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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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15 estate agent photo fails

estate-agent-photo-fails

Here’s how NOT to take property photos, along with our top tips on how to deal with common issues that can arise when photographing houses.

We all love a good fail. Fail Army’s Fails of the Week is one of the best things about Facebook and something I personally enjoy probably more than I should. Anyway, here is a fabulous collection of estate agent photo fails along with my best efforts at constructive criticism to help you avoid ending up in a fail blog post.

 

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Horses: The unwritten rule of photographing houses — remove any horses from the hallway.

 

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Stains: Excellent use of a wide-angle lens here, sadly the same cannot be said for the use of Adobe Photoshop to clean up the mysterious floor markings. Anyone seen Fluffy?

 

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Reflections: Great job of remembering to turn on the light, but if you look carefully, the agents reflection can be seen in the corner of the shot. Here’s a handy post on how you go about removing the man in the mirror.

 

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Clutter: Lazy work by the agent here for not removing the bathroom products. Always declutter if possible, or use Adobe Photoshop afterwards.

 

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Composition: A wonderful Van Gough-esque blue and yellow colour scheme on display here. It’s a crying shame the impact of the colours are lost, the whole room looks a bit dark to me. A shadow and colour boost wouldn’t go a miss to bring this indoor patio shot to life.

 

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Cars: It’s not always possible to remove cars from shot when at the property, but they can be afterwards in Adobe Photoshop. Maybe the agent was pressed for time after fumbling with all those keys trying to get in one of the 4 front doors.

 

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Composition: This agent has commando-crawled through this doorway and look how wonky the shot is. I recommend crouching down to take the shot from waist height, it’s easier to support the camera and it helps to avoid leaning walls in your shots. It’s also advisable to remove objects like spare toilets out of shot.

 

 

estate-agent-photo-failsCamera and lens: This shot was clearly taken with a basic ‘point and shoot camera’. A good portion of the room has been missed out of the frame due to the limitations of the camera. Had the agent been using a digital SLR with wide-angle lens, they would not have this problem — clown.

 

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Shooting angle: Never ever take the shot facing a wall! Always shoot into the corner of a room if you can. And another thing, always fully unwrap the clingfilm off of any wardrobes, it just looks bad if you don’t.

 

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Light: The viewpoint of this fitness room is all wrong. I like that the agent has switched on the light and opened up the slats on this internal window to maximise the flow of light, but nothing else about the shot is good. They should have ventured inside the room, crouched in the corner near the door, and shot into the corner of the room, making sure to get a window in the frame, if there is one.

 

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Clutter: ‘Tidy’ can be a subjective term. It’s not the job of the agent or photographer to engage in a full scale clean up, so sometimes a messy photo is inevitable. The team here at Elements Property are skilled in removing objects, clutter and hung over girls from photos, so send them to us if you need help with that.

 

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Focus: A great angled shot into the corner of the room here, but whoever took this forgot to enlist the vendors help in escorting this friendly pooch to the garden. The clarity of the room is terrible as the focus is on Coco’s face. Whilst it is possible to sharpen clarity in Adobe Lightroom, this shot is beyond saving.

 

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Televisions: Leaving TVs on is both lazy and unprofessional, turn them off. The flash reflection is also ruining this image. The only good thing about this photo is that the doors are open to show the flow of the property. However, the live demonstration of the en-suite functionality is less than ideal.

 

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Clutter: This is one we get asked to do all the time — remove clutter from bathrooms. Things like stacks of toilet roll, shampoo bottles, bleach bottles, and guns. If you need any small firearms removing from your shots, just let us know.

 

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Reflections: The other benefit of shooting into the corner of the room is that you don’t capture your reflection in a mirror. This could easily happen to vendors in the comfort of their own home, snapping the shots to list their property with an online estate agent — don’t get caught with your trousers down!

 

Don’t make the same mistakes!

For practical tips on how to avoid making your own photo fails, check out our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography. If you take great shots already but just need help removing items or boosting their appeal to the max — send them to us, we’ll work our magic and have them back with you in just 3 hours!

We’d love you to check out our Image Enhancement service for FREE so here’s a promocode for you, enter BLOG4 when creating an account 🙂

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

 

Credit to theguardian.com, express.com, telegraph.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, terriblerealestatephotos.com, and thehouseshop.com for the images. And thanks to the agents who took these shots, without them this post would not be possible!

Can better property photos lead to higher sale prices?

It’s nice to have nice property photos, but do they actually affect the sale price? Whilst I have no empirical evidence for you (yet!), I do have some very interesting insight to suggest that they can.

Disclaimer – We offer Image Enhancement services for estate agents and we’ve made it our mission to banish bad property photos from the portals and window displays of the UK for good! So, is this a bias article to say use our service and you’ll get higher sale prices? No. I kept it factual to show you what happened when I sold a bread and butter victorian terraced property in Nottingham.

Better photos = more enquiries and sale prices?

Firstly, the feedback from our estate agent clients who use a digital SLR camera with wide-angle lens to ensure they take spectacular property photos, and who take the time to lovingly enhance their images find that they:

  • get more enquiries than when they use a basic point and shoot camera
  • are “more likely” to achieve the asking price or higher

My personal experience

On a personal note, I recently tried my hand a refurbishing a property. Seeing the dingy, tired old house transform into a bright, modern home for a first time buyer is something I would love to do again.

pre refurb

BEFORE: The house pre-rufurb, taken with a compact “point and shoot” camera.

AFTER: These are the shots I took to to use in the property marketing on Rightmove.

Here’s what happened

Once the amazing team of tradesman had worked their magic, 4 estate agents came to value the property, all saying that “£90,000 – £100,000 absolute tops” should be achievable. Other newly refurbished properties were available on the same street in the same price bracket.

  • We marketed the property at the high end for £100,000.
  • A viewing was booked the day the listing went live.
  • An offer was made of £103,000.
  • We agreed a sale and smashed the ceiling price on the street for a 2 bed terrace.

Stand out from the competition and make a great first impression!

The quality of the refurb obviously played a key role in the high sale price, but so did the impact of the property photos. By using the right equipment and taking the time to enhance the images in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, my images stood out and conveyed a perceived higher value.

A big thank you to the team at HoldenCopley is also due, they did a top job managing the sale of the property. They now use us to enhance all their property images and we love having them on board.

First impressions count for so much online and from only £6.95 for a set of 8 images, we can inject that same wow factor into your shots to help you stand out from the competition and achieve the highest sale price possible!

We’d love you to check out our Image Enhancement service for FREE so here’s a promocode for you, enter BLOG3 when creating an account 🙂

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

 

What’s the best camera and lens for property photography?

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The secret to stunning marketing photographs guaranteed to sell any house / property / bat cave in under 3 minutes* is a DSLR camera. Actually it’s the lens… but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The marketing images that hit the eyeballs of your potential buyers tell a story They’re like the front cover of a book, and you know what everyone says about judging those, but we all do it anyway. Make your story a best-seller by using the right camera and lens. And I’m not talking the most expensive.

In a time where the camera market is overloaded with options, you have every right to feel bamboozled about the choice on offer. Fear not, we can save you the headache and advise you on exactly which camera and lens will do a damn fine job of giving your property photos the swagger of a unicorn amongst a herd of donkeys without breaking the bank.

*Total exaggeration. You’ll need at least a couple of hours.

The Camera

For the purposes of taking photos of property you should ignore mobile phones, compact cameras or system cameras. They’ll only drag you down. Whilst we do work with clients who do an okay(ish) job with these, if you want truly stunning property photos, so good that you may be able to command higher offers, a digital SLR (single lens reflex) is the one you need.

camera-and-lens

Use a digital SLR

First thing to say is – if you’ve never used one before, don’t be scared. They’re not hard to use. Besides, you only need to master around 10% of the cameras settings in order to take beautiful property photos.

A digital SLR camera body will give you the functionality required to capture outstanding property images. A Canon or Nikon in particular being finer than a French Bordeaux. Here’s why digital SLRs rule:

  • You have better control over the settings (aperture, shutter speed etc)
  • You can attach a wide-angle lens
  • You don’t need to remortgage your home to buy one
  • An entry-level digital SLR is more than capable of capturing stunning pics
  • Vendors love it when you show up meaning business with the proper gear

 

A small caveat; always buy a wide-angle lens to go with it… more on that coming up. That means when purchasing the camera you can save money by just getting the camera body only – without the standard 18-55mm lens.

Anyway, there are 13 million search engine results for ‘Digital SLR’. As none of us are getting any younger, here are our recommendations if you have around £300-£400 to invest. Note, other camera/lens manufacturers are available!

Buy the Canon EOS 4000D on Amazon (body only) >

 

Buy the Nikon D3500 on Amazon (body only) >

The lens

Now when it comes to taking beautiful shots, it’s the lens that does the hard work (really the camera is just there to go click). That’s why it’s so important to splash out on a top-notch lens. In fact, it’s the biggest factor in our Pyramid of Importance that will determine how brilliant or average your shots will look.

While a top notch wide-angle lens also costs less than a house, it may double the cost of your camera set-up, but that’s ok, it’s worth it. Your shots will look like a pro took them and you’ll get your investment back in commissions in no time!

Use a wide-angle lens

The one we recommend – the one that will even make the cupboard under the stairs look light and airy – is a 10-20mm wide-angle lens with autofocus. It fits more of the room in the frame and it makes your job as a photographer easier because it does all the focusing for you.

A good quality wide-angle zoom lens isn’t cheap, you’re looking at parting with between £300 – £350 but trust me, it’ll be worth every penny! Comparing the standard 18-55mm lens (that normally comes with the camera) with the 10-20mm wide-angle lens bad boy is like comparing a Ford Focus with a Lamborghini Huracán Coupè. The Sigma is the lens for you, my friend.

camera-and-lens

Buy the Canon fit on Amazon >  |  Buy the Nikon fit on Amazon >

 

What kind of shots can I capture?

Take a peek in our gallery to see what kind of shots you can expect to capture — they were all shot with a Canon digital SLR (an older model than the 1300D) and the Sigma wide-angle lens above.

Not that we like to brag but you can see how these high quality images jam packed with wide-angle wow factor will help you stand out on Rightmove, attract more enquiries, sell more property and get you closer to actually owning a Lamborghini!.

By the way, if you already have a digital SLR and wide-angle lens that are different makes/models to the ones in this article, no problem! In fact, hats off to you for already using the right equipment.

If you have any questions, concerns or have discovered the fountain of youth please do get in touch. You can also download our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography. It’s totally free and totally brilliant (okay maybe we do like to brag a touch).

Before you go, we’d love you to check out our Image Enhancement service for FREE so here’s a promocode for you, enter BLOG2 when creating an account 🙂

DOWNLOAD FREE GUIDE

 

What makes a great property photo?

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“Oooh look here, this listing has a nice set of drab, boring images. Let’s stop searching for our perfect home immediately and book a viewing!” Said no house-hunter. Ever.

If you have vibrant, smart, well-taken shots compared to the droves of drab out there on the online portals like Rightmove, On The Market, Zoopla etc, the difference is huge, HUGE! A great property photo should be your goal every time your camera goes click.

Which properties are going to stand out, create a better first impression, and go straight to the top of your buyers shortlist? Yours, of course.

The thing is, it’s actually incredibly easy to take sensational property photos by following a few simple guidelines and using the right camera and lens. Stick with us and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to capture shots that not only look amazing but also help you sell more property in less time.

The number 1 rule – don’t be dull

Many things can lead to a bad photo, like the good old British weather, the wrong camera, or a poorly taken shot. The thing that amazes me is the number of properties that are brought to market where the marketing images look average at best (and that’s being generous).

It’s not uncommon, in fact I’d say it is most definitely the norm, to see photos taken out of focus, shot from unflattering angles, or so dark that the room looks like the inside of Darth Vaders wardrobe. A few killer tips is all it takes to overcome these basic mis-snaps.

example of bad property photos

Captured with a point and shoot camera. No image enhancement.

Your images have to be eye-catching, bright and vibrant

Obvious really, so why don’t more agents make more of an effort with their most important marketing tool? I really don’t know, but don’t be one of them.

If you want people eagerly clicking on your properties and booking in viewings, then create a first impression so good that the images practically jump out of the screen! Here’s a few tips for maximising the appeal of your photos:

Internal shots

External shots

  • Shoot in landscape and from an angle, never face-on to the property
  • Crouch down to shoot from waist height
  • Use image enhancement to combat the flat, dull images that are still common right off the memory card no matter how well you take the shot

example of good property photos

Captured with a digital SLR and wide-angle lens. Boosted with Image Enhancement.

If you haven’t already, you may want to download a copy of our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography. It’s packed full of more simple tips to help your team capture beautiful property photos – and it’s completely free.

We can also help boost the wow factor of your images. Our digital artists are here 24/7 to work their magic. From inserting blue skies to removing bins, and everything in between, we’ll have your photos back with you in as little as just 3 hours bursting with wow factor!

Before you go, we’d love you to check out our Image Enhancement service for FREE so here’s a promocode for you, enter BLOG1 when creating an account 🙂

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

 

7 things you need to know about the 2018 EPC changes

After what seemed to be an eternity of uncertainty, the 2018 EPC regulation changes have been finalised.

These EPC changes mean it will be unlawful to let or lease a residential or commercial property with an EPC rating of F or G. Here are 7 things you need to know about the changes.

1. The regulations surrounding Energy Performance Certificates are changing on 1 April 2018

This has been a long-standing concern of the industry with uncertainty amongst agents, landlords, tenants and energy assessors as to when these changes would come into effect and just what the implications of these changes would mean for all of those involved. The date is set for 1st April 2018.

2. The EPC changes affect both residential and commercial property in the Private Rented Sector

As expected, these new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) will apply to both the domestic and non-domestic sides of the PRS meaning that whether a landlord is letting out a commercial property or a house to a tenant, it could be unlawful to do so should the building not meet these new minimum EPC requirements.

3. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard for non-domestic (commercial) buildings is an EPC rating of E

It is our understanding that this new rating will be based on C02 emissions for commercial property, this is the EPC graph displayed on the first page of the commercial energy efficiency certificate. Read the official DECC Government report for Non-Domestic buildings here.

4. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard for domestic (residential) buildings is an EPC rating of E

It is our understanding that this new rating will be based on Fuel costs rather than C02 emissions for domestic property. This is the EPC graph displayed on the first page of the energy certificate. Read the official DECC Government report for Domestic dwellings here.

5. The EPC regulation changes are about the energy efficiency rating and that, if renting out a property, an F or G rating could be problematic.

Potential issues could arise after 1 April 2018 when trying to let a house/flat or renew a commercial lease with an EPC rating worse than an E.

For the period Q1 2008 – Q1 2015, 35% of Non-Domestic buildings which had an EPC survey carried out were achieving an E, F, or G rating. For the same period, 26% of Domestic properties achieved an E, F or G rating. This official Government data suggests that a significant proportion of the UK building stock could be affected by the new energy performance regulations.

6. These new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 22nd July 2014 and confirmed on 5 February 2015.

The Government considered the views of a variety of individuals and organisations across England and Wales on the issues surrounding EPCs before deciding on the details of the new regulations which are designed to help the Government meet their obligations set out in the Energy Act 2011 to improve the energy efficiency of property within the privately rented sector.

7. The new EPC regulations require eligible properties to be improved to acheive a rating of E or better, before they can be rented out

The new regulations apply to Non-domestic property, defined by the Energy Act 2011 as any property let on a tenancy, which is not a dwelling. All commercial property types from A1 – D2 usage class are in scope of the regulations, with the exception of those exempt from existing Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations.

The regulations apply to Domestic property, defined in section 42 of the Energy Act 2011 as properties let under an assured tenancy for the purposes of the Housing Act 1998, or a tenancy which is a regulated tenancy for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977. There are also however, some exceptions where a domestic property would be exempt from requiring an EPC.

Confused still? Want to know what all this means for your property?

The best thing to do is to speak with a local energy assessor in your area, they will be able to offer you tailored expert advice and provide you with an EPC if you need one. Here’s some useful links, click them and pop in your postcode to find a local expert:

List of Residential Energy Assessors >

List of Commercial Energy Assessors > (Hint: Search for EPC Level 4 in the dropdown)

If you’re in the Midlands and require a commercial EPC, feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to help!

Got more questions? Contact The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 030 3444 0000 or via their Contact Form

Commercial EPCs & how the 2018 changes affect agents & landlords

We’re finding many of our clients have little understanding of how the Energy Performance Certificate 2018 regulation changes will affect both their landlord clients and themselves.

This guide aims to summarise the key changes and keep those who need to know, in the know.
This article builds on the 7 things you need to know about the 2018 EPC changes blog post we produced to give a high level overview of the key issues surrounding the changes applying to both residential EPCs and commercial EPCs.

This article is written with a specific focus on commercial real estate and summarises the report from the Department of Energy & Climate change on the new 2018 EPC regulations.

WHAT IS CHANGING?

From 1 April 2018, the minimum energy efficiency standard will be set at an E, meaning that commercial property with an EPC rating of F or G will require improvements to the buildings to improve the energy efficiency rating before a lease can be granted.

The 2018 EPC regulation changes will apply upon the granting of:

  • a lease to a new tenant, and,
  • a lease to an existing tenant.

WHAT TYPE OF COMMERCIAL PROPERTY DOES IT AFFECT?

The regulation changes will apply to the non-domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. As defined by the Energy Act 2011, this will be any property let on a tenancy, which is not a dwelling. The existing exemptions will remain applicable.

ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS TO THE NEW 2018 EPC REGULATIONS?

Only cost effective, permissible and appropriate improvements are required under the new regulations. If a landlord can provide suitable evidence of the following, then they will be eligible for an exemption from their commercial building reaching the E minimum rating:

  • If the improvement measures are not cost-effective, and do not pay for themselves within 7 years, or do not fall in line with the Green Deal’s Golden Rule which states ‘The expected financial savings must be equal to or greater than the costs attached to the energy bill’.
  • If, despite reasonable efforts, the landlord is unable to obtain the necessary consents from tenants, lenders or superior landlords to install the required energy efficiency improvements.
  • If a ‘relevant suitably qualified expert’ can provide written advice stating that the proposed energy improvement works will have an adverse affect on the value of the property by 5% or more.
  • If a ‘relevant suitably qualified expert’ can provide written advice that insulation applied to walls will damage the property.

WHY DOES IT AFFECT COMMERCIAL LANDLORDS?

The reason is because it will be the landlords responsibility to take action to ensure that if they wish to lease their commercial property, that the energy efficiency rating falls between the A – E EPC ratings.

If the energy efficiency improvement works are cost effective, permissible and appropriate, then it is up to the landlord to make arrangements to get the works done.

If a landlord feels that their property is exempt, and that they should be allowed to lease their commercial premises, even with an F or G rating, then they can apply to notify this on a centralised register – the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Exemptions Register.

WHY DOES IT AFFECT COMMERCIAL AGENTS?

As an agent, if your clients properties are non-compliant then you will not be able to lease them until they are. The time taken to make improvements could cost both you and your clients lost revenue. Commercial real estate agents are in a good position to advise landlords of the changes to ensure they have awareness of:

  • the general legislation on the EPC regulation changes in 2018 and their responsibilities.
    when the changes will apply, giving them time to make any required changes to improve the energy efficiency of their premises
  • what they can do / need to do if their property does not achieve an E rating or better
    the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Exemptions Register

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR NON COMPLIANCE?

If a landlord has a commercial property that falls in the scope of the regulations, but the landlord has not ensured that their property is compliant, or has not sufficiently proved an exemption, then a Local Authority is within its power to serve a compliance notice on the landlord requesting that further information is sent to them to confirm compliance.

  • If this information is not provided or does not prove compliance, then a penalty notice may be issued. The landlord will have the right to appeal a penalty.
  • The penalty is £5,000 for providing false or misleading information to the PRS Exemptions Register, or for failing to comply with a compliance notice from a Local Authority.
  • The penalty for renting out a non-compliant commercial property is as follows:
  • Less the 3 months non-compliance: 10% of rateable value, subject to a minimum fine of £5,000 and a maximum fine of £50,000.
  • More than 3 months of non-compliance: 20% of rateable value, subject to a minimum fine of £10,000 and a maximum fine of £150,000
  • Publication of non-compliance will apply to both timeframe offences.

Confused still? Want to know what all this means for your property?

The best thing to do is to speak with a local energy assessor in your area, they will be able to offer you tailored expert advice and provide you with an EPC if you need one. Here’s some useful links, click them and pop in your postcode to find a local expert:

List of Residential Energy Assessors >

List of Commercial Energy Assessors > (Hint: Search for EPC Level 4 in the dropdown)

If you’re in the Midlands and require a commercial EPC, feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to help!

Got more questions? Contact The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 030 3444 0000 or via their Contact Form

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