earnings will level out because you’re charging more, even with less work. So that’s a double win.

It’s worth it to note that, in the beginning, you should absolutely take any job you can get to build your portfolio and your level of experience, but don’t stress over a reasonable fraction of your clients going a different direction because you raised your prices to reflect the quality of your work.

I’ll go over this more later in the course, but the best way to “fire” clients is to raise your prices and be adamant about keeping to them. This one act should weed out a lot of people who weren’t really serious clients. They’ll just move on to the next cheapest option. Don’t lose sleep over it. 

As far as floor plans go, especially ones with CubiCasa, which is what we’ll be using, I personally use these as an easy add on. I charge $125 for these and they’re a fantastic afterthought when you’re at the property, you can ask your agent if they’d like a floor plan added on, or shoot them a text just saying “are we doing a floor plan today?”. 9 times out of 10 they’ll add it on right then and there. 

When deciding what you’ll charge for a listing video, you don’t want these to be too cheap because there’s a bit more that goes into them. If you’re editing your own videos, it may take you 2 hours to edit one, and if you’re charging $150 for a listing video, then it’s just not that profitable.

That being said, if you’re not comfortable with getting smooth motions and producing a high quality video result, then you shouldn’t charge a premium. Afterall, the goal is to do as many of them as possible so you can quickly get better, which will catapult you to be able to charge the premium prices for the higher quality videos.

So maybe start with a $250 listing video that includes 10 seconds of aerial video as a bonus. Then, as you get better, you can charge $250 for a listing video and then charge $175 for aerial video as an add on, then you can increase the price of your listing video to base $349 + aerial, etc. Then you can have additional service offerings that act as an add-on to the video, so instead of just $349, you can offer 2 additional locations for a lifestyle video to showcase surrounding areas for $200 extra, so now you’re at $549 + aerial, you can add on an agent introduction service offering for an additional $150, so now you’re at $699 for a video, etc.

You get the point. The bulk of your money that you’ll receive for real estate photography will come from these additional service offerings. You’ll end up getting excited when someone just asks for photography and drone images because it gives you plenty of room for upselling. 

For a virtual tour, you should price these somewhere around the $175-$300 range. There’s minimal editing involved, and these are really easy to do really well right from the get go, don’t be afraid to have a bigger price tag associated with it. 

Aerial photos are another thing that I price out similar to floor plans. I’m at $205 for aerial photos, and I usually deliver 10-20 images. I try to be generous with these. They’re a great add on, so sometimes I’ll even offer them as a free bonus since they’re so quick and easy to get. 

Aerial video we touched on briefly when going over the video tours, but if someone just wants aerial video, maybe like a 30-60 second video, I’ll charge them $225. 

Listing websites, as far as pricing goes, are kind of a toss up. I’ve seen these being sold by some photographers for as much as $300 for a single listing website, and I’ve seen them as cheap as $50. Now, it’s important to bear in mind the cost associated with these, and we’ll use HDPhotoHub to create these, but it costs around $15 to create one with a default URL domain name, and then another 20(ish) credits for a custom domain name, or URL.

I’ve found the sweet spot to make these an attractive add-on is somewhere in the $150-$199 range, depending on whether or not the client wants a custom domain name. The dollar amount that it costs you is really the only cost, since they are template websites that are pretty much created automatically with very little customization being possible.

It’s important that your clients know it’s not a custom made website and there’s little possibility. If they wanted a truly customizable website, that would be a few thousand dollars, not $150, you know? It’s important to note that realtors can be tricky and pretty demanding when it comes to something they don’t understand, so you have to make sure to be up front with capabilities whenever possible. 

Virtual staging is next. I’ll be honest, I still don’t know how to feel about virtual staging. Some clients are just, well I’ve had a few nightmare scenarios where I finally ended up just firing the client. Virtual staging is supposed to just give a potential buyer an idea of what a room could look like designed a certain way.

I don’t know what it is about clients that use virtual staging, but they are under the impression that the possibilities are endless, and the cost is free. Now, whenever a client wants to get virtual staging, I just let them know ahead of time that they will have to pay for any revisions. I’ll go through a catalog with them, they can pick their furniture, and we call it a day.

As soon as they start asking for custom furniture, or move that mug a little further that way, or decide they don’t really like it and they want to start over, I know they’re going to be a problem and I just let them know immediately that they’re going to be charged for every single revision.

I’ll remind them it’s not meant to be a magazine level quality interior design service, it’s just meant for a potential buyer to quickly see and go “huh, that looks nice” and move on; it does not need to be over complicated. Anyways, all that to say, charge a minimum $75 per finished image for these. Anything under that is just not worth your time. 

Vertical social media walkthrough tours can be cheap since they’re quick and easy, maybe $100-$150, would make a great add-on. 

Twilight photography should be $199. That’s going rate in almost every state that I’ve seen. It’s an hour of waiting around for perfect lighting, different pictures taken every 10 minutes or so, just charge $199.

Twilight video will be an additional add on to that, maybe another $100 bucks on top of that to splice into the main video. Twilight aerial footage will be another add-on, and I typically charge the same amount as a standard aerial shoot, so $205 for photos and $225 for video.

I try to discourage twilight shoots because I don’t like doing them. I don’t like traveling back to a property, I don’t like waiting around, yeah, they’re just not my favorite so they’re priced according to the inconvenience that they carry. Luckily I’ve hired other photographers to do that work for me, so it’s still a great add-on for these bigger and more expensive properties.

Pricing For The Usage

It’s also important to price according to what the material will be used for. If it’s a standard listing, then the photos will only be used for the purpose of selling a property, and that’s it.

So that’s typically a maximum 120 day usage window, and that’s it. Now, we’ll go over this more later when we touch on image licensing with third parties and how to price for commercial real estate projects, but I want to touch on this real quick.

If someone is contacting you for a rental property, charge more.

These photos will typically be used for years and years, so it’s a different license type and usage case. I charge a minimum of $250 for photos of AirBnB, VRBO, or other rental properties for just photos.

I started doing this far too late, too. Early on in my business, I was inundated with so many rental properties and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting a lot of real estate listings, but I was getting a ton of rentals, and it was because I was the absolute cheapest photographer for rental spaces in my area, by a lot.

And just a fair warning ahead of time, AirBnB property owners are not my favorite clients. They have the highest likelihood of not paying, and when they do that, short of sending them to collections, you have very little in the way of recourse to actually get your money. So raise your prices to weigh that risk. 

Jordan is a business owner, author, course creator, and entrepreneur, all while coaching new and experienced real estate photographers and helping them grow their businesses more efficiently.

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