How To Create More Listing Views, Generate Faster Sales And Increase Commissions
FIRST IMPRESSIONS REALLY DO MATTER!
This is especially true when listing a property. “You have just 2 seconds to grab a viewer’s attention and without an eye-catching photo, the battle is lost in advance.” (Old Dominion University Experimental Real Estate Behavior Institute). But 95% of home buyers will view the first photo of a listing for 20 seconds before viewing the remainder of the listing if the photo is high-resolution and professionally produced. (The Wall Street Journal).
“Buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos and only 20% on the listing description or agent qualifications” –
The Wall Street Journal
For nine in 10 buyers under the age of 62, photos are the most important real estate website feature. (2018 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends). Yet, only 35% of agents use professional photographers and only 15% of listings have high-resolution photography, with half of over $1 million listings using low-resolution photos. (The Wall Street Journal).
“Photography, especially in real estate, cannot be improvised!”
If agents think that it’s enough to take out an iPhone to obtain satisfactory snapshots for their announcement, it’s not true. More than ever, home buyers begin their search online and listings with professional photos receive 118% more online views and sell 32% faster, spending only 89 days on the market compared to 123 days for other homes. (PR Newswire).
Furthermore, homes with high-resolution photos receive 47% higher asking price per square foot (cbsnews.com) and gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076 more on the market. (The Wall Street Journal).
The fact is, nothing can replace the expertise of a professional photographer especially since the cost of the service is often over-estimated while the results of your investment are observed immediately!
Having photographed in over 50 countries on five continents, the Czech Republic and especially Prague is without question among my favorite locations to visit and photograph. Located in the northwest of the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), Prague is rich in history, culture and diversity. Situated on the Vltava River, it is the historical capital of Bohemia.
What makes Prague so appealing to me? First, its architecture! Founded in the year 880 (yes, that is not a typo) during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors including Charles IV (1346-1378) as well as the Habsburg Monarchy (1526-1611) and the Austria-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918).
Prague (or, Praha as the Czechs prefer) is a walking city where everyone gathers in the Old Town Centre for great food, Czech beer, shopping and fun!
So, here is what I take:
Cameras and Equipment
With airport security (especially international security) increasingly becoming a pain, plan to pack light. A number of years ago, I could take a full camera roll-a-board with two Cannon camera bodies, multiple lenses, and even lighting. But, not now!
A tripod is a necessity as well as a remote trigger. A lot of the photos you will want to capture will be at night; such as the Old Town Square, the Charles Bridge, the Wallenstein Palace. My favorite travel tripod is the Manfrotto 190MF4 Magfiber. Not only is it sturdy and relatively lightweight, but I can ship it in my luggage. It folds down to 22in/56cm with a Manfrotto 488RC2 ball head attached. Unfortunately, both can now only be found on the secondary market.
All of this equipment (with the exception of my tripod and iPad) fits nicely inside my well traveled and sometimes abused Billingham 445 Pro Shoulder Bag. Handcrafted in the UK, this bag looks like the professional camera bag that it is and easily passes through airport security. I make sure my Delta Diamond Skymiles and my MedJet Horizon tags as well as any media credentials are all attached.
Unlike the U.S./Canada, the electrical sockets (outlets) in the Czech Republic are one of the two standard European electrical socket types: the “Type C” Europlug and the “Type E” and “Type F: Schuko so you will need to purchase a few travel plug adapters before you leave the U.S. or Canada. These are inexpensive – usually around $5.00 – but will save you a lot of headaches. Although you can find multi-country adapters at Target, Walmart and online, I would suggest you purchase only the adapter that you will need unless of course you are planning to visit several countries. I buy my adapters at Mori Luggage. Also remember that Europe is on a 230 volt system unlike our 120 volt, but the good news is that virtually all devices will convert automatically with no problem.
Go online and put together your team! I know that sounds strange, but one of the things that has helped me a lot is social media. Post your planned photo shoot and ask for Czech locals to help. You will be surprised at the response and how you can literally throw away the tourist books! Plus, locals will take you to places only locals know!
Miscellaneous (but important)
Passport! Well, that goes without saying however I learned long ago to always make two copies of your passport’s identification page and all travel documents. Leave one with a friend and carry the other with you. It is not always a good idea to carry your passport with you at all times, especially at night or visiting a nightclub – instead carry the photocopy of your passport identification page.
Additionally, be sure to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with the U.S. Department of State. If you are taking prescription medications, get a letter from your doctor to carry with you. Some countries have strict laws, even against over-the-counter medications although the Czech Republic to my knowledge does not.
Don’t forget to notify your bank of the countries and dates you will be traveling. It is not uncommon for banks to deny your credit card/debit card purchases or block ATM withdrawals in foreign countries unless you notify them first.
Ask for a card from your hotel’s front desk that shows the hotel name, address and phone number! It is easy to get lost in a foreign city even if you are within a few blocks of your hotel and especially if you do not speak the language. Being able to hand a taxi driver or a local the hotel card will make your life so much easier and less stressful.
Finally, get used to a six hour time change. Once you land, plan to wake up early to capture the vendors preparing for the day as well as buildings and sites before crowds begin to arrive. This is also a great time to interact with them and photograph some very rare behind the scenes/product photos. The Czech people are exceptionally friendly!
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT DELETE IMAGES ON YOUR MEMORY CARD USING YOUR CAMERA
ARE YOU USING YOUR MEMORY CARD CORRECTLY? Jeff Cable, the former Director of Marketing at Lexar, wrote a great post about the use of a memory card that is well worth repeating here:
Most people look at a memory card as a piece of plastic or metal, and they don’t think much about them. But inside those covers, there is a LOT of intelligence. There is flash memory, a controller and much more. The quality of that memory and controller often determines the speed and quality of your card.
Your memory card has something called a File Allocation Table, otherwise known as a FAT Table. Think of your memory card a a book and the FAT Table as a Table of Contents. When you format a memory card, you are not actually erasing the card, you are just clearing the FAT Table. In other words, you have removed the Table of Contents, but the chapters of the book remain and all the images will remain on your card until you shoot more and overwrite them. This is why you can use a program like Lexar’s Image Rescue, SanDisk’s Rescue Pro or other data recovery software to recover images from a card even after it is formatted (but before you shoot more and overwrite).
And now for the tips that I am going to write in the order of importance:
DO NOT erase images from your memory card in your camera!Clarification: What I mean by this is: Do not go through your photos and delete them one by one using your camera. I see people (including professional photographers) doing this all the time and it is a REALLY bad idea. Your camera is awesome at taking photos, but it is not very smart at managing the data on your memory card. Deleting individual images from the card using your camera is a great way to scramble the FAT Table. DON’T DO IT! Memory cards have gotten so inexpensive and large, that you should not have to delete images to save space. Just pop in a new card and keep shooting. Once you have downloaded to your computer, and backed up the images THEN format your card to use it again.
Format your memory cards in your camera, not on your computer. I have seen countless web sites that tell people to format their memory cards on your computer. This is just bad information! You want to format the cards in the camera. And you should do this on the camera you are shooting with. I am currently shooting with the the Canon 1Dx Mark II, Canon 1Dx, Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark III, and I format the card in the camera I am using. You are reading this correctly…I do not format in one Canon camera and move it to another. Will they work? Yes, they will. But it could cause issues down the road. Speaking of this, it is not a good idea to pull a memory card out of one camera and putting it into another without formatting. I have seen people shooting with a Canon camera, pull the card out and start shooting using it in a Nikon camera. They like to be formatted a certain way and each manufacturer does it their own way.
Speaking of formatting, it is a good idea to format your cards after each shoot. Once you have downloaded your card and have the images IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE, you should format that card before it’s next use. It keep things cleaner on the card.
Use a good card reader! Memory card readers have intelligent controllers inside them, just like the cards! I have seen more cards corrupted in a reader than in a camera.
Don’t pull a memory card out of your camera or card reader when data is being written or read. If data is being transferred to/from the card and that process is interrupted, it is quite possible that you will lose some or all of your photos.
If you have two card slots in your camera, write your images redundantly to both cards to have peace of mind. This way, if one card gets corrupted, you can most likely get the images off the other card.
Purchase name brand memory cards. Make sure that you do not use one of those cards made by a no-name company just to save a few dollars. Remember, you are trusting your images to the card! Is it worth saving a little, only to find later that your images were corrupted?
These are a few simple tips that could save you from a disastrous situation. There is so much technology packed into these devices, but they are so small and unassuming that it is easy to take them for granted.