MLS photo tips

lacohnNovember 11, 2007

My house is currently on the market, and luckily we've had 9 showings in the past week that it's been listed (no offers yet, but we are trying to stay optimistic!). We decided to take our own photos instead of having the realtor do it. I think the MLS photos are extremely important. Many people looking online make their decision about whether to see your house based on these photographs. Here are some tips I thought I'd pass along to make your MLS photos look better:

1. Use a good camera--we used a digital SLR camera to take our shots (or hire a real estate photographer--I think they cost about $300 or so). Point and shoot cameras just don't do a very good job in my opinion--especially for interior shots.

2. Adjust your images. I used iphoto to improve the quality image of the photographs. First, I adjusted the exposure and lighting if necessary. Then I sharpened all the images. Then (this is the secret!) I added a slight red tint to all the interior shots--it gives a nice warm glow...

3. Make sure your exterior shot has a blue sky. I actually used photoshop to insert a blue sky into my exterior shot! It makes a big difference!

4. Less ceiling, more floor. Unless you have a really pretty light fixture, concentrate on focusing more on floor space. It makes the room look bigger.

5. Use a lot of pix--we have 14 photos in our listing to try to highlight as much as possible.

6. Staging--for example, set up your dining room table as if you are about to have a dinner party--and then take the shot. Put a little vase of flowers on the bathroom counter, with a rolled hand towel nearby, etc. Make it look picture perfect.

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I would love to see a link to your pictures. The idea of adding a little red tint sounds interesting.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 5:47PM
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Here are a few of them. The first shot is the original photo, and the second shot is the enhanced photo after adjustment in iphoto.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to my photos

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 9:51PM
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I agree with the red tint. It's like the difference between a warmly glowing incandescent bulb and a flourescent one. I did this for my house when I sold.

Composition is so important. It's tough to shoot a small room - this is where you end up with a picture of a sofa as if it is for sale instead of the rest of the house! For small rooms, try standing in the hallway (you could also try taking off the door if it's in the way) and shoot from there, then crop off any pieces of the doorway that get into the shot, if possible. Also don't forget that you can stand on the bed or sit on a table to get the maximum view of a room - just remember to hold the camera at eye-level.

Clutter looks worse in photographs than 'in person'. Don't try to impress anyone with your good candle holders - they won't be seen in detail, anyway. When using Photoshop, the clone tool is super for getting rid of bits of clutter that distract from what you're trying to show.

Note though, that you don't want to deceive anyone by removing powerlines, stains and other flaws when doctoring your images.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 10:16PM
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lacohn: Use a lot of pix--we have 14 photos in our listing to try to highlight as much as possible.

Boy do I disagree with this. The last thing you want in a listing is a lot of photos. Why? The photos are to whet the appetite of a prospective buyer. They are meant to entice someone into coming out to see your house. If the entire house is available online, and not exactly what a prospective buyer is looking for via the pictures, there is no reason to view the house in person. There is a reason that there are traditionally six pictures available for view; enough to entice, not enough to dismiss without seeing. Even the best photos do not do justice to a great house. That is why there are in-person viewings.

As far as "enhancing" pictures - there are several schools of thought on this. A subtle clean-up or red tint is one thing, but as chris_ont pointed out, enhancing the lawn, taking out power lines, etc can be construed as deceptive and may hurt a seller in the long run.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 10:56AM
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Tashina Knight

And I'd like to agree with the lots of pics. There are a lot of buyers coming to see houses from out of area. They have a limited time frame and have to make decisions on which houses to see from the photos online. I had time to see 12 houses on my serious house hunting trip. I canceled out most houses that didn't have the full 10 photos we are allowed on the MLS here. I didn't want to find out that the reason that there were only 5 photos was that there was nothing else nice to take a photo of.

That said, one of my top two houses turned out to be one with 10 photos and great description and all - and they were moving the day I saw it which didn't deter me. The second one was brand new on the market with no photos but room sizes and satellite view were perfect and it's the one I chose. But there were an awful lot that got thrown off the list altogether and never got seen because of too few good photos.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 12:45PM
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Lots of pictures are better in my opinion. If the MLS and charges for more pix, then the agent should put up a web page and post the pictures there.

I'd like to add to your tips: don't take pictures that are furniture-oriented. I don't care about your furniture, I want to see the architecture of the room. Take all the clutter and extra furniture you can out of the room before you take the pictures. I saw a listing with lots of pictures on the other day - among the pictures were a couple of the childrens' doll collections and other nonsense. What the!?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 2:59PM
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I agree that multiple pictures are good - provided they show positive aspects of the home that encourage buyers to see it.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 4:22PM
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Lena M

I'm bumping this useful thread.

The Photography for Real Estate site is very informative. Here is their tutorial and video page. They also have videos and a downloadable PDF on what they consider the 10 Essentials:

#1 Use a wide-angle lens to shoot rooms
#2 Understand the purpose of each photo
#3 Simplify photos
#4 Front exterior photo is the most important
#5 Render verticals vertical
#6 Render straight lines straight
#7 Render interiors light and bright
#8 DonÂt let burned out windows distract
#9 DonÂt let color casts distract
#10 Think about how photos will be used

If you want to see what NOT to do then google 'Bad Real Estate Photos' (and brace yourself to recoil in horror).

hth, Lena

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 11:21AM
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LOL Ok, Im not sure whats happening with these photos, but Im getting pictures of an adorable little girl named Gaby, someone flying and Rachel Exloring! :) WHERES THE HOUSE? LOL

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 3:35PM
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Lena M

Oops, missing links are always a danger in resurrecting old threads.

Here is one that works: Real estate photos worth more than a thousand words.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 4:41PM
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I tried to look at your photos, but the site said they weren't available.???

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 5:34PM
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