We've all heard it before...if you've been working in real estate for any length of time you know you should be using a professional photographer. You have a trusted home inspector, a trusted real estate attorney, a trusted loan officer, and even a trusted handy man on your team. But for some reason you keep telling yourself you can do the photography with your iPhone. Would you attempt to conduct the closing? Underwrite the loan? Perform the home inspection? Of course you wouldn't! Then why are you still taking your own photos?

The truth is the real estate industry is undergoing a seismic shift right before our very eyes. What worked last year won't work this year (remember QR codes anyone?) and what's working now probably won't work next year. The Internet has changed how the game is played. The only question is: are you willing to adapt? Or will you sit on the sidelines wondering what you're competition is doing to get so many listings? I'm not here to give you Mark Zuckerburg's 5 steps to a successful social media campaign (and trust me, your friends will appreciate it) but I am here to tell you this....if you only do ONE thing to increase your sales in this new online real estate market place...use professional photography! But why?

1.  90% of all home buyers now start their search online. If your photos don't give your listing the best image possible, guess what: they're moving on. Buyers are finicky and you know it. Your listing is going to be syndicated onto one million real estate websites (and counting), so it better look good.

2.  98% of home buyers who used the internet found the photos to be the most useful feature online. Not the price, not the description, but the photos.

3.  76% of buyers drove by or viewed a home they saw online first. Need I say more?

4.  41% of buyers purchased a home they saw online. First impressions really do matter.

5.  Perception is reality. One recent study showed that home buyers perceived listings done with professional photography as being worth 12.9% more than similar listings done without.

Sources: #1-4 taken from NAR 2012 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, #5