Bad MLS Photos

By
Real Estate Agent with Sound Realty

Do you do something every day to help the real estate market improve?

It's an odd question given most agents are just waiting for good things to happen. But I'm offering this small challenge.

Spend just FIVE MINUTES every day doing something that will help the market.

A small thing.

 

You are in the mls looking at new listings and you see a tilted house. You know we all see them most every day! 

Take that photo, straighten it out and send it to the listing agent all fixed up.

 

DEMONSTRATION

Below is a good example of a tilted house, albeit one that is supposed to be tilted for some odd reason. :)

I saved it....

 

bad mls photos

 

I straghtened it...and cleaned it up a bit with a little cropping. Took me less than 5 minutes. Probably more like two minutes.

 

 

Unfortnately many agents will laugh at the tilted photo and wonder why the seller hired THAT agent.

Let's assume the BEST and know that the seller had a good reason to hire them that has nothing to do with their photo taking or editing skills.

Whether I know the agent or not, I email them the "fixed" photo. They thank me and replace their tilted photo with the straightened version.

 

HOW SIMPLE IS THAT!?!? Consider it your "good deed for the day" and Be part of the solution...vs part of the problem. 

Sometimes the agent calls and asks me how I fixed the photo...well then I have the opportunity to Teach them to Fish! How GREAT is that!?

IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE AN AGENT WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO DO WHAT I DID ABOVE IN 2 MINUTES OR LESS...SHOOT ME AN EMAIL. BAD PHOTOS ARE RAMPANT IN THE MLS...LET'S HELP IMPROVE THAT.

 

And to BROKERS of COMPANIES...take the time to look at ALL the ACTIVE listings of your agents today...and help your agents with better photos of their listings. It's the LEAST you can do...and yet so many Brokers and Office Managers do not even take the time to LOOK at the photos of their listings. Help your agents and help yourself at the same time. It's a poor reflection on your Company to have Bad MLS Photos.

 

Fix that today. It may be a spit in the bucket, but it's something and it's good and it's easy peasy one, two, threesie!

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Ambassador
1,257,890
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Good one. I hate photos in MLS of the DRIVEWAY shot (tiny house), the I stuck my hand out the car window shot (and got the mirror in it). How do those homes sell???? Some do and that drives me nuts.

Jun 01, 2011 08:16 PM #61
Rainmaker
472,700
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL

We too have one agent whose photos are always tilted. I have often straightened them for her, but when she refused to watch and learn to do it herself, I gave up. So now she goes back out to take them. Being tech savy is a big plus. Good thing she at least has a digital camera and does not have to pay for developing!

But, as I see it. My job is to sell my customer's property, not improve the saleability of their competition. As some said, I will reattach a rider, etc. But it is not my job to find ways to eliminate odors in a home, correct spelling or grammar errors in listings, or fix their poor photos. The flaws of other properties make my listing more attractive to buyers. It is the job of the listing agent, the broker, and the sellers to make sure that the property is getting the exposure it deserves.

Jun 01, 2011 09:25 PM #62
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Joshua, 

In Seattle that is a problem as sometimes you have to run and catch the weather in the little time that the sky may be blue. Pros are not always available ona moment's notice. :) Some are using fake sky...but using anything "fake" sends a sign of being dishonest. Not good. Not a good practice IMO.

Jun 01, 2011 10:20 PM #63
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Erica,

You will always have some hand stuck outside the window photos. Maybe I can explain that so you will be a little "forgiving" in that regard.

I have known a couple of agents who were listing foreclosures and the owners were actually violent...with guns...wanting to shoot anyone involved in selling "their" house. Sometimes a drive by means it is a dangerous neighborhood. Sad...but true.

I don't work in those areas...but I know agents that do, and personal safety is a factor. So when you see a hand stuck out the window photo...maybe that's saying something about the neighborhood. Kind of a "full disclosure" this neighborhood is so dangerous agent won't get out of his car. LOL!

Jun 01, 2011 10:24 PM #64
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

John,

I don't blame you one bit for your position. You tried. That's all I asked, and you have done that. I do get FED UP with agents who refuse to learn. BUT I have more often found the agent more than happy to learn and grow. So even if I get FED UP for a bit...I never say never again.

Brokers on the other hand should know their agent's strengths and weaknesses, and support their weak points. No one is good at everything.

Jun 01, 2011 10:27 PM #65
Rainer
30,560
Joshua Vensel
VENVISIO - Real Estate Photography - Atlanta, GA - Marietta, GA

Hi Ardell,

It's interesting to hear from the agent side about replacing skies.  Seattle has some higher-profile RE photographers (at least they are higher-profile in the photography world), and among them, replacing skies seems to be something that is acceptable since the skies are constantly changing and not a material element.  I agree that a bad sky replacement or nuclear green grass is bad practice, and makes a listing look bad.  What's your opinion of a sky replacement that is done well (not identifiable as replaced), and is representative of a true sky on nicer day at that property?  Fortunately for me, Atlanta has blue skies pretty regularly!  

Jun 02, 2011 10:20 AM #66
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Joshua,

We play to a tough crowd here in Seattle. 

The issue isn't the sky as much as the "deceit" factor. Reminds me of a line I heard on Judge Judy the other day: "If you will steal $.50 you would steal $500 or $5,000."

Once you begin the practice of deception with putting "fake" things in photos, the question becomes what else might the agent "lie" about? Same holds true for some of the pro shots that make rooms look much larger than they actually are. Or the agent who climbs on the roof to take "the view shot". :)

But it is NOT an "agent's" perspective. It is the consumer perspective.

Consumer comments from our local blogs:

" This photographer loses a few points for the fake sky..."

This one cracks me up:

"This photographer loses a few points for the fake sky (same in photos #1 and #9), but at least you probably couldn’t tell that it’s fake unless you noticed the duplication, since the sky doesn’t look entirely unlike one you might actually see over Everett."

Apparently the consumer can tell that that particular Sky doesn't exit in that part of town ever. LOL!

Agents and Sellers LOVE pictures that make reality look a whole lot better better. Buyers view that is deception.

Many photographers are putting "fake flames" in the fireplace photos. Same problem.

 

Jun 02, 2011 03:17 PM #67
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Here's another consumer comment re "deceiving" photos.


"The first house in Renton might also qualify for “significantly deceptive listing photos”. That wonderful porch looks out on what appears to be the destroyed remains of the foundation of 311 Earlington Ave SW. Google maps and street view seem to confirm the photographer was standing on the edge of the rubble."

The general consensus from the viewing public is"

STOP TRYING TO TRICK US WITH DECEPTIVE PHOTOS THAT MAKE THINGS APPEAR BETTER THAN THEY ACTUALLY ARE!

In other words...Keep it REAL.

One of the reasons I don't use professional photographers is they get too caught up in "the art of their work" and pay little or no homage to the real estate aspects involved.

I will rush out when the sky is blue...but if it's not blue...well, gotta stick with reality. Another reason I don't use a pro is I can replace the shot on a sunny day vs asking the photographer to come out when the sky is blue. It just doesn't work well around here given blue sky and sunny days can be few and far between.

Jun 02, 2011 03:23 PM #68
Rainmaker
1,247,947
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL
REALTOR

Ardell - Amen! Photos are usually the first impression and bad ones could easily eliminate a prospective buyer.

Jun 02, 2011 10:53 PM #69
Rainer
30,560
Joshua Vensel
VENVISIO - Real Estate Photography - Atlanta, GA - Marietta, GA

Hi Ardell,

I hope I haven't hijacked your comments, but I'm intrigued!  I certainly disagree with deception, but I would also not choose to feature photos in a listing of rubble across the street - would you?  I prefer to focus on the attributes of a property, not it's neighborhood's shortcomings.  

I understand the sky replacement, and I think using the same sky is just dumb.  

I also think it's fair to say that lumping all professional photographers into a group that's "too caught up in "the art of their work"" is a bit unfair.  I'm far more "techie" than "artist", but first and foremost I'm "client service" - which means providing my clients with what they, and the market, demand.  If the market says it prefers a certain style, as a professional, I know that I better listen and accomodate.  If there are no photographers in your city with the same business ethic, the market will eventually speak and they will have no choice but to listen.     

 

Jun 03, 2011 10:08 AM #70
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Hi Joshua,

I took a minute to check out your blog before responding. No deception there! Great blog. Loved the stainless steel post in the mix.

All I'm saying is that agents need to be keenly aware of anything that may be perceived as deception, because our industry doesn't get  high marks on being 100% honest...you know what I mean? Whether or not you agree with that...well, that's often where I run into problems with photographers. They think they have a say in the matter. LOL! My reputation is built on honesty...it is what I am "known" for. For another agent that may not be the case, or an issue.

One of the problems is that most agents cater to what makes the seller happy...but the seller is not the one buying the house. Sellers like photos that make their house look better than it actually is. Buyers like photos that don't make them waste their gas going to a house that looks not nearly as good as the photos. 

Funny thing happened a few weeks ago. Met a client at a house and I really couldn't figure out why he wanted to see that particular house. It was not one his wife would even think of buying. I didn't say anything about that, but after seeing the house, as if in defense, he held up the flyer and said: "But the pictures were SO GOOD!" I want the house in the pictures, not his one. :)

Jun 03, 2011 01:10 PM #71
Rainmaker
1,033,786
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Great conversation you got started here!  Considering they are marketing a product, it's amazing to me what some agents will put out there in photographs.  Is there no "photographing the property" class they can take?  It should be mandatory!

Jun 03, 2011 08:17 PM #72
Rainer
31,241
Kim Waldron
Best View Imaging - Millbury, MA

I have been reading your comments about using professional photographers for your listings and feeling that the fake sky and fake flames are deception. And I agree with you.  The matter of the fact is that Seattle often has cloudy skies and that is just teh nature of life here.

I have a question for you though...If you had a photographer who would do high quality photos without the fake skies or added fires, etc but only provided you with high quality, well light photographs for the property...would you use them?

Jun 10, 2011 07:33 PM #73
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Kim,

I have used photographers a few times. Never say never or always, of course. When a view of The Sound or Lake Washington shows through a window in the home, as example. The skill level for that type of shot is generally beyond what most agents can or should attempt to do without professional assistance.

I think every agent should view each listing from the standpoint of what are the key factors that will equal the sale of THIS home, and proceed accordingly. List all of the reasons why a buyer would choose this home over the competition, and make sure to highlight those things. If the photographer is willing to take direction from the agent in that regard, it works well.  

For instance, I do not include pictures of a pot belly stove, as I find many buyers eliminate the home as to going to see it if that is included in the photos. Rarely does a buyer choose not to buy a home based on there being one in the home in a secondary area, like in the basement. But if they see it in the photos they rule out the house as one they want to go see.

There are many fine points in selling a home, all of which need to be prioritized by the real estate expert in the room. From a "selling the home" persepctive, some yards need to be shot down from the second floor, others need to be shot from the rear corner of the lot.

In other words quality of the print is not the be all end all of best photos to sell a house. 

So to answer your question, merely "high quality and well lighted" is not the criteria I use for photos that will sell a house. Those two things are great, but they are last on the list of what is needed from the photos to sell the house. Not "market" it. SELL it.

 

Jun 10, 2011 08:55 PM #74
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Kim,

I took a peek at your blog and while there were only a couple of photos, that is a good example of what I am talking about. 

The ceiling takes up a large % of the photo, making the room look what I call "squat". We sell size...big sells for more. High ceilings sell for more than low ceilings. A room with 7' 8" ceilings sells for less than one with 10' ceilings. Every inch, even in perception vs reality, can make a price difference when the ceiling height is between 7'8" and 8'2".

Hardwood floors is a high $ feature. By covering them with a rug, you are hiding one of the dollar components of value with something that doesn't get sold with the house. In a home with too much bare hardwood, yes, at times you need to break it up with something. But in a small room like that...show off your HOUSE features, not furniture and carpet which are not what the client is buying. The hardwoods are likely the highest value feature of that room, and are mostly covered up.

Placing pictures at "decorator height" makes the room feel shorter. Seeing a bed from the room through a doorway begs the question, "Can this room be used without entering it from a bedroom"?, which is a weak selling point. Let's assume there is another way to get into that office. :)

Making a list of what are the pros and cons of this house from a real estate standpoint might show hardwood floor as one of the MAIN selling points and low ceilings as one of the weaknesses. Consequently the photos have to better project the hardwoods, and show less ceiling and raise the pictures on the walls to conteract the negative impact of the lower ceilings.

Selling a home for the highest achievable price is complex, and quality of photo and lighting are good things...but they are not what the photos are all about. I have yet to find a photographer who "gets" that.

High end is another story. They often have 10' ceilings and the photos more often represent all the things a buyer is getting for that $2,000,000 PLUS price tag. But for any home priced under a million, WHAT is in the photos is more important than the quality of that photo. Lighting can be altered after the fact.

Jun 10, 2011 09:21 PM #75
Rainer
31,241
Kim Waldron
Best View Imaging - Millbury, MA

I absolutely agree with you and there is no but coming.  You are the real estate agent and you are absolutely the expert in your market and on your clients...no photographer should be telling you different. 

From my perspective the goal of a professional photographer should be to help you acheive your goal...to SELL the house.  They are there to capture and edit photos so that you have your choice of which angles and features you prefer to showcase.  

 

They are there to assist you with the marketing and sale of your listing...PERIOD.

Jun 10, 2011 09:40 PM #76
Rainmaker
104,831
Stephanie Leon - Miami Lakes Luxury Real Estate - RealtorĀ®
Realty Empire Incorporated - Miami Lakes, FL
Helping Turn Dreams Into Reality ...

A photo says a million words...

Jun 10, 2011 09:45 PM #77
Rainer
31,241
Kim Waldron
Best View Imaging - Millbury, MA

I absolutely agree with you on the hardwood floors being a major selling point and placing photos on the wall effecting the perceived height of the room.  In this particular case we aim at homes priced under that million dollar mark which means many of these homes are staged between the agents and the homeowner instead of by a professional stager.  

I would love to have you take a look at our portfolio and let me know what you think of those photos (i'm still somewhat new to this blogging thing so I don't have many up here yet).  You definitely know what you are talking about and I would love to hear what you have to say and learn from your real estate experience.  

 

 

Jun 10, 2011 09:58 PM #78
Rainmaker
296,448
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Kim,

I'd love to meet you. I'll shoot you an email.

Earlier this year I sold a home in Queen Anne and used my blog and facebook to help pull one of the photos because I had 16 I liked and could only use 15. It was a fun interaction that included my facebook friends, my blog readers and the sellers of the home. 

Most of the discussion was on facebook vs the blog. A unique experience that also helped promote the home. In fact an agent bought it. LOL!

I do my own light staging, or full staging of occupied homes. You'll notice I try to pull the eye UP vs down with accent pieces. 

I always tell stagers and sellers, don't sit down to look at your finished product. Walk QUICKLY through the house, because the buyers aren't going to sit in every room the way you do. Staging and decorating are not the same artform.

http://www.realtown.com/Ardell/blog/seattle-real-estate/seattle-queen-anne-home-for-sale-599950

I also tell them to hold their arms out like a penguin and walk quickly through the house the way a buyer will. If their hand bangs into something while walking...you have to move things around until the walk flow doesn't cause a bruise on your hands. :) "Walk Like a Penguin" is one of the things my clients remember most about what I've said in a listing presentation. It works! :)

Look forward to meeting you.

Jun 11, 2011 01:50 AM #79
Rainer
31,241
Kim Waldron
Best View Imaging - Millbury, MA

I love the idea of using your facebook page and blog to choose which photo to get rid of...that is a great way to get other people involved with and aware of what you are doing.  

Also I must say I am in love with the Walk Like a Penguin idea.  Both useful and memorable. 

I'm looking forward to meeting you as well.

Jun 11, 2011 12:42 PM #80
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