The True Value Of A Real Estate Photographer

Don’t worry, this isn’t an advertorial or some sort of tire-pumping exercise for my photographer.

But I talk a lot about the importance of professional photographs in real estate, and while my monthly “MLS Musings” blog posts highlight some of the laughable things we see on MLS, I want to show you something a bit more realistic, just to highlight, once again, how crucial A+ photos are in this market.

Two years ago, I used a new photographer to shoot a condo listing of mine, and the results were less than stellar.

Let’s compare the photos of the new photographer with those that I actually put on MLS, and all the while, don’t forget how many agents use their iPhone…

ManPhoto

I believe in the true meaning of a “professional.”

In every sense of the word, in every field.

I remember when my grandmother died, and I insisted that my mother start going to her doctor regularly to test for dementia and Alzheimer’s.  She went to her family doctor, explained that dementia ran in the family, and asked what she should do.

Her doctor of 25+ years simply looked at her and said, “You really need to get a good night’s sleep, every night, and watch your diet.”  Then walked out, and moved on to the next patient.

Well, that was the end of that.

Within a month, I had my mother join our family clinic, which comes with a nominal annual fee, and while I know the Liberal government doesn’t want people who can afford to pay more, to have the option of paying more, well, we’re now getting more.

My mother immediately received cognitive/memory tests, early onset Alzheimer’s tests, as well as full physicals, like any 70-year-old should have.  The standard of care is infinitely higher.

The old doctor’s office was just a factory.  People in, people out.  They were awful.

The new doctor’s office is exceptional.  You receive a far better standard of care, from professionals, who leave no stone unturned, and produce the best results.

I go to a specialist for my back problems, and I’m blown away by his technique and the accompanying results, but also his level of knowledge.  To be able to name every single muscle, tendon, ligament and bone in the body, and what they’re connected to, where the trigger points are, etc.  It’s incredible.

I told him this last week, and he said rather humbly, “But everybody knows this.  Every masseuse, or therapist.”

I told him that’s where he’s wrong.  How many “licensed” RMT’s know all that he knows?  Maybe 5%?

Look in any field, and see the results for yourselves.

And I mean any field.  Who’d have thought that healthcare would be my example?

Auto mechanic, accountant, wealth manager, painter, dog-walker; no matter the industry, there are true professionals, who are the absolute best at what they do, and then there’s everybody else.

When it comes to real estate, I’d make the same argument.

And while I’m not talking about agents today, I do want to talk about one of the two most important services, that along with staging, come into play when listing a property for sale: photography.

Two years ago, I was approached by a new real estate photography company, that were promising big things.

They had a good name, a great site, and were booking clients.

I was very loyal to my regular photographer and his team, and I was always satisfied with their results.

But the new company were hounding me incessantly, and they had an innovative new software for their virtual tour that I wanted to see, so I figured I’d give them a shot.

Of course, I wasn’t stupid; I also booked my regular company, just in case these new guys didn’t pan out.

The results were astounding.

The photos from the new guys were decent, but they weren’t exceptional.  And in this real estate market, I accept nothing less than exceptional.

I mentioned in the introduction that I often show you really brutal MLS photos in my regular “MLS Musings” feature, but that perhaps looking at A+ photos next to D- photos doesn’t really provide much insight.  So what about looking at A+ photos next to B+ photos?

I think you all know what a crappy MLS photo looks like.  Here’s one I just randomly pulled from MLS:

W4084690_12

Sure, decent staging.  But without a true professional photographer, this photo, assuming the Realtor with the iPhone gets a D-, would probably rank a C- at best.

So today, let’s try this comparison using my 2016 photos.  We’ll look at at very similar, often side-by-side comparisons, of how two different “professional” photographers shot the same condo.

 

One note before I start – the photographer I’ve used for every shoot in 2017 and 2018 did not take the “exceptional” photos that I’m referencing below.  As exceptional as these photos are, I’d be selling my regular photographer short if I didn’t differentiate, because his are even better.  One of his colleagues did the 2016 shoot.

So without further adieu, let’s look at the B+ photos on the left, compared to the A+ photos on the right.

Ready?

1) The Den

Good-Bad03

How do those look to you?

Similar?  Almost identical?

That’s fine, they’re supposed to be.  Keep in mind, I’m not looking for iPhone photos here.  The photo on the left was taken by a professional, of a professionally-staged condo.  But the photo on the right is better.

The photo on the right has better colour, more clarity, and if you look at the frosted-glass in front of the staircase, you’ll note there are no blurry, dark shadows, like in the photo on the right.  Also note there’s no shadow on the hardwood flooring.

2) Bedroom

Good-Bad01

Here’s where you really start to see the difference.

First, look at the colour of the ceiling.  Which one looks like the real thing?  The one on the right, of course, which looks like the actual colour of an exposed concrete ceiling.  The whole idea behind photography is you want to capture the “real thing,” but so often, the colours change behind the lens.

Second, look at the glass windows – they’re far more clear on the right.  The eye, and the lens on the left, just couldn’t capture the way the windows actually looked.

Third, the photo on the left is showing the glass bannister, which I think is a mistake.

And lastly, I don’t like the angle of the first photo.  It’s slightly crooked, and the photo on the right is perfectly straight, and at the right height as well.

3) Living Room

Good-Bad02

This is the set of photos that really starts to show the difference.

The colour and lighting on the left is just brutal.

The photo on the left captured the building outside the condo, and the sky, in a better light than the photo on the right.  But that wasn’t the point!  This is a feature shot of the entire main floor.  The kitchen, dining, and living.  The photo on the left makes the inside of the condo look like it’s taken at night!

It’s all about colour to me!  Look at the red pillow on the terrace in the right photo, now look on the left.  Say no more…

4) Living Room II

Good-Bad04

Look at the blue sky on the right, and look at the blurry, white windows on the left.

Look at the brown shades of the area-rug on the right, and look how they’re distorted to a purple-ish colour on the left.

The photo on the right, not to use a beer cliché, is simply “crisp.”

I also don’t like how the photo on the left shows a small portion of the dining table, in what is supposed to be a living room shot.

5) Kitchen

Good-Bad07

If there’s one mistake that most amateurs make in taking photos, it’s being crooked.

Look at the angle of the fridge on the left, and now compare it to the right.  A good photographer knows where to stand, where to turn, how high to hold the camera, and at what angle.

All these photo sets show different flaws, but this one kitchen photo, taken from almost the identical spot, really shows how a “professional” photo can look bad, when up against a better one.

6) Living/Dining/Kitchen

Good-Bad08

This is another photo taken at a very similar spot, although it’s important to point out that the black chair was removed for the second shoot.

Again, notice the angle at which the first photo is taken?  And notice how the “straight-on” approach for the photo on the right works better?  This is further demonstrated by the second level being cut off at an angle in the first photo.

7) Outdoor Space

Good-Bad05

If you really want to test a professional photographer, go outside.

Say what you want about the first six sets, but this one drives the point home without debate.

The angle, the colour, the clarity, and how about the blue sky in the second photo?

So there you have it, folks!

What a fun exercise!  And this idea came to me randomly, since I had pretty much forgotten about these two sets of photos.  But upon considering a blog about staging, I realized real estate photography was a topic I’ve never really covered on its own.

I don’t know what bothers me the most about bad photos, or to put a positive spin on it – impresses me the most about good photos: the colour, the clarity, the lighting, or the angles.

The angles drive me nuts.  Photos #2, #4, #5, #6, and #7 are great examples of good and bad angles, and how they can dramatically change the look and feel of a photo.

Photo #7 is the best example of colour.

Photo #3 shows awful lighting.

And I think every photo shows good and bad clarity.

If any of you are amateur or professional photographers, I’d love to hear from you.

52 Comments

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. lui says:

    I personally can use settings on my LG V10 phone and shoot raw and with 20 minutes of photoshop can have “professional” looking photos.Tip is not too over expose photos which is almost impossible to correct.I hate lazy agents who stretches photos to make a room look bigger or 65% of the photos of the same room at different angles.

  2. Ralph Cramdown says:

    What do the #1 cheapest and #1 most expensive Toronto listings have in common? Magnet lined doors. Accept no substitutes! Anything in between is just mid-market filler!

    It’s funny, but it’s true.

  3. Max says:

    Agree with many of the commenters that several of the left photos make a better impression. First, second (love the 20ft-long bed!) and last, in particular, are grossly distorted. That’s what realtors might use to make a 400sf unit appear like a 600sf one. I’d be extra careful after seeing photos like that in a listing. Both of them goofed on 3, with HDR post-processing they could have had both a correctly exposed apartment and the great view from the window.

    Overall the right’s technical image quality is consistently better but he/she really needs to lay off the ultra-wide lens.

    1. lui says:

      Max problem if you do not have space to capture the whole room at least a 10mm wide angle is needed.I agree though the shots showing the long rooms wide angle lens is not required and a regular 50mm or 75mm is good enough.

  4. CantremembernameIusedbefore says:

    I don’t think either set it ideal and I do gravitate to the pictures on the left even with their flaws because they are less distorted. A picture needs to reflect the size of the space, not magnify it larger than it really is. That just gets clients peeved off.

    However, if the pictures are decent it’s the showing that sells the place, not the pictures. Therefore they don’t have to be works of art.

  5. julia says:

    I actually have issues with both sets of photos and would ask that they be re-taken. I’m a marketer by profession and often work on photoshoots and TV shoots and both take a lot of skill and preparation to get right. Here is my 2 cents:

    Set 1 (Den) Left photo is not lit well and photo on the right is distorted by lens used resulting in distorted proportion; colours in both photos are off and should have been adjusted as well as

    Set 2 (Bedroom) this should have been taken from the left corner of the room and not straight on which makes the bed look off and the photo on the right looks even worse as it looks like the photographer has climbed onto the bed! both photos are showing way too much of the ceiling.

    Set 3 (Kitchen) the one on the right is better both in terms of angle and colour

    Set 4 ( Living Room) both angles are terribly distorted. Colours are better in the one on the left.

    Set 5(Outdoor) again – terrible distortion but the colours (and weather!) are better in right hand photo. The BBQ should have been moved against the wall to increase the space between it and the table and all the chairs should have been pushed under the table to increase the overall space. i would have also removed that 3rd boxwood in the middle as it ‘s not adding anything in this angle and just clutters up the composition.

  6. Property Pandas says:

    Thanks for this post. Professional photography should be a must on every listing. We’ve photographed 1000s of homes and focus on clarity, angle and color. Always happy to help any agent in need.

    1. Art Vandelay says:

      GET OUTTA HERE PANDA!

  7. Paully says:

    Sorry, but I am with the bulk of the crowd here. I prefer most of the left photos too.

  8. Kyle says:

    I’m not a photographer (so by all means if someone is please feel free to correct me). Pretty sure the photos on the right are NOT taken with a wide angle lens. They are actually taken with a telephoto lens (the opposite of a wide angle lens) done because they need a longer focal length (i.e. higher f-stop) in order for the photos to not be blurry in the background, however the telephoto lens stretches the perceived distance (not the width). While the photos on the left ARE actually taken using a wide angle lens.

    The photos on the right show a wider field of view, because the camera used is bigger and has a full frame sensor (e.g. a Canon 5d), while the camera on the left has a smaller crop sensor (e.g. a Canon Rebel). The camera on the left is actually trying to make up for the smaller sensor by using a wider angle lens. you can see the (distortion on at the right edge of photo 4) the curvature of the lens is making the right edge of the window look curved.

    1. hoob says:

      err, no.

  9. Sarah says:

    David –
    Maybe I am of the unpopular opinion – but I agree with you. The photos on the right are MUCH better. Of course they’re photographed with a wide angle to show the entire room. It would look the same if you tried to capture the entire room using a panoramic on your iphone.
    I think the colours, definition, exposure, composition, everything is better. Everything.
    Any buyer who claims to be ‘deceived’ by these photos must think everything they see on instagram is real, or is triggered if someone doesn’t use ‘peoplekind’ to describe erm – mankind… likely the later.

    1. Kyle says:

      @ David

      I agree with you and Sarah, that the photos on the right are better. And i found this exercise of comparing photos by two different photographers very interesting. However one thing you didn’t talk about is how the photos are generally bundled together into a turn key marketing package. So maybe the B+ photographer package is offset by an A+ fancy dedicated website with analytics, or packaged with an A+ video or virtual tour.

      From what i’ve seen, most of the Toronto photographers tend to do an acceptable overall job And i’m super-happy that most photographers have stopped taking those stupid HDR photos. But IMO, based purely on the quality of the photos, those taken for Montreal’s higher end listings absolutely slaughter the work being done in Toronto.

      1. Jen says:

        Agree with the photos on the right.
        Better quality all around.
        The point about being “tricked” is what has people voting on the left.

        1. Condodweller says:

          @Jen Perhaps David can comment on how often he gets a comment from people saying that the place was much smaller than the pictures suggested on the listing. The purpose of photographs on a listing is to give a potential buyer a realistic sense of what the place is like in the hopes that he/she will say hey, I like that, lets go see it and make an offer if it really is as good as it looks online. The question is, is it really worth it to deceive potential buyers only to be let down. I wouldn’t be tricked as I can tell by the photo that it’s manipulated, but if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t want my time wasted like that. You won’t see these types of pictures in a magazine, therefore, the only conclusion is that they are meant to deceive. Pictures in magazines are taken by real “professionals”.

          As far as aesthetics go, it just bothers me when things have the wrong perspective and just don’t look right.

  10. IanC says:

    I HATE the wide angle lens used by the professional. I guess that’s the standard – to trick people into thinking the place is larger.

    The first bed in the den looks like a Rhombus, not a rectangle (#1).
    The bedroom bed looks large enough to pitch a tent on (#2).
    The living/dining/den looks three bowling alleys deep, and the end of the room is too small to get much detail (#6).

    I’m not a photographer, and I prefer the colours, focus, and exposures and framing of the professional.
    But those wide angle lens used by realtors is just too much sometimes, and this is not even a bad example.

  11. Jennifer says:

    On another note, just because your mother is getting more tests doesnt mean she is getting better care. They could be useless tests that just make you feel better. Any person can get a full physical at a doctor’s office, covered by OHIP. If you are feeling ill, a doctor can usually see you in short order and would order the necessary tests. E.g., “watch your diet” could be better medical advice than getting a cognitive test when you know you are functioning fine.

    1. @ Jennifer

      I used to belong to the “other” clinic, with the other doctor.

      My “yearly physical” was 3-minutes.

      At my new clinic, the physical is 40 minutes. I’ve never seen such incredible care, in 37 years of going to doctors.

      I’m not sure if you chose to skip over the part where I mentioned my grandmother had full-blown dementia, and didn’t know who she was, or where she was, when she died. My 70-year-old mother, now showing signs of short-term memory loss, NEEDS preventative tests, and true medical care. The factory she went to before, with the doctor who tried to set a daily record for number-of-patients-seen, was not giving her care. Even after informing this doctor of the need, and desire, for preventative memory tests, the doctor simply said, “You’ll be fine.”

      I’m fine with “could be” and “what if” for blog stories about multiple offers if you want to take my stories and turn them upside-down for fun, but I fail to see the reasoning for your could-be-what-if as it pertains to factual evidence of my mother’s health.

      1. Jennifer says:

        Maybe that just wasn’t a good doctor. Just like agents and photographers, they run the gamut of skills. I read it all and hope your mother is fine. How do you know she NEEDS preventative tests? Does early diagnosis improve outcome in this situation?

        “Personal Health Visit

        There is evidence that an annual physical examination is ineffective in finding hidden disease in
        healthy people.

        Based on the evidence the annual physical examination has been replaced by the personal health
        visit for patients with no apparent medical problems. The personal health visit is insured by
        OHIP once per patient per 12 month period, the same as the annual physical examination. If a
        physician determines a complete history and physical examination is necessary, like for patients
        with chronic illness and/ or health issues, the full physical exam will be insured by OHIP.”

        This is a real estate blog I get that, and your point is the level of service between one and the other, which is taken. I guess it’s all subjective as to what one perceives as a professional or not or what is considered superior service.

        1. RPG says:

          This thread is crazy!!!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Is the distortion in the right pictures on purpose or did it happen as a result of posting on this blog? If on purpose, the pictures on the right are horrible. Look at the TV in #4. Lol. It’s misleading and just doesn’t look right. I’d much prefer colours off a bit than distorted pictures. I’m not saying thes ones on the left are perfect either – e.g., fridge and overall kitchen falling backwards in #5. I think both of these examples, left and right, are not great but do appreciate the overall position of your post.

  13. Ralph Cramdown says:

    I remember when MY favourite lens was an 18-28mm — I probably took a few hundred rolls of film with it. Forced perspective can be great fun when used creatively. Orson Welles did amazing stuff with it.

    But if you’re using it because the room’s too small to shoot with a 28mm or 35mm, that’s a different thing. Old timey architecture photographers used to use tilt and swing to straighten out those distorted angles, but unless your “professional” photographer has a couple of assistants to transport and build the camera and lighting, he or she probably doesn’t even know what that means. And get off my lawn!

  14. Condodweller says:

    I am with those who prefer the left photographer. His results are not optimal as the right one has better equipment and uses post processing but I dislike the unrealistic effects. Put a higher quality and slightly wider angle lens on his camera and I would use him for sure. I can’t stand the stretched effect of the extreme wide angle lens on the right. I also prefer a realistic look and feel of the space. I like visual cues that convey continuity from room to room such as the glass railing in the bedroom that marks the spot of the stairs and the end of the room vs the right where I have no idea how much space there is behind the camera.

    IMO real estate photography is one of the most challenging where one has to deal with very high dynamic range as well as dealing with angles in small spaces where a wide angle lens is necessitated. The outdoor shots are the easiest to do for me.

    Bad examples of the right are the living/dining room shot where the place looks like a bowling alley and in the bedroom, the bed looks way too wide. The good is the sharpness of the photos and that they are key-stone corrected albeit seemingly only for the vertical. The colours don’t do anything for me as it is simply an artistic effect. I am not more likely to go view a unit based on the colour of a pillow or the carpet. In fact, I am going to suggest that black and white pictures might actually work better.

    The left photographer pretty much maximizes the potential of his equipment he just needs to watch the tilt of his camera to avoid the angles which can be corrected in postprocessing. Technically they are not as good as the right but they are more realistic which in my book trumps that.

    Finally, I just wanted to point out that in the outdoor shot the sky is touched up to recover the blown sky which is not very professional as there is a wide gap left around the edges where the original blown sky can be seen along the roof line and the top of the fence. If you are going to do postprocessing, you might as well do it right and learn how to use the selection tools or layers.

    I find it’s always a good policy to ask the client what they want and it’s important to listen and actually deliver what is asked for. Some people may like lots of tests to reassure them they are healthy while others might not like tons of unnecessary tests. I hate nothing more than when I ask for something from a professional and I am offered something else. I had a great experience recently where I was interested in a product but did not like some of the features. They went away and changed the product to incorporate the features I wanted. Most places would have said take it or leave it and would not have gone the extra mile to satisfy me.

    1. hoob says:

      Was pretty much going to write something similar but posted before I could complete. Photog on the right has a fixed workflow that includes most of the obvious, except fundamentally it doesn’t look *natural* or *realistic*.

      Photog on the left didn’t use much if any post-processing out of the camera, but still conveys the sense of space better than the photog on the right, who is far too in love with his/her wide angle. Hint, if your TVs and pictures and fridges and spaced look stretched out like a Start Trek leap to hyperspace, you did something wrong.

      The “bowling alley” shot you mention is absolutely horrendous.

    2. Alexander says:

      +1

  15. hoob says:

    So the photog on the right has a wider lens (though too wide in some cases, like the awful bedroom and living room shots), room flash, and a Lightroom workflow with auto aspect correction, calibrated white balance, a

  16. Appraiser says:

    When controlling for the composition of units traded last month, average values are down just 1.5% annually, detached down 7%.
    Some pick up in luxury market with nearly 140 homes selling over $2M.

    https://twitter.com/benmyers29?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

  17. ed says:

    Bedroom shot #2. I liked the left better. It emphasized the light from the window not the blah concrete ceiling.

  18. jeff316 says:

    The photos on the right are all higher quality but they also give off the “overly pro” effect.

    They will bring in more clients but may also raise their expectations, leaving the client disappointed when they tour the place in person.

    The photos on the left are a more accurate representation of what you will get if you buy the place.

  19. Ralph Cramdown says:

    416 Detached:

    Area, YoY dollar volume change, YoY average price change, YoY median price change
    City of Toronto Total, -51.8%, -17.1%, -19.9%
    C01, 19.9%, -10.0%, -19.2%
    C02, -36.7%, 18.5%, 42.2%
    C03, -41.6%, -18.3%, -22.4%
    C04, -72.9%, -4.7%, -14.9%
    C06, -71.8%, -23.2%, -20.4%
    C07, -52.5%, -24.8%, -29.4%
    C08, -50.7%, -1.5%, -1.5%
    C09, -75.2%, -38.0%, -43.3%
    C10, -6.1%, 14.7%, -11.3%
    C11, -47.3%, -14.4%, -13.6%
    C12, -59.2%, 22.2%, 0.4%
    C13, -63.1%, -17.0%, -32.0%
    C14, -87.7%, -24.0%, -32.1%
    C15, -59.4%, -21.2%, -23.4%
    Central, -62.2%, -14.1%, -20.9%
    E01, -28.6%, -9.1%, -25.2%
    E02, -12.8%, -8.2%, -12.2%
    E03, -13.6%, 3.5%, 1.1%
    E04, -56.6%, -15.5%, -14.4%
    E05, -73.2%, -23.2%, -26.9%
    E06, -19.0%, -5.6%, 8.4%
    E07, -49.3%, -18.3%, -25.0%
    E08, -61.0%, -14.2%, -9.7%
    E09, -53.8%, -20.0%, -16.9%
    E10, -58.4%, -18.8%, -19.7%
    E11, -46.8%, -1.3%, 1.4%
    East, -45.6%, -9.5%, -11.2%
    W01, 27.2%, 10.2%, -9.6%
    W02, -13.3%, -6.4%, -4.6%
    W03, -26.5%, -8.9%, -16.8%
    W04, -63.9%, -18.8%, -15.1%
    W05, -26.6%, -14.3%, -7.6%
    W06, -34.1%, -12.9%, -15.1%
    W07, 1.6%, -6.1%, -14.5%
    W08, -54.7%, -15.2%, -17.2%
    W09, -14.7%, -6.9%, -8.4%
    W10, -44.9%, -4.6%, -9.6%
    West, -37.1%, -10.1%, -13.3%
    TREB Total, -56.1%, -17.1%, -14.6%

    E&OE. Ugly. Anybody want these numbers for other areas/types?

    1. ed says:

      wow. Toronto is going to be crying because of lost Land Transfer Tax revenue.

  20. Pete says:

    I’m shocked. In the first picture I thought it was obvious the LEFT was the better picture. The bed in the one on the right is skewed so badly it looks almost like a fisheye lens. In fact, I think the LEFT are the better pictures because they show the rooms better. I don’t care about a red cushion on the balcony, I care about the layout of the room, the size, the proportions. The ones David thinks looks better are too me all shot at odd angles that stretch the perspective and don’t highlight the best parts. Look at the height of the rooms that is shown on the left – on the right they look like short tubes. The colour is immaterial in my opinion. It’s size, shape, and proportion that matter and the ones on the left are far superior.

    1. Potato says:

      I have to agree with Pete — many of the photos on the left are better for the intended purpose. Sure, the ones on the right are taken with better lighting, better colours and dynamic range. But many are badly distorted and don’t do the job of showing the space. Photo #6 is particularly egregious — the one on the left shows that this looks like a reasonable size living/dining/kitchen with a loft above. Putting the black chair in frame, along with the dining room table, makes it look like there is enough space to actually hold a conversation and have more than one person over. The one on the right is so heavily distorted that you can’t get any feeling for the size, and it looks intentionally deceptive. Trying to mentally reverse the distortion, I’m afraid it looks like some of those terrible claustrophobic units where you can stretch your feet out from the couch and touch the TV on the opposite wall. I would not be calling for an appointment.

      The ones on the right would be more appropriate if I were shooting a rap video with a couple a friends. womp-womp

      1. Daniel says:

        You two are nuts.

        Selling real estate is about marketing, and buyers buy with emotion!

        Pretty photos and bright colours, just like David said!

        1. Condodweller says:

          My emotion tells me I do not want to be deceived and tricked. Since I do not want to live in a fun house I may not see the place using the right. But if you are easily distracted by shiny objects, by all means, go for it. The question is are you the minority or the majority.

        2. Pete says:

          That’s a marketers reply. But buyers aren’t stupid. We can tell when a picture is distorted to make the room look bigger. It’s a turn off, and would make me LESS likely to view the property. It’s insulting that realtors think that we won’t notice a stove looks 4 metres wide in their pics. By all means, do what you do. But calling us nuts for having a different opinion is rude and uncalled for.

  21. Mikey says:

    Is it me or all the photos on the right looked stretched out and a bit odd? I agree the colors look better but the living room picture #4, the TVs look like different sizes as the picture is stretched further out.

    1. Anne says:

      I think it’s the sizing of both. Something tells me David didn’t spend ten hours on these photos (not that he should) and in trying to make different sizes photos the same height and fit in the same box, the proportions are a bit off.

  22. Kyle says:

    The photos on the left look like they were taken using a crop frame DSLR using the autofocus, while the ones on the right look like they were taken using a full frame camera, with correctly set white balance, ISO and higher aperture setting. An easy solution would be for the photographer on the left to buy better equipment, however the other big difference is in composition, angles and care taken. This unfortunately comes down to the Photographer himself, so there isn’t an easy solution. A good example is photo #3, the Photographer on the left didn’t have the sensibility to take the messy lamp cord on the right out of the frame or to remove his camera bag (under the stool), before taking the shot.

  23. Ralph Cramdown says:

    So where did your doctors (all of them, not just the one whose Mac diploma you noticed) go to medical school, and where in their classes did they graduate? There’s a big difference between the top North American schools and that one in the Caribbean that advertises on the subway… It is hard to evaluate the competence of a professional in fields we know little about (and some would consider it rude or prying to try…), so we use poor metrics like friendliness, price and recommendations from fellow know-nothings.

    Ditto choosing real estate agents. TREB has all the data that I could use to find out who the best agents in Toronto are, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever get to see it. “Ask your friends” says TREB. Or I could count bus shelter ads. Because ad budget = competence, right?

    Commercial photography, I will grant you, can be assessed for effect by clients.

    1. Daniel says:

      Ralph, you’ve been on this blog for as long as I can remember, and I’ve noticed in the past year or so you’ve turned heel. You’re more bearish/negative/trolling than before. Not being facetious here, but can you explain what changed? Why the bearish nature? Insight into the market etc? I’d ask the same question of Kyle if he suddenly started trolling David.

      1. Ralph Cramdown says:

        Thanks for the observation. I appreciate it, and I gave it some thought.

        1. I thought I commented on here too much, and made a conscious effort to cut down. So I guess I’ve only been commenting on stuff that really got my goat, which in turn increased the snark:inoffensive comment ratio. Duly noted.

        2. I’m not an industry insider, and am not receiving leaked info from insiders. But I read as much public info as I can.

        3. I suppose the evidence that the industry, our governments and banks have been actively aiding offshore money (both foreigners’ and Canadians’ stashed in tax havens) into the country and particularly into GTA and GVR real estate has become overwhelming. I don’t consider myself especially patriotic, but the idea that my governments actively help sell our land (our very patrimony) to foreigners and tax cheats? I find it abhorrent. Plus, we know from other countries that hot offshore money flows tend to disrupt markets and cause huge damage.

        4. Last spring reached another whole level of nuts. I think any professional who counsels a young household of meagre resources to bid high and unconditionally on an uninspected, decades-old structure is doing the unconscionable, yet it was commonplace last spring. Now the industry bulls are all “well we all knew that was unsustainable, and it’s no surprise prices have dropped since.” Really? They weren’t saying that at the time as they signed young homebuyers into indentured bondage. Now they treat it as some sort of freak aberration, seemingly oblivious to the permanent damage it has likely caused to thousands of young households.

        4.5 Nobody’s talking about the ongoing fallout from last spring. Many people of iffy credit who bought last spring will have given a 1 year subprime mortgage, with the expectation that they’d refinance into something more comfortable a year later. If you bought last March or April and closed 30 or 60 days later, you are just now discovering that you may be forced to sell. Likewise, if you were redeveloping a property for sale this spring or summer, the little micro-stat that sales of $1M+ detached are down 75% means you are screwed with a capital F.

        5. Fascinating as this bubble has been to watch (and I’m old enough that I was working in tech during THAT bubble), I guess I’ve reached a bit of fin de siècle ennui with it — the past few years’ Toronto triple whammy of real estate, cryptocurrencies and weed stocks has just had the classic money-for-nothing vibe where the people making what are typically the stupidest gambles were getting richest, and the ones showing any semblance of fiscal probity just fell further behind.

        Anyway, I guess that’s about it. Thanks for pointing out that I’ve become more of a prick than I’m comfortable with. I am a guest here after all.

        1. Chris says:

          Good post, Ralph.

          I have found your sentiment to be more bearish and pessimistic when it comes to Toronto Real Estate. But to call you trolling? Absolutely not. Trolls are deliberately offensive, provocative, and seek only to elicit anger and frustration in response.

          Daniel, while you may disagree with Ralph and his bearish perception, surely you wouldn’t claim that he is writing with the sole purpose of offending or provoking?

          For what it is worth, Ralph, I have found many of your posts, including your recent ones, to be very interesting, well written, and perfectly respectful. Further, I have agreed with many of your points…but as Kyle likes to say, I have never met a bearish opinion I didn’t love, or something like that.

          I hope you continue to share your views, as I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, consider them to be “trolling”.

          1. Daniel says:

            Trolling might have been overstepping, but troll-ish is fair.

            His comment about the “Mac diploma” is a direct shot at David, who has informed us many times that he attended McMaster University.

            That’s troll-ish, don’t you agree? Provoking and unnecessary?

            I agree that we need the back-and-forth banter, otherwise this would be no fun! And I would be the first to state that the comments on this blog, which don’t seem to be moderated at all, are of a far better quality than what you would find elsewhere. But sometimes we should treat our oh-so-gracious-host a little better.

          2. Chris says:

            I didn’t know David attended McMaster actually, so didn’t get the reference.

            Perhaps that quip was not needed, but even that is quite mild. I also think many of us here are guilty of including a line or two that really wasn’t necessary.

            Does it make our comments a bit more pointed? Sure. Does it make us trolls? Not by a long shot.

            Check out the comment sections on CBC, Youtube, Facebook, etc., if you want to see what trolling, or even troll-ish is. It’s far more toxic than anything Ralph, or any of us, says here.

        2. Condodweller says:

          Ralph, you are the best researcher around here. Keep those coming…

        3. Housing bear says:

          Well said Ralph. I find it very appropriate that it was Daniel “Buyers but on Emotion” that challenged you on this.

          Early 2017- “Buyers better buy today or they will never own a home”

          Mid to summer 2017- “The current drop is actually a great buying opportunity. Prices will be taking off in the fall, if rates continue to rise first time buyers will never get in”

          End of 2017 “ Better Buy before B20 comes into effect and you get locked out forever”

          Now “ We have seen month over month growth 3 months in a row now (sales and price always rise early winter into spring), do not expect these low prices to last or to find a deal. By mid 2018 we will be back to growth….. better buy now”

          Fear is a powerful emotion.

          1. Appraiser says:

            Yeah, because housing bears would never resort to fear-mongering, right?

          2. Housing Bear says:

            Well annoyone using the handle “Housing Bear” is probably going to have some negative views on RE right? Just like I would assume that someone with the name “Appraiser” probably pushes positive views on the market. In my case, when I tell friends and family that I think they should hold off buying and they say “Well if I dont buy today, I will never be able to get in” , I would say prices don’t only go up…… you are potentially setting youself up for financial suicide…… sounds pretty scary right……

            Some difference however,

            A big difference , is that you profit from a hot market right Mr Appraiser? More sales probably equals more home inspections and appraisals? How’s the 40% haircut?

            I only profit (or rather avoid loss) if I buy back at a later date with lower prices. I do not hold any short positions in things like home depot, and I do not run my own blogs.

            Another difference, it that when I make a scary claim like “Financial suicide, we are in a massive bubble!” I can back it up with the following

            1. growth in real estate related employment has quadruppled in last 4 years and now makes up a large proportion of our GDP (all you need is prices to stay flat to trigger a recession, dont even need them to drop)
            2. How the number of people who owned multiple properties in the GTA had doubled in 10 years. And how in the past 2 years it has been impossible to find a cash flow positive property…… even with record low interest rates
            3. record low interest rates (has the intrinsic value really grown or has the debt just gotten cheaper to carry?)
            4. Capital flight from china between 2015-2016 (Their reserves dropped by over a trillion dollars in 2 years)
            5. Finally, and most important….we are nearing the end of not only a business cycle but also at the end of a credit cycle

            When the bulls (or i should say RE industry) claims that if you don’t buy today you will never be able to. Their supporting evidence is
            1. unquenchable demand – a falling interest rate/easier access to credit environment should increase demand……..Thats the whole point.
            2. World class city – Check price trend on New York, London, Paris you name it……. all have had big corrections in the past
            3. Crazy population growth in GTA – Population growth actually slowed down based on last consensus, and we have actually had record level of new development and pre construction sale over the past two years. Housing development has outpaced new household formation…… Demand only exceeds this because it has become fashionable to own multiple units.
            4. Your rebuttal to point 3 – “Yeah well most of that construction is new condos, not suitable for families…… we need more houses or the missing middle” I would reply “Ok well then how come we are seeing the price correction play out in the SFH segment and not the condo market?”
            5. Condo market is on fire and will continue to do so….. its the only thing that is affordable and millenials dont want all the maintenance issues/ long commutes/ etc. Downsizing baby boomers all want condos now too…….. – Okay then what the hell does the RE industry mean by point 4? – There is truth to the fact that as long as Condo prices are rising that there is a floor to how far SFH can fall. SFH will always be worth more…….. however as pointed out above, we have been having record development in condos which are all hitting the market in the next two years……. alot of which are absorbed by people who own multiple properties that are cash flow negative in a raising rate environment……….
            5. Canada economy is so strong, we are adding jobs, people will be able to pay for their properties. – In some regions close to 20% of our GDP is real estate related (Agents, appraisers, home inspectors, construction workers, finance, furnature, supplies etc). Extended flat pricing is enough to slow down investment and cause a recession.

            Here is a taste of whats to come;
            https://www.thestar.com/business/2018/04/04/they-bought-their-prebuilt-homes-at-the-markets-peak-now-they-face-financial-ruin.html

            A lot of these individuals are now trying to blame the liberal government for their bad decisions ( I am conservative). Here are their stories
            https://www.communityforfairness.ca/our-stories

            Its all BS, the advice use to be sell before you buy your next home. That way you know for certain how much money you have. When you buy before you sell its because you are hoping to lock in new property at todays price and then sell your old one at a higher future price. Preconstruction makes this a bit tricker, as you would have to potentially rent for a bit, but preconstruction is known for coming with higher risk…… Your home may never be built.

            One of them even says that he did his research, fully understood the market, and his investment would have been great if he had gotten what he had planned for his old property, and the fact that prices couldn’t go down..The news was saying that prices could only go up…… Its only because of the “liberals” attack on the middle class that prices dropped……….
            Here is a quote from Jason Mercer in February 2017…. Note this is before fair housing plan, rate increases, and stress test
            “Over the past year, we have reached a point where government policies that target only the demand side of the market, whether we’re talking about foreign buyers or further changes to mortgage lending guidelines, will not be enough to balance market conditions and moderate the pace of price growth,” Jason Mercer, director of market analysis for the Toronto Real Estate Board, said in the statement released Friday.

            I usually stick to RE forums that use math and economic principals to justify their position…….. I come to these SPIN/FOMO sources when I feel like picking a fight

          3. Doug No Bus says:

            I think what is often missed in the conversation to buy now/buy later, is that most agents DGAF. Seriously. Of COURSE they’re going to be perennial cheerleaders of a bull market in real estate. Same goes for the shlubs on BNN that keep yapping about long term investing. Long term investing works…until it doesn’t.

        4. Chris says:

          Ralph, on the off chance that you needed any more support for your third point, regarding money laundering, tax cheating, and hot offshore money flows, have a read of this article:

          http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/money-laundering-banks-terror-1.4603064

          “In examinations of the banking sector … 67% were found to have significant levels of non-compliance,” says the report for Morneau.

          The banks’ poor showing is somewhat better than the “significant” non-compliance Fintrac found in the real-estate sector (75%) and the money-services sector, such as payday loans (69%)”

          I’m not sure that abhorrent is a strong enough word.

    2. BJA says:

      “and where in their classes did they graduate?”

      Reminds me of the Seinfeld routine:

      Every time somebody recommends a doctor, he’s always the best. “Is he good?” “Oh, he’s the best. This guy’s the best.” They can’t all be the best. There can’t be this many bests. Someone’s graduating at the bottom of these classes, where are these doctors? Is someone, somewhere, saying to their friend, “You should see my doctor, he’s the worst. Oh yeah, he’s the worst, he’s the absolute worst there is. Whatever you’ve got, it’ll be worse after you see him. No, he’s just, he’s a butcher. The man’s a butcher.”

TWEETS