Using Floor Plans and Photography in Real Estate Ads

Here's how to engage potential buyers with interactive floor plans and well thought out photos in your real estate marketing.

September 12, 2013

In my advertising sessions, both face-to-face and webinars, I’m often asked about use of floor plans and photography. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts.

Floor plans

When people are looking to buy a new home, floor plans are provided. These floor plans give potential purchasers a feeling for where their furniture might fit, where the study might be located compared to a bedroom or perhaps entertaining areas, or how close the children’s rooms might be to the parents’ bedroom (perhaps closer preferred when they are younger so they can be heard, and further away when they are older for everyone’s privacy).

However, the moment that property is sold and becomes a second-hand or lived-in property, the floor plans tend to disappear from the ads selling those properties. Why?

It would seem to make sense to include floor plans to sell existing properties because they get the potential purchasers involved, and many progressive agents and real estate groups are doing just that.

To get potential buyers really involved, you can use interactive floor plans with little icons in the rooms and outside. Then, every time an icon is clicked, it pulls up a photo of that room or video. It’s fantastic interaction.


Question: Should I use a professional photographer?

If you have the budget, it would seem to make sense to use a professional photographer as it should guarantee the quality of the photographs. Photographers are aware of things like shade and light, the angle of the sun, and the time of the day, and that will make a difference. However, with the cameras available these days, agents can take some excellent photographs themselves.

But whether you use a professional photographer or take the photos yourself, the content of the photographs is more important than the photographic quality.

All too often I see agents focusing on high-quality, professional photography, which makes their ads very pretty – but sadly, if you make bad advertising pretty, all you’re left with is “pretty bad advertising.”

So, my advice would be to emphasize correct advertising procedure first, then look at the photographic quality. That means writing the ad first and then taking the photographs to match, but all too often agents and their photographers are snapping away before the ad has been created.

As I teach, photos must match headlines, not the other way round. If the photo doesn’t match the headline, then whilst the photographic quality may be perfect, the advertising certainly isn’t.

Back to the original question about using a professional photographer – you’ll notice that most of the best agents and groups always use professional photography to maintain a professional consistency with their clients, so there may be a lesson in there for you.

If you do decide to engage a professional photographer, ideally, just include the cost in your seller advertising contribution proposal and you will always know that lighting, exposures, propping, and staging are correct.

But one more important thing to remember: Don’t let your professional photographers take photos as they see fit. Just as is done in an advertising agency, you have to direct them to ensure they know which photograph you need to match your headline and then your body text. Then, they can concentrate on the quality of each photograph, knowing what it is they have to capture and input their own ideas and creativity.

I hope that helps, or at the very least stimulates some thoughts or discussion. I’m always happy to answer any questions if I can, via either e-mail at or my Web site,

Ian Grace

Australian-born Ian Grace, one of the world’s leading authorities on real estate advertising, is the director of IGM Global and head of Ian Grace Business Training. For 16 years, he worked in and researched advertising and customer service in England, South Africa, and the United States.