How To Price Your Real Estate Photography
Last year more than 6.4 million homes were sold in Canada and the United States. As a photographer, that means a whole lot of opportunity in real estate photography. Now the thing is, most beginners struggle to know how to price real estate photography. Even if there are 6.4 million homes to photograph, how much are you supposed to charge?
Here you’ll get an idea of what other industry professionals are charging and how to build your own package. Every real estate market is slightly different, but the pricing considerations all remain the same.
Before we start, make sure to stick around till the end for some extra profitable tips. I mean, how does doubling or tripling your income from a single house sound?
How Much Does A Real Estate Photographer Make
Real estate photographer salaries can vary significantly from location to location. Now I’m no wizard and don’t know exactly where you live, so I can’t offer the perfect answer.
I have saved you the work and taken the average of different locations around the country to give you a solid idea. Starting with the rates below, you’ll have the perfect starting ground for pricing your real estate photography.
Income Variables For Real Estate Photographers
There are two different avenues you can take in real estate photography. The first offers higher volumes and less pay, while the second pays more but is challenging to get consistent work.
Working For A Real Estate Media Agency
Real estate media agencies serve as a media hub for realtors looking for any type of creative needs. These companies will have a roster of in-house photographers that they send out to photograph thousands of homes.
The advantage as a photographer is you get to work in volume. Although you may get paid slightly less with an agency, photographing dozens of homes a week makes up for that.
Being a freelancer can have its ups and downs, but working with an agency, you’ll have consistent work.
And with consistent work comes more money in your pocket!
Working As A Freelance Real Estate Photographer
Working as a freelance real estate photographer means you are being hired and operate under your own name.
With this avenue, you’re solely relying on the contacts you have to get more work. It’s totally viable to get in touch with a few realtors who consistently hire you for their homes.
It’s just a matter of networking.
If you have an extra go-getter attitude, freelance work could be your ticket to real estate success!
The Average Income For Real Estate Photographers
Here are the averages with agency and freelance work to help you figure out how to price real estate photography.
Working For An Agency:
As I mentioned earlier, working for an agency, you’ll get paid slightly less per house.
Depending on the market you’re in, you can expect $50 – $75 per house.
More expensive markets tend to drift towards the higher range in this case.
On average, you’ll likely photograph 3-4 homes per day throughout the year. In high season, this could go up to 5-7!
That means you can expect $750 – $1,500 per week while working 5 days a week.
This averages out to around $4,500 a month.
And $54,000 a year just from shooting real estate photography with an agency.
Either way, you end up ahead!
Working As A Freelance Real Estate Photographer:
As a freelancer, you have the benefit of choosing your own rates. The downside is that you don’t work in as high of volumes as you would with an agency.
Luckily the difference in price tends to balance the scales.
Depending on the size of the home you’re photographing, most freelancers charge $175 – $250 per house.
Typically homes over four to five thousand square feet start to hit to the higher end of prices.
On average, a freelance real estate photographer will photograph 1-2 homes per day but can do more if they’re well connected.
That means a freelance real estate photographer can expect $875 – $2,500 per week working 5 days a week.
This averages out to around $6,800 per month.
Or $81,600 per year solely from working as a freelance real estate photographer.
Remember that this average assumes you are working 1-2 houses per day, 5 days a week, for 52 weeks. It’s not uncommon with freelance work to hit lulls and go through periods without any income.
Neither of these averages accounts for sick days, holidays, or tax deductions.
Photographing Luxury Properties (Over 6000 Square Feet)
Now on the most lucrative end of real estate photography lies luxury or high-end properties. These homes don’t need to be luxurious but need to be 6,000 square feet or larger.
If you can land yourself work shooting primarily large homes, the pay off can be huge.
For large properties, agencies will charge around $100 per house, while most freelancers will charge around $300 per house.
Assuming the same volume as in the previous examples, that’s $2,000 per week for agency photographers and $3,000 per week for freelancers.
This equals $8,000 per month with an agency and $12,000 per month as a freelancer.
Or $96,000 per year as an agency photography and $144,000 per year as a freelancer.
Not too shabby!
How To Price Real Estate Photography And Build Your Packages
At this point, you’re (probably) convinced that real estate photography is the industry you want to be in. So let’s start putting together your packages!
Here are a few tips to consider when building your packages and prices for real estate photography. I won’t be sharing exact prices for each, but the point is to break down what goes into your consideration in the price.
1. Consider The Size Of The House
The first thing you need to do when learning how to price real estate photography is to break your rates down by square footage.
Depending on the home’s size, it’s going to take you more or less time to shoot. Your time is what you need to consider here.
It’s a good idea to start with a base range that covers all of your general prices.
For example, any house up to 4,000 square feet will fall under a single price range.
Then your rates for 4,000 to 6,000 square feet will increase to another price range.
Lastly, any homes over 6,000 square feet fall under your highest price range since they’ll take the most time to photograph.
Like I discussed in the freelance income section above, most photographers range from $175 – $300 per house.
That means your base price would be $175, your mid-range is $225, and your high end is $300.
Keep in mind that these prices are purely an example. The rates you choose should depend on the market you’re working in.
2. Create Packages Based On The Number Of Photos
The number of photos you take should be considered in your real estate photography pricing alongside square footage.
In some cases, a realtor may only need 10 basic images of the property.
Other times they may need a 20-30 to thoroughly cover the whole space.
These are the types of things you want to create different rates for since each will take a different amount of time.
As you’ll start to see as a common theme here, learning how to price real estate photography comes down to how much time is involved.
3. Make Sure To Have A Same Day / Rush Fee
It’s not uncommon for a realtor to want the images delivered within the same day. This is another opportunity to tack on an extra fee.
With a rush fee, realtors can pay you a premium for you to prioritize their photos. For $25 to $50 extra, they can have all the photos delivered in the same say they were taken.
A rush fee primarily makes it more worthwhile for you to take on the added stress of delivering the images quickly.
It also prevents realtors who don’t want to pay extra from demanding the images be delivered as soon as possible.
You can experiment with your rush fee and see what people deem as acceptable. If you aren’t sure, the $25 – $50 range is a good start.
But obviously, don’t ask for a $50 rush fee when your entire shoot was only $75. Keep it reasonable and fair!
4. Break Down Your Costs And Time
Your main costs are gear, gas, and time as a photographer. These are important factors in choosing your prices for real estate photography.
Your prices should include a small amount for the use of your gear, your editing programs, and any other equipment you’re using for the shoot.
Now I’m not talking hundreds of dollars here—just a few extra dollars considered in the price to go towards equipment upkeep and maintenance.
Secondly, you have to consider what your time is worth. With your unique skill set as a photographer, how much is your creative knowledge worth? How much does your time cost?
Ultimately a realtor is buying your time to be spent doing something for them. What is that worth to you?
That’s an important aspect to consider as you create packages and price your real estate photography!
5. Add A Travel Fee
You can’t tack on a travel fee for every shoot, but you can for ones that require you to drive far away.
Where I live in Vancouver, Canada, the typical travel fee kicks in after 50km (31 miles) from the office or photographers’ residence.
That means if you have to drive more than 50km to get to the house, you’ll be charging an extra fee for gas and time.
After all, that driving time could be spent shooting other homes!
The right distance for a travel fee will depend on where you live. Maybe you’re reading 50km (31 miles) and thinking that’s astronomically far.
Especially if you live in the heart of a big city.
So consider where you live and what the average person might drive on their commute to work. Add on a bit to this average, and you’ll have a good distance to base your travel fee on.
6. Create Different Rates For Midday Vs. Twilight Shoots
A popular time of day for real estate photography is during golden hour and twilight. At this time of day, the light is best, and the whole property has a more unique look.
With that said, there are only two opportunities a day to shoot this light—one at sunrise and one at sunset.
Are you starting to see the problem here?
If realtors want the best light, there are only two chances for them to get it. Since you have to photograph the home in a specific time window, you can add extra fees for these shoots.
Another thing to consider is if a realtor only wants exterior photos of a home during twilight. That means you could photograph the interior in the afternoon and come back later for the exterior.
If that’s the case, you can consider offering discounts for shoots partially done in mid-day and later at twilight.
7. Create A Fee For Surrounding Area Photos
Realtors not only love photos of the home, but of the surrounding area. These are the types of things that really draw in a potential buyer.
Let’s say the house you’re shooting is a few blocks from the ocean. Down by the beach, there’s a beautiful pier and a few blocks of shops and cafes.
The realtor may want a few photos of this stuff.
The problem is that you have to go over there after you’re done the house to photograph it all.
If you have to drive more than a couple of minutes, create a fee for surrounding area photos.
Just a few extra dollars to cover the few minutes you’ll spend quickly snapping some pictures.
Having a fee like this not only protects your time but makes realtors really consider whether or not they want those photos.
8. Decide If You Want To Shoot In High Volumes Or Do Specialty Images
At the end of the day, you’re taking real estate photos to make money. When it comes to pricing, the amount of volume you work with can heavily dictate how much you charge.
Just like an agency, if you work with dozens of clients around the clock, you can afford to offer slightly lower rates.
Even though your rates are lower, you’re shooting more homes, so you’re still ahead.
If you don’t want to shoot in high volumes, maybe you’re looking to shoot specialty photos or social media content for realtors.
In that case, you likely won’t be working with as much volume, so your rates would be a little higher.
Always try to make your prices reasonable for your customer while making it a worthwhile income stream for you.
9. Look At Agencies And Freelance Photographers In Your Area
One of the best ways to get an idea of how to price real estate photography is to look at others doing it in your area.
What are they charging?
What packages do they have?
For agencies, it’s easy to browse their website and see all the services and prices they offer.
For freelancers, you could reach out to them directly to ask what a reasonable price for real estate photography is in your area.
Asking others is good to not only give you an idea of your market but to ensure you don’t undercut anyone.
If you suddenly hit the streets with rates way below other photographers, realtors may start to refuse to pay higher prices.
It’s best to align yourself in the same ballpark as others’ prices so you can help maintain a reasonable wage for the whole industry.
10. Extra Fee For Key Pickup / Drop Off
Sometimes the realtor will ask you to get the key for the house from the real estate office. Maybe they forgot, or they’re just not close by and can’t get it in time.
In this situation, make sure to have an additional fee for all of your packages.
Since it takes up more of your time to go to and from the real estate office, the realtor should be paying for your time.
Something like $15 – $20 extra is a reasonable fee to charge when doing something like this.
(BONUS!) 11. Test Your Prices In Your Market
Your packages and prices will constantly evolve. Once you put together your initial packages, go out, and experiment with them. See if people are going to your competition or if you feel like you’re getting cheated for the work you’re doing.
Learning how to price real estate photography comes with a lot of trial and error. You’ll be asked certain things that you later realize you should have charged an extra fee for.
The more clients you get, the easier it will be to refine your prices and perfect them for your specific market.
4 Ways To Make More Money As A Real Estate Photographer
Besides your regular photos, there are a ton of ways you can make some extra money as a real estate photographer. In some cases, you can double or triple what you make per house!
Here are the four best ways to make some extra cash from your real estate shoots.
Drone work one of the most lucrative parts of real estate photography. Whether you’re shooting videos or photos, your drone packages can double or triple your money from a single shoot.
You can add on an extra $300 – $500 per house to take drone images for a typical shoot.
This might seem crazy, but realtors pay a huge premium for the unique skill set you have as a drone pilot.
Now before you head over to DJI and buy a drone right now, you’ll need to do something first.
If you want to offer drone packages with your real estate photography, you need to get your commercial drone license.
Getting this license means you’ve gone through proper training and theory to safely fly the drone. You can’t just pick up a drone and start flying it for work.
You can take this course for only a few hundred dollars and start adding some huge money to your real estate packages.
Think of it as an investment towards a huge pay raise.
3D Photo Tours
A 3D Photo Tour is like an interactive panorama potential buyers can use to view an entire room of a house. Rather than one photo from a specific angle, 3D Tours allow you to see the whole room at once.
This has become an increasingly popular feature in real estate and looks great on websites. Not to mention, it helps conversion rates and is a more interesting way to view a home.
For you, the photographer, a 3D Photo Tour is done by shooting a panoramic sequence. With the panorama image stitched together, you can use this to create a 360-degree photo.
On average, a 3D Tour will make you $15 – $25 extra per home.
Not a bad way to boost your revenue for each house you photograph!
Most photographers will shoot a home in a single exposure. That means all the highlights, shadows, and mid-tones are lumped together into one shot. They’re each exposed as best as possible, but might not be perfect.
With HDR photography, you can capture a much higher quality image by merging multiple exposures.
With HDR, it takes a bit longer to shoot and edit, which means more time.
And what do you know about more time?
You should charge more money!
If a realtor wants an HDR package from you, you can charge an extra fee for the labor involved in making it happen.
For an HDR Shoot, you can expect to make $25 – $35 more per home.
This is another effective way to make some extra money from each house you photograph.
Most realtors like to have a set of images, along with a video showcasing the entire property. A real estate video consists of stabilized shots going through a house and serves as an ‘online tour’ of the home.
A real estate videographer will typically make around the same as a photographer. However, it’s completely possible to offer both photography and videography in your packages.
As a real estate videographer, you can make $200 – $300 per home on average.
For any realtor that needs both services, you can come and do both during the same shoot.
If you were getting paid $75 for the photos and $200 for the video, you’ve instantly 2.5x your money from one house.
Multiply that over hundreds of houses in a year, and you’re making some pretty good cash.
If you have a knack for video and are comfortable with video editing, this is the perfect opportunity for you.
So that was 10 (and then some) profitable ways to price your real estate photography. Real estate photography is a booming business and a great industry for any photographer to get started in. If you’re looking for something that provides consistent work and great pay, then there’s no better place to be.
Once you learn how to price real estate photography, all you have to do is reaching out and connecting with realtors to land some jobs. Before you know it, you’ll be the talk of the town with all the great photos you take!
Are you ready to get started as a real estate photographer? Check out this Ultimate Guide To Getting Started As A Real Estate Photographer!
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– Brendan 🙂