• Austin Follos

The Value of Professional Real Estate Photography in Marathon & the Florida Keys

As an agent or property manager in the Florida Keys, how do you get your property to stand out among the vast amount of listings in this current buyers market?

It's simple. You hire a professional real estate photographer. In this article I am going to address some surprising facts about the value of real estate photography and weigh the pros and cons of hiring and not hiring a professional photographer for your listings.

First, the facts:

  • Agents who outsource photography earn twice as much commission as those who do not. Only 35% of agents use professional photographers. (inman.com)

  • Listings with professional photographs sell 32% faster, spending only 89 days on the market compared to 123 for other homes. (PR Newswire)

  • Homes with high-quality photos receive 47% higher asking price per square foot. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos, and only 20% each on the listing description and agent description. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Homes with professional photos get 61% more views. (REDFIN)

What does all of this mean?

As an agent, establishing a reliable partnership with a credible real estate photographer is one of - if not the most - effective marketing strategies you can do for your business. The Pros

Hiring a professional real estate photographer will allow you to gain a competitive edge in many ways. Your photos will gain more exposure with more views and more time spent browsing your online listings which produces more phone calls and more showings. Your homes will sell faster - 138% on average - than other listings that choose not to hire a professional photographer. Lastly, professional photographs will increase the overall value of your listing including asking price, selling price, and of course... your commission. In essence, more money, faster money, and more potential.

The Cons

There is a cost associated with professional real estate photography and it's not always cheap. For very high-end listings you may need to hire cleaners, movers, a stager, designer or creative director before even introducing a photographer to your home. Often times you will do these things before open-house anyway, but in some cases, this may limit access to the property for a day or two. The cost of professional real estate photography services can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the shoot and additional features like twilight photos, aerial photography, video walk-throughs, boundary lines, and other features.

Your ROI

So what's your Return on Investment when hiring a professional real estate photographer?

The average cost of a home in Marathon is $474,900.

Your client will pay at least 6% sales commission

As an agent, you may walk away with 2.8%

The average price of professional real estate photography for a listing of this value is $275

Photos contribute about 25% toward selling your listing (some speculate 40% and above so I am trying to be modest here)

ROI = ((Gain from Investment) - (Cost of Investment) / (Cost of Investment)) x 100

Agent Commission = $13, 279.20

Gain from professional real estate photography investment = $3,324.30 (25% of $13,279.20)

Cost of Investment = $275

ROI = (( $3,324.30 - $275) / ($275)) x 100 = 1109%

Professional real estate photography is a no-brainer especially with higher-end listings as ROI increases as the sales price of a home increases.

The Reality

The first con - the price - is what deters so many agents in the industry. Instead, many realtors choose to do the photography themselves or hire someone with a camera to come in and snap some over exposed, poorly lit photos to get the job done so they can get back to the computer and list them on every possible platform. The reality is that not only are those photos doing very little to generate quality leads and interested buyers, but the agents themselves are wasting their valuable time that could be better spent networking, researching, and selling - taking advantage of their inherent strengths.


The current real estate market in Marathon, FL is Cold (meaning there are more sellers than buyers) and it largely favors the buyer. However because of the sheer amount of current listings, it is harder for buyers to sift through bad photos to find quality homes worth visiting. Many of these homes are beautiful properties. The problem is that many of these listings (even those over a million dollars) are showcasing a home that looks dark and uninviting. It is well known that if your client can't visualize themselves in your living spaces then your listing is going to be passed up within the first few seconds. The better your photos, the more views you're going to get.

Another notable point is that particularly in the Florida Keys and Marathon, most investors are not locals. This increases the need for quality online presence as it is not worth an investors time to travel here before driving up and down every single street to find the home their looking to flip, vacation rent, or live in. Instead, like 98% of other buyers, they spend the bulk of their time browsing online listings and sifting through classifieds before inquiring or making an appearance.

What can you do?

Establish a working relationship with a credible real estate photographer in your area.

Many - like us - offer long-term partnership discounts to reliable agents. Then, get a good cover image up on your listing. So many listings are fronting power lines, doorways, walking paths, cars and all sorts of poor cover images that don't sell. Find a photographer that knows how to entice people. Aerials can be very effective, especially for homes with ocean views, pools, and palm trees. However, what's truly important is focusing on what makes the home specifically unique and attractive and showcasing that while also building a quality portfolio around it so that when an interested buyer clicks into it, they will want to see more photos

and view the property for themselves.

Last note: don't be fooled! Not all paid photographers are professionals. I will provide more insight on this topic later but watch out for washed out HDR images and over-exposed ceiling-bounce gurus. These images do not sell and actually distract interest from the main subject matter in a scene. Your customers will be looking through hundreds, if not thousands of photographs before making a purchase so they will surely notice quality when they see it.

If you have any insight or feedback we would love to hear it! If you would like to check out more of our work, head over to our portfolio! We are a full coverage real estate photography company offering interiors, exteriors, aerials, and video for homes, vacation rentals, hotels, and commercial offices all throughout Florida!