What makes a good listing photo?

February 19, 2014
by Anne Jones

If there is one question I wish Sellers would ask themselves, it’s “how does my home look online?”  To some it may seem inconsequential, but with the way we market homes today, the value of good listing photos cannot be overestimated.

So what makes a good photo vs. a bad one?

1. The pictures should be crisp and clear, and very well lit. Yes, I know that Winters in the Pacific Northwest can be dark, so a professional photographer may need to be called in. Discuss this with your Realtor before you sign the listing agreement, and ask to see examples from past listings.  Poor photos will cost you very real money as a seller, so make this one of your key interview questions.

2. The photographer uses a wide enough lens to captures the entire room (without distorting it). The goal of good photographs is to show what the home really looks like (no, really!)  A little touch up in post production is ok, but you don’t want to overdo it. The last thing you want is for the buyer to walk in and be disappointed by the reality of your home.

3. Unless the home is an out-and-out disaster, you should be utilizing most of the 25 photos that the NWMLS now allows. These photos should all be uploaded the moment the listing becomes active — not that night or the next day. Remember, today’s buyers are very savvy, and fewer photos will not serve to “pique their interest.” Instead they will skip right past your property when they are surfing online, and you waste the heightened exposure that comes with being a new listing.

Sounds simple enough, right? If you looked at as many homes as I do, you would be stunned by all of the examples of bad photos (which is why there is an entire website called Bad MLS photos). Still think I’m being melodramatic? Consider some of the most frequent offenders:

  • Dogs and cats left to their own devices during the photo shoot. Reclining on beds, perched on sofas, sprawled out on the kitchen counter. This may seem cute to you, but the potential buyer with cat allergies just took your home off of their list. Next!
  • Leftover food in yesterday’s dishes…scattered throughout the home. MLS photos are not meant to be scratch-n-sniff. Don’t give them reason to imagine how badly your place stinks.
  • Personal items prominently displayed (think of a shower with a glass door full of shampoo bottles and shaving cream). No one wants to think about what YOU do when you’re in the bathroom. Let’s allow for some mystery, shall we?
  • PEOPLE. Nothing kills the “this could be our house!” fantasy faster than seeing the listing agent in the bathroom mirror, or cousin Joe in Grandma’s recliner in the living room. I believe the phrase you are looking for is, “Excuse me. Could you just step out of the frame for a moment while I take this photo?”
  • Cars in the driveway. Unless your husband’s truck won’t start (or your wife drives a Ferrari) there’s really no reason to have vehicles mucking up the all-important exterior photo of your home.

In short, sellers must demand more. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression — make it count!