How many photos should you put on MLS? Some advice and tips!

By
Real Estate Agent with The Atlas Group

Repost from an earlier blog entry by Matt Jameson

Good morning AR,

Something that came up recently in conversation here at Chaparral Realty Group, and has also come up numerous times while teaching my Digital Photography Composition class to agents:

HOW MANY PHOTOS SHOULD I TAKE / POST TO MLS?

On one hand many brokers post to MLS with around four to six photos - while sometimes you see agents posting rediculous amounts of photos including mutliple angles from each room and even pictures taken from the crawlspace in the foundation.

Thus the conversation sparks: how many photos would be consider enough without being overkill.

Well think of it this way. Lets get hypothetical for a moment: Suppose you were planning on renting a home, and had searched for your new place online. You find a few websites featuring available rentals that have numerous details to help you decide if this rental is right for you.

If you were to see a listed rental with 30 pictures, pictures so detailed that you felt like you had already seen the home in person: would you take the extra step to see the property? Chances are, if you felt like you saw enough from the photos - you could make your decision based simply on the photos alone. But this is a VERY BAD thing. Why? Well for one major reason, photos often have a habit of making things look less spacious than they really are. Often times bad lighting, bag angles, and even horrible colors can cause a home to look less than it's best in photos.

The basic concept here, is that if you give them too many photos - they'll often find a reason NOT to come and view the home. "I like the house, but the living room looks really small, and the neighbors yard is atrocious. Lets look at some other homes."

SO, WHATS A GOOD BROKER TO DO?

Well, first off - we must determine how many photos would be enough to draw someone in to schedule a showing. In my photography class I teach Brokers how to take photos in such a way that they leave some mystery, or in essence they give the viewer a reason to want to view the home.

One way of doing this is to take photos that capture the essence of a room, but leave subtle hints about adjoining rooms. For example, take a look at this photo I took:

Notice how there are areas of the kitchen you cannot see? This makes the viewer want to see more.

Here's another example:

Notice how you see sneak peaks of the adjoining rooms, but never a full photo of any room? This again, is designed to create curiosity in the viewer. This causes the comment, "Looks great, I'd love to see the rest of the home"

One good rule to use when deciding how many photos are enough: Take at least one photo from each room that would be considered an asset to a home. This means, leave out that tiny 1/2 bathroom, and instead focus on the largest bathroom. Do we really need a photo featuring the cluttered garage of the current homeowner? Simply mentioning a 2 car garage is enough.

A second good rule is to consider your angles. See how this house photo features the best lines and architecture, while leaving out portions of the home?

This is designed to make the home look great, but also to cause the viewer to want to see the portions left out of the photo. Also when taking photos of the exterior of a home, angles help to accentuate the three dimensional quality of the home. With this home, if we shot it straight on - the viewer wouldn't see the depth of the covered porch and entry. This angle allows one to get a sense of how nice the front porch really is.

An old and true addage comes to mind. Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

So to sum up: Take better pictures, and less of them. Leave out elements, in order to generate curiosity. Use angles to highlight three dimensional aspects. Leave out cluttered areas or tiny rooms.

ONE FINAL NOTE:

What about those owners who insist on taking their own photos? Well, be proactive - and offer to come and assist them in their photography. In some cases these owners are hobbyist photographers, or simply wish to assist you by thinking "since I live here, I know best which areas should be highlighted."

Mention that you can assist them to identify the best angles and rooms to feature. If you encounter any resistance to your ideas, just let them know that you have a lot of experience with what works and what doesn't - and that you just want to help them get the best possible photos in order to quickly sell their home. And also, offer some tips to them that you've seen in this article. Often times an owner just needs to see a visual representation of the concepts you are trying to get accross. Show them this article :)

(all photos shown are copyright of Matt Jameson, and were taken with a Cannon Powershot A570 with no special lenses or lighting)

Happy shooting!

-Matt

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Israel Hunter 12/18/2009 12:44 AM
  2. Suzanne Gephart 01/25/2010 11:45 PM
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Rainmaker
421,746
Jean Hanley
Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters - Hemet, CA
Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes

Scott, this is great information.  Thank you!  I just shot 78 photos of a new listing, and believe it or not, I am sure my seller wanted me to take a hundred more. lol  I posted 25 of the best shots in the MLS, and you are absolutely correct, why does anyone need to see the home, if I have given them this wonderful tour?

Sep 22, 2009 11:44 AM #1
Rainmaker
1,129,104
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Terrific post -- hope everyone reads it.    I like your "suggestion" of a space, so that you will get a call -- we are, after all, in sales.   If we dont' get the email inquiry or phone call, how can we do our job???

Sep 22, 2009 12:10 PM #2
Rainer
76,189
Scott Gephart
The Atlas Group - Medford, OR
CRS - Medford Real Estate

Thanks to you both. It can be tricky with some clients, who feel the need to photograph their homes as if they were being submitted to the Smithsonian for display.

Tact is the key, and by sharing the reasons why not to over photograph the listing many owners will see your point of view.

Sep 22, 2009 12:40 PM #3
Rainmaker
341,459
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Scott ~ Great advice.  We were just talking about this in the office today - how many are enough and how many are too many.  I fall into the "about a half dozen should do it" camp and that's how many we need as a minimum for some of the websites we're on.  I'll put a dozen or so if they're all enticing.  But each photo has to sell the place or it's not a good idea to use it.  IMO - and others think otherwise - people are searching through photos for reasons NOT to look at a property so no sense in giving them any ammunition.

Liz

Sep 22, 2009 04:32 PM #4
Rainmaker
211,159
Nicky Dou
kw | Keller Williams Market Pro Realty - Rogers, AR
TOP LOCAL REALTOR in Northwest Arkansas

Wow. I guess I am doing things all wrong after reading your post! It is a good post - I have never thought of it this way. I always have buyers asking for "more photos, more photos" and if there are not enough (expecially if there are bad ones) they dont want to see the home anyway. I believe in taking as many photos as you need to get the max. number needed for mls - or if you do Realtor.com enhanced listings you can use up to 25. Realtor.com actually allows buyers to search by number of photos and those with 25 photos come up first. As long as there are 25 good enough photos that you are not repeating the same thing (like on land - there is just only so much you can photograph) you should use the max. allowed. Our mls allows 16. I am going to give this some thought - it would be much easier if I went with your theory!!!

Sep 22, 2009 05:06 PM #5
Rainer
76,189
Scott Gephart
The Atlas Group - Medford, OR
CRS - Medford Real Estate

"people are search through photos for reasons NOT to look at a property" - well stated. Its the law of disqualification. When looking at number of similar objects to buy, one will disqualify choices based on their individual flaws.

Sep 28, 2009 05:46 PM #6
Rainer
13,791
Christopher Kimball
Christopher Kimball Photography - Saint Augustine, FL

This is a really good article with great points. Give the shopper a taste and make them come see the entire property.

I know that personally if I see 25 images, I will look at the first few and move on. Most people do nottake the time to sit through that many images. I normally shoot around 50 or so per property and use 10 to 20 in the tour and then send the rest to the Realtor or Broker so they can mix it up on different marketing items. Why use the same images on the tour and the flyers and the web and........ Well you get the point.

Sep 30, 2009 10:12 AM #7
Rainer
216,176
Marcia Hawken
Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. - Naples, FL
Naples Luxury Specialist

I agree that you should not be taking pictures of the small powder room when all you can photograph is the toilet.  However, I am big on giving them as many good photos as MLS will allow.  I also include photos of the neighborhood.  I have had a lot of showings because the client liked what they saw and called their agent for a showing.  And always use a wide angle lens. Your photos are spectacular.  Great lighting.

Oct 13, 2009 05:13 AM #8
Anonymous
Anonymous
John

If an agent take GREAT wide-angle shots or hires a professional photographer to do so.  I don't think anyone will miss a call, at least not the calls that are serious buyers.  GREAT wide-angle photography usually makes a space look larger than it is ... not the reverse.  Of course, if you're shooting interior shots with a 35 or 50mm lens, then yes, you're going to be posting pictures of tables, sofas, etc.

I spent around $2000 for a Nikon D80, a Nikkor 12-24mm ultra-wide lens, and a SB800 Nikon Speedlight, and I took the time to learn how to use it for Real Estate Shooting. 

I generally shoot as many as 125 photos of all my listings, and I use the best 75 to create a Buildatour.com tour slideshow tour.  I attach the tour to my MLS listing, my showcase listing on realtor.com, craigslist, etc.  The way I figure it, Those that don't call wouldn't have bought anyway, and I've saved a ton of gas by not showing them properties that they're not going to buy. 

GREAT pictures sell houses, and save you time on the market, personal time, and non-productive trips.  You can't expect much when you're using a cheap digital camera or an iPhone to make your Real Estate Shots.  I think the pictures are as important as any other aspect of my marketing efforts.

Nov 05, 2009 01:21 PM #9
Rainmaker
103,085
Paul Viau
High Shots Photography - Halifax, NS
High Shots Photography

I agree with John. The more shots- The better. Photographs sell homes! Everybody is online anyway.

If you portray your listings with lots of well lighted - good photos. You will stand a better chance of not only selling your listing quicker - but you may get more calls due to the more traffic that you will draw!

Sep 06, 2010 08:20 PM #10
Anonymous
Anonymous
Dr. S

I am not an agent, but someone in the process of sell my home and upgrading into a new home. As both a buyer and seller, I would suggest at least 10 photos. For me, 25 is even better, and I typically view them all, unless it truly is not what I am looking for.  As stated previously, "everyone is online." The benefits outway the cost. It doesn't waste my time or my realtor's time. If I see something that I like, I am on the phone with my realtor, scheduling the first available appointment before someone else does.  Remember, as a buyer, I am aware that other buyers can also see how great that potential house is. 

Yes, it is true that a photo can be a deterant if it includes something that is unappealing to a buyer. However, when the buyer sees that same thing in person, they will be just as appalled and feel they wasted their time. Yes, some people will not come, but those who do, you can be sure are serious buyers and like what they see. Many times I assume that homes with few photos are ugly in person. 

Also, I agree that sometimes the photos posted are ridiculous. I have seen too many that are furniture shots rather than the room or house. It is important to capture layouts, ceiling heights, yard space, and any special features and upgrades. If you can do that with just a few photos then bravo.  If a bathroom or kitchen is upgraded, I want to see it. So many listings exaggerate about homes being fully upgraded that I don't believe it until I see it.

Noteworthy, I rarely read the listing, unless I am intrigued by the photos.  

Mar 04, 2012 05:11 PM #11
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Scott Gephart

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