Some Real Estate Photographers Might Be Out of a Job Soon

With a new court decision, the real estate market is going to change, and that means there may be fewer jobs for the average real estate photographer.

I have been shooting real estate for over 10 years, and yes, it took a while to get good at the real estate shooting style, as I mostly shot vacation rentals, which is a different style. So, work on your skills if you want to continue photographing homes.

The new law is eventually taking real estate buyer agents out of the picture, which means there will be fewer agents, with less need for photographers and only the best photographers being hired. I can relate to this lawsuit, as I sold my loft years ago, and I had no idea I was responsible for paying the buyer agent commission, so you can imagine that paying both agents came as a surprise to me. Unfortunately, with this shakeup, many people who photograph homes may be out of a job.

Photographing real estate is not easy, and now, realtors are going to be very discerning, so learning to be a great real estate photographer is going to be very important. There are so many tutorials online to learn from, but it takes a lot of practice. Every home comes with its own set of challenges, so learn all you can and shoot all you can.

Korbin Bielski's picture

Korbin is a Fine Art, Fashion and Home Photographer living in Los Angeles. His love of photography began early while growing up in Detroit and eventually turning professional while living in L.A. Korbin's focus is on selling his prints, but is still very active in his other photography endeavors.

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yeah real estate is pretty scammy if you don't know what your dealing with or how to deal with it. Pretty much any industry that brings in big bucks how real estate does is going to be scammy. Where there is lots of money there is corruption.

Read my post

There is a lot of talk in the news about real estate agent commissions. They LOVE what they do and they do it because they LOVE helping people but there is almost always a huge misconception on what they do and how they get paid. It's not a secret so here ya go...😊
The average FULL TIME REALTOR’s earnings last year was $31,900 @ 40+ hours a week. (Notice I wrote full time 40+ hours not 0-20 hours a week) which is well below the living wage. As a REALTOR they do not get paid a hourly wage or salary and they only get paid if they sell a home and it closes. They can only get paid by broker to broker and everybody gets their piece before the agent does. As an agent you could work with someone days, weeks, months, or years with no guarantee of a sale ever.
Essentially they wake up each day unemployed going on job interviews and they deal with constant rejection. They dedicate time away from family, use our time, gas, pay for babysitters, miss dinner and weekends and rarely take vacations. They are on 24/7! You constantly need to be on, or you could miss an opportunity. Once they do close a home, half goes to the other persons agent from the remaining half. They have lots of upfront expenses that must be paid out before they even get paid:
Broker Splits and Fees
Office rent and utilities
MLS Fees
NAR Fees
Local Association Fees
E&O Business Insurance
Extended Auto Insurance
Self-Employment Tax
State Licensing Fees
Advertising Fees
Showing Service Fees
Website Fees
Assistant's Salaries
Showing partners
Transaction coordinator
Yard Signs
Office Supplies
Business Cards
Property Flyers
Electronic Lockboxes
Continued RE Education
Legal Fees
Income taxes are not taken out so they have to put that aside around 25-30%.
Don’t forget health insurance if you don’t have a spouse who provides it if you’re even fortune to have time for one of those.
As a listing agent they have lots of tasks far more than just selling a home (including but not limited to):
1. Prepare Listing Presentation for Sellers
2. Research Sellers Property Tax Info
3. Research Comparable Sold Properties for Sellers
4. Determine Average Days on Market
5. Gather Info From Sellers About Their Home
6. Meet With Sellers at Their Home
7. Get To Know Their Home
8. Present Listing Presentation
9. Advise on Repairs and/or Upgrades
10. Provide Home Seller To-Do Checklist
11. Explain Current Market Conditions
12. Discuss Seller’s Goals
13. Share Your Value Proposition
14. Explain Benefits of Your Brokerage
15. Present Your Marketing Options
16. Explain Video Marketing Strategies
17. Demonstrate 3D Tour Marketing
18. Explain Buyer & Seller Agency Relationships
19. Describe the Buyer Pre-Screening Process
20. Create Internal File for Transaction
21. Get Listing Agreement & Disclosures Signed
22. Provide Sellers Disclosure Form to Sellers
23. Verify Interior Room Sizes
24. Obtain Current Mortgage Loan Info
25. Confirm Lot Size from County Tax Records
26. Investigate Any Unrecorded Property Easements
27. Establish Showing Instructions for Buyers
28. Agree on Showing Times with Sellers
29. Discuss Different Types of Buyer Financing
30. Explain Appraisal Process and Pitfalls
31. Verify Home Owners Association Fees
32. Obtain a Copy of HOA Bylaws
33. Gather Transferable Warranties
34. Determine Need for Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
35. Verify Security System Ownership
36. Discuss Video Recording Devices & Showings
37. Determine Property Inclusions & Exclusions
38. Agree on Repairs to Made Before Listing
39. Schedule Staging Consultation
40. Schedule House Cleaners
41. Install Electronic Lockbox & Yard Sign
42. Set-Up Photo/Video Shoot
43. Meet Photographer at Property
44. Prepare Home For Photographer
45. Schedule Drone & 3D Tour Shoot
46. Get Seller’s Approval of All Marketing Materials
47. Input Property Listing Into The MLS
48. Create Virtual Tour Page
49. Verify Listing Data on 3rd Party Websites
50. Have Listing Proofread
51. Create Property Flyer
52. Have Extra Keys Made for Lockbox
53. Set-Up Showing Services
54. Help Owners Coordinate Showings
55. Gather Feedback After Each Showing
56. Keep track of Showing Activity
57. Update MLS Listing as Needed
58. Schedule Weekly Update Calls with Seller
59. Prepare “Net Sheet” For All Offers
60. Present All Offers to Seller
61. Obtain Pre-Approval Letter from Buyer’s Agent
62. Examine & Verify Buyer’s Qualifications
63. Examine & Verify Buyer’s Lender
64. Negotiate All Offers
65. Once Under Contract, Send to Title Company
66. Check Buyer’s Agent Has Received Copies
67. Change Property Status in MLS
68. Deliver Copies of Contact/Addendum to Seller
69. Keep Track of Copies for Office File
70. Coordinate Inspections with Sellers
71. Explain Buyer’s Inspection Objections to Sellers
72. Determine Seller’s Inspection Resolution
73. Get All Repair Agreements in Writing
74. Refer Trustworthy Contractors to Sellers
75. Meet Appraiser at the Property
76. Negotiate Any Unsatisfactory Appraisals
77. Confirm Clear-to-Close
78. Coordinate Closing Times & Location
79. Verify Title Company Has All Docs
80. Remind Sellers to Transfer Utilities
81. Make Sure All Parties Are Notified of Closing Time
82. Resolve Any Title Issues Before Closing
83. Receive and Carefully Review Closing Docs
84. Review Closing Figures With Seller
85. Confirm Repairs Have Been Made
86. Resolve Any Last Minute Issues
87. Attend Seller’s Closing
88. Pick Up Sign & Lock Box
89. Change Status in MLS to “Sold.”
90. Close Out Seller’s File With Brokerage
As a buyers agent they also have many tasks (including but not limited to):
1. Schedule Time To Meet Buyers
2. Prepare Buyers Guide & Presentation
3. Meet Buyers and Discuss Their Goals
4. Explain Buyer & Seller Agency Relationships
5. Discuss Different Types of Financing Options
6. Help Buyers Find a Mortgage Lender
7. Obtain Pre-Approval Letter from Their Lender
8. Explain What You Do For Buyers As A Realtor
9. Provide Overview of Current Market Conditions
10. Explain Your Company’s Value to Buyers
11. Discuss Earnest Money Deposits
12. Explain Home Inspection Process
13. Educate Buyers About Local Neighborhoods
14. Discuss Foreclosures & Short Sales
15. Gather Needs & Wants Of Their Next Home
16. Explain School Districts Effect on Home Values
17. Explain Recording Devices During Showings
18. Learn All Buyer Goals & Make A Plan
19. Create Internal File for Buyers Records
20. Send Buyers Homes Within Their Criteria
21. Start Showing Buyers Home That They Request
22. Schedule & Organize All Showings
23. Gather Showing Instructions for Each Listing
24. Send Showing Schedule to Buyers
25. Show Up Early and Prepare First Showing
26. Look For Possible Repair Issues While Showing
27. Gather Buyer Feedback After Each Showing
28. Update Buyers When New Homes Hit the Market
29. Share Knowledge & Insight About Homes
30. Guide Buyers Through Their Emotional Journey
31. Listen & Learn From Buyers At Each Showing
32. Keep Records of All Showings
33. Update Listing Agents with Buyer’s Feedback
34. Discuss Home Owner’s Associations
35. Estimate Expected Utility Usage Costs
36. Confirm Water Source and Status
37. Discuss Transferable Warranties
38. Explain Property Appraisal Process
39. Discuss Multiple Offer Situations
40. Create Practice Offer To Help Buyers Prepare
41. Provide Updated Housing Market Data to Buyers
42. Inform Buyers of Their Showing Activity Weekly
43. Update Buyers On Any Price Drops
44. Discuss MLS Data With Buyers At Showings
45. Find the Right Home for Buyers
46. Determine Property Inclusions & Exclusions
47. Prepare Sales Contract When Buyers are Ready
48. Educate Buyer’s On Sales Contract Options
49. Determine Need for Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
50. Explain Home Warranty Options
51. Update Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter
52. Discuss Loan Objection Deadlines
53. Choose a Closing Date
54. Verify Listing Data Is Correct
55. Review Comps With Buyers To Determine Value
56. Prepare & Submit Buyer’s Offer to Listing Agent
57. Negotiate Buyers Offer With Listing Agent
58. Execute A Sales Contract & Disclosures
59. Once Under Contract, Send to Title Company
60. Coordinate Earnest Money Drop Off
61. Deliver Copies to Mortgage Lender
62. Obtain Copy of Sellers Disclosure for Buyers
63. Deliver Copies of Contract/Addendum to Buyers
64. Obtain A Copy of HOA Bylaws
65. Keep Track of Copies for Office File
66. Coordinate Inspections with Buyers
67. Meet Inspector At The Property
68. Review Home Inspection with Buyers
69. Negotiate Inspection Objections
70. Get All Agreed Upon Repair Items in Writing
71. Verify any Existing Lease Agreements
72. Check In With Lender To Verify Loan Status
73. Check on the Appraisal Date
74. Negotiate Any Unsatisfactory Appraisals
75. Coordinate Closing Times & Location
76. Make Sure All Documents Are Fully Signed
77. Verify Title Company Has Everything Needed
78. Remind Buyers to Schedule Utilities
79. Make Sure All Parties Are Notified of Closing Time
80. Solve Any Title Problems Before Closing
81. Receive and Review Closing Documents
82. Review Closing Figures With Buyers
83. Confirm Repairs Have Been Made By Sellers
84. Perform Final Walk-Through with Buyers
85. Resolve Any Last Minute Issues
86. Get CDA Signed By Brokerage
87. Attend Closing with Buyers
88. Provide Home Warranty Paperwork
89. Give Keys and Accessories to Buyers
90. Close Out Buyer’s File Brokerage
Whew…exhausting isn’t it!?! 🤯

Damn that's sounds like a really raw deal. They must really like doing it.

I've been an RE photographer for over a decade (No weddings, no babies, no family, but yes to the few sports (fight sports) that I understand). Anyway...

My wife is a hard working, professional, licensed realtor, who's CONSTANTLY in continuing RE education in the laws, rules, trends, market, etc. She's also paying license fees,, desk fees and broker fees out of pocket.
She recently sold a house to a client after working with the client for 9 months and showing 38 houses, many in off hours. She was able to negotiate price, help arrange finance, and then correctly write a legally binding contract to put these people into the home of their dreams.
I'd say she deserves to be paid for that.

Rob. You are right. This article is a joke and comes off as a simple plug.

Taking your own pictures is a time-consuming task as well as a costly one. Instead of learning a new trade, consider hiring a photo company like Shoot to Sell for around $150 or others who can shoot and produce photos within 24 hours. Think about the value of your time per hour. Are you willing to invest the time to shoot, bracket, and edit numerous photos in Photoshop to achieve a professional look? Focus on what you excel at - selling.

I'm a real estate broker and photographer. It was a court decision not a law. If it survives appeal, I don't think it will end buyer's agents, people still need representation. It may change who pays them, the buyer's may be required to pay their agent. Or they could use an attorney, but if you think Realtors charge a lot... This could lead to buyer's agent's charging hourly for services like an attorney which would eliminate a lot of nonsense in the industry, but may upset homebuyers who are used to being able to tour dozens of homes, write ten ridiculous low-ball offers, change their mind, and then owe nothing.

Even if buyer's agents are done away with, I don't see how this would effect photographer's. Buyer's agents don't hire photographers. The number of homes being listed won't change due to this decision.

"The number of homes being listed won't change due to this decision." - TRUE!

I too am a broker and multifaceted camera operator. If you are a good person working with good clients, nothing will change. I ask top producers about the topic and they laugh at the played out situation. I believe the average person doesn't take enough time to fully read a contract and then they point a finger at others.

This post is laughable at best.

I hate to call out dumb takes but this is probably the dumbest one.
Why would a shakeup in the buyer’s agents commission change the listing agents desire for good photos?
I’m a full time real estate photographer and have no real reason to be contacted by a buyers agent.
And real estate photography is as much about building relationships as it is taking photos, take care of your clients and they will keep coming back.

Correct! Buyers agents aren't calling us. Gotta love the attention grabbing headlines.

Guys, this is horrible click bait. Do you honestly think NAR and Keller Williams are going to idly sit by and not take this all the way to the Supreme Court? Also, considering the decisions the courts have been making lately, don't you think they are going to side with one of the most well funded contributors in NAR?

I too have been a REP for over 10 years and was a real estate agent for 17 years. This is nothing but clickbait. If your agent didn't inform you that you had a pay for the buyer's agent commission, that's on them and the selling broker's fault. You had to sign a sales contract and that explicitly stated in the sales contract, you pay buyer's commission as well. You probably did not read that portion enough. My two cents.

Clickbait seems to make up ~75% of the site, unfortunately. It's sad, as it distracts and detracts from the actually useful articles.

Had that exact discussion at my wife's broker's Thanksgiving party yesterday. And yeah, the broker said the same. (I'm a RE photographer, wife's an agent)


This article makes no sense. Photographers work for sellers agents. Buyer's agent are critcal for writing offers and navigating the real estate transaction. The lawsuits are being misrepresented and hyped by the media to make many attorneys wealthy. The media coverage simply demonstrates how little people understand about the sales process. Even the photographer that supposedly should know how it works doesnt seem to have a grasp of the basics of real estate. Please stick to your photography, and hold off on the nonsense.

This is exactly as click-baitey as I thought it would.
Tl;dnr - doesn't change anything. Business as usual.

I live in a rural but semi-Ritzy area in Northern Illinois. It's not uncommon for a home to sell for 1 to 2 million.. or more with only one or two acres of land.

I do IT and consulting work, I've been doing that full-time through my own company for over 10 years. I also did it for a few years along with electrical work before moving to Chicago and doing IT there.. but I've always been passionate about photography.

It was a hobby that I wanted to get into seriously since I was a child but couldn't afford to go all in without justifying the cost by actually doing photography on the side to pay for it all. I did weddings, pet and human portraits, a few family pics, a few boudoir sessions, and about a dozen real estate jobs.

As soon as I was close to paying off all the equipment I quit and only do it for fun now.

As far as the real estate photography goes though, to this day I do a lot of IT work for realtors and because of that I'm able to ask all of them what they're doing and what they're paying for photos. Almost none of them are paying someone else to take photos and 99.9% of them are using their cell phone. There's that 0.1% that actually has a drone. In other words one realtor. She figured out how to fly it and she figured out how to work the camera but she actually bought a professional drone and the automatic settings for the camera are just blah. She has no idea how to use the manual settings. Either way she's more sought after as a realtor simply because her listings have aerial photos or unique angles that are difficult to do without a ladder or impossible without a drone.

Every real estate job I did they wanted exterior and interior photos both with a regular camera and a drone, video, and a short little slideshow like video.. All for $150 or less. That's not enough.. 150 would be fine for the amount of photos most realtors take with their cell phones but done with a professional camera with some professional editing. All the extra plus the drone shots plus the videos.. no.

I normally came in after the houses had been sitting with little to no attention from people or a few of the jobs I did the realtor told me that people were complaining that the pictures weren't very good. All dozen homes were sold in less than a week after I updated the pictures for the realtors.. which in my case I got paid more money for the 15 minutes of IT work I did for the realtor than I did for the hours of work going to the site and taking the photos, editing them and the video, creating a short video, going back and forth with the realtor to show them and get their feedback.. ect.

I guess what I'm saying is I've figured that real estate photography on the professional level has been much more of a niche thing than something the average photographer can really get into. There are far too many in urban areas to compete with. You can't really have a unique style per say because legally the photos are supposed to represent what the property actually looks like. Then you have the rural areas which won't pay what it's worth.

Good for those photographers that both enjoy it and get paid well for it!

It's one avenue though that I've strongly discouraged most not to pursue unless they're passionate about architecture which can sometimes make up for not getting paid enough for the work.

It's also not terrible to have some real estate photography in your portfolio but most people looking for a wedding photographer could care less if they've ever photographed a building and been paid for it.. imo.

Decent article though.. 👍

S#!t post. Got us all clicking though.

If you buy his tutorials and books. You'll survive.