How NOT to take listing photos

jkom51March 7, 2012

Our local paper ran a great little column with a short slideshow. These photos are from AOL Real Estate and HookedOnHouses websites - a great example of what not to do when taking your own house-for-sale photos!

Be sure to click on the lower RH corner to reveal the captions:

Here is a link that might be useful: Terrible Listing Photos - short slideshow (SF Chronicle)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am always so amazed at how bad some listing photos are. Even on really nice high end homes. I honestly don't understand it. You're selling your house for a million bucks, and you can't go to the trouble to get even half way decent pictures?

Then there are the ones where the omissions in the pictures make me think something must be really wrong with the house. I saw one yesterday that had three pictures of the pool, almost from an identical angle, three pictures of the dining room, also almost from the same angle, and then a few pictures of the community features. And that's it. Did someone rip all the drywall out of the rest of the house, or what? What are they hiding?

I remember back when I was big into eBay sometimes I got really good deals on items where the seller wouldn't bother to put up a picture, or spelled the name of the item wrong. So the auction got less attention and had less competition. I guess that could come into play here too, but in the few cases that we've bothered looking at houses that have awful listing photos, they've always been even worse than they looked.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There used to be a hilarious and popular blog devoted to bad listings photos (, but then it got taken over by the folks at Icanhazcheezburger and stopped being funny. It's gone now, but it was great while it lasted.

But yeah, I'm always amazed. Just looked at a listing where they have six really bad photos of the sink and toilet in the downstairs powder/laundry room (OK, so we see it needs an upgrade), one of the dining room, and one of the exterior. Well, that helped a lot.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, when we were looking I was stunned by the awful photos. There were so many that were extremely blurry or so dark that you couldn't see anything. And these were for nice houses not just something super cheap. (But even for a cheap house it doesn't cost more to take a non-blurry photo than a blurry one...)

I was also suspicious of listings where there were no photos of key rooms. One house we never looked at had pictures of lots of things in the house and many outside but no picture of the family room....

Another house had no picture of the master bathroom so I figured it wasn't good. I actually saw that house and the master bathroom was fine.

I am also amazed at how many homeowners don't even declutter for listing pictures. I made my agent retake a picture when we were selling that had a stray computer cord dangling....but I see so many pics of shelves and counters jam packed with items and with huge family pictures....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Friends of mine put their house up for sale. The pictures were not good. Not terrible, but not good. There were clean dishes in the dish drainer, a sweatshirt draped on a chair in the master bedroom, kids' toys on the floor in the family room, messy towels all over the bathroom. Little things like the toilet lid being up instead of down, a dog sleeping on a bed, stuff like that.

Turns out their agent, who had a key to the house, just stopped by one day when everyone happened to be out, before the house was officially on the market, and snapped the pictures. No warning to my friends--they didn't even know the pictures had been taken until they looked at the listing on-line.

Took two weeks of fighting with their agent to get her to come back and take pictures with the house in pristine condition.

You'd think the agent would want to do everything possible to help sell the house.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 4:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We've found it works best to have the agent actually hire a photographer to take the listing pictures. It's not expensive in the scheme of things, and the results are worth it.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Come on now.........who wouldn't want a huge red velvet canopy bed made for a a king? That would fit in perfectly with my camel in the red billiards room and my clam-shaped bath tub!

It's not just home owners who take bad pictures - a lot of realtors are terrible at it too. Over the past couple years, I had 3 different realtors, and I took photos every single time because theirs weren't good enough. Their photos were often too dark, because they were too lazy to open the blinds and let the sun shine in. They would take pictures that did not show the room at it's best angle. It seemed to me when the realtors took the photos, all they did was snap 10-15 shots, and when they got back to the office and saw they were crappy photos, they must have thought, "well, these are the only shots I have, so I have to use them". Even when they realized they were bad shots, they still posted them anyway. So the people who saw my house for the first week it was on the market, how many of them were so unimpressed they looked elsewhere?

When I took photos, I took about 120 shots from different angles, and then chose the best 20-25 to keep. Back in ye olden times when you had to pay for film processing, I could understand only taking a few shots. With digital cameras and memory cards that can hold hundreds of prictures, why stop at just a few shots? I took the same shots with the flash on and the flash off. I took shots by holding the camera over my head, by crouching down, and even laying on the floor. I doubt any realtor would lay on the floor to take a shot, but sometimes thats what it takes to get the best shot.

I saw a listing in my area which was so terrible, I actually contacted the realtor and told them about it. It was a nice house, but it was pretty obvious the owners were messy packrats. It looked like maybe they were elderly and someone had died or went to a nursing home. It didn't look like ANY cleaning was done prior to the pictures - it was disgusting. None of the beds were made up. Clothes, paper, extension cords, boxes, etc. were laying all over the floors. Kitchen counters were totally overrun with food items and dishes (even though they bragged about having a recent kitchen renovation). Bathrooms had all kinds of crap laying all over the vanities, crumpled up clothes on the floor, and toilet seats left open. The dining room table had all kinds of crap on it, and all 6 chairs were away from the table and lined up against the wall. A lot of photos were so dark, you couldn't see what the room was like at all (and with all the mess, maybe you didn't want to see it). Now in this extreme case, I would not expect the realtor to do any cleaning up - that was the home owner's job. But I totally blame the realtor for taking the photos to begin with and for posting them. Absolutely no excuse for that.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My neighbor had a professional RE photographer take the photos, with good lighting and wide-angle lenses where it was needed.

Yes, it cost him about $150, but his house sold at asking price in a few days. And the photos probably had a lot to do with it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wonder if the listing agent for the last home in the slideshow has a creative explanation for the body-shaped bloodstain on the floor, LOL!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a perfect example of how to take good pictures.

I have this house on my watchlist. I doubt we will finish our current project in time to buy it, but you never know how long it could sit on the market.

It went "Off Market" earlier this week after being "Under Contract" twice but never sold. You can see the condition is horrible. Blue tarps are not good roofing material.

It came back on this morning, with a new listing agent. The pictures show the house in a completely different light. Nothing has been done to it, but she took pictures of the best rooms, not the worst.

In this case though, I think this might not be a good thing. They will get a lot more buyers to look at the house, but most will be shocked when they see it. I suspect it will have to be a cash buyer.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yikes those are some BAD photos!!

It always bothers me when the photographer shoots the furniture in the room (especially when it's nice furniture) and doesn't bother to include the window, or the closet door, or other features of the HOME I am wanting to see.

It's almost like the seller took it, thinking "Look at my nice bed. I made it just for this photo" or "We're so proud of our armoire!"

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"They will get a lot more buyers to look at the house, but most will be shocked when they see it."

Years ago, before we had internet, we got MLS books every other week; MLS took the photos, & if the property were too far out, it could take weeks for photos to appear.

I once called a listing agent to be sure the price was right on her brand-new listing, as it had a main house, guest house, pool, & acreage in a scenic area.

It was, say, $119,000.

I thought maybe she'd put a 1 where she intended to put a 3...

No, no, she said, the price is right.

We drove about 30 miles out there only to see that the "main house" was an old single-wide, fully occupied by cages since it was a puppy mill, the "guest house" was a camper trailer with a pink stove, & the pool was dry, which was just as well because it had a huge, heaved-up break in the bottom.

I don't think you can sell something by tricking people into looking at it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 4:24PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
After months of preparation, house is now listed
This is such a big deal for us, we have been planning...
Move or not?
Went to an open house the other day. The house was...
Considering downsizing Advice desperately needed!
Have you downsized? I could use your input. Desperately...
what do you do with mail that comes for previous occupants?
I always get mail that is meant for previous occupants...
1031 Reverse question
We already purchased an investment property and are...
Patience Spina
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™