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Alex Stretton
Alex is the Founder of Elements Property, a UK company with a drive to help estate and letting agents market their property better, faster and with more wow factor!
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Property photography: It’s better with the lights on

It’s time to head over to the latest property on your books to snap a few shots for the listing. What do you grab?

Camera? Power cord? Spare memory card? Tripod? Lighting equipment? Some of those fancy silver reflectors? Do you really need all of that for a bit of simple property photography?!

Taking good photos can feel daunting. You might think you need to invest in expensive, high-tech gear to take good photos, but you don’t.

The best lighting for property photography unfortunately isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes you just need a few clever techniques, and a little practice.

Read on for tips to make your property photography nice and bright, but be sure to take a look at our guide to setting up your camera correctly, and download our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography to give your photos the edge.

Should I use flash for property photography?

Flash photography in an enclosed setting can be very harsh. It doesn’t give an accurate representation of the space and you can lose a lot of detail—not ideal when you’re selling a house!

The flash will bounce off light-coloured walls and make the room feel washed out. And if your property has just undergone the traditional pre-sale magnolia makeover, this could be a lighting disaster.

Photographing spaces with windows, mirrors, chrome appliances and other reflective surfaces will lead to the flash being reflected in the final shot. This makes it hard to see the detail of the room—and it doesn’t look very professional!

How to brighten interior photography

Okay, so you’ve been convinced not to use flash, but how should you make the interior of your property brighter for photos?

Our one top tip: Turn the lights on.

Even on a bright day, switching on the lights in every room can make a world of difference and means that you can avoid using the flash completely. Electric lighting is softer and often better diffused than flash, giving an even light source rather than, well, a flash of light.

How to photograph a dark room

If you’re trying to photograph a particularly dingy room, don’t be tempted to run for the flash. Instead, turn on ALL the lights, open the curtains, open the doors, and let in as much extra light as you can.

To improve the lighting in a room, try switching out existing bulbs for brighter ones, or invest in a few lamps that you can place round the room, adding more light and making the room feel homely.

Even if your shots are still a little too dark, you can use post-processing to brighten them up. Steering clear of the flash will help these edits to look their best.

How to make photos brighter

Whether you’ve turned on all the lights or not, your photos still may not feel bright enough, but that’s nothing a little photo editing can’t fix!

Correcting the white balance, colour temperature, minimising shadows, adjusting the exposure and a whole host of other post-processing trickery can turn mediocre snaps into professional-looking shots.

If you’ve followed our advice to this point, you should have some decent pictures that will be easy to correct.

Not sure how to do that? Don’t have the time?

That’s where we come in.

Image Enhancement from Elements Property

Even if you’re a camera genius, you may still end up with photos that don’t do your properties justice due to miserable weather, cars in the driveway or cluttered rooms.

Contact the team at Elements Property and take advantage of our Image Enhancement service! We’ll give your shots a polish so there’s nothing to distract buyers from what you’re trying to sell.

Sign up for a free trial now by using promocode BLOG34 and you’ll see just how much of a difference we can make!

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

 

3 reasons why blue sky in property photos is essential

How important is blue sky in property photos? Probably more important than you think!

Online property listings and window displays only give you a few moments to wow those potential buyers.

While you may not be able to control the terribly changeable British weather when it comes to house viewings, you can control the weather in your property photos.

Read on to find out how blue skies can improve your sales…

Grey sky makes us SAD

You’ve heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, right? This form of depression fluctuates with the seasons and usually gets worse in winter. Symptoms include a persistent low mood, irritability, feelings of despair, overeating and oversleeping.

A milder form of SAD known as the winter blues is brought on by gloomy grey skies, affecting around 17% of the UK population annually.

It’s caused when your hypothalamus doesn’t get enough light and struggles to regulate melatonin (which controls your body clock and appetite) and serotonin (the feel-good hormone).

Medical mumbo jumbo aside, grey skies are just gloomy. They’re dull to look at, they don’t excite us, and they just emit a sense of coldness and impending doom. When you open your curtains in the morning, you’re never happy to see a cloudy grey sky.

Win new instructions

How many estate agents operate in your local area? With the rise of the ‘online estate agents’ and independent franchisees popping up, there is more competition than ever on your turf all trying to get a slice of a pie that at it’s smallest size since the property market crash of 2008.

If you can’t compete on price, you need to think of other ways to convince vendors to sell with you.

Advertising that your agency will add blue skies into your shots is a great way to stand out from the crowd. While your rivals may not bother, it’s a low-cost, high-reward technique.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile for your photos, this instills confidence in your services. And let’s face it, everyone knows that a blue sky just looks better!

Skyrocket your enquiries

Do your rivals’ properties look a little grey and downcast? When you scroll through results on Rightmove, does it all look a little samey? Make sure that when buyers come across your listings, they’ll only see properties with enticing blue skies.

95% of house-hunters now search online for their next home. With the huge technological leaps in screen quality over the last few years, chances are that your viewings are being listed on a Retina Display with high pixel density.

These are found in nearly all Apple products—and we all know how popular those are! Make your properties pop with a blue background that will wow on any device.

FREE blue sky in property photos from Elements Property

Admit it. You’re tempted now. But what if the blue sky edits look fake and OTT? Well, take a free trial and see what you think!

Our team of digital wizards is poised to professionally enhance your shots to make sure that every property gets the enquiries that it deserves. Whether you want a soft edit or a vibrant feel, we can create the blue skies of your dreams.

Create an account and start your free trial now with promocode BLOG33.

START FREE TRIAL

 

What’s the best alternative to Metropix?

Admit it. You kind of hate using Metropix. You’re an estate agent with a passion for selling property, not making floor plans. This isn’t what you signed up for. So now you’re googling “alternative to Metropix” in the hopes that there’s an easier way.

Well, you’re in luck! There are a few options available. Read on.

Sorry, what was Metropix again?

If you’re reading this article then you probably already know what Metropix is (and we’ve already covered it in some detail here), but let’s go over the basics just in case.

Metropix is a popular service for creating property floor plans, used by estate agents nationwide. Its drag-and-drop system allows you to quickly place doors, windows and other features. You can extend the walls, click to add rooms, and just keep building until your plan is complete.

Once you’re done, you can either use the Metropix link or download the image to show off your property to potential buyers. This gives them a good idea of the size, layout and features of a property before they’ve even visited.

A lot of estate agents aren’t super keen on using Metropix, but it’s pretty well known so it’s got a bit of a monopoly on property floor plans (Do not pass Go, do not collect £200).

If you’d like to try an alternative to Metropix, read on!

alternative-metropix

PlanUp

PlanUp is a simple yet powerful piece of software for creating floor plans. Its functionality is similar to Metropix, with the ability to enter the wall dimensions, label the rooms and add doors, windows, etc. You can also add photos into your floor plans.

The monthly subscription costs £39.99 + VAT and allows you to create 2D and 3D floor plans across any number of devices.

RoomSketcher

RoomSketcher is an American-based company offering floor plan software for estate agents and interior designers. You can create 2D or 3D floor plans and can even furnish and decorate your properties (though, admittedly, that’s probably more of interest to interior designers).

The floor planning software comes as part of the annual subscription. Similar to Metropix, you also need to purchase credits to create your projects. The VIP option costs $49 per year, while the Pro version is $99.

RapidSketch

Another American company, RapidSketch offers a similar service to the others, so we’ll focus on the differences. You can scan your initial sketch or blueprints and import them into the software to trace, making life a little easier. It also does lots of calculations for you, such as wall angles and room area, which is pretty nifty if that’s something you need.

You can purchase a licence for $149, with multi-buy discounts if you want to use it on more than one machine. They also offer a free 15-day trial so you can try before you buy.

Homestyler

Homestyler offers a free basic tool to create floor plans in a similar drag-and-drop style to those we’ve already looked at. You can add furniture and there’s also a camera feature, allowing you to look round the rooms you’ve created (a bit like Google Street View). Projects can be saved as as public or private, and you can export them in PNG or DWG format.

Get someone else to do it for you

As you can see, there are quite a few alternatives to Metropix, but they all have the same drawback: You still have to do all the work.

You’ve already gone to the property, taken the measurements, sketched out your initial floor plan in pencil, and now you’re supposed to fiddle about on the computer to make it look nice? No matter what software you’re using, it’s a hassle.

If drag-and-drop is starting to feel like a drag, just get someone else to do it for you!

Here at Elements Property, we’ve got loads of experience in Floor Plan Sketch Conversion. Send us a pencil sketch and we’ll work our magic on it, delivering a professional floor plan in just 3 hours!

We offer a clear, flat rate for floor plans and you can even try our Floor Plan Sketch Conversion service for free! There’s no need to debate further; sign up for your free trial today using promocode BLOG32.

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLOORPLANS

 

An estate agent’s guide to Metropix

Metropix – heard of it? Tons of agents use it but how does it work? Is it any good? And how much does it cost?

So, you’re sketching out floor plans. Chances are you’ve heard of Metropix, as tons of estate agents and floor plan providers use it to convert hand-drawn sketches into finished floor plan files.

Some love it, some are fed up to the back teeth of using it. Either way, it’s very widely used so it must be useful, right?

If you’re new to creating floor plans and plan (pardon the pun) to include them in your property listings, read on to learn all about this popular software, and decide if it sounds like the right one for you.

What is Metropix?

On the surface, it’s a pretty simple idea. When you’re at the property, you measure and sketch out some rooms with a pencil and paper, marking on the windows, stairs, cupboards, toilets, sinks etc.

But then you need to turn that pencil sketch masterpiece (or abomination) in your notebook into a sleek, digital floor plan. That’s where something like Metropix comes in.

Metropix is a website and web-based software developed by Landmark that you can use to create digital floor plans for marketing properties.

It’s been around since 2005 and millions of plans have been made using it.

How does it work?

You’ve got a few options when it comes to Metropix. Your choice will depend on what you want—or how busy you are!

Draw Your Own

The first option allows you to draw your own floor plans with a drag-and-drop tool. Click to add rooms, resize the walls, then simply drop in features like doors and windows.

Metropix reckons that an average 3-bed house should take under 3 minutes to complete with its software, but if you talk to agents who actually use it, they’d tell you it can take a fair bit longer (and it’s not exactly their favorite of tasks!).

Here’s an in-depth video tutorial from Metropix themselves on to create a floor plan yourself using their Draw Your Own tool.

If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, or you’ve got lots of tricky properties, you might not fancy the DIY route. But before you dismiss this option, remember that we can help out with this fiddly bit (more on this later in the article).

AutoDraw

If you’re too busy to draw your own floor plans (let’s face it, you’ve got better things to be doing), Metropix offers a service where you upload a scan of your initial sketch and they’ll make it for you.

The floor plan will be ready and waiting in your Metropix account within 24 hours.

Here at Elements, we offer the same thing where we convert your sketch using the Metropix software for you, but we do it much quicker and cheaper than they do!

What does Metropix cost?

You’ve got several options, and you can either pay monthly or per plan. We’ve outlined the most popular options below. To compare exactly what you get for your money, take a look at Metropix’s pricing page.

Standard subscription

You pay £44.90 + VAT per month and you can produce up to 20 floor plans each month using the Draw Your Own tool. This works out at £2.25 + VAT per plan.

Premium subscription

You pay £59.75 + VAT per month for up to 20 floor plans and the same features as the standard subscription, but this also includes 3D floor plan and Google Earth upgrades. This works out at £2.99 + VAT per plan.

Pay As You Go

If you just want a one-off floor plan from time to time, there’s a Pay As You Go option where you pay £7.95 + VAT per floor plan using the Draw Your Own tool.

They also call this a ‘Single Subscription Plan’ but don’t get confused; you won’t be billed each month. You only pay each time you need a floor plan.

AutoDraw

If you want Metropix to convert your sketch for you, they charge £7.95 + VAT per plan. Bear in mind that this is on top of the monthly subscription that you pay.

If you are using the Pay As You Go option, you’ll pay £7.95 + VAT for the floor plan, PLUS £7.95 + VAT for AutoDraw. This makes a total cost of £15.90 + VAT per plan.

Additional features and upgrades

There are lots of standard features, as well as paid upgrades. For a full breakdown, check out the Metropix Products page but these features include:

Standard:

  • Access to millions of existing floor plans via PlanBank that you can use as templates
  • Combined floor plans and photos
  • Bespoke colour schemes
  • A space planner allowing house-hunters to place furniture into the rooms
  • Branding

Upgrades:

  • 3D floor plans
  • 3D walkthroughs
  • Interactive 3D Google Earth plans, showing the property in its surroundings
  • Maps

Pros of Metropix

  • You can create digital floor plans yourself with their drag-and-drop software
  • PlanBank is useful for finding and customising existing plans of properties with a similar layout
  • There’s no need to download software, as plans are created and stored in the cloud using their online software
  • Metropix’s floor plans are compatible with all major property management solutions and agency software

Cons of Metropix

  • Creating plans yourself can take up valuable time
  • Metropix can be very fiddly for creating complex layouts, and it can become pretty frustrating to use
  • AutoDraw takes 24 hours for you to get your completed plans back, and has additional charges

Floorplan Sketch Conversion from Elements

If you want a floorplan but Metropix isn’t for you, the Elements Property Floorplan Sketch Conversion service is the answer!

We can create the floorplan for you in a style almost identical to Metropix in a way that’s similar to their own AutoDraw service but much better. Here’s why:

  1. We create your finished floor plans in around 3-4 hours
  2. We charge £6.95 + VAT per plan (no monthly subscription)
  3. We can create plans in AutoCAD where there’s much more options for customisation
  4. We’ll send you a high-resolution file of your finished floorplan

 

Like the look of what we can do for you? Would you like to check out our Floorplan Sketch Conversion service for FREE? Here’s a promo code for 3 complimentary orders: Simply enter BLOG31 when creating an account 🙂

START FREE TRIAL

 

Property videos: What are my options?

So you’re selling properties online and want to add property videos to your listings. Brilliant! Here are 3 options.

Have you noticed that more and more websites are incorporating videos into their content? Videos provide engaging, bite-sized chunks of information, which pretty much any type of web content can benefit from.

Is it fair to say that we’re becoming lazier online? The herculean effort required to raise a tired arm and swipe an exasperated finger to move between property photos is just too much for some. Or maybe the majority.

Perhaps we’re just busier than before and doing stuff like eating the freshly ‘deliverood’ Pad Thai whilst checking out property listings on the iPad is the norm. Property videos facilitate the lazy and busy amongst us to sit back and simply absorb the property pixels, no hands needed.

It might sound too fancy, too complicated or too expensive, but there really is a video option for everyone. If you’ve never considered property videos, read on to see what your listings are missing!

Why should I add property videos to my listings?

Making your listing as engaging as possible will help you to stand out from the crowd, generate more interest and more viewings. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Property videos are a great way of doing this, and there are several ways to make videos that really showcase and sell your property.

Whilst a Tony Stark-style mansion will have the budget for a high-end 3D 360° Virtual Reality or Pro Video Tour, your average 3 bed semi won’t. But that doesn’t mean that your bread-and-butter properties can’t come to the video party!

If you’ve read our stuff before, you’ll know we believe that great property photography is essential and that there are some strong arguments (3, actually) for why you should include a floor plan in your listing.

But with lots of agents now having both, video is another way to make your listing stand out. Property videos are engaging—and they look pretty fancy, too! Still not convinced? Here are some things to consider…

  1. People LOVE video: By 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Showcase your properties in a way that people want and expect to see.
  2. Stand out from the crowd: A branded video can be the icing on the cake of your listing! Are your competitors using videos? No? Then your listing will be all the more enticing!
  3. Win more instructions: When pitching for your vendor’s business, just drop in: “Oh yeah, and we’ll be marketing your property with a beautiful 1080p HD video on the portals and our social media channels”. See what happens.
  4. Better for your SEO: Google loves engaging content and pages with videos often rank better than ones without. Property videos are good for your audience and good for SEO.
  5. Tyre kickers: Some kinds of property video will give an excellent overview of the house, weeding out people who would have booked a viewing and wasted your time but now, after watching the video tour, know not to bother.

Starting to come round to the idea of property videos?

Take a look at our rundown of the various types of video to learn how to give your listings that wow factor!

#1: 3D Virtual Reality Tours

This one feels a bit sci-fi but it’s pretty impressive. 3D Virtual Reality Tours allow potential buyers to explore the inside of the property through a full 3D 360° walk-through. If you’ve ever looked at a company’s internal Street View on Google Maps, it’s just like that.

People can navigate through the house, going from room to room as if they were actually there! They get a good feel for the property’s size and layout, and can view the rooms from any angle. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can use a VR headset for a totally immersive experience.

Matterport is a popular technology/company providing 3D Virtual Reality Tours, click here to see a real life example >

What properties is it for?

A high-quality 3D 360° property tour isn’t cheap, so they’re better suited to luxury properties with a higher return on investment.

VR tours also work best on properties that are well presented throughout, rather than those trickier ‘viewing strongly recommended’ listings.

How do I do it?

The property is photographed using 360° cameras. Special software is then used to stitch the images together, creating a virtual property. You can also highlight areas of interest like hardwood floors or brand-new fitted appliances that you don’t want people to miss!

Pros

A VR tour is a really impressive way to show off a property and adds prestige to your brand. As this technology gets cheaper and more accessible, 360° tours may become the norm, so now could be a great time to get ahead of the trend!

Cons

You probably won’t be able to make a VR tour if you’re not a professional, and hiring one can be expensive. It might be out of your price range right now, but costs could drop as the tech becomes more common.

The software required for viewing 360° tours isn’t supported by Rightmove or Zoopla. You’ll have to host the tours on your own site and link to it from the listing—though this has the added bonus of getting more people onto your website!

#2: Pro Video Tours (aka Virtual Tours)

A Professional Video Tour is a recorded walk-through of the property, taking viewers into each room individually. You can even include the surrounding area in your video, giving a flavour of the location.

Specialist camera and recording equipment is used to keep the camera still and smoothly glide around the house. The footage is then professionally edited in software like Adobe Premiere Pro with music and graphics added.

What properties is it for?

Pro Video Tours are, on the whole, still for the higher end stuff, but this will depend on what area of the country you’re in (which determines the value and therefore your commission and budget).

These professionally made property videos (yes, you’ll need to hire an expert) give a clear idea of size and layout, allowing viewers to feel as though they’ve already visited. And, to be honest, on a nice house, they look incredible!

If you want to ditch the ‘Pro’ aspect of the video tour, then you could do it yourself by just walking around the house and record it on your smartphone. However, the difference between your video tour and a Pro Video Tour will be, err, kind of noticeable.

How do I do it?

Someone physically walks around the property, filming their point of view as they go. Whether that’s a professional videographer or someone with a smartphone is up to you and your budget.

Your video can be a simple walk-through or something with higher production value, using tracking shots or even drone footage. You can edit the video after with branding, music and narration if you like.

Pros

Professional Video (or Virtual) Tours give a great idea of the property and can look phenomenal in a nice home, definitely ramping up the ‘warm tingly feeling’ someone gets when they just have to book a viewing!

Plus, they’re doable for anyone with basic camera skills if you go down the DIY route (but these don’t look phenomenal).

Cons

Depending on your skills and what you want the end result to be, video tours can take a long time to make. Hiring someone who know how to do it properly can get expensive, especially if you opt for all the bells and whistles.

#3: Video Slideshows

A Video Slideshow is the easiest and cheapest way to make a video tour. They simply transform property photos into video, playing them one after the other like a slideshow. While these may now sound pretty basic compared to the other 2 options, they can still look very cool!

Photos of the property are displayed alongside various transitions, motion effects and music. You can also encourage people to contact you by adding your own custom branding and a CTA. Good video slideshows are much more dynamic and engaging than photos, and can help you to get real people through those doors!

What properties is it for?

Video Slideshows are perfect for properties of all shapes and sizes, both low and high value, as they can be created very quickly (Like, a few hours after taking the photos quickly). They’re also extremely cost-effective.

How do I do it?

You can use software like Adobe Premiere Pro, or there are companies that can do it for you (that’s where we come in!).

You’ll need to take the pictures of the house first, then either add them to Premiere Pro or send them to us to do it for you. The example Video Slideshow above is one that we made.

To make sure that your videos look awesome, the images need to be awesome as well. Download our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography for our simple tips to help you to capture sensational shots! You may also fancy enhancing your images first to show the property in its best light.

Pros

Video Slideshows are a really affordable option suitable for a wide range of properties. They’re quick and easy to create, and don’t require expensive equipment or time-consuming video shoots.

A slideshow can be just as engaging and informative as a walk-through tour, but at a fraction of the cost, giving a great return on investment. If you’ve got a nice set of property photos, you’ve got what you need for a great property video!

Video slideshows can also be displayed in the ‘Video Tour’ tab on Rightmove.

Cons

A Video Slideshow can’t display the precise layout of a property in the same way as a VR or pro video tour; they can only show what the photos show.

They are less immersive and less impressive compared to other types of property video available.

Video Slideshows from Elements Property

If you like the look of property videos and want to learn more about what we can do, head over to our Video Slideshows page for more info and to see further examples, or get in touch if you’ve got any questions.

Simply send us your images and we’ll transform them into an engaging HD video in just 3 hours! We’ll customise it with your logo and brand colours, a CTA to encourage viewers to take the next step, and you can even pick the music!

Want to try us out for free? We can offer you a free trial on 3 Video Slideshow orders. Just enter BLOG30 when you create an account 🙂

LEARN MORE ABOUT VIDEO SLIDESHOW

 

Video Slideshows: Convert your property photos into branded videos

From 2019, 80% of internet traffic will be video. Make sure you, the savvy estate agent (yes, that’s you!), are doing your part to buck this trend.

We have a nifty new service to help you market your properties using video. We call it Video Slideshow.

Have you ever thought “As an agency, we should be doing more with video”? You may feel it in your bones that video is the way things are going (and the headline stat from Cisco confirms it). Maybe you’ve dabbled? Or you market property with video already? It could be you have absolutely no idea where to begin with video?!

Whatever angle you’re coming at this from, in this article, you’ll learn how you can market your properties using video without ever pressing record on a camera. And without ever needing to do some fancy jiggery-pokery in a video editing package like Adobe Premiere Pro.

How? Leave all that to us.

video slideshows property

What are Video Slideshows?

Video Slideshows are our new, super easy and low cost solution for converting property photos into completely bespoke 1080p HD branded videos. These are great for marketing your properties in a way that people love to see and for maximising the wow factor of your listings.

The property videos we create are perfect for showcasing your listings on Rightmove, social media, your website and anywhere else you can share or embed a video link.

If you have worked with Elements before, chances are you know us for our much-loved Image Enhancement service, where we boost the appeal of your property photos to the max using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

With Video Slideshow, we go a step further and transform the property images we enhance into video.

Slow panning across the photos – from room to room – combined with the images softly dissolving into one another helps to inject the feeling of motion into the previously still images.

We know the importance of music in stirring up emotions. That’s why we’ve channelled our inner Hans Zimmer to offer a choice of 12 amazing music tracks to play in the background. Inspiring, Mellow and Upbeat are the genres on offer, with 4 tracks in each.

Property videos customised to your brand

It just wouldn’t be an Elements service without complete customisation as standard now would it!

At the start and end of the video, your logo is stamped into the video. We’ll automatically convert your logo into a file type suitable for video.

On the video thumbnail, there’s a block of colour that can be changed to match your main brand colour. Other key transitions and graphics are changed to match as well.

Your contact telephone number and email are displayed on the final frame of the video so viewers know exactly how to reach you, regardless of where they see the video.

Also on the final frame of the video, you have 3 options for the imagery. Choose to display either a nice external shot of the property, a photo of your branch or a nice smiley photo of your team 🙂

Marketing property using video slideshows

Enough chat. If a picture paints a thousand words, what about a video? Here’s some example Video Slideshows…

Cool right?

Did you notice you can also show off 6 key features of the property early on in the video? These clearly highlight the best aspects of the property for all to see.

In each Video Slideshow, between 8 – 24 photos can be displayed. Therefore, the length of each video varies depending on how many property photos make up the video.

Run times vary from 52 seconds to 110 seconds, with each image being shown for around 3 seconds.

To keep things quick and easy for you, we can choose the order that the images are shown in. Or, if you want to do it, simply rename the image files 1, 2, 3 etc before placing the order.

The order we go for starts outside at the front of the property. We then move through the ground floor, up to the second floor, then outside to the garden.

To enhance or not enhance, that is the question

Is it really though? Don’t you think nice colourful, professionally enhanced photos look way better than drab images straight off the camera? Your Rightmove listings and your estate agency window will look way better!

We certainly think enhanced images are the way to go. That’s why we’ve made it super easy for you to order Video Slideshows by simply selecting the property reference for a recent Image Enhancement order.

Then, all you need to do is tell us a little more info about the property. For example, it’s 6 key features, whether it’s for sale or to let, the address to show etc. Then that’s it, we’ll do the rest!

If you don’t want your images enhancing, fear not. We do have the option to transform regular ‘unenhanced’ or ‘original’ images into video if you prefer. So no blue sky enhancement, no colour boosts, no shadow lifts, no sharpening of clarity, no watermarking, no objects removing, no nothing.

For unenhanced images, just upload a zip file of the property images on the Video Slideshow new order page.

How to order a Video Slideshow

In typical Elements style, we’ve made it as easy as possible for you! Learn how to convert your photos to video by checking out this article > How do I order a Video Slideshow?

Do you want to try it for free?

If you’re new to Elements, why not create an account? You’ll get 3 free orders where you can try out all our online services including Video Slideshow using the promo code BLOG28 when creating an account.

To learn more about Video Slideshows, just click the button!

LEARN MORE ABOUT VIDEO SLIDESHOW

 

How to draw a floor plan

So you appreciate all the good things a floor plan can offer and want to know how to draw a floor plan yourself, awesome.

Like many other agents or energy assessors, maybe you’re already creating floor plans but find it too time-consuming to make the floor plans yourself in software like Metropix.

Here at Elements, we’ve got your back. We can take your hand-drawn sketch that, by the way, does not need to be a masterpiece and convert it into a finished floor plan using the industry standard – AutoCAD.

Read on to discover a simple, cost-effective way to get accurate, bespoke, professional floor plans for your properties. Here’s a simple guide on how to make a floor plan for a house with a pencil and paper.

You should end up with something like this…

how to draw a floorplan

What you need

To make a floor plan sketch of your house, you will need:                     

  • A laser measure – We like this one by Leica.
  • Graph paper – This pad by Silvine is really good.
  • A pencil with rubber – Any will do, but these colourful Bic’s are great!

1. Start outside

Stand outside at the front of the property. Start your sketch towards the bottom corner of the paper – but leave some space in case there are any unexpected extensions or parts of the property that stick out.

The benefit of using graph paper to draw your own floor plan is that you can use each square as a unit of measurement. You could try walking the length of an external wall, counting your steps and then converting those steps to squares on the graph paper. This helps keep things roughly to scale. Or you could just do it by eye, depends on your skills.

Do this for all the walls for all floors until you have a rough ‘footprint’ of the building. Personally, I like to use a different page of graph paper per floor but you don’t have to.

2. Add external doors and windows

Whilst still outside, draw on the windows and doors. This really helps to identify where internal walls are when you head inside. Just a simple line for a window, and an arc for a door.

Don’t worry if these aren’t exactly in the right place, you’ll find out soon enough when you come to draw the internal walls. You may need to use that rubber soon.

3. Draw internal walls and doors

Head inside the front door and starting with the ground floor, head through doing your best to correctly sketch out the location of the walls. Whilst you’re at it, draw on any internal doors.

I guess this is personal preference, but you can either leave measuring the rooms with your laser measure until you have sketched all the walls or measure as you go along.

4. Measure

Start firing that laser. Place the bottom of your laser measure against a wall and aim it across to the other side of the room, make sure it is level and not angled up or down, then press the button to take the measurement. Write it clearly on the plan next to said wall.

A simple square room will just need two measurements. For more complex room shapes, best to take a measurement of each section of wall. As a rule of thumb, the more measurements the better.

A quick note on measurement units: We provide floor plans for real estate agents in both Metric and Imperial units, but you should be using meters and centimeters on your sketches.

5. Kitchens, bathrooms, stairs and other details

In the kitchen, draw a line or two to show the worktop location, and bang on roughly where the sink and hob is. Use your innate artistic abilities to do this in any illustrative style you like, but less is more here!

When it comes to heading upstairs, draw a few lines to show the position of the stairs. Measure the width of the stairs and not this on the plan as well.

In bathrooms and WC’s, sketch where any sinks, baths, showers and toilets are located.

Other things to include in your sketch could be cupboards in bedrooms, Velux rooflights, understairs cupboards, or anything else really – draw it, we can include it!

6. Label stuff

In your finest and most careful handwriting, make sure things are clearly identifiable.

Firstly, make sure each floor is named e.g. Ground floor, First floor, Basement etc. Then, in the center of each room, write the name of that room. And with bedrooms, identify them by number e.g. Bedroom 1, Bedroom 2 and so on. If your floor plan is spread over a few pages, number them.

Add any other notes you think will help us to correctly convert your sketch into a finished floor plan should be included as well.

Want to show the orientation? South facing gardens are good, so show this with a North arrow. Use a compass or an app to find the orientation, draw the North arrow in a corner somewhere and we’ll include it on the plan.

7. Send your Floor plan for Conversion

Once you’re happy with your sketch, send it to us for the Floor Plan Sketch Conversion treatment. With a simple drag and drop you can leave it with us to create a beautiful and bespoke floor plan for just £6.95 + VAT.

We can even customise the walls, room fill and text to any colours you like and include your logo. You’ll have the finished JPG version of your floor plans back in around 3 hours.

Sound good? Come check us out, enter BLOG28 for 3 free orders when creating an account 🙂

 

How-to-draw-a-floorplan-[Infographic]

Interior Photography Tips: How to photograph through a window without over-exposing the shot

One of the most common questions we get about house interior photography is how to photograph interiors without daylight over-exposing and washing out the windows. The quick and honest answer is – it’s tough but can be done.

For lots of listings, the view outside might be a big selling point you want to show off. Even if the view’s not that great you don’t want a big section of the picture completely blown out by those over-zealous photons racing into the room through the glass.

Read on to find some answers but be warned, this blog is a little more technical than usual. Actually, that’s a lie – it’s way more technical, mainly because it’s really hard to achieve the desired look if you’re not a pro photographer.

In my ongoing mission to simplify things and help agents have beautiful property photos to display, I do have a hack for you, dear reader. If you want the easiest way possible to stop whited-out windows, skip to Option 3 – but know this; it’s still kinda tricky!

how-to-show-detail-through-window

Why are my windows over-exposed?

Over-exposed windows are a pain in house interior photography, but there’s a few solutions depending on how much work you want to put into your photos. Let’s start with why it happens in the first place.

When you walk into any room, you can see detail in the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows. If you look towards a window, you see everything in the room before the window and everything outside in perfect detail – the human eye is pretty amazing like that.

The problem, when it comes to house interior photography, is that there’s no camera or lens in the world that comes close to what your eye can manage. A camera’s sensor can expose for bright light outside, or it can expose for the dimmer interior ambient light. It can’t do both at the same time.

The sensor’s ability to show detail in the brightest and darkest areas of a shot is its ‘Dynamic Range’. The human eye can detect more than 20 stops of detail in its own dynamic range.

The best sensors in the most expensive professional DSLRs on the market can only manage about three-quarters of that. As agents, you are unlikely to want to buy the top of the range stuff, we actually recommend more basic entry-level gear so you inevitably will sacrifice some of that elusive Dynamic Range. It’s a cost-quality trade off.

If you do want to splash out a little more on a camera that can perform window detail capturing miracles, keep reading, but first, more technical stuff.

Here’s some interior photography tips to fix those washed-out windows.

Option 1: Balance out the lighting with flash (Skill level: Pro)

The only way to catch both interior and exterior detail in one shot is to even out the difference between the interior ambient light, and the daylight coming in from outside.

We can’t turn down the sun, so the only option is to add more light to the interior. You’re not going to manage this with regular home lighting already in the room, so it means setting up studio lighting or flash photography.

But that leads us to another problem. Unless you’re able to set up a few remote flash speedlights away from the camera to bounce the light, you’ll get unflattering shadows and a generally ugly photo.

Even if you can somehow bounce the light off the ceiling, your camera’s built-in flash isn’t up to this kind of job. And if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I’m not a fan of flash, it’s easy to shoot a dark room without flash.

Let’s forget the flash then.

Option 2: HDR interior photography and bracketing (Skill level: Pro)

No matter what equipment you’re using, whatever interior photography camera settings you try, sometimes getting a perfect exposure in-camera in one shot that shows the outside detail through a window isn’t possible. That’s where bracketing and HDR photography comes into play.

Bracketing images means composing your shot, then taking multiple photos at different exposure settings, then using software like Adobe Photoshop to composite them together into an image that shows the detail from each image cleverly fused together.

The darker exposure adds more detail to brighter areas, and vice versa. We call the finished composite a HDR, or High Dynamic Range image.

The simplest bracketing method for house interior photography is to take three exposures of -2, 0, +2 “stops”. In this case 0 is a neutral, regular “point and shoot” exposure. -2 is a darker exposure two stops down, and +2 is a brighter exposure two stops up. Most DSLRs have an auto-bracketing setting which will set the exposures for you.

HDR interior photography is a way to get perfectly exposed photos with tricky lighting situations in any part of the property.  Here’s how to pull it off:

Tried & tested interior photography camera settings

First of all, we need to measure the dynamic range of our subject. Turn your camera to manual mode and set the lens aperture wide – say, f/8 or f/11. This will make sure everything is in focus. We’re not after depth of field here.

Set your ISO low. The HDR process will add noise to your image anyway, so use as low an ISO as you can manage – 100 or 200 should be fine.

Next, we need to lock the focus so the camera doesn’t try to autofocus halfway through and mess the whole thing up. Either set the autofocus now by half-pressing the shutter, or switch to manual focus and adjust the focus ring on your lens until everything’s nice and sharp.

Either way, remember to leave your lens in Manual Focus mode. What’s the best lens for interior photography? A prime lens as wide as possible. We recommend this Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens.

Finally, set the metering mode to spot metering.

Use the spot metering to measure the brightest part of your subject (the window) as you adjust the shutter speed until the metering hits the mid-tone (0 in the middle of the meter). Make a note of the shutter speed.

Now, do the same on the darkest interior part of the subject. Those two shutter speeds give us the dynamic range of our photo, and the -2 and +2 bracketing we need to expose for. Now it’s time to take our photos!

Oh, and if you are still reading and thinking “WTF”, then you’re not gonna like this either, to do all this you need a tripod, and I personally am not a fan, in fact, I advocate not using a tripod as they just slow you down!

However, if you’re wanting to do the bracketing technique, you need one because we’re merging multiple shots you don’t want any movement or differences in camera angle. You should ideally be also using a remote trigger or the delay timer to avoid camera shake.

Start shooting

Take those two shutter speeds you measured, set your settings slap bang in the middle of them, and take the photo. This is your mid-tone, vanilla, middle ground exposure.

Next, set your shutter to the first shutter speed you measured and take the photo for our -2-bracketed exposure. The window will look good but the rest of the image will look too dark. Don’t  worry, it’s supposed to.

Finally, set your shutter to the second shutter speed and take the photo.

So, we’ve now got three images, one exposed for the daylight through the window, one exposed for the interior ambient light and shadows, and a third with an exposure in the middle. It’s time to process them to create the final image.

Still confused? Don’t worry, the easier option is coming up soon.

Processing

There’s a lot of HDR programs out there, but the best HDR software for real estate photography is still Adobe Photoshop. 

Launch Photoshop, and go to File→Automate→Merge to HDR Pro. Click Browse, select your three photos and click Open. Then hit OK to start the photo merge.

On the next screen, adjust the sliders until you get a natural looking image with both the interior and window exposed right, paying particular attention to the Edge Glow Radius and Strength sliders (don’t overdo it, we’re after a natural looking image). Once you’re done, click OK to create your HDR image, then carry on with your usual Photoshop edits as normal.

You should now have a lovely photo with good highlights and shadows, and some detail through the window.

Hard work, right? Especially if you’re just sending out Bob from the office to take some shots. Poor Bob. Fear not. Bob’s day is about to get a lot easier! 

Option 3. Auto HDR Mode (Skill level: Intermediate)

Proper, manual bracketing and processing HDR images in Photoshop gives you the most control of the final image, but honestly, have you actually got the time or skill to do all that? Don’t you just want a nice set of shots with a cheeky bit of window detail on show?

Many of the newer DSLR ranges have built-in HDR modes that do a fine job for HDR interior photography. This is definitely true of all Canon DSLRs since the 5D Mk III was released in 2012. But cameras with built in HDR do cost a little more than the entry-level gear that most estate agents use to photograph their properties.

HDR mode (aka ‘HDR Backlight Control’) will take three bracketed exposures in-camera and merge them to extend your sensor’s dynamic range and capture all those important details in your house interior photography.

When you take the shot, all of the stuff in Option 2 is pretty much done automatically, inside the camera, in a couple of seconds.

And the best bit, you don’t need to use a tripod! Just try and stay as still as possible, hold your breath when snapping, that helps.

Now, I’m not wanting to make it sound like the HDR Backlight Control is the holy grail of an answer. It helps a lot but it is still a very tricky skill to nail. If you absolutely, positively, must have the window detail on show all the time, you may be better off hiring a pro to shoot your houses and do all this bracketing jigery-pokery for you.

These images below shows on the left; what normally happens when photographing a house, the whited-out window, and on the right, the image when the camera is set up to shoot in auto HDR mode; where the window detail can be seen.

How-to-capture-window-detail-HDR-photography-2

What’s an affordable camera for auto HDR?

I recommend the Canon Eos 80D. It’s awesome for its built in HDR functionality and can really help capture nice internal shots with a nice bit of window detail as well. If you’re more of a Nikon fan, check out the Nikon D7500.

The shots will still look pretty dark, to be honest, so you’ll need to enhance your images in Lightroom, but we can help with Image Enhancement if you need it.

How do I set the camera up to shoot HDR?

The following settings are for the Canon EOS 70D (the older model than the 80D but the settings are similar).

If you are shooting with a different camera, just see what your instruction manual or Google has to say on the matter.

  1. Spin the settings wheel to SCN
  2. Press the Q button
  3. Choose HDR Backlight Control

Settings-for-HDR-property-photography

Is the extra window detail worth the hassle?

At the end of the day, if there’s a window view that could add something to your property photos, or if the windows are a feature in themselves, then by all means try to show them off with HDR interior photography. It’s quite an advanced concept, but definitely a lot easier to do now with the right camera.

On the other hand, don’t think that a slightly whited-out window will be the make or break of getting people booked in to view the property. Maybe you just have a pet-peeve about it and I get it, it’s amazing to have so much attention to detail and I salute you for it.

The choice is yours my friend; get a pro lighting setup, brush up on some pro bracketing tekkers, pick up a camera that does the hard work for you, or ignore all this and keep things simple but have slightly whited-out windows.

Why not check out Image Enhancement for FREE? Just use promocode BLOG27 when creating an account 🙂

3 reasons why you should be using floor plans in your property listings

Buyers love floor plans. They help listings stand out from the crowd. They can generate more enquiries, and convert those into viewings. They also help sell properties quicker. But many real estate agents don’t think they’re necessary. Why?

3 reasons why you should be using floor plans in your property listings

In a recent survey of property sellers, 80% of them said floor plans are essential or very useful when selling. A massive 88% agreed when it comes to buying a property.

Yes, a floor plan isn’t technically necessary to sell a property, but neither are photos or property descriptions. How many listings do you see without those? Floor plans are attention grabbing, and they help simplify a buyer’s decision-making. They’re every bit as important as great quality photos, and here’s three reasons why:

1. Floor plans help a buyer visualise the property better than photos alone

Research provided by Rightmove suggests over a third of buyers are less likely to enquire about a property if there’s no floor plan. 1 in 5 would actually ignore the listing completely.

Floor plans show buyers details that are difficult to get across with just photos and descriptions, such as storage space, windows, and measurements. They’re also better at displaying unique selling features like knock-throughs and extensions. That’s all information that could help a buyer decide if the property is right for them, or if it’s worth viewing at all.

Less wasted time

High-quality property photos are vital in showcasing a property in the best light. Wide angle shots score well with buyers, but some people feel they can be misleading when it comes to accurately portraying space.

You know those viewings where the buyer’s disappointed that the property isn’t what they thought from the photos? A floor plan helps avoid that by giving potential buyers and tenants a clearer visual of the entire property before they step through the door.

House-hunters can use a floor plan alongside photos to understand the layout and space of the house. They’ll see how rooms connect with each other, and how space flows throughout the property. That means no nasty surprises when they get there.

When it comes to successful property photos and viewings, all estate agents are at the mercy of the current occupiers. Cluttered, untidy rooms look smaller than they are. A clean floor plan shows the true size and potential of every room.

Mentally moving in

If a buyer can see themselves living in a property, half the estate agent’s job is done already.

Rightmove’s survey suggests that buyers want a floo rplan showing room layout, and how rooms fit in relation to the rest of the property. But what buyers rate most important in a floor plan is room dimensions.

Floor plans showing room measurements, window and door placements allow potential buyers to imagine where their own furniture will go, and how they would use the space. They may even start thinking about decorating, or how they would change the building to suit their needs.

Once they’ve started mentally planning the move, an emotional attachment to the property and a decision to buy isn’t too far off.

Floorplan - 6 Brinsley Close, Aspley

2. Floor plans make a property memorable later

Helping a buyer visualise a properties potential before and during a viewing is one thing, but what about after they’ve gone home? You might be getting great signals during the viewing, but when you follow it up with a call where they ask “which house was that?” it’s never a good sign.

Remember that house hunters are looking at many properties at once, and the features of each house can get mixed up when they’re seeing several each day. Including a floor plan in your listings and marketing materials help it stick in the mind.

Simply put, a visual of the layout and all its nuances makes the property you’re selling easier to remember.

Taking the stress out of viewing

A floor plan can also help in a buyer’s decision making after the viewing. Don’t forget that for some people viewing a property in a perceived time limit, and in the presence of an estate agent can be daunting, or even stressful.

Having a floor plan available to them means they can sit down, study and plan at their leisure later. Taking a closer look at measurements – or noticing parts of the property they overlooked – can help persuade a buyer into a second viewing where they might otherwise walk away.

Colour Floorplan - Corbin Coach

3. A professional floor plan makes you look more professional

If your competitors are using floor plans, so should you. But if it’s something they aren’t doing yet; floor plans can give you a market advantage.

A clear, well-designed floor plan will help put your listing to the top of the pile as a professional listing from a professional business. It adds to the quality of your brand, and shows property sellers looking for an estate agent you that you’re willing to invest in your business to keep up with current property trends.

Colour Floorplan - Orchard Close

Want some help creating floor plans?

At Elements, we can convert your hand drawn sketches into fully-realised, professional 2D floor plans in around 3 hours. All you need is paper, a pencil and a laser measure (a tape measure will suffice if you’re old-skool) to sketch out the rough plan and add the dimensions and send us the building blocks of a great floor plan.

For added brand customisation, add your logo and set your brand colour scheme to match the floor plan colours for the walls, fill area and text – we think that looks really cool!

Your finished floor plan will be returned in double-quick time as a high-quality JPEG, which you can use for your own website listings, marketing materials, and easily upload to Rightmove and Zoopla listings.

To wrap up, having a floor plan in your listing makes sense for you, the buyer, and the seller:

  • You’ll attract better informed buyers to sell the property quicker.
  • Buyers are more informed on the property.
  • Sellers gets added value to the professional service you provide.

It’s a win-win-win.

Before you go, we’d love you to check out our Floor Plan Sketch Conversion service for FREE so here’s a promocode for you, enter BLOG26 when creating an account 🙂

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLOORPLANS

 

 

Save thousands on professional property photography fees

Professional property photography will make your listings look the bees knees but are you paying more than needed to achieve the premium look for your images?

According to Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, “commission rates are on the floor”, hovering at around 1%, or in cash money terms, around £2,800 – this is despite rising house prices over the last few years. To add to this, the proposed tenant fee ban that could come in and wipe out huge amounts of revenue for letting agents is looming.

Does this mean you cut your marketing budget or double down on things that help separate you from your competitors, things just like professional property photography?

Outsourced professional property photography

If you’re an agent that takes pride in the way your properties are presented visually then hat’s off, we like your style. This is one certain way to stand out from many of the big corporates and the Purplebricks of the online world.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been reaching our via phone to agents all over the country to offer a free trial of our Image Enhancement service and I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who took us up on that 🙂 If you didn’t hear from us, it’s probably because your receptionist was exceptionally well trained at filtering out sales calls!

We found loads of agents outsource their property photography to a pro who visits the property, shoots the house, does all the editing afterwards and sends the shots to the agent. They would also charge between £50 – £100 for the privilege.

It’s not the fee I’m knocking here, great photos are worth their weight in gold and will certainly help your listing stand out, attract more enquiries, sell quicker and sometimes for more money! It is 100% a wise investment. But are you investing more than you need to to achieve the same premium finish for your property photos?

Let’s go conservative and say you pay £50 to a pro to head out and shoot each property, let’s also say you list 10 properties per month, that’s £500 per month = £6,000 per year on photography fees.

If you’re selling more, say 25 properties a month, then this figure jumps to £15,000 per year.

If you’re visiting the property anyway…

If you – the agent – will be visiting the property anyway to meet the vendor and to get to know the property for writing the description, then why not take the photos yourself?

All you need is some basic know-how, and the right camera and lens. It really is incredibly easy to take a blinding set of shots yourself. Sure, the camera gear will set you back around £600, but you’ll make that back in no time in saved professional fees.

A quick read of our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography will have you and your team clued up in no time, and it’s FREE. It condenses my years of experience as a pro photographer into the essential simple tips you need to know in order to capture sensational shots. Give it a read and you’ll see how easy it is.

If you were to shoot the property yourself, it would take you or one of your team around 15 mins, so that is a small block of time you would need to factor in.

You could then do the photo editing yourself in Photoshop and Lightroom but many agents find that is not the best use of their time, or they are not too clued up on the magnetic edges lasso tool.

Outsourced photo-editing

Here’s where the big savings come… send us your shots for the wow factor treatment. We specialise in photo editing for the property industry, you specialise in selling houses. Let’s both stick to what we’re good at.

The average Image Enhancement order will set you back around £10 (here’s more info on our Pricing). For this we perform a full suite of edits on a complete set of property photos, and we’ll have them back with you in around 3 hours. Sound good? Try us out for free if you’re interested.

Back to some figures, sell 10 properties a month and that’s gonna set you back around £100 to get the professional finish for your shots, that’s £1,200 per year and a saving of £4,800.

Sell 25 properties a month and your monthly spend would be around £250, that’s £3,000 per year and a cost saving of £9,000.

Put another way, we offer an 80% cost reduction.

“No brainer”

Not my words. Often when I call up a new client to welcome them to our service, this is how they describe it. So, to answer the question.. should you cut your marketing budget or double down on things that help separate you from your competitors? Here at Elements – we’re offering a solution that can help you achieve both.

If you’re spending big on professional property photography and would like to try us out today, get your team to read our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography and send over some shots. You’ll get 3 free orders using the promocode BLOG25 to try us out and see if we’re right for you!

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

 

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