The Impact of Season on Real Estate Photography

Below I'll be sharing:

I. How season impacts the real estate market

II. How season impacts real estate photography

III. How real estate photography impacts prices

IV. How to prepare for a low season sale


I. How season impacts the real estate market


Many know that the time of year that you buy or sell can have a high impact on real estate. That's true whether you're looking at any of the following real estate statistics of an area:

A. the inventory available

B. the median number of transactions that occur

C. the price that homes sell for

D. the median % sales price vs list price, and otherwise.


I provide graphs for many of those factors in my "How's the Market" page for SE VA.


II. How season impacts real estate photography

The seasonal fluctuations of real estate are impacted by how homes look in person and online. The good news is that there are options to put your listing in a much better position than those listing at the same time as you if you prepare in advance.


III. How real estate photography impacts prices

If something of value that is being sold online looks better online, it's generally going to attract more interest and higher prices. That's true with real estate just like it is with other things.


IV. How to prepare for a low season sale

Even if you sell a property in a time when the season isn't optimal for a home, there are still excellent options to prepare your home for sale to be in a better position than many homes that go on the market at the same time as you if you get things started in advance of your sale. Just because you won't be selling until a time when your grass is no longer green, doesn't mean that you can't have pictures that showcase that online and in person.


1. Get your home ready to sell and ready for pictures long before a low season sale, especially the exterior. For instance, if you are in the military and know that in 3 months (which would be February at the time of this writing in October) you will need to pick up and go, prepare in advance so that you can get at least the exterior of your home ready for sale. If your grass is still green, take pictures before it's not. If you have a number of trees on or surrounding the property, and it's the Fall, check this Fall Foliage Map to see when you might have peak colors in your trees, but keep in mind that some trees lose their leaves a lot earlier than others even in the same area depending on the kind of tree.


2. Once you've gotten the exterior of your home ready, have your agent &/or professionals come to the property to take exterior photos before the exterior gets less appealing, even if 6 months or more before sale. In some cases you may have 2 photography sessions in the event that the interior of your home isn't ready in time but your exterior is, especially if your Realtor has a drone, is licensed to fly commercially, and has photography skills/equipment. In my experience as a Realtor, with a photography hobby, I will sometimes find that photographers missed areas on the ground or in the area that I was able to capture.


In some cases, a "worse" season can actually be better. For instance, compare these images, where the winter season actually shows a much better picture of the water than a similar image where there is more green, so both this image and other images of the home with plenty of green were included in the listing, possible because I shot the aerials at one time and the photographer shot more aerials at a later time after the season had changed. Here's my shot:

And here's a further out shot by American Real Estate Media when things were more green where the house is less prominent:

I kept both shots in the photos for the listing. From the vantage point of the first shot, the green leaves would have significantly blocked the view of the water at the time of the 2nd shot, while further up in height, it wasn't a problem.


3. Even if it's already a bad time for photos when you're reading this blog, don't completely discount previous professional or amateur photos that were taken at the property.

A. If your home was recently purchased with no significant changes to the exterior, is the listing agent/photographer that you purchased from willing to have you use their images? In some cases, it will be free, and in some cases, you or your listing agent will have to pay them for using the images, but even if you have to pay, it's typically worth it to have a house looking beautifully vs a house looking bare if there is stark contrast between the exterior appearance simply due to the season.

B. When I work with buyers, I typically ask the buyer if they want me to take some photos from the ground and some aerials at the walk through inspection. If you or your buyer's agent previously took exterior photos of the property when you purchased, and there haven't been significant material exterior changes, are those available?

C. Even amateur photos of your home taken throughout the time of ownership can be solid options to include in a listing at times. Maybe you took photos of the home in the snow. Maybe you took photos of the home during the perfect sunset or sunrise. Maybe you took photos of a tree, bush, or flower in its peak. Even if amateur, sometimes those can be great additions to a listing, especially with how much camera phones have improved where some camera phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy Ultra or the latest and greatest Iphone are superior in various respects to cameras that are thousands of dollars.


4. Consider photoshop if it's already too late for your yard, but be sure that it looks realistic to what it would look like in a better season, and not better than that. Here's a good article on the ethical implications of the subject, since some people are against the practice, and local MLS policies can vary as to what you can do with Photoshop.


5. With your photos in a different season, consider options to display those images not just online, but also at the home. If there's an already framed image of the home in a great season, that's ideal, and be sure to leave it in the home for the listing period. For instance, my parents had this photo of our home framed in the home, where the grass is green and the tide isn't low:

I don't mind being unconventional as a listing agent. One unique way that I like to assist sellers in these scenarios when something like the above framed picture wasn't available is to have easel style displays scattered in various locations of the house with 11x17 cardstock images, which can be done from other seasons for exterior photos to remind the buyers going through the house what it will look like. That's also something that can be done for an empty house, with photos of when it was previously staged. In some cases, 2 buyers are making a decision, and only one of them has reviewed the photos online, so if there aren't photos at the house that are clearly visible, one of the buyers may never see them. Another option I've considered is a large tablet or other touch screen to scroll through, though I like the 11x17 cardstocks the best as they are hard to miss with virtually no time required by the buyers looking around.


6. Whether you're selling in low season or selling in high season, it's typically best to take pictures when your home is still staged rather than after it's empty. If your home is already bare or you don't think your personal property, such as furniture, is very "show-worthy", consider staging it yourself or paying someone to stage it.

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