So you purchased a high end DSLR camera with a good external speed flash, consider yourself to be an excellent photographer and decide one day to start your own real estate photography business. I’ve been in this business for several years, dealt with some of the major real estate companies in Panama City Beach, Florida and there are many things to consider before quitting your full time job and pursuing this goal.
With the technology advancement of todays DSLR cameras and cell phones containing more megapixels, more real estate agents are taking their own photos. The reason for this is due to their tight budget. All real estate agents in Panama City Beach, Florida work under a licensed broker who owns a real estate company. Because of this, agents have to pay a monthly fee to the broker which can be several hundred dollars whether they sell homes or not. On top of this are expenses for wear and tear on their vehicle and gasoline. Sure they can deduct these expenses but several hundred to over a thousand dollars per month to the broker to be on their team can be around thousand dollars per year.
If a real estate agent in Panama City Beach, Florida has to pay a professional photographer $150 to $250 per home and it doesn’t sell then they lose this money. Multiply that times many homes during the year and it could be thousands of dollars. This is why they use their cell phones to take the photos even though they look crappy.
Obviously if you are a professional real estate photographer in Los Angeles California, you can demand more money than if located in Panama City Beach, Florida. Also you can demand more money if you have many years experience in real estate photography. What is the median price of homes in your city? The more expensive a home is the more money you can demand. You’re not going to charge $1,200 to do a photo shoot of a home selling for $125,000 or less. A lot of real estate agents will only hire professional photographers in Columbus Georgia for the most expensive homes but what if most of their listings are median priced homes?
What if the city you want to start your business in is already saturated with real estate photographers and are well established in Google searches? Now you will have to pay an SEO (search engine optimization) expert thousands of dollars to try and get your website above your competitors in Google searches. Believe me it’s hard to get a real estate agent away from another photographer they’ve been dealing with for years. You have to be more competitive in prices and provide better photographs than your competitors. Could you pay your bills and raise a family doing this? Is this going to be steady income? The answer to both if these questions in my opinion is a big NO. Could it be a part time job? Yes it could very well be good part time money.
To get started in Panama City Beach, Florida you’ll need a good high end DSLR camera with decent speed flash for doing indoor photos. This could cost upwards to $3,500 or more. If you are going to offer drone videos and photos then add another $2,000. Photography software such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere will be well over $1,000. Additional batteries and micro SD memory cards are other expenses. Don’t forget you’ll need to purchase monthly liability insurance and bonded to protect yourself from lawsuits.
If you have ever looked at photos of homes for sale on Zillow or Trulia, you’ll notice most of them look bad. As mentioned, most of these real estate agents take their own photos. Only with very expensive homes for sale will an agent hire a professional real estate photographer in Panama City Beach, Florida or other cities thoughout the U.S. But these homes are the minority and not the majority. Let’s face it most people can’t afford one million dollar homes or more. This article is written from my past experience of several years in the real estate photography business in Panama City Beach, Florida.
If any other real estate photographers have a different experience from mine, please feel free to leave me a comment. One thing I forgot to mention is how many realtors are in your city? I would say your chances of getting more photography jobs is better when there are plenty of realtors. Here in Panama City Beach, Florida there are approximately 700 realtors but in Panama City, Florida there are around 1600 which is not the reason I’m moving there in about one year but my real estate photography business should do better there. Not only that but there are high turnover rates of condominiums for sale there.
Good luck with your goals and I wish you the best!