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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

When should I stage and professionally photograph?

April 20, 2015
Agents Sound Off

Nick Granoski
Palo Alto

Question: When should I stage and professionally photograph?
Answer: The speed at which our market moves makes it critical to get everything right from the start.
Many times buyers need to make up their minds about whether or not to make an offer after seeing a home just one time. With only one chance to make a first impression, I always recommend staging and professional photography.
The degree of staging will vary based on the home. The condition of the interior and exterior along with the price range are all factors in making a decision regarding how much staging to use.
If the house is barely inhabitable and needs all new electrical, plumbing, roof, etc., it doesn’t make sense to stage. You want to make the home look livable, but no need to overdo it.
On the other end of the spectrum, a high-end home may already have custom furniture and paint colors picked by an interior designer, but it will still need some degree of staging to make it shine. The art of staging and photographing a home to sell is unique to each transaction, but all homes will benefit.
Read more opinions on SFGate.


Industry Insights Legal Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Drones in Real Estate – When Technology Surpasses Policy

July 22, 2014

Author: Tom Flanagan, Vice President of Technology, Alain Pinel Realtors
This article ran in the July 11th, 2014 Palo Alto Daily News publication Premier Homes, pg 10.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with Camera
When looking at some of the latest real estate tech trends, one that has the potential to have a significant impact in the industry is the use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Photographers typically use these small remote controlled drones with a camera to take stills and video of a property, and their use is becoming increasingly commonplace in the real estate industry.
The use of drones for real estate purposes gives consumers, buyers in particular, a unique view into, or over, a listing. They are able to tell a story about a property that wouldn’t otherwise be achieved with traditional photography, and are wonderful for displaying waterfront properties and listings with a lot of acreage. From their vantage point of about 100 feet above a property, they are able to capture images that an airplane or helicopter would not, offering a truly unique perspective.
However, as an emerging technology, there is a tremendous amount of inaccurate information and confusion regarding their usage. Grey area and misinformation surrounding the legal use of drones abounds, and they have become a polarizing topic that often conjures images of military use or spying.
In reality though, UAVs and drones have been used with good intentions, primarily by hobbyists, for decades. But when it comes to commercial use, drones are an example of technology surpassing policy. Technology is moving at such a fast clip, it is difficult for government bodies to introduce legislation around them.
To date, there has only been one UAV pilot fined by the FAA. While the FAA did lose that case, they appealed it, which negated the win for the pilot. Additionally, a New York real estate brokerage was just subpoenaed by the FAA for drone use. Legislation surrounding use remains nebulous though, and Congress has issued a deadline to the FAA, requiring the agency to issue regulations and guidelines by 2015.
While government issues and questions about privacy remain, this medium offers tremendous value to real estate consumers, offering a sneak peek into a property that wouldn’t otherwise be available. There are safety concerns as well, and ensuring each drone operator is licensed after being properly trained, as with a motor vehicle, would be a responsible course of action. Finding this fine balance between legislation and innovation though will definitely pay off for the real estate consumer in the long run.

About Author:

Tom Flanagan is Vice President of Technology at Alain Pinel Realtors and is responsible for overall technology strategy and implementation throughout the company. With over a decade of experience in the technology industry, he brings a wide range of knowledge in technology, online platforms and new media, with an emphasis on design and usability. Tom is also a syndicated columnist for Inman News, the leading source of independent real estate news and information.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Who Owns This Photo?

October 3, 2013

Author: Dan Mirsky, Director of Marketing at Alain Pinel Realtors.

It goes without saying that images are vital to real estate marketing. When it comes to property photos, we upload them to our brokerage site, send them to the MLS, syndicate them to numerous other industry sites, and use them in our advertisements – both online and in print.
However, who actually has permission to use a photograph and where? Who does the copyright belong to? The owner of the house, the photographer, the brokerage, the agent, the MLS? Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear and, like most intellectual property, the laws are a bit murky.

Legal advice aside, here are some questions you might want to consider when using property photos in your marketing materials:

  • Has the seller consented to having their house photographed?
  • In your contract with your photographer, have you agreed to how the photograph can be used and distributed?
  • Does your relationship with your brokerage or MLS grant them certain distribution rights? Do they align with your agreement with your photographer?
  • Do you have permission to use photos in print, online and in social media?
  • Does your photographer give you permission to alter the photos in any way? Can you crop them? Instagram them?

Another tricky situation is with advertising SOLD properties. While you may ask the listing agent to use one of their photos, getting permission from both the photographer who took the photo and the seller is something many don’t consider – and failure to get consent can land you in hot water. Recently, we were contacted by a photographer who saw his photos being used on one of our agent’s “Just Sold” postcards. While we were able to resolve that particular issue amicably, some photographers might not be as understanding.
Moral of the story: If you do not own the rights or have permission to use a photo – you shouldn’t be using it in your advertising. Only by consulting all parties involved can you protect yourself.
For more information about using non-property photos in your marketing, see this post: Beautiful Images Ugly Copyright Violations and Fee.

About Author:

Dan Mirsky began his career with Alain Pinel Realtors (APR) in 2003 and brings over 10 years of marketing, advertising and communications experience to the company. In his current role as the firm’s Director of Marketing, he is responsible for defining the corporate marketing strategy and communicating that message across multiple channels – both internal and external.

APR in the News APR Tools

Alain Pinel Realtors Announces Photo & Property Tour Program

April 1, 2013

Alain Pinel Realtors (APR) recognizes the importance of high-quality, professional photography and how it can help increase the exposure and value of listings. That’s why the firm is excited to announce their APR Photo & Property Tour Program, powered by Tour Factory. APR has joined forces with TourFactory, who has been navigating the internet for seventeen years as a high-end real estate marketing system, to create a real time experience through presentation, positioning and photography. The program ensures that with each new listing, the listing agent will be paired with a professional photographer who will take high-end photographs of the home.

Property photos are essential to consumers using the Internet in their real estate search process. According to the National Association of Realtors, 98% of home buyers find photos useful, and 88% of home buyers consider virtual tours useful when using the Internet in their real estate search process.

“The importance of visual marketing in successfully selling our client’s properties has become increasingly apparent, and that is why we decided to partner with Tour Factory to create a turn-key, high-quality visual marketing program for our agents that optimizes the synergies created in combining photos, video and listing syndication into a powerful online marketing platform,” said Rainy Hake, Executive Vice President, Alain Pinel Realtors.

Through the new program, all APR agents will automatically have access to a virtual tour of their property linked to APR’s website,; a slideshow video tour of photos on the firm’s YouTube channel; a large-screen photo carousel on; have their listing displayed on flat screens in APR conference rooms; and have access to enhanced analytics through Tour Factory.

New Photo Viewer for Select Homes

By taking advantage of this new program, APR agents are ensuring their clients that their home will be professionally photographed and displayed beautifully on, the firm’s 100+ website partners to which they syndicate their listings, and all of their property’s marketing materials, both online and offline, ultimately marketing a visually compelling story of their home internationally for maximum exposure.

Industry Insights Legal Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Beautiful Images, Ugly Copyright Violations (and Fees!)

November 7, 2012

In the past few months we’ve heard more and more reports of people being contacted by photographers and agencies claiming copyright violations and improper use of photos – sometimes even demanding compensation. Guess what? They’re probably right. Chances are you’ve illegally, and unintentionally, used a copyrighted image on the internet. In our digital age, where finding an image is as simple as Googling it – we often think we have the right to use them for whatever purpose we want – for a blog entry, to post to our website, to share on Facebook. The ease of access to photos is misleading; just finding a photo does not give you permission to reproduce it.
We often mistakenly think we’re covered if we:

  • link to the source
  • don’t claim the photo as our own
  • didn’t know it was copyrighted!
  • didn’t make money off it
  • if we have a disclaimer on our site
  • we immediately take it down if requested

None of these protect you. So then, what do we do if we want to use photos on our sites, etc? Here are some options:

  1. Use your own photos!
  2. Search for photos that are approved for use:
    Creative Commons licensed pictures – search for photos which are approved for free use (with some attribution and other restrictions)
    Flikr Creative Commons – some users allow use of their photos.
    Wikimedia Commons – offers free media files
  3. Buy rights to photos that are offered through stock photography sites, like
    –  Fotolia
    –  Veer
    –  Corbis Images
    –  Getty Images
  4. Get explicit permission from the photographer (sites like Flikr and other photography sites often allow you to contact the photographer directly) – it can’t hurt to ask.

While we’re not legal experts  – we do encourage everyone to stay on the side of caution. Assume photos are copyrighted unless proven otherwise. 

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Violante