According to 2017 statistics from the National Association of Realtors, 51% of buyers found the home they ended up buying on the internet. If you’re one of the two million or so licensed real estate agents in the US, this means your internet listings need to be strong, professional and compelling.
The best internet listings have high-quality photographs which highlight the outstanding features of a house, include accurate information about the home and neighborhood, list clear contact information and profile the real estate agent’s expertise.
Pictures, as they say, are worth a thousand words. In real estate, they can be worth thousands of dollars.
How Does Real Estate Photography Work?
As any realtor knows, selling a house requires beautiful photographs. While you may consider yourself an expert at smartphone photos and filters, you need better quality photos if you want to make a sale.
When you hire a photographer specifically to take photos to use on an internet listing, whether as a full-time employee or as a contractor, first review his or her portfolio to ensure that the quality meets your standards. Then make sure you have a carefully worded contract. In addition to the regular legalese listing the parties, property location, number of photos, payment terms, etc., this contract should also include specific wording around who owns the photos and how they can be used.
Unfortunately, in the competitive world of real estate, photos that are posted online are often stolen and used by other parties to advertise the same listings. However, there are ways to protect against this, and they should probably be detailed in the contract so both your and the photographer’s businesses are protected.
Why Watermark Photos?
One of the best ways to protect your photos is to put a watermark on them.
A watermark is an image or text placed on another image to make it harder to copy or duplicate. Watermarks are typically transparent, so you can still see most of the image underneath the mark. They can be large or small, but either size has the same goal: protecting your assets.
Watermarking your real estate photos sends a clear signal to other parties that they cannot use these photos without your permission. Watermarks also help build trust with potential buyers as they show authenticity.
If other parties do try to use your photos, buyers will likely be suspicious of a company that is using images that they clearly do not own. You may even be able to pursue legal action if you discover your watermarked photos on another site.
Best Practices in Watermarking Photos
When it comes to watermarking photos, there are some best practices real estate agents should follow.
Before watermarking, makes sure your listing portal and local MLS allow watermarked photos. If they don’t, there are still ways to protect your images through copyright filings. Although watermarking is relatively simple with online tools, it’s important to check the listing rules so you don’t waste your time.
Where Should the Watermark Go?
Place your watermarks somewhere on the photo where the main content of the photo is not obscured. The bottom right corner is a standard choice, however anything that is near an edge of the photo can easily be cropped out.
Placing the watermark near the center of the photo is more prominent and can’t be cropped out. It could be removed by someone with advanced photo editing skills, but that’s time consuming. One downside of center placement is that it you risk obscuring the beauty of the house you are trying to sell.
How Bright Should the Watermark Be?
The colors of the watermark should strike a balance between to opaque and to transparent. If it’s too opaque, then you won’t be able to see the photo’s content. If it’s too transparent, then you won’t be able to see the watermark. The watermark should be visible but tasteful, and it may take some experimentation to get it just right.
What Should Be Included in the Watermark?
Since the watermark is a claim of ownership, it should include the name of the real estate agent. It should also include contact details, such as a website address, so anyone who sees the image will know where to go for more information.
Next Steps for Real Estate Agents
If you have any existing listings, it might be worth adding watermarks to those photos and re-uploading them to the site. With online tools, you can add watermarks to multiple images fairly quickly.
Even if you don’t have time to update your existing photos, it’s worth taking the time to develop a watermark to place on future photos. In this highly competitive field – which gets even more competitive during market booms – adding this image may make the difference between you or another agent getting the sale.
WaterMarquee is an online photo watermarking tool. Get started free.