What is 3D Virtual Staging?

Many home listings give buyers the option to take a virtual walkthrough of a property from the comforts of their own home. Buyers can linger in a virtual room to discuss what they like or dislike and familiarize themselves with a home before meeting with an agent or realtor.

3D virtual staging takes a virtual walkthrough to the next level. It builds upon the benefits of virtual staging to allow homebuyers to better picture living in a home. Clutter is digitally removed and furniture and decor are replaced. The end result is a more complete and styled virtual walkthrough.

But what exactly is 3D virtual staging and how does it help sell a home?

How Does 3D Virtual Staging Work?

3D virtual staging requires a photographer to use a 360 camera to capture 2D panoramic photos of a property. These photos are then fed into specialized software to create a 3D model of a home.

Once the software has processed the photos, a photographer can edit and manipulate them to create a 3D virtual walkthrough. Then the walkthrough is either uploaded online for buyers to interact with or edited further to apply virtual staging techniques.

Virtual staging in 3D works much the same as it does in 2D: a professional declutters the space and replaces or places furniture and decor that matches the intended style of the home.

Where 3D virtual staging differs from its 2D counterpart is in intensity. Since buyers can look in any direction of a virtual home, a photographer needs to ensure the entire room is virtually staged.

For example, most rooms of a home will require multiple scans to properly translate the room into a virtual space. In such cases, a photographer will need to stage each individual scan, as opposed to only the area visible in a regular photograph.

How Does 3D Virtual Staging Benefit Home Sellers?

A staged home sells 73 percent faster than one that is not staged. When a home isn’t left empty or is filled with a mix-match of furniture, buyers can better visualize living there.

Virtual staging makes it possible to stage a home with less of an impact on your wallet and the environment than traditional staging. During the virtual staging process, photos are tidied up and enhanced to make your home welcoming, inviting, and warm.

3D virtual staging builds upon those senses. It creates not only a virtual walkthrough of your home, but a virtual tour that is inviting and immersive. During their virtual tour, buyers are better able to appreciate how different styles of furniture and decor compliment your home and how they can make your home feel like their own.

Buyers are also less shocked after taking a virtual walkthrough of a home that has been staged in 3D, only to discover it is empty in reality. Instead, they will still be able to envision the home as furnished and lived in.

Is 3D Virtual Staging Worth the Effort?

Virtual staging is already more economical than traditional home staging, but how does 3D virtual staging compare?

3D virtual staging costs about $300 per panoramic shot or small room. It’s more expensive than 2D virtual staging, but far more immersive.

As for physical effort? Well, there isn’t much, so put away the dolly and back brace — your furniture can stay where it is for now.

With 3D virtual staging, your real estate photographer will work with you and your agent to decide on a staging style that fits the property and market. After that, a 3D scan of your home will be created and your household items will be digitally removed and replaced with virtual counterparts.

The end result is a beautiful VR-ready 3D virtual walkthrough and floor plan that will help buyers see themselves living in your home.

By |2019-05-10T19:10:35-08:00May 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Much Time Do I Leave Between Shoots?

Photographers may make magic with their cameras, but they’re still subject to the same 24-hour day as everyone else. Professional photographers must work efficiently to maximize their income.

Setting a schedule dictates what photographers do and when they do it, but doesn’t answer the question of how much time to leave between shoots. The amount of shoots a photographer can complete in a given day correlates to the amount of income he or she will earn.

Though the exact amount of time to leave between shoots varies from photographer to photographer, there is an easy process of determining that number.

Understand How Long a Shoot Takes

Before determining how much time you should leave between shoots, first determine how long an average shoot takes. For events like weddings, you can reasonably expect to invest most of an entire day to the single shoot.

What about real estate photography? If you’ve been shooting real estate for any length of time, you likely already know the average length of time you spend in properties of different sizes. If you offer portrait or headshot photography, you can dictate the length of sessions.

With the average length of time a given type of shoot takes, you can extrapolate how many of each you can feasibly fit into a single day. If you can shoot an average-sized home in an hour, you might be comfortable booking five or six homes per day, for example.

Be Efficient With Your Scheduling

After determining how many shoots you can fit into a given day, you still need to leave time for the other aspects of your business — and your life. After all, professional photography consists of more than just taking photos. You still need to run your business.

How are your shoots scheduled? Many photographers choose to allow clients to book shoots online. Others may prefer face-to-face meetings. Sometimes, you may have to schedule a consultation prior to the actual shoot.

Though this is all client interaction, it still takes time.

On top of that, you still need to run your business by handling:

  • Admin work
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing
  • Editing
  • And other necessities of running a photography business

And what about your normal day-to-day needs? When traveling from shoot to shoot, you need to set some time aside for food, bathroom breaks, and even a short rest.

Develop and implement a routine and scheduling system that works for you. Block out time for certain tasks. Perhaps you’ll use Thursdays to get all your boring admin and office work done, or set time aside in the morning to return phone calls or market yourself.

Once you get into the habit of following a schedule, stick with it. Try to schedule blocks of 90-minute chunks and group similar tasks together. When armed with a schedule, you’ll maximize your efficiency and make every second of your workday count.

Plan For Unforeseen Circumstances

A major time thief for real estate photographers is arriving at a property only to find it hasn’t been cleaned or staged. For the sake of your photos, you may offer help with a quick staging or decluttering prior to taking photos. After all, if you photograph a piece of property that’s not visually appealing to buyers, an agent or seller may (unfairly) blame you for a lack of offers.

Unfortunately, your assistance in tidying up a location before shooting isn’t without its cost. You’re trading your time for the sake of taking a more visually-pleasing photo. That investment of your time eats into the rest of your day.

Reduce the impact of unforeseen circumstances by allowing yourself enough time between one appointment and the next. If your second appointment is 30 minutes away from the first, give yourself 45 minutes to an hour in between, just in case.

Best-case scenario, you arrive a few minutes early and can have a coffee or make sure the client is prepared. In a worst-case scenario, you’re still on time. Win-win.

Check-In With Clients Before Departing

Travel time can take up much of a photographer’s schedule, but it’s a huge component of the job. Your time can be wasted in a heartbeat, however, with a last-minute cancellation.

A last-minute cancellation can leave you in an unfamiliar area with nothing productive to do to pass the time. It throws a huge wrench into your well-planned schedule.

Minimize the impact of client cancellations by calling in advance to confirm your appointment. Cancellations are never fun, but finding out about them before you’re on the road gives you opportunities to maintain your productivity.

Perhaps you can swing by a local landmark to take some photos of its unique architecture to beef up your portfolio. Maybe you can canvass the area to do some face-to-face marketing. Or maybe a later client will be interested in bumping up their appointment.

How Much Time to Leave Between Shoots

The time you spend between shoots depends on your preferred workload and photography speciality. Scheduling your workdays — and sticking to your schedule — protects the time it takes for you to finish one shoot and move on to another.

Determining the amount of time to leave between shoots does more than protect your time, too: it helps you maintain your professionalism. Ensuring you have enough time to finish one appointment and arrive at the next on-time is what’s expected of you as a professional photographer.

But perhaps the biggest benefit lies in making the most of your workday. Once you learn how much time to leave between shoots, you can book your schedule as much as it makes sense to. And for a photographer, more shoots means more money.

By |2019-04-26T19:39:27-08:00April 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why You Should Hire a US-Based Virtual Staging Agency

Virtual staging is a digital process. Because it’s digital, it can be performed by just about any professional, independent of location. You can choose to hire a local Washington-based virtual staging expert or an agency across the country — or globe.

But should you hire a US agency to virtually stage your home, or are you okay with hiring a foreign professional?

There is nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing work to an expert thousands of miles away from your native country. However, there are significant downsides to doing so — and benefits to hiring a US-based virtual staging professional.

Let’s discuss why you should hire a US agency to virtually stage your home.

There Are Few Language and Cultural Barriers

Communication is key when hiring an agency or independent professional to virtually stage your home. Though a non-US-based stager may be capable of phenomenal work, they still need to be able to understand exactly what you’re asking for.

If a significant language barrier exists, what you articulate and expect may not be what you end up receiving. This is especially apparent if you use any local slang or regional idioms that are unfamiliar to the stager.

Before hiring a virtual stager, communicate your desires and expectations. Even local stagers may not be totally familiar with phrases you never think twice about using in your day-to-day life. If a language barrier exists, work to make sure your stager fully understands what you want and that nothing is lost in translation.

You Have Better Legal Protection

Many US-based virtual stagers guarantee their services in one way or another. If you’re unhappy with their work or it falls short of the mark, you may be entitled to a refund or another type of compensation.

You also have the right to file a claim in court if you’re left high and dry or a US-based stager fails to fulfill the terms of your contract.

This legal protection isn’t always possible — or feasible — if your stager lives and works in another country. The costs of trying to collect compensation from someone outside of the US may not be worth it for how little compensation you’d receive.

They Understand Local Trends

America is a vast country and home to a number of architectural styles and interior designs. A local virtual stager not only understands this, but knows which style of virtual staging fits which type of home.

After all, styles of homes and the type of furniture that compliments them differ depending on the country. Homes in the UK, India, or Estonia are different than those in the US. Likewise, the styles of furniture and decor that fit in one country’s homes likely don’t fit perfectly in an American home.

A stager based in the US is (or should be) familiar with local styles and market trends. This means they’ll stage your home in ways that make the most sense — and according to your preferences.

Should You Hire a Local Virtual Staging Agency?

Who you choose as your virtual stager is entirely up to your preferences and needs. Still, it’s important to weigh the benefits of a local stager to those of a foreign-based professional. Compare portfolios, prices, and testimonials during your search.

Remember, though, that a local virtual staging agency is often strongly familiar with your region. They may have extensive experience staging homes similar to yours and are well-acquainted with the local market and its demands.

Once you’ve found an agency you like, contact them to inquire about their services and determine if they’re a good fit for you.

By |2019-04-19T17:51:18-08:00April 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Virtual Staging Helps the Planet

How Virtual Staging Helps the Planet

Home staging has significant benefits to selling a home faster and for more money. According to the National Association of Realtors, 83 percent of buyers’ agents claim staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to envision it as their future home.

But traditional staging — physically staging a home with furniture and decor — isn’t always economical. The national average for the cost of traditional home staging is between $2,300 and $3,200. In addition, traditional home staging isn’t the most environmentally friendly staging solution.

Why Is Traditional Staging So Expensive?

Despite the average cost of traditional home staging, prices vary depending on your location and the size of your home. The cost of traditional staging includes:

  • A consultation fee
  • Number of rooms to stage
  • A monthly rental fee for the staged furniture and decor

The staging fee pays for movers and to stage the furniture in your home. But where does the furniture come from?

It’s important that the staging furniture matches the style of your home and market. Unless your existing furniture already does so, a stager will draw items from a stored collection. Once your home’s been cleaned and decluttered and the staged items moved in, the stager will arrange a layout that works.

Virtual Staging is an Eco-Friendly Home Staging Solution

The younger generations are increasingly eco-friendly and cognizant of the impact of waste upon the environment. When compared to traditional home staging, virtual staging is:

  • More affordable
  • Consumes less physical resources (gas for transportation, the necessity of physical furniture)
  • Less wasteful (furniture doesn’t sit unused in storage)
  • Less time spent in the property and overseeing the process

Virtual staging provides all the benefits of traditional staging with none of the requisite waste. Unused furniture isn’t pulled out from storage and transported across towns in gas-guzzling trucks, only to be stored away again after a home is sold.

Instead, a vacant home is virtually edited to look lived in and welcoming. Or, if it’s still lived in, a virtual stager cuts out undesired furniture and decor to replace it with a virtual counterpart.

All of this translates to a lower cost, too. Compared to the high upfront and rental costs of traditional staging, virtual staging can cost as little as a one-time fee of $100 per photo.

Other Environmentally Friendly Benefits of Virtual Staging

Using traditional staging to stage a home you’re still living in can put a kink in the normal conveniences of your life. Perhaps the most inconvenient change is packing up and storing away all your existing furniture and belongings.

While you’re living in a staged home, it may very well not feel as if it’s yours any longer. A stranger’s furniture will adorn the staged rooms, transforming your home into a showcase — while your furniture languishes in storage, unused.

You will also consume fuel to transport your furniture to storage. On top of that, storage units take up land that could otherwise be used for more productive and environmentally conscious purposes.

With virtual staging, there’s little physical impact on your home and the environment itself. Short of tidying up your space and some minor repairs or painting (though those can be fixed virtually, too), fewer resources are consumed with virtual staging than traditional home staging.

Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also limit the impact of staging on the environment. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Choose Virtual Home Staging Over Traditional Staging

In most cases, virtual home staging works just as well — if not better — than traditional home staging. The impact of virtual staging on your life is significantly less than that of traditional staging. Virtual staging is also more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Depending on your market, you may not have to stage at all. In hot markets, homes may fly off the figurative shelf. For others, weigh the pros and cons of virtual and traditional staging to decide which is right for you and your views on the world we share together.

No matter the route you choose, hire a photographer to work in conjunction with your agent and stager to sell your home faster and for more money.

By |2019-04-05T15:47:16-08:00April 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Photograph Real Estate With Pets and Children Around

A home is often still lived in by a family prior to its listing on the market, even if it has already been staged. Of those families, 37 percent include children under the age of 18 still living under the roof.

Real estate photographers must take professional, quality photos of homes even when families — some with pets, children, or both — are still occupying them.

But pets and children don’t always care — or understand — that a home must be kept neat and clean during the selling process. They (rightfully!) want to play, but that means photographers must learn how to shoot a home even when pets and children are around.

Thankfully, real estate photographers can make use of a few tips and tricks to make things a little easier for everyone.

Give Your Client a Prep Cheat Sheet

When you schedule an appointment to shoot a client’s home, provide them with a pre-shoot prep cheat sheet. The cheat sheet should list:

  • General tips for how to clean the home
  • Advice to use the same type of lighting across fixtures
  • Instructions to remove personal belongings, like toiletries and photos
  • The need to clear away clutter, including toys and sports equipment
  • Booster chairs, dog beds, and other non-necessary children/pet furniture is out of sight
  • Children’s bedrooms are cleared of personalization, including decals and photos
  • Pets are crated, brought outside, or kept somewhere off-site
  • And other recommendations and suggestions you feel are warranted

A pre-shoot cheat sheet will give your clients an easy-to-follow guideline to prepare for your arrival. Not only will it mean the home is ready for you to start shooting, but it will also provide suggestions for how to minimize the impact of pets and kids during your appointment.

Call Ahead

The best-laid plans sometimes fall apart. A child or pet might be ill, prompting a homeowner to schedule a doctor visit — and throwing a wrench into your appointment to photograph the home.

Thankfully, all but the most last-minute cancellations and reschedules can be avoided by calling ahead to confirm you’re still expected and that all is well with your client.

Confirming an appointment is a great way to protect your time and remind some of the more forgetful clients that you’ll soon be on your way. If something unexpected has come up beforehand, you’ll know ahead of time and can adjust your schedule.

Walk Through the Property

Upon arrival, ask the homeowner or agent to take you for a brief tour through the property. Not only is this a great time to visually scope out aspects of the home to feature in your photos, but a walkthrough will give you an idea as to the cleanliness and presentation of the property.

After all, kids and pets aren’t known for picking up after themselves. Request that any toys and other items are put away prior to the shoot. If children or pets are present, respectfully suggest letting them play in a room you won’t be shooting in, or that you’ll shoot in first or last, so that they’re kept entertained and out of the way for the rest of the shoot.

Show Up Prepared

Selling a home is hectic and stressful. No matter how hard your client tries, it’s totally possible for them to overlook or forget something.

You can help them out — and clean up a shot — by coming prepared with lint rollers and bins.

If a pet has recently laid on a piece of furniture and left some hair behind, pass a lint roller over it prior to taking your photos. And if you come upon a veritable treasure trove of action figures, collect them into a bin to clear them from your shot.

Be Patient and Professional

Children and pets don’t often understand what’s going on when their home is up for sale. “Strangers” (agents, possible homebuyers, and photographers like you) may be visiting with increased frequency. Furniture may have been moved or temporarily replaced. And many of their belongings may have been sold or boxed up already.

It can be stressful, to say the least.

While their presence during a shoot might be stressful for you, you’re the professional in the situation. Speak with kindness and be patient if the home isn’t 100 percent ready for you to start snapping photos immediately upon arrival.

Try to understand that, despite your client’s best efforts, a pet or kid may very well run across the scene while you’re shooting. Laugh it off while your client gets them situated again, then continue taking photos. No harm, no foul!

After the Shoot

With proper preparation and a professional demeanor, shooting a piece of real estate in which pets and kids are present doesn’t have to be unduly stressful. Clients and agents alike will appreciate your patience.

By acting professional and respectful, you may even earn repeated business through referrals or the chance to recommend your other services.

By |2019-03-29T19:23:39-08:00March 29th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Decide Which Style To Use In Virtual Staging

How To Decide Which Style To Use In Virtual Staging

Staging a home is an effective means of increasing its listing price and visibility to would-be homebuyers. According to a report by the National Association of Realtors:

  • 40 percent of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home, and
  • 83 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home

In general, a staged home is likely to sell 73 percent faster than one that isn’t staged.

Staging a home has become faster and more affordable with the popularity of virtual staging. Virtual staging trades the purchase, moving, and storage of furniture for digital counterparts, leading to more choice in how to style a staged home.

But what exactly is a virtual staging style, and how do you choose which style to use with virtual staging?

Types of Virtual Staging Styles

Some homes lend themselves to certain styles and themes of furniture and decor. For instance, if you’re browsing for a rustic-style home, you wouldn’t expect its interior design to look more suited to a New York City penthouse.

The same is true for virtual staging. Real estate photographers and virtual staging experts will use virtual staging in a way to enhance the look and feel of a home that’s for sale.

In most cases, that means virtual staging will make use of a style that matches and fits the home and market.

Virtual staging styles sometimes vary depending on the photographer you’re working with. Some photographers may present styles based on a color theme, while others may mimic styles more akin to those found in interior design.

Contemporary

A contemporary virtual staging style is similar to the modern style, but not quite the same. Contemporary styles match the trend of the moment and may vary from project to project. When you think of a contemporary style of staging, think “fad.” Contemporary styles change depending on what’s “in” at the moment — what trendy homebuyers are looking for in a home they’re considering purchasing.

Traditional

A traditional style of virtual staging is likely a familiar sight to most homebuyers. Traditional-style staging involves a calm, orderly, and predictable layout with unsurprising choices of furniture — even furniture that may feel out-of-date or old-fashioned. Colors are consistent and nothing truly “pops,” but that’s the point of a traditional style.

Modern

In contrast to contemporary styles, a modern virtual staging style makes heavy use of simple, clean lines. It very often borders a minimalist approach, avoiding unnecessary clutter for simple designs and layouts instead. Modern styles use plenty of natural materials and monochromatic colors and work well in homes with exposed structural elements.

Mid-Century Modern

A mid-century modern virtual staging style is similar in many ways to the modern style. The style uses the least amount of materials as is necessary to create well-lit and open spaces. It’s a style that employs the “less is more” philosophy, but doesn’t forsake a bright, well-organized layout.

Transitional

The transitional virtual staging style is a mixture of modern and traditional designs. It includes simple and sophisticated lines, but less traditional types of furniture. Colors aren’t too bright, and wood finishes are prominent. Transitional virtual staging is less formal than traditional, and less cold and rigid than the modern style.

Scandinavian

You’re likely familiar with elements of the Scandinavian style thanks to companies like IKEA. When it comes to virtual staging, however, the Scandinavian style is a little more involved. It makes use of a minimalist design with white walls and floors. The color scheme of furniture is often soft, and there’s plenty of wood visible throughout the design.

Farmhouse

The farmhouse virtual staging style includes plenty of elements you’d expect from a rustic theme. Pastels and vintage colors can be found throughout a farmhouse style. Plenty of furniture, fixtures, and decor make use of reclaimed wood, and artwork often depicts animals and wildlife.

Nautical

A nautical virtual staging style works well for waterfront properties. Nautical themes involve elements of living by the water — anchors, ships, and sea-like art. Furniture colors may include grays, whites, and blues to invoke the feeling of living by the water.

Industrial

The industrial style uses elements one would find in a factory or manufacturing setting, such as concrete and exposed beams. Colors include grays and blacks, and any “popping” colors are used sparingly — if at all. Furniture is often made of metals and glass for a sharper aesthetic.

Bohemian

The Bohemian virtual staging style is one that’s casual and relaxed. Furniture that may otherwise seem out of place is incorporated into the style, and elements of the traditional style are all but ignored. There’s a heavy focus on furniture with patterns, and bright colors are often interspersed throughout the design alongside more earthy counterparts.

Shabby Chic

The shabby chic virtual staging style fuses elements from the 18th-century Swedish neoclassical decor and American rustic style. Furniture is often painted and distressed, with light, pale colors. Vintage furniture and decor can be found throughout, and floral patterns and looks are not out of place in such a style. In essence, shabby chic is a feminine take on the traditional rustic style.

Which Virtual Staging Style Should You Choose?

The perfect virtual staging style for your home depends largely on what type of home it is and the market in which you live. Since virtual staging doesn’t require the purchase, storage, and transport of tons (or any) furniture, your photographer has free reign to work with a style that makes the most sense for your home.

Consult with both your agent and photographer to determine which style you should use when virtually staging your home. Together, they’ll have the knowledge and expertise to guide you toward making the best choice.

By |2019-04-05T15:43:52-08:00March 22nd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Are You On The Right Track For Your Photography Goals?

How Do Photographers Tell If They’re Doing Good Work?

Photographers are artists by their very nature. As with any artist, photographers want to know if they’re producing good work.

After all, a photographer known for shooting stunning photos can quickly build a business, attract new clients, and command higher rates. There’s also a sense of pride in striving to perfect your work and develop your skill.

But how do photographers tell if they’re doing good work?

Review Your Photography Techniques

When you’re assessing your own skills to see where you excel and what areas need improvement, pay close attention to how you use common photography techniques, like the:

  • Rule of thirds
  • Focus and composition
  • Balance
  • Depth of field and what subjects are given emphasis
  • Cropping
  • Lighting

The use of proper photography techniques comes with time, training, and practice. Proper techniques, when used together, elevate a photo from looking like it was shot by an amateur to one taken by a professional.

Understand Your Equipment…and How to Use It

You can pour thousands of dollars into buying expensive equipment and tools. Buying all the cutting-edge equipment in the world doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to improve your work. You still need to learn the proper way to make use of your camera, lenses, tripods, flash, and other equipment.

Did you know that how you hold your camera has an impact on the quality of a photo? Gripping the camera improperly can make you shake and make a photo look blurry or out of focus.

Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, too. While you might be inclined to lean forward or backward when framing a shot, you’re better off repositioning your entire body — even if it means laying on the ground.

If you’re shooting in bad weather, prepare for the conditions beforehand. Bring clothes to keep yourself comfortable, warm, and dry. Shell out the cash for a lens hood or some microfiber cloths to keep your lens free and clear of raindrops or snowflakes.

As you practice honing your photography techniques, work on learning how your tools work. Play around with different lenses to get a feel for which ones excel over others in certain situations.

Remember: high-quality equipment alone doesn’t make for a better shot. Spend time learning how best to use what you’ve got.

Measure How Well Your Work is Received

It’s not always easy to accurately judge the quality of your own work. You might be too self-critical or overly enamored by what you consider to be your magnum opus.

That’s why you need to consider how others receive your work. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will decide whether or not to hire you based on your portfolio and samples.

One of the key metrics in analyzing the quality of your photography is evaluating its ability to earn currency. Currency can be anything from money to attention to likes on social media. If your photo accumulates currency (whatever it may be), that means your photo is making an impact and eliciting some sort of a response from an audience.

Some photos might be better evaluated in one context more than another. A photo you post on Instagram to garner likes and social feedback may not be the best photo to enter into a contest with industry peers.

That said, entering a contest or competition is another viable strategy for assessing the quality of your photography. Even if you lose, you might receive valuable feedback from those who are well-acquainted with judging professional photography. And if you win, well…being selected for first place in a photography contest says a lot about the quality of your work.

Once you feel like your work is of a high quality, feel free to submit it to stock agencies. Stock agencies want to buy the best work, so their acceptance of what you offer is a sign you’re on the right track.

Finally, some photographers offer to review their peers’ portfolios — generally for a fee. This is a great way to get feedback from someone whose work you admire and respect.

Continue to Hone Your Photography Skills

It’s all too easy to grow complacent with your skillset, even if you’re taking home prestigious awards and raking in the big bucks. No matter your skill as a photographer, continue to develop, learn, and experiment with new or better photography techniques, tools, and means of garnering feedback.

By |2019-03-15T10:15:43-08:00March 15th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

How to Sell Your House in 2019

So, you have found yourself at that point of selling your house and moving on. Maybe you’re downsizing to a smaller house because the kids have finally left the nest, or you got a job in a new city and need to relocate, or finally, you retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell your home. Luckily for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.

1) Hire a Home Inspector

You’re probably thinking wait, isn’t that what the buyer is going to do? You’re not wrong. When a buyer has made an offer and you’ve accepted it, the buyer will most likely hire a home inspector of their own. So, why would you hire a home inspector? First, if a home inspector turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it long before entering into negotiations with a potential buyer?

In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs expected to take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Hiring a home inspector is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, then focus on the next task to get your home sold fast.

Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers.  As you may already be aware, since you’ve already bought a home yourself, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed any repairs that turned up in an inspection report, it is less likely that any new repairs will come up and impact your position during negotiations.

2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your Home

After your inspector makes a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This is may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home that will help your house to sell fast. You don’t need to renovate your kitchen or anything, but that red accent wall that was extremely popular a decade ago might need a fresh coat of paint more neutral in color.

Understand Your Homes Selling Points

First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then try to highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are in your home? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your home again.

Brighten Your Home

You also want to think about ways to brighten your home and improve your curb appeal. Simple ways to brighten your home is painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral. Though you may have enjoyed that accent wall, not everyone has the same taste as yourself. You want to make your house appeal to the largest audience possible to not only sell your home fast but to also invite more offers.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

Furthermore, improving your curb appeal is crucial for future homebuyers. You only make a first impression once, and the curb appeal of your home is the first impression of your home for potential buyers. Though you may not necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers, simple things like trimming your hedges, freshly mowed lawn and making sure any exterior lights aren’t burnt out can go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop!

Though this can be a lot of work, you will be happy that you did it because homes often sell faster and for more money when these small upgrades are done. If you don’t want to do all that work yourself, don’t know how to, or just don’t have the time, there are concierge type services that can do it all for you. This way you can focus on moving to your next home.

3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell

There’s an expression in real estate, “clutter can cost a sale.” Decluttering and prepping your home is something you want to really focus on. Especially if you’ve lived in your house for five years or more, there is a good chance you’ve collected a lot of stuff. Don’t worry it happens!

Renting storage units are becoming an increasingly popular method to decluttering one’s home before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential buyers can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow people touring your home to think about what they would hang on those walls or what they’d place on that fire mantel. Basically, you’re trying to present your house as a canvass from which potential buyers can create the next chapter of their lives.

Furthermore, by eliminating the majority of your stuff in your house earlier you can start deep cleaning your home more easily. And yes, you want to deep clean your home. If you sold your car to someone (not a dealership) you would probably wash it and vacuum the inside of it before you let someone test drive it, right? Well, the same goes for selling your house. You want to present your home in its best possible light so that it sells fast and you get competing offers.

Also, don’t just focus on deep cleaning just the inside of your home. You can use a pro wash to clean the outside of your home as well. These products typically attached to your garden hose and then you just spray your house down. It’s kind of like washing your car, just without the scrubbing.

4) Find a Real Estate Agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a couple of good potential candidates to interview.

You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee? (3% commission is beginning to be replaced by 1% – 1.5% in many areas)
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?

These are just a few questions to consider asking while interviewing real estate agents. A more comprehensive list of interview questions can be found here.

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. This plan should include a timeline, from the pricing of your home and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. It should also include when a price reduction strategy needs to take effect to get your home sold. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.

5) Price Your Home to Sell

Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home! You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is currently worth. This is a great starting point to get an idea of your home’s worth, but you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior. Being open-minded about pricing your home as well as adjusting price is key to get your home sold.

Another option that many homeowners do to get a list price for their home is to hire a home appraiser. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price with your real estate agent. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Anything outside of those parameters would not be considered true comparables and could give you false information for pricing your home.

Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. You want your house to sell fast while being competitive for current market conditions. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in the same area as your own and priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.

6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home

Nothing sells a home faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is being represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it has been widely observed that listing your house with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

Furthermore, 3D walking tours along with aerial photography that show a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. However, you should ask while interviewing your real estate agent what services are provided, so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket later. Just remember, the better you represent your house online, the faster it will sell.

7) List Your Home to Sell

Your real estate agent will get your home listed online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order to l start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.

You may be wondering when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends in homes being sold. What was determined was that though spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above-asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.

Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends, share your listing on social media, send out emails asking people to share your listing with others, and even advertising with online ads are ways of getting your house in front of more people and increase the chance of selling your home faster.

8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings

Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by now. Focus on just cleaning up the clutter that gets left out on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off a buyer more than an unclean bathroom. That could also be said about the rest of your house. Now more than ever is that time to wash your windows, window sills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room and then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Showcase your floors: Floors are key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about getting them polished to really make them pop!
  • Create a welcoming ambiance: You may have heard about that old trick of lighting a candle that smells like freshly baked cookies? Well, it’s not wrong, but a single candle might not do the trick. Focus on reducing odors in your home. If you have a mudroom, or a cat or dog, use a neutralizing spray for a few days before an open house to limit any odors that you may not actually realize are there.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. Also, they will likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.
  • Make your entrance inviting: If the exterior of your house has outdated light fixtures or worn out address numbers, consider replacing them along with your welcome mat. A new mat is always inviting to people touring your home.
  • Secure your valuables: If you didn’t already store your valuables away in the storage unit you rented, you’ll want to make sure that these are not kept in plain sight. In fact, if you have a safe of some kind, that would be a perfect place to store your valuables while open houses and home tours are taking place.

Unlike open houses that are planned in advance, personal showings can happen at any point during the home selling process. The key is to be flexible and maintain your home’s cleanliness to make it easier on yourself in case of unexpected tours that may just pop up at moment’s notice. You want to make a great first impression every time!

10) Have a Plan in Case Your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough

You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold.

If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

11) Negotiate the Selling Price of Your Home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your home.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind. There are several factors and tactics to consider when entering this phase. Your agent will help you every step of the way as you navigate through the negotiation process.

You most likely have made many great memories in your home. Your children may have grown up in your house and marks of their heights years past still scar the wall near the kitchen. It’s difficult, but try to separate yourself – emotionally – from your house. Whatever your memories may be, just remember they are not lost, but they also have no place in negotiations. Try to remain objective during this process and rely on your real estate agent for advice and how to proceed.

12) Sign and Close

This is the moment you and your agent have been working towards. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, any and all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!

Source: Redfin

By |2019-03-08T09:55:03-08:00March 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why You Need to Carry a Wide Angle Lens and a Zoom Lens

Photographers tend to carry what feels like a metric ton of gear. Whether we’re carrying equipment to shoot in bad weather or different pairs of shoes, we’re always prepared for a variety of situations and shots.

Our heavy packs often mean we leave a lot of gear behind at our offices and studios, however. While it’s always necessary to leave some of our equipment behind, there are two items photographers should always carry: a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens.

The Benefits of a Wide-Angle Lens

Wide-angle and ultra-wide angle lenses are an important piece of gear for landscape, architectural, real estate, and still-life photographers. They “add depth and drama” to a shot and can more easily add background context to a photo.

Wide-angle lenses offer a short focus distance, which allows a photographer to capture the subject of a photo without ignoring the background.

Using a wide-angle lens allows you to capture an entire shot (like a room or building). This is particularly useful in confined spaces, such as those you’d find when photographing real estate.

The edges of a photo can become distorted when shooting a wider shot. Though such distortion isn’t always desired, the effect on a shot’s edges can make for some interesting and exaggerated perspectives.

The Benefits of a Zoom Lens

Zoom lenses bring distant subjects closer. A zoom lens uses variable focal lengths that grant photographers the ability to transition from wide-angle to standard to telephoto focal lengths all in one lens.

It’s best to use a zoom lens for “action” shots of physical activities, like sports or wildlife photography. A zoom lens is also ideal for event photography where it’s important to focus on the subject of your photo, as at a wedding.

Why Photographers Need Both a Wide-Angle and Zoom Lens

With all the gear in your bag, why do I recommend photographers carry a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens?

Both types of lenses fulfill a specific purpose and can help you more effectively take a photo. Using a wide angle lens means you can capture an entire scene — a wide shot. But to truly capture a specific subject within that scene, you’ll be better served with a zoom lens.

Each lens treats the subject, foreground, and background differently, leading to a change in perspective. A wide-angle lens distorts the foreground and subject. A zoom lens brings the subject and background closer together.

Carrying Both Lenses is a Boon to Your Photography

A photographer will only be helped by having a wide-angle and a zoom lens available on shoots. Each lens is ideal for shooting a certain type of photo, so experiment, compare, and contrast during a shoot. Strive to get a feel for which lens you should use when, and up your photography game by having both lenses available to you whenever the need arises for one or the other.

Sources/references:

https://www.adorama.com/alc/wide-angle-vs-telephoto-which-lens-should-you-choose

https://expertphotography.com/wide-angle-lens/

https://digital-photography-school.com/wide-angle-versus-telephoto-lenses-for-beautiful-landscape-photography/

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/wide-and-extreme-wide-angle-lenses-guide

https://www.lifewire.com/understand-camera-zoom-lenses-493015

https://www.adorama.com/alc/0008282/article/Buying-Guide-Choosing-a-Lens

By |2019-02-01T16:09:14-08:00February 1st, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Should I go to college for photography?

Do Photographers Need College Degrees?

Novice photographers are often faced with two choices before embarking on a professional career path: attend school or learn as they go.

There’s no one right answer. Every photographer has a unique situation and set of goals. Some novices may not be able to afford college tuition, while others may simply learn better in a classroom.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to learn photography, but which one is right for you?

Formal Education for Photographers

Formal education is the path many take after high school, regardless of a student’s choice of major or career goals. It’s the typical “college experience” that helps prepare you for the working world.

As with other fields, would-be photographers must choose a school that offers a program that appeals to them. Schools offer a variety of photography majors and programs and often encourage (or require) specialization in a specific aspect of photography, such as digital or advertising photography.

Before pursuing formal education, however, would-be photographers must consider:

  • The cost of obtaining a degree
  • Time spent in classes
  • Courses that don’t adapt as quickly to changes in the field

On the flip side, those that do attend college in pursuit of a photography degree can benefit from:

  • Networking and connections
  • Internships
  • A more well-rounded education, such as time dedicated to learning history, craft, and theory
  • A professional certificate or college degree

Formal education helps open doors of opportunity for those that graduate a photography program. In this way, it may be easier for them to find a job or branch into another field, like teaching.

Self-Taught Education for Photographers

In contrast to a structured education, self-taught photographers are not bound by any one path or curriculum. Instead, they can pursue their passion for photography immediately after (and even before) high school graduation.

By following a self-directed regimen, photographers can focus on a particular specialization. They may also choose to attend a technical school aimed entirely at developing photography skills. From there, experience can be earned in real-world situations: on the job, either as an intern, employee, freelancer, or self-employed business owner.

Self-taught photographers miss out on:

  • Earning a degree in photography
  • A structured learning curriculum, such as courses in theory and history
  • Access to experts and equipment found in a college setting

In contrast, self-taught photographers:

  • Gain real-world experience
  • Can begin their career immediately
  • May adapt to the ever-changing landscape of photography

Self-taught photographers hone their skills through trial and error, with less guidance than those who attend school. For many, the ability to be in control of their own destiny is well-worth the trade-offs.

Choosing Formal Education or a Self-Guided Education

Between a formal education or self-guided education, which choice is best for a would-be photographer?

It depends.

Either choice brings its fair share of pros and cons. What ultimately matters is choosing a path that complements your lifestyle, finances, and goals.

There are merits to being, or hiring, either type of photographer. Passion for photography and a desire to continually hone and improve your craft will take you far, no matter the path you choose to walk.

By |2019-01-07T10:38:50-08:00January 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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