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Why is the real estate industry so chintzy?

aerialimagery

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OK, I admit I have not done much business with real estate people, but the few times I have been approached by them, they seemed to want much for very little.

Two recent examples:

1) I was approached by a commercial real estate company who had a whopping $100 to budget for the aerial photography of an industrial building and grounds near me. Besides doing thorough drone photography, he also wanted ground pictures from all sides. I suggested maybe I could do some very low photos with the drone, but he wouldn't go along with that. I finally negotiated the price to $200 and I would do some ground photos with my dslr, which I think is way too low for two sets of photos, but I thought perhaps it could lead to more work. At any rate it didn't work out because I didn't have clearance to fly in that area and someone else did.

2) Another realtor contacted me and had two large homes to photograph on adjacent parcels, each to be photographed as an individual subject, so naturally she wanted it priced as "2 for 1" and I agreed to do it for $200, once again with the idea that it was too low but hopefully it would lead to more business, and I wouldn't mind doing lots of low priced jobs. Then I found out that she also wanted photos from the ground from all sides of both homes as well as shops. Then I found out that she also wanted the interiors of both homes photographed. And she was expecting all that for $200.

Any time I've interacted with realtors or those in real estate they have pushed for very low prices and often things never worked out anyway.

My lowest pricing for industrial photography is $250, but I often charge more than $400 which includes thorough coverage from all sides, and many well-composed photographs from a very experienced aerial photographer, and this is much less than I used to charge when I did work from planes and helicopters.

However, I wouldn't mind doing low priced jobs, IF the client or clients had lots of them and not spread out too far. But it seems the same people who want so much for so little are just one-time customers.

With their huge commissions, why can't they be a little reasonable in budgeting for professional photographs?

Or am I unfairly judging the real estate industry because of my few bad experiences? I have read that some drone photographers do very with high-end homes, doing complete video packages including interiors.
 

Sojourner60

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I got my 107 in August 2017, I finally got my Phantom 4 this month. Real estate is one of the markets I hope to get into. Sounds like it could be a tough nut to crack. I get fliers in the mail from people wanting to sell my land for me and they have aerial photos on the cards. 6 months ago, they didn't. Have you tried talking to other drone pilots in the area to see what they charge? Call as a client. I hope to get started marketing my services soon.
 
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aerialimagery

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A local realtor advertises that he is a 107 drone pilot and does aerial photos of all his properties.

Having a drone doesn't turn someone into a good photographer, but maybe he gets what he needs.

I'm not going to bother with real estate unless they seek me out and want to pay something reasonable. My favorite things to photograph are factories, industrial properties (not for real estate but for aesthetic photos for websites, wall hangings, etc.), hospitals and colleges. It's tougher to get those clients than it used to be, but they are reasonable and don't expect something for nothing.
 
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aerialimagery

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I see this all the time. The problems are

#1 Realtors are cheap
#2 Saturated market
#3 Remote pilots under price themselves and especially those $99 for a complete package.
I'd be happy to do $99 jobs, so long as they can be done quickly and there are many of them.

But years ago when I used to market my aerial photography services, I started out very cheap and then experimented with raising my prices, and I found that I got as many or more customers at high prices than with low prices. But that was then. I'm a little confused about the market right now.
 
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Outta Control

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I'd be happy to do $99 jobs, so long as they can be done quickly and there are many of them.

But years ago when I used to market my aerial photography services, I started out very cheap and then experimented with raising my prices, and I found that I got as many or more customers at high prices than with low prices. But that was then. I'm a little confused about the market right now.
You maybe okay with it but the market price for a good operator and Cinematographer in CA is around $300-$500. But if you have the low ballers it confuses the market can cause more damage as a service than your pocket.
 
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aerialimagery

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I wouldn't do video for $99. What I would do for $99 is a quick-and-dirty set of still photos, if I had a bunch of them in the same town, and could count on a steady stream of those kinds of jobs. I could do 10 a day and would be happy with that. But the problem is that it doesn't work out that way. Cutting prices does not necessarily lead to more business, and I would probably end up with just a couple of those jobs each week.
 

Outta Control

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I wouldn't do video for $99. What I would do for $99 is a quick-and-dirty set of still photos, if I had a bunch of them in the same town, and could count on a steady stream of those kinds of jobs. I could do 10 a day and would be happy with that. But the problem is that it doesn't work out that way. Cutting prices does not necessarily lead to more business, and I would probably end up with just a couple of those jobs each week.
Exactly. Operating a sUAS for commercial purpose is a major undertaking. Aircraft, license, insurance, time to hone skills, lessons on cinematography, backup equipment, batteries, etc.
 

BigAl07

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Real Estate photography is a saturated market. Anyone with $500 can be an "Aerial Photographer"... just look at their business card... it says so! It's a race to the bottom and a quick one.

Realtors, just like many other people, are wanting to get as much for free or cheap because it's coming out of their pocket. It's not their fault they are excellent negotiators. They just happen to be better at it than many of us are. It's what they DO for a living.

If you start cheap you'll stay cheap. When I first got into Sales & Marketing many moons ago my VP told me, "Once you drop your pants you'll always be that kind of salesman....keep your pants and your prices up where they belong."

Your time is worth money just like theirs. They don't work for cheap or free and neither should any other professional. Try asking a Realtor, "Can you sell two houses for me for the commission of just one?" or better yet, "Can you cut your commission in half and if this all works out maybe I'll give you some more business in the future?"

We modified our pricing over the course of a year to find the Sweet Spot. I'm happy to say it was a good bit higher than I had expected but it took time, work, and attention to details to get there.

Lastly, I would NOT build a business model on Real Estate Aerials alone. It's a temporary one at BEST and a good way to go broke at worse. Realtors don't normally need ultra awesome pics (they would like them but wont pay for them) and many are willing to take cell phone pics and post them. Tell them, You get what you pay for!
 

Tennessee Drone Services

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OK, I admit I have not done much business with real estate people, but the few times I have been approached by them, they seemed to want much for very little.

Or am I unfairly judging the real estate industry because of my few bad experiences? I have read that some drone photographers do very with high-end homes, doing complete video packages including interiors.
I think it comes down to ROI. They pay Realtor fees, local association fees, broker fees, possibly franchise/branch fees, software licenses, and let's not forget tv, radio, magazine, billboard, and whatever else they have to do for marketing to make them stand out in their overly saturated market.

At the end of the day, their 1.5 to 3% of a home sale doesn't go as far as they want it to and just like everyone else, they too want something for nothing... Or as close to nothing as possible.

I had an honest conversation with a realtor who is a friend of mine. He said that the max he could afford for interior and exterior photography for houses under $300,000 was $200. He said there's a point where photography of the quality I offer loses its impact per dollar spent. He said he'd love to have me shoot every home he and his office shoots, but he knows he couldn't afford me. So, he hires it out for around $100 a house and gets photos that look like above average.

Now, when he has homes above 300,000, he does hire me and he pays me my rate. Part of it too is knowing your potential clients and what quality they are expecting.
 

Outta Control

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I can't remember where I saw the survey but during a realtor convention it was explained that a property will sell well over the asking price from properties that had some aerial shots.
 

BigAl07

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I can't remember where I saw the survey but during a realtor convention it was explained that a property will sell well over the asking price from properties that had some aerial shots.

85% of all current potential home buyers expect at least ONE aerial photo in a listing.
 
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AH-1G

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I think it comes down to ROI. They pay Realtor fees, local association fees, broker fees, possibly franchise/branch fees, software licenses, and let's not forget tv, radio, magazine, billboard, and whatever else they have to do for marketing to make them stand out in their overly saturated market.

At the end of the day, their 1.5 to 3% of a home sale doesn't go as far as they want it to and just like everyone else, they too want something for nothing... Or as close to nothing as possible.

I had an honest conversation with a realtor who is a friend of mine. He said that the max he could afford for interior and exterior photography for houses under $300,000 was $200. He said there's a point where photography of the quality I offer loses its impact per dollar spent. He said he'd love to have me shoot every home he and his office shoots, but he knows he couldn't afford me. So, he hires it out for around $100 a house and gets photos that look like above average.

Now, when an has homes above 300,000, he does hire me and he pays me my rate. Part of it too is knowing your potential clients and what quality they are expecting.
Here is my beef about some "cheap realtors". Let's take your numbers, 1.5% of $300,000 home, $4,500.00 of personal commission earned.
So how much of this is fixed and variable income for the listed property?
Again this will vary from realtor to realtor, so let's say 38% on taxes, expenses, and unknowns = $1,710.00 leaving $2,790.00 in their pocket.
How much actual time is a realtor spending on your property, another variable, lets say 25 hours, that's $103.60 per hour.
And that's on a $300,000 house at 1.5% earned commission.
Point is, I don't think the average realtor looks at the numbers this way.
It's also a tax write off to hire an aerial pilot. So in reality they can afford to hire us!:rolleyes:
 
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I can't stand realtors, they are essentially used car salespeople, doing not a lot for their money and expecting to be treated like royalty.

I AVOID them in my business, and when people (who always have ideas: 'have you thought of using a drone for XYZ' types, which is a nice thought but not helpful) suggest real estate...

I simply say 'It's like having running a restaurant: you offer good food, your prices are right and people come. If you happen to hear of a critic coming by, you might just double check the quality of the food before it leaves the kitchen, somthing akin to 110% effort to impress... if Royalty are coming by, you walk it to the table yourself. You still get the same fees, but you put 150% effort in and for no extra gain. Real estate agents want royal treatment for the price of a greasy spoon, and I'm not prepared to do that'.

> What fees do you guys put on real estate? How much work do you put in for that fee? After your flight, do you edit and deliver or just drop the raw data off at their office? Curious how people have made it work for all involved.

> Also, as an additional nosey parker question: how do you deal with it when an agent/company are flying illegally for their photos (or using an unlicenced pilot)?
 
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AH-1G

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Don't get me wrong, there are good realtors out there, a friend on mine, his wife is a realtor and pushes for aerial when needed.
I like to hang on to my mula, I just can't justify paying out 25000 for commission!
 

Tennessee Drone Services

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Here is my beef about some "cheap realtors". Let's take your numbers, 1.5% of $300,000 home, $4,500.00 of personal commission earned.
So how much of this is fixed and variable income for the listed property?
Again this will vary from realtor to realtor, so let's say 38% on taxes, expenses, and unknowns = $1,710.00 leaving $2,790.00 in their pocket.
How much actual time is a realtor spending on your property, another variable, lets say 25 hours, that's $103.60 per hour.
And that's on a $300,000 house at 1.5% earned commission.
Point is, I don't think the average realtor looks at the numbers this way.
It's also a tax write off to hire an aerial pilot. So in reality they can afford to hire us!:rolleyes:
And for $300,000+ homes I do get hired for both ground and air shoots. For homes less than that, this particular broker has another photographer do it and it is ground-based only. Every market is different.

I do see some realtors using their own drones here, but none are licensed that I know of. I will let them know the difference between hobby and commercial. They say they didn't know. Whether they keep with it or not, I don't know. I figure if I keep my business above board and worry about my own business, I may lose out here or there, but in the long run, I believe it will be worth it. Integrity speaks volumes.
 
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My grudge is not ill founded. I did a 1m30s property showcase video for an agent as a 'sample'. Not only was this place selling one of my properties, but I was actually doing this job for free, on the basis that we would be the 'go to' for future aerial, which is still the case despite there being zero jobs instructed... The list price on this property is £1.295million.... yes, that much. I didn't see a penny, wasn't even offered a cup of tea when in meetings. What an absolute ride I was taken on!

I've decided that I will approach this a different way in the next week or so, give them a opportunity to reassess their morals and business ethics, and if nothing comes of it still in an additional month, I will invoice them for the first job on the house. There are no contracts in place for that job, except a handful of emails back and forth with suggestions for an example piece. Their commission would be close to £25k for that sale, at the inside so I'm not worried about that. I paid them £2500 commission for doing a terrible job of selling my place, it took 5 months longer than they stated... but that's another matter. They are regarded as the 'best in the area'.

I think I might actually get them to sign something, to 1. cover me for expenses that they incur for any (if any) future jobs and 2. Get a sensible retainer set up so they might actually use our services.

Do you guys who ARE getting jobs get paid by the agent or the homeowner? The agent I'm dealing with expects the home owner to pay... I'm pretty sure they have the wrong end of the stick.
 

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That is sort of why I wonder if the for sale by owner crowd might be interesting to look at.
They are going against big relators with big marketing budgets.
I also wonder about some of the home listing sites, is there avenue with someone like trulia.

Years ago I knew a guy who basically made a living going around and photographing cars for a publication that sold owner vehicles
Instead of relying on the seller to provide inconsistent photos, they would send a guy around to do the photos
 

AH-1G

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This spring there is an event up the road from me, see below the web site.
I dropped in and explained to the owners about my whirlybird and how I can live feed to the shop while I'm outside flying my WB.
Also, truckers will pay big bucks to make their trucks look really cool with tons of chrome on it. So I will also see if the truckers are willing to pay me to do pics and aerials of there ride from a different perspective. I just have to decide a price point.
The owners immensely liked the idea!

Truck Show » 75 Chrome Shop
 

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