Real Estate Bid Pricing

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by michaelsmiller, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I've been contacted by a prominent National real estate builder in my city about becoming their permanent real estate photographer for an area encompassing 100 miles in all directions. I have experience photographing real estate for a few realtor friends over the years, but it's never been my business specialty. I would really appreciate your help in pricing out my bid to match the current standards. I'm in Michigan and this national firm has a reputation for being tough negoiators on contractors of all kinds.
    Here are my questions...
    What is an acceptable per home price? I know that everyone prices their work differently but I just want an idea to start... $50/home, $75/home or should it be much more or even less?
    Do I factor in all my editing time, travel time, gas, etc in the bid?
    Should I give them a per home discount if they send me a huge amount of homes every month?
    What kind of contract length should I negotiate?
    Should they receive full copyright release or can I use them for my portfolio?
    Any help is sincerely appreciated. I need to place my bid along with 2 other photographers on Tuesday close of business.
  2. I'm not sure there's enough information to go on here.
    If they send you one home a month for each of 12 months, you'll be happy working for them for $600/yr? If I were doing this, I'd want a minimum guarantee.
    Yes, definitely factor in everything in your bid. All of your time. All of your overhead. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a contract in which you are working for less than minimum wage.
  3. Another factor to consider in your pricing is the price (median) of the homes you will be photographing. Lower price homes, lower price photographer. Higher price homes - more expensive photographer.
    Also keep in mind that most homes under 500,000 are typically photographed by the listing agents themselves, with a simple P/S. (I've sold 3 homes and tried to sell a 4 th - all nice homes, but all photographed by the listing agent with a PS.)
    I have also tried to crack into the market with builders and was flat out told by them "that's what we pay our sales rep to do " and this is a middle to higher end builder who's happy having his homes represented by a sales person with a 6 mp sony point and shoot.
  4. In the 1980's I lived in Marin County, CA and shot high end real estate for limited use by the listing brokers. Shot it using 4x5 chromes and then worked with their printer to produce brochures usually numbering less than 150. The Real Estate broker paid for the design and printing as well as the separations. They paid me by the job and the smallest amount was in the $5000 range plus expenses. All work was one of a kind and the home prices started at well over $2,000,000. The distribution of the brochure was limited to pre-qualified interested buyers. I know that now they are using DVD productions in conjunction with limited custom prints and a friend who worked for me is doing the digital work for them. The homes have only gotten more expensive and his charges are much higher than we did 25 or so years ago. He still uses custom lighting to show the locations to best advantage - think Architectural Digest style work in and around San Francisco Bay. The images sell the homes as they show them at their best while at the same time not lying about them. The prospective buyer should be able to walk in when they view it feeling they are coming home - all from the images. That is what we were paid for.
    You charge what your time and talent is worth and what you bring to the table in quality and dependability. That is what the client pays for. Any fool with a camera and a basic editing program can do a walk through presentation these days. Are you selling the lowest common denominator or your professional services?
  5. It's like anything else. Figure out how much you need to make in a year (net, after business expenses) to live the way you want to live. Divide that by the number of days a year you want to work and that's your day rate. Then, if you're shooting houses as opposes to headshots of whatever, figure how many you can do in a day. That gives you the per-house price. Obviously if you're still shooting other assignments, your income doesn't have to come entirely from the houses. But if it takes even just an hour to shoot a house, you'd need to be shooting a full eight hour day five days a week if all you're charging is $50. As far as copyright, license them whatever they need but it's never a good idea to give up copyright and most clients don't need to own the copyright. You are highly unlikely to find a market for house photos other than the client, but you at least want to have them in your portfolio to show other clients what you can do.
  6. If they are builders then you are in for a treat. That means taking photos of show homes with staged furniture. Will they be using your photos for various marketing medium? Have you thought about the licensing fees associated to that?
    It's not like shooting some pix and hand the small size files to the realtor.
    Anyways when I used to do real estate photography, I charge by size and distance.
  7. $50/home, $75/home or should it be much more or even less?​

    Those prices are ridiculously low. Given the price of gas these days, and amortizing the cost of a decent camera and wide angle lens over three years, you won't even make minimum wage at that rate.

    I don't do real estate photography any more, but when I did I got $100 up-front, which paid for my direct expenses, and 0.2% of the final sale price, less the $100 advance, due at closing. So a home that closed at $300,000 would pay me a total of $600. For that price I sold them all rights to the pictures and I'd set up a little web based slide show to which they could link from their own agency web site or from their MLS. Agents liked it because they didn't have to put out much money until the deal closed, so I was sharing the risk with them.

    But even at that rate I wasn't making enough to make the time and effort it took to sell my services worth while.

    For more on this topic see
  8. There is a guy in my area that does homes for $150 a pop, which I am absolutely unable to compete with. My rate is a flat 0.15% of the total listing price, with a minimum of $250, and a max of $1,400. Real Estate photograph is a lot of work to do right. To really make a space look good, you need to worry about staging, and lighting will either be a composite or a multi light setup, both of which take time.

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