For a Property Condition Report
The property preservation specialist must become an expert at taking photos. In this business "it's all about the photos". If you don't take photos - good photos - you don't get paid. And it all starts with taking property condition photos.
For the sake of this discussion, we'll just assume that you are at the correct property. (Click here for more information on making sure you're at the correct property.) These are the photos that you generally must take:
Photos That You Generally Must Take
- Street view of the house
- Close up of the house address (some clients want the street sign too)
- For Sale sign
- All sides of the exterior of the house
- Utility meter readings and serial numbers
- Exterior of other buildings on the property
- All interior rooms, including closets, stairways, attic, and crawlspace
- Damage, debris, security, maintenance, etc., issues
The Purposes of Taking Photos
- PCR reporting - you need to show the client exactly what the condition of the property is every time you go there.
- Damage reporting - The client needs to know if there are damages, what the extent of them is, and what it's going to cost to get them fixed.
- Making bids - The client needs to see that your description and measurements of work that you say needs to be done is matched by photos you submit.
- Invoicing - You need photos to show the before and after of the work you have done, and for which you are submitting invoices.
- Personal liability - Your photos protect you from liability for damages that are not reported.
Taking Quality Photos
- Always take your photos in landscape orientation; NEVER turn your camera for vertical photos.
- When you are taking interior condition photos, don't just take the floors; try to back up and get the floor and ceiling in a room shot.
- Use your flash to get better quality interior photos.
- Don't include photos of things that are not a concern to your client.
- Take photos in such a way that, as much as possible, the subject is obvious.
- Before and after photos should be taken from exactly the same spots, so that to look at one after the other, is seems like "now you see it, now you don't".
- Before and after photos should include some reference point, e.g., a driveway, a door jamb, etc. Don't just take a photo of a patch of grass or a section of wall, with nothing to show perspective.
- Make sure your camera's date/time stamp is always OFF.
Don't ever "stage" your photos; take photos of things as they are.
Miscellaneous Notes for Taking Photos
- Photos are cheap; take plenty of photos. Our clients have NEVER told us that we have taken too many photos. They have told us several times that we have not provided enough photos.
- Take your photos in the same order each time. They will be much easier to label.
- If you take a bad photo (blurry, dark, etc.), trash it right away; nobody will have to wonder about it later.
- Take clear photos of things that you will need for your PCR (meter/serial readings, lights on, appliances present, etc.)
- If your camera uses rechargeable batteries, always have at least one fully-charged spare with you.
Keep a spare memory card with you too.
Next, we'll move from taking photos to a discussion of condition reporting.