Every real estate agent knows great photos are crucial for selling a house—not only do they help buyers visualize the life they’ll lead once they purchase and move into the home, but they’re also attention-grabbing when someone is sifting through hundreds of virtual listings online.
But what about land listings? Are photos of grass and trees and sky really going to make a difference to a potential buyer?
In short: yes, absolutely. While it's true that taking great, compelling photos of vacant land can be harder than doing the same for a house, quality photos will lead to more eyes on the listing and therefore, more potential buyers. Foregoing photos completely is an almost guaranteed way to alienate potential buyers and have them skip right over the listing. According to one study
, listings with multiple photos attract more than three times the number of detailed views and more than double the number of leads as listings with a single image.
So now you’re convinced that photos of a land listing are crucial. But how do you get great ones? Admittedly, it’s much more difficult for buyers to imagine their new life on a piece of land without benefiting from the ability to visualize the physical structure that might become their new home. In this article, we’ll focus on helping your potential buyers visualize their new home on an unimproved property by using quality images.
1. Only use as many photos as you have unique and interesting shots.
You won’t need to use as many images for a land listing as for a home, and that’s OK. In general, use a minimum of seven images and a maximum of 20 for a land listing, and make sure they’re all different (different subjects, angles, times of day, etc.) and unique, otherwise they’ll be redundant, boring, and could a potential buyer off.
2. Take advantage of natural scenery.
Highlight the property’s best features. Whether it’s ample greenery, a great view, wildlife, or a water feature, include high-quality images of each in the listing.
3. Avoid images of man-made structures.
If your land listing is intended to one day be a residential property, buyers may not want to live near a busy road or see exposed power or telephone lines on their land. Try to position your camera to avoid images with undesirable features.
4. Use aerial or drone photography.
On-the-ground photos are nice, but aerial photos are crucial for land listings as they do the best job of illustrating the layout of the site and its property lines. Aerial images also offer views of proximity to other homes, streets, etc.—all things that can't be fully illustrated with ground-level photography. Buyers will appreciate an understanding of where the property is located in relation to other landmarks.
5. Impose lines and structures on aerial photos.
If possible, use county or city map information to impose lot lines on your aerial photos. This will allow buyers to easily envision the property lines.
6. Consider the season.
You can’t speed up time and sometimes, the season can’t be helped. But if possible, take photos of your land listing when nature is on display. This can be springtime when flowers are blooming, anytime in summer, or in the fall when leaves are turning colors but still on the trees. Avoid pictures showing leaves on the ground — this may remind people that the leaves must be raked or blown. And it’s usually best to avoid winter photos if possible unless the property looks particularly picturesque under new, light snowfall.
7. Cooperate with the weather.
Pictures taken on a rainy day will appear gloomy. Better to reschedule your photo session for a sunny or just slightly cloudy day.
8. Take advantage of “golden hour.”
Photographers call the hour before sunset the “golden hour” for a reason: That’s when the color of the light is most flattering, both for people and landscapes. If it’s possible to take your land listing photos in the late afternoon, that is ideal.
9. “Stage” the land.
When you list a parcel, the goal isn’t to simply offer the land as it stands today—you need to get a buyer to look beyond its current form towards what it can be. If you have renderings from a builder of a home that could fit on the land or drawings of a proposed improvement, use them to help buyers visualize the placement of a home on a property.
When to call in a professional photographer?
There’s a balance between doing it all and contracting out the parts of your job that either take up too much of your time or that you just can’t do as well as a professional. Photography is one area where many real estate agents turn to an expert.
DIY photography may require the purchase of equipment.
To do a good job, you’ll need a camera, a wide-angle lens, and a tripod—at minimum. The cost of a drone is an additional expense. Photography equipment can be found at various price points, so consider your investment before you decide.
Owning equipment is one thing, and knowing how to operate it is another.
If you have no picture-taking experience and no desire to take up photography as a hobby, there may be a steep learning curve when it comes to getting your photos just right. Do you want to spend time learning how to use photography equipment or would you be better off spending your time with clients?
Consider your return-on-investment.
If you have a relatively small piece of property in a popular location and you expect it to sell quickly, DIY photography may be adequate. But a large piece of land at a higher price point may need a professional photographer to highlight its best features.