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HDR Real Estate Photography – Easy How To Tips



Tips for creating high quality images

This week we talked about HDR Photography as the future of real estate and got quite a response, so we sought out additional resources for you to learn more about editing photos for better presentability in your marketing of homes.

While we advise hiring a photographer for all listings, some agents are more of the DIY types and that’s okay too, but sometimes the DIY route ends up with pictures that are not print ready and often are downright hideous. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and have Photoshop, you’re in luck, we’ve found a great site in Australia called Rubbing Pixels that offers amazing tutorials for photography. Some are free, others are paid and their blog is chock full of information on how to edit your photography.

Easy HDR Tutorial

Take for example the below tutorial by Matt Lauder that highlights specifically what steps to take to make your photos pop. This is just one of many tutorials I’ve enjoyed.

Click to enlarge: has no affiliation with Image copyright belongs to and is being used with written permission of

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  1. Jeremy Hart

    March 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I love HDR stuff. Of course, I have no clue – or interest – as to how to do it, but that’s what the photographer is for. I use his stuff on every ad, everywhere, and the response has been phenomenal.

    Awesome stuff.

  2. Matthew Hardy

    March 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Lani Rosales: she is endlessly helpful. 🙂

  3. Roger Bintner

    March 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Can you direct me to the link for the HDR tutorial by Matt? I have looked everywhere without luck.


  4. Roger Bintner

    March 30, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Lani, thanks for the response….I still don’t get where you are trying to driect me….how do I find the tutorial that looks like the image you have created? Matt responsed and told there is no “real estate HDR tutorial” ???

    Is he correcty??


    • Lani Rosales

      March 30, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      His tutorial is for HDR photography. Period. It applies to real estate as well as landscapes, vacation pictures, etc. Make sense? A good starting point is to open an interior shot you have in Photoshop and test out the settings in the tutorial picture above and let us know how that turns out.

      Are you interested in more about HDR? We’ll be covering it more in depth over the coming weeks, but and are super informative!

  5. Eric Holmes

    March 30, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for the post Lani.

    There are a ton of great photoshop blogs out there that offer free tutorials: PSHero, PSDtuts, SixRevisions and SmashingMagazine (my favorite). All are worth checking out and following at a distance.

  6. LindaJ

    May 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I first noticed the use of HDR in real estate listings about a month ago. I am in the market and I cannot tell you how much I detest seeing properties marketed with this technique. I am going to put my home on the market and expect to get an “everybody is doing it” pitch for this advertising trend (gimmick).

    Call me old fashioned but I expect the places I go see to look like the photos I see online.


    • Lani Rosales

      May 24, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Linda, when abused, the technique IS a gimmick and looks ridiculous and misleading, but when done professionally (or well for that matter), images actually reflect reality moreso than standard photography can.

      But trust me, when you put your home on the market, it’s a “barely anyone is doing it” proposition, the industry won’t catch up to modern photography standards for some time.

  7. Robert Walker

    August 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Just starting to get into real estate photography. I agree with you Lani that some of the HDR pictures are abused and look so "photoshopped" and fake. I also like the natural look approach. Of course it costs money to hire a professional photographer and post processing with HDR. The home should look like the picture with blue skies and green grass.

    If the RE broker can not sell the property, then they are out the photography marketing money. Maybe the day is coming where one charges the homeowner a photography listing fee to overcome this expense that is refunded upon closing. I know many homeowners expect unrealistic prices for their properties in this wacky market.

  8. Justin Adams

    August 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    HDR is an excellent way to shoot real estate, however WARNING: you must know the basics before you start shooting HDR. The reason for this is that most errors in white balance are greatly exaggerated in HDR images. I've recently posted a tutorial that used to be for our customers only. If you like it, please consider giving our service a try!

    Hope that helps!


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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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