Leveraging Digital Photography

Have you ever earned a listing, simply because a seller appreciated your ability to expose their home to a larger, international audience? It’s one key advantage of earning your CIPS designation.

However, running a successful property marketing campaign that generates buyer interest from every corner of the world requires using the latest digital photography techniques, including:

Image enhancements - As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. On the internet, those visual first impressions are formed in a fraction of a second, substantially impacting click-through traffic on your listings.

Professional listing photos have been shown to attract more views, generate greater buyer interest, help homes sell faster, and at higher prices. And you may not have to hire a professional photographer to achieve professional results.

For example, Australia-based BoxBrownie.com offers a 16-step image enhancement process for US$1.60 per photo, including 24-hour turnaround and unlimited changes. They also offer other related services.

Virtual staging – Even though staging is a proven strategy for selling homes faster and receiving higher offer prices, many owners resist the cost and inconvenience of physically staging their home. Virtual staging, on the other hand, is significantly less expensive and hassle-free.

Similar to image enhancements, virtual staging must be done in a way that doesn’t give buyers false impressions about the material aspects of a property.

Virtual tours - Virtual home tours have come a long way, in terms of enhancements to the technology and interest among buyers and sellers.

In fact, a 2018 Coldwell Banker survey found that 62 percent of respondents would choose a listing agent who offers virtual house tours over an agent who does not.

For international clients, virtual tours are especially important, potentially saving  substantial time and money for crosscontinental travel.

Several leading, global providers will be exhibiting at this November’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, including Matterport, Ogulo, and Planitar.

Drone photography - Potential buyers will gain a better understanding of how a home is oriented within a neighborhood and its proximity to nearby attractions—details that are especially important to global buyers who aren’t familiar with an area.

Floor plans - Each of the virtual tour providers mentioned above also offers floor plan services. Did you know, however, that it’s now possible to create a floor plan using your smartphone?

If you’re interested in testing these services, check out MagicPlan, RoomScan, Planner 5D, and CamToPlan.

On the Buy Side

One of your biggest challenges is buyers who can’t see beyond certain aspects of a home and imagine various possibilities. Paint colors, for example, can be an instant turn-off, even if this is a relatively easy and inexpensive modification.

Sotheby’s International Realty is already attempting to use augmented reality to address this challenge with its branded app called Curate, a virtual staging tool that lets buyers view new furnishings and design styles through a smartphone lens.

To change a room’s paint color, check out applications from Benjamin Moore (Personal Color Viewer), Sherwin-Williams (ColorSnap), Behr (ColorSmart), or Valspar (Visual Painter).

Each tool involves uploading photos and selecting new paint colors from the company’s product line. Paint My Place, on the other hand, is an independent app that allows you to explore colors across three major brands (Benjamin Moore, Dulux, and Farrow & Ball).

Home furnishings retailers also offer augmented reality applications that help buyers visualize products in a room, with instant purchase options. Check out Houzz (View in My Room), Wayfair (View in Room 3D), IKEA Place, and Pottery Barn (3D View).

Many similar applications are also in various stages of development. Test them, but don’t be surprised if you encounter some glitches. The technology is still relatively new but quickly evolving.

Before and after photos with BoxBrownie.com

Before and after photos courtesy of BoxBrownie.com

Going Too Far?

Photo manipulation should improve a property’s appearance without misleading buyers.

Remember, Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics says, “REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”

What’s acceptable and what’s crossing the line?


  • Straightening crooked images
  • Brightening underexposed photos
  • Removing items from an image that are easily removed in real life
  • Altering the color of furnishings that won’t remain in the home

Not Okay

  • Covering up material flaws (holes in walls, cracks in the pavement, etc.)
  • Adding landscape plantings (e.g., bushes or lawn patching)
  • Removing utility lines
  • Changing paint colors

Commercial Corner: New Listing Platforms

As of May, 2019, two U.S. commercial listing platforms have partnered with NAR to offer exclusive discounts on their yearly cost of membership to all NAR members (including International REALTOR® members):


CREXi, Commercial Real Estate Exchange, Inc.

Each platform offers unique qualities and user experiences. Choose whichever provides the best fit for your needs—or both!

RPR Integration

Both listing platforms also offer integrations with Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®)—a free member benefit that allows you to view active listings augmented with public record details and demographics stats.

Remember: Any CIPS designee can pull reports from RPR® Commercial or RPR® Residential.

To learn more about RPR®'s capabilities, visit support.narrpr.com.

Meet These and Other Digital Photography and Virtual Tour Providers at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco

Queensland, Australia

Sunnyvale, California, USA

Cologne, Germany

Planitar, Inc.
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Learn more at www.conference.realtor.



About Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

Learn more about earning the CIPS designation