What Did It Take To Sell This House? How a Drone and Some Surprising Angles Saved the Day

by Garcia Chris
14 minutes read
What Did It Take To Sell This House? How a Drone and Some Surprising Angles Saved the Day

A picture is worth a thousand words—or several hundred thousand dollars in real estate.

Few would argue that a successful home sale hinges heavily on the listing photos, because home shoppers make snap judgments based on what they see initially online.

But to get the perfect picture of a house takes skill, which is why serious home sellers and their agents often hire real estate photographers to get the job done right.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(“div-gpt-ad-INLINE1”); });

But even then, a property can present certain challenges.

Just ask Jonathan Gonzalez, founder of the Southern California real estate photography company Flux Media, about the fancy footwork he had to do recently to help a very hidden home highlight its best assets.

Ultimately, the 1,260-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home at 2158 Alcyona Drive in Los Angeles was sold for $1.5 million. But to first get this property properly listed on the market, Gonzalez had to literally scale great heights.

The high fences around this home were great for privacy, but they made it a challenge to photograph.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

The problem: To sell a home, you have to see it

Located just minutes from the world-famous Hollywood sign, this posh pad built in 1918 belonged to a music writer who had hit it big.

“This person wrote a very popular song that spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100,” says Gonzalez. “With residual checks coming in, the seller decided they’d prefer a bigger and better home.”

Gonzalez was expecting the home to be in good condition, which it was and is something he says is always a blessing for a real estate photographer since they don’t have to try to hide too many imperfections.

But even though he’d been told it was a very private property, he didn’t expect it to be quite that hidden in the Hollywood Hills.

This house redefined what it meant to be “hidden” in the Hollywood Hills.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

Knowing that most listings start with a photo of the front of the house, Gonzalez was initially stymied when he pulled up and parked.

“I took one look up and thought to myself, ‘Wow, how am I going to shoot the front of the home?’” says Gonzalez. The facade was nearly impossible to see from the street, with a high fence and a large tree covering the property.

Fortunately, Gonzalez had experience with aerial photography and had a drone with him that day. Even so, getting the perfect shot of this house required some precise moves in the air.

“Flying the drone at such a low altitude, I had to be cautious not to crash it into a tree or cable wire,” says Gonzalez. “Had I taken the photo from too high, the photo would show nothing but the tree, and from too low, it would have been nothing but the fence.”

Eventually, he found a sweet spot that allowed him to capture the home at angles that showed more than just fencing or foliage.

To capture the front of this house, the photographer had to take things up in the air.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

Gonzalez said it helped that the home was ready for his high-flying antics.

“Be mindful of all the junk and garbage that may be lying around the perimeter of the lot if you are having drone photography done,” says Gonzalez. “Oftentimes, trash cans or other extraneous items are left out and end up captured in drone shots. So hiding these sorts of things in the garage or under a patio cover will lead to better aerial photos.”

A drone helped capture the whole picture of this property.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

The interior: Focus on the best features

Once inside, Gonzalez was thrilled to see that the home had been artfully renovated and lightly staged by a professional home stager. That allowed him to get straight to work, and his first priority was picking out the best features to focus on.

The vaulted ceilings in this home were begging to be featured.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

“The high vaulted ceilings caught my eye right away,” says Gonzalez. “The beautiful built-in entertainment center is a feature that would stand out to buyers, so it was crucial that I photographed this part of the living room well.”

This built-in bookshelf and entertainment center would appeal to a lot of buyers.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

Gonzalez also knew that the kitchen would photograph like a dream because of the bright white and airy look.

“A kitchen with white cabinets always shows well in photos as the white finish reflects light in the space,” he explains.

However, he wished the stager had considered placing a fruit bowl or fresh flowers on the kitchen countertop for a pop of color.

An all-white kitchen looks bright and inviting to buyers.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

Open doors for more indoor-outdoor flow

Another big bonus with this house was that it had three patios and plenty of opportunities to connect the indoor and outdoor spaces. Showing the bedroom patios with the two doors open really gave buyers an idea of this property’s appealing indoor-outdoor flow.

“When a home has a seamless indoor-to-outdoor transition, I always make it a point to show it off,” says Gonzalez. “I could have kept the doors closed and photographed the space as is, but I didn’t feel that did the double doors justice.”

This patio-to-bedroom option brings the outdoors in and vice versa.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

The primary bedroom had a terrace and a similar indoor-outdoor flow that looked even more airy due to its vaulted ceiling.

French doors, skylights, and a vaulted ceiling made the primary bedroom look and feel airy.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

The only patio Gonzalez thought missed the boat from a preparation standpoint was the main one.

“This outdoor deck feature was one of the best parts of the home, but I felt it was missing components,” says Gonzalez. “A few potted plants on either side of the door would have been a nice touch, as well as the addition of a standalone chair, and real wine glasses to go with the bottle of wine.”

While this space is orderly, some plants could have made it even more inviting.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

The best weather for real estate shoots

Another factor a real estate photographer has to consider is the weather, especially when shooting both indoor and outdoor spaces.

“I prefer different lighting conditions for different parts of a home. For exterior photos, I prefer an overcast sky. For interior photos, I prefer a sunny sky. For video, I prefer sunny all the time,” says Gonzalez.

On the day he photographed this home, he was dealing with some heavy clouds, which caused the sun to poke in and out.

“Because of the weather conditions, I had to flip back and forth,” says Gonzalez. “As the sun got blocked by clouds, I headed outside for photos, and as the sun popped out, I quickly headed inside for photos and video.”

Interestingly, Gonzalez thinks exterior shots look best when it’s overcast because they’re cleaner with no shadows. Also, he can always add a blue sky digitally.

“This is not seen as deceptive as the weather is clearly out of our control and is something that changes on a daily or hourly basis,” says Gonzalez. “Although we might not have had blue skies on photo day, they are sure to occur in the future.”

The imperfections: To hide or not to hide?

Speaking of digital alterations, what about the things that weren’t quite perfect in this home?

“One of the bathrooms could have used a few touch-ups prior to photo day,” says Gonzalez. “Not only did the glass door not stay in place, but the water damage in the ceiling should also have been fixed prior to the sale of the home.”

To show a realistic view, the slight imperfections in this bathroom were not digitally altered.

(Flux Media/Jonathan Gonzalez)

In this particular instance, Gonzalez asked the listing agent if they would like to hide the bathroom defects. Surprisingly, the agent opted to show them.

“The reason for showing the defects in photos is so that buyers can have a realistic expectation of what they’re getting before they even step in the home,” says Gonzalez. “If we were too deceptive with the photos and hid every imperfection, buyers would be angry and feel they wasted their time.”

Gonzalez says he does not digitally alter imperfections that will not be fixed prior to the sale of the home.

It is against most multiple-listing service guidelines to post deceptive photos that are not what the home truly looks like without a disclaimer, he explains.

The final picture: The house was sold in record time

Ultimately, Gonzalez felt good about the way this shoot went, and that probably also translated into its quick sale: The property was listed on March 17, went into escrow three days later, then closed on April 10.

To Gonzalez, this swift and successful sale proves that a professional photographer is well worth the investment.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(“div-gpt-ad-INLINE2”); });

“Knowing how and what to photograph in a home is a result of your photographer’s expertise after shooting hundreds and hundreds of homes over the years,” says Gonzalez. “It’s the smartest and safest choice to maximize your return on investment.”

Related Posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy