Fantastically Awful MLS Photos

Type a phrase like “bad real estate photos” or “terrible real estate photography” into Google, and you are sure to be created by page after page of horrendous real estate photography.  Entire sites are dedicated to this kind of thing.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve done it before… just for a chuckle.  What is really sad, however, is just how common these types of photos really are.

Earlier tonight, I decided to do a quick search on my local MLS to seek out some bad photos.  I decided that I wanted to see just how fast I could locate awful photos that were poor enough to qualify for one of the sites I am talking about.  I also wanted to make sure my search wasn’t “rigged…”  meaning I wasn’t searching “bad” neighborhoods or low priced homes, etc.  I really just typed in some local areas and entered a range around the median price range.

I was actually very surprised.  Within literally seconds, I found enough cringe-worthy photos for an entire blog.   Take a look at some of what I found…

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What saddens me is that folks are trusting these agents to market their homes to the fullest potential, and get them sold in a tough market.  These folks are relying on their agents for marketing expertise, and this is what they are being provided.

Don’t these agents realize just how critical a home’s photos are?  Statistically, well over 90% of home searches take place online.  I know when I was looking for a home, I put the un-appealing houses on the back burner.  Why visit them when there was an amazing looking house close by?

Never mind the fact that countless studies and statistics show that great home photography is worth its weight in gold.  Reputable real estate information outlets such as RISmedia report the correlation between photography and a home’s Days on Market (DOM) and percentage of listing price the sale garners.  They talk about attracting more potential buyers, selling a home faster, and even selling the home for a higher price in their article “The Successful Combination of Photography and Real Estate” by Gar Benedick

Seattle brokerage Redfin Corp., even cites that listings with better photography can sell for between $934 and $116,076 more than the competition when measuring the difference between asking and final price.

So agents, do yourselves and clients a favor… invest in the proper marketing.  Invest in great photography.  This will almost certainly produce instant results AND pay dividends for your career in the long term.

Which house would you take your family to see… one with pictures like the ones above, or one with photos like ours?  You be the judge…


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  • Lisa June 28, 2012  

    LOL so true! You know I’m a believer in great photos. What’s funny is that some of the pictures in your slideshow are from ONE house, and we actually toured that house when doing our home search over a year ago (apparently it’s still on the market…). The one with the blue and brown walls? Yeah, that house is HUGE inside, and the property backs to woods – actually a very nice location. Yes, it’s decor needs help, but we actually considered it after looking at it in person. If our agent didn’t take us though, we probably would have passed it right by based on the MLS listing photos. Just sayin’.

    • S18 Photography June 28, 2012  

      Haha… Lisa, it’s really such a shame… The part that sticks out to me is when you say “(apparently it’s still on the market)” The poor person is trying to sell their home. It probably needs a little help on the decor, but I guarantee there would be so many more people looking at the property if the agent at least emphasised its strenghths… If there were high quality photos that at least emphasized the size of the rooms and the beautiful location, this home would have more of a fighting chance! Good call Lisa!

  • Kelly June 28, 2012  

    Terrible. Home owners should be able to hire their own photographers.

    • S18 Photography June 29, 2012  

      Hi Kelly! Yeah, the photos are pretty bad. Here in NJ, the owners can hire their own photographers though. (Not sure what the rules are state to state.) While most of my client base is from Realtors who understand the value of great photos, I have recently had a handful of homeowners call me directly for home sessions. In one case, the individual owned a marketing company… not surprising! Smart fellow!

  • Karen Cox June 28, 2012  

    yes, it is a shame and i just shake my head at bad house photos.

  • amanda June 29, 2012  

    Very well written! We were looking at homes the other night and I was appalled at the bad photography! Maybe I need to start doing some real estate photography. LOL.

  • christina June 29, 2012  

    great photography sells!! great shot!!!

  • sally June 29, 2012  

    I’m very glad to be a photographer so I can take my own photos when the time comes! Thank you for sharing.

  • Becca June 29, 2012  

    haha! This is so true!

  • Christy Harper June 29, 2012  

    I love your image, great job 🙂

  • Misha June 30, 2012  

    WOW – the difference can be stunning!

  • Jane June 30, 2012  

    so, so true! The photo is the first impression…so sad some owners just don’t get that.

  • Donna Davie June 30, 2012  

    Wow, those are pretty horrible! They remind me of the Awkward Family Photos. They could be the Awkward MLS photos…he he! The photos are your first impression of the home so I totally agree that they need to be great. Awesome post! 🙂

    • S18 Photography June 30, 2012  

      Haha… yes, definitely… It really is a lot like the Awkward Family Photos minus a handful of bad sweaters and outdated hairstyles!

  • Jo Clark June 30, 2012  

    Oh my gosh seriously! My mom has been a real estate broker for 40 years and I have seen some horrid photos! I love the one taken at dark with the flash illuminating the tree in the foreground. Classy. LOL I completely agree that great photography is a MUST to get your property noticed.

    • S18 Photography July 2, 2012  

      Haha… yes, when in doubt, simply nuke a random object in the foreground with a direct flash… Way to highlight the home’s features!

  • Anna June 30, 2012  

    wow, those are pretty bad! What a difference great photography makes! Thank you for sharing!

  • AshleyS July 1, 2012  

    I agree, sometimes the photos break the deal for me on a house I might have even liked! Beautiful photos on your site. 🙂

  • S18 Photography July 2, 2012  

    Haha… thanks guys! I’m glad you like our photos, and happy to pass on a good laugh!

  • Carrie July 2, 2012  

    It is tough to convince someone in words wonderful things about a home when the pictures show something less than desirable for sure!

  • Were these the worst you found? Man, when my parents were looking for a home two years back, some of the photos will take the cake — we’re taking pictures of people’s scattered clothes/dishes etc. I think I even remember one of a guy in his underpants in one of them too. It’s as if a family member realized last minute it would be nice to get some images of the place up online and took the picture regardless of what (or who) was in it.
    You’re so right though — photography can make or break the initial thoughts of a buyer for a place and it really matters.
    It’s also SO hard to do. Just because one can photograph people well, does not translate to architectural photography, so finding the right photographer is so important.

    • S18 Photography July 3, 2012  

      Haha… Well, these are definitely not the worst out there. The ones I found are just plain bad, but I have seen some really, really awful ones. The thing that did surprise me though was just how quickly I found these and how these were far from unusual. Especially with the market being less-than-desirable, I was pretty shocked… Wow… the one you saw with the underpants is super bad… damn… I’m pretty sure that just about takes the cake!

  • Aimee Lashley July 6, 2012  

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Having been in real estate several years ago and being a photographer, I have also seen first hand the difference that professional photography can make in marketing real estate. Definitely prefer YOUR image to the ones above! 🙂

  • Rebecca Berra July 15, 2012  

    Your photo is beautiful, would definitely ask to see your house!! Your point is so true – first impressions matter soooooo much and that is what the photos of a house represent!

    • S18 Photography July 17, 2012  

      Haha… glad you like! Thanks Rebecca!