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Bathroom and bath

To attract tenants, especially good tenants you need great rental photography to present your property in the best possible light. The rental property photos (along with the headline) is the first thing that a potential tenant sees and will color their immediate opinion. Tenants are only going to spend a few seconds before deciding whether or not they want to find out more, to stand out from the competition and encourage inquiries these shots need be great.

Here are just three stats that prove just how important great photography is to online property listings:

  1. 60% of people are more likely to click on a local search if it has an image.
  2. Web pages with images get 94% more views.
  3. Renters spend 60% of their time when searching for properties looking at the images.

However, we don’t all have the budget or time to hire a professional photographer or buy a $3,000 camera. In this article, we explore what you need to know to get professional quality real estate photography for your rental listing without the professional price tag.

Photography Secrets For Landlords – a lesson from our Tenant Screening Secrets coaching program.

What Equipment Do You Need to Take Quality Rental Property Photos?

Whilst a DSLR will definitely get you the quality you need for your rental photography – shelling out $2,000 plus for a camera isn’t entirely necessary. Smartphones have come a long way in the last few years and today most standard phone cameras will get you pretty high-quality shots.

With that said, if you already have a DSLR or other professional camera, the adaptability of the settings and lenses will likely get you more professional-looking real estate photography. This same adaptability does come with a steep learning curve, however, and you’ll need to know how to set the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings.

If you don’t already have one to hand though, with the tips outlined in this article you should be able to get good enough photography with just your iPhone.

Taking Rental Photos When Your Property is Occupied

You will want to update your property photography now and again to ensure the photography is an accurate reflection of the property’s condition and quality. A couple of reasons you might update your photography include, if you’ve undertaken any renovation work, painted the unit, or the photography is just not as good as it could be.

Taking photos of the unit when it is occupied can be a good thing. It means it will have furniture in and look lived in and homey. This will help prospective tenants visualize living there. Additionally, according to one study, furnished units actually look bigger in photos as the furniture gives the rental property a reference of scale.

However, there are also several downsides. The first is that whilst furniture can increase the appeal of the property if it’s your tenant’s furniture you won’t get a say in what furnishings are in the unit at the time.

A second downside is a potential mess. You can ask your tenants to clean and tidy before the photo shoot, but even a little clutter or dirt can ruin your shots. You can incentivize them by offering to reduce the rent for the month if it’s adequately tidy. Another option is to offer to send a professional cleaner round beforehand which benefits both parties but does increase the overall cost of your shoot.

If you do decide to soot the property with your tenants still in occupation, make sure to give them adequate notice (at least 24 hours in most states), and you may need to have written this into the lease.

Taking Rental Photos When Your Property is Vacant

If there are no tenants currently in your unit then you have more freedom. You can set up the property however you want for the photo shoot.

Empty properties look smaller and less inviting, making it harder for tenants to visualize themselves living in the property which can discourage inquiries. But, if you decide to stage the property this could involve increased costs with hired furniture, and potentially a moving company and interior designer.

Staging Your Rental Unit for Photos

The idea of staging your properties for your rental photos is to show your property in the very best light possible. As such, you need to consider carefully the layout of the rooms, the art on the walls, plants, and furniture you’re going to use. Several companies can help you with your furniture staging needs so it’s a good idea to explore your options. Many of these companies will be able to help with rent, design, and logistics.

Examples of details you need to consider when staging your property include:

  • Adding color with decorative features like pillows
  • Letting in natural light
  • Putting out fresh fruit
  • Using plants and flowers
  • Add details like a TV or laptop to make the property seem lived in.

If your space is smaller you need to think carefully about angles and lighting to make the rooms seem bigger. With all this said, however, your photos need to be honest. Nothing is more off-putting to tenants who come to view a property to find out it looks nothing like the pictures. Set realistic expectations with your photography otherwise, you may find a lack of prospective tenants willing to fill out the rental application.

11 Tips For Getting Great Real Estate Photography For Your Rental Listing

1. Follow Basic Photography Rules

The basics of photography are the basics for a reason, they apply to everything. The main one to consider is ‘the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds proposes that the image be arranged in thirds, horizontally and vertically essentially dividing the frame into 9 imaginary, equal parts. The focal point of the image should ideally fall at the intersection of two of these imaginary lines. Following this rule ensures a neat and visually interesting image.

Property photography - rule of thirds

In this image, you can clearly see the bath is taking up the bottom third, and the focal point is the plant in the left third intersecting the imaginary line demarcating the bottom third.

2. Dress To Impress

We’ve already mentioned the importance of staging your property and the pros and cons of taking photos of an occupied unit vs a vacant one but it’s an incredibly important point so we’ll say it again. When thinking about the staging you need to ensure, whether it’s occupied or not that the unit is clean and tidy. The site of a kitchen towel on the back of a chair, pillows all askew, dirt, or even just shoes by the door are all big no-nos. Tidy it all away. If you don’t want to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you. If your rental comes unfurnished you may want to think about hiring furniture and staging your unit. Rooms with furnishings look more homey and appealing and can actually look bigger.

3. Introduce Natural Light Into Your Rental Photos

Ideally, your photo should have as much natural white light as possible. Brighter pictures almost always look better, and can truly bring a space to life. Avoid using electric lights as they are often yellow-tinted and it is also advisable to photograph without a flash as flashes can make a photograph looked washed out.

Property photography

This image is well lit. They’ve also used some basic furniture and props to make the space homier and make it look bigger.

4. Add Focal Details And Colour

When staging your unit for the shoot, think about adding focal points to an image. These draw the eye and make the image more interesting. A ‘pop’ of color from a well-placed cushion for example. A coffee plunger and mug will add warmth. Flowers on the table, a hanging plant by the window, or a bowl of colorful fruit are all effective props that make tenants curious to learn more.

5. Pick the Right Angle

It’s hard to take a picture of the inside of a rental property. Perspective can warp angles and the wrong angle can make a big room look small and a small room look downright tiny. A couple of tips to consider when searching for the right angle when photographing a room:

  • Generally, you’ll want to set the camera at a height of 5 – 6 feet
  • However, getting lower can make rooms look bigger.
  • Positioning the camera in the corners of the room, or the doorway.
  • Use a tripod. Trust us they are inexpensive and well worth the investment, they allow you to get right into the corners, plus you don’t want shaky hands to become a factor.

Your aim is to provide a realistic perspective of the space.

Property photography

Using pops of yellow brightens this image and helps draw the eye. And see how they’ve taken the photo angled upwards from the doorway in the corner to make the room appear as large as possible.

6. Highlight Unique Features In Your Rental Photos

Much like when writing your rental property description and headline you want to highlight the unique features that set your property apart. If you’ve talked about the brick fireplace in your description or ocean views make sure to get these features in your photography. These features will help make your photography pop and the property stand out from the crowd and elicit interest from prospective tenants.

7. Keep Real Estate Photo’s Straight

This isn’t as easy as it may seem. Perspective in confined spaces can make straight lines look crooked. However, getting the lines all as straight as possible is super important. This is another reason why using a tripod is a good idea as you won’t have to rely on your own ability to hold a camera perfectly straight. Most phone cameras and professional cameras will have a grid overlay ability which you can use to line everything up. However, if you can’t get everything perfectly straight don’t worry too much as you can always edit and straighten the photos in post-production with software like Lightroom before posting online.

Property photography

Here they have focused on the fireplace feature, and kept it neat and perfectly straight.

8. Choose the Right Camera

There is a noticeable difference between an iPhone and a standard DSLR camera. Whilst an iPhone will get you adequate photos, it may be worth your while getting your hands on a high-quality camera for the best results if you really want your property to shine. For your reference, an iPhone 12 has a 12-megapixel camera. A standards DSLR has a 21-megapixel camera.

9. Take Plenty of Pictures

More is more. Take as many pictures as you think you might need, and then take 5 more of each shot. When you’re going through them later, you may find that the first image you take is the best, but more often than not the 3rd, 4th, or 5th is just way better. Taking plenty of pictures gives you plenty of options and means you can experiment a little with the angles and positioning of your focal points.

Property photography

10. Photograph Everything

What should you take pictures of? Which rooms? The short answer, take pictures of everything! Every single room, from plenty of angles, and don’t forget to photograph the outside of the house. Tenants want to see every room and part of the property that they will be paying for — including any shared spaces.

  • All bedrooms
  • All bathrooms
  • Living room
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Communal areas (eg. entryways, gym, garden area, etc.)

11. Editing your Images

Once you’ve taken the photos you need to sit down with your laptop and go through them. Not all of them are going to be winners, and even the best ones will likely want a bit of editing. We recommend using your laptop for this because the screen is bigger and you will have more capability and processing power to manage them. Whilst you don’t want to be deceptive there’s nothing wrong with editing the images to highlight the appeal of your property. The four main actions are lightening, cropping, straightening, and resizing.

  1. Lighter photos are more inviting and easier to see.
  2. Cropping out excess ceiling or a blank wall, for example, will help you get the best framing. (NB: having the photos you upload as the same ratio can help with the consistency of your real estate photography).
  3. Make sure all the vertical lines in the image are straight, eg. bookcases and window frames.
  4. Resize for the web. If you’ve used a DSLR for example, you will likely have a very high-resolution image. This is a good thing to have especially if you are going to print flyers from them for example, but it may be too large for use online. You will want to compress it.

Recommended dpi (dots per inch) for the web is 72dpi and we suggest a maximum longest edge of 1500 px (this is the largest you will need for a banner image, smaller images can be used set into a page). NB: when editing your images always save the edited version as a copy, do not overwrite the original as this cannot be reversed and will result in image quality loss.

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Ben Luxon

Ben is the editor and lead writer for Landlord Studio. He has worked with real estate professionals all over the world and written educational articles on tech, real estate, and financial growth for sites such as Forbes, TechBullion, and Business Magazine.

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