Home not selling? Your MLS Photos Might be to Blame

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? When selling a home, you want your photos to exude words such as beautiful, homey, elegant, alluring, immaculate and so on. You want whoever is looking at these photos to imagine themselves living and thriving there. Although the home may be impeccable in person, the MLS photos of your home could be adversely affecting the interest in the property.

For those new to the world of real estate, MLS photos are the photos that are uploaded by Realtors to the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. The information in this system band together to create a database of homes that allows each of them to see one another’s listings of properties for sale.  This system also syndicates with many other real estate sites to get homes further reach on the internet. Meaning, the photos that are uploaded through the MLS are crucial for selling potential. If that doesn’t convince you, think about this: 90% of home buyers start their search online, creating just another reason to have stunning photography of the home.

Which picture would you click on?
The one on the left is extremely cluttered and looks dirty.  The one on the right (on the market right now for $185,000) has been cleaned and looks ready to use.

That being said, there have been far too many sightings of terrible MLS photos on the web. When the decision is made to upload poorly shot photos when trying to sell a home, it diminishes both you and your home’s credibility, not to mention your Realtor’s credibility.

Let’s say a potential buyer searches for a home with a specific price and size range and your listed property comes up in the search results. They click on the link of the decent featured image only to see terrible photos with poor lighting, an unkempt lawn, messy counters and so on. Chances are they will not consider visiting the home even if it is exactly what they are looking for, they will just move on to the next property- the one with high quality (or at least better) photos!

Ever heard that it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression? The same goes for photos of homes on the market, once potential buyers log on and see poor MLS photos, they may not trust the sellers, Realtors, brokerage, or the actual quality of the home. What’s worse is that the agent who has listed the home may be judged on the quality of their listing skills, ultimately losing a large amount of potential buyers.

Which listing would you click on?  

The one on the left might give the impression that the home is unkempt. It also may give the impression that the Realtor was too busy or just didn’t care enough to get some quality photos.  The one on the right looks bright and sunny.  It portrays pride in ownership as well as showing that the Realtor for this listing (on the market right now for $180,000) was interesting in presenting the home in the most attractive way possible.  

However, we are here to help. When considering photography, it is HIGHLY advised to have professional photos taken- it will definitely pay off in the long run for reasons above. But your Realtor is in charge of making that decision, right?  Knowing this, it is important to discuss the options of professional photos with your Realtor. They are there to help and will answer any questions you may have. However, if you (or your Realtor) have decided not to go the professional route, we do have some handy pointers!

  • Use a higher quality camera to improve resolution, depth, and color. Focus the camera to find the best lighting and warmth of the room, and edit the photos to brighten or contrast. No fancy camera in sight?  With the smart phones of today, you may be able to make it work.  Smart phones now have lots of features to improve the quality of pictures. There are also feature options and filters on smart-phones that take the hassle out of editing.
  • Angles are key to a good photo. Walk around and take a few tester shots to find the angle that makes the rooms look bigger and deeper. Avoid taking “tilted” pictures, though!  These are some of the worst MLS offenders!
  • Highlight the best aspects of the home. For example, if the kitchen has an island or granite counters, make sure to capture it. Alternatively, you may want to capture the long spacious backyard. It is advised to take these photos while it is sunny as it makes the photos look more attractive, keeping in mind that the best lighting has been marked as early morning or late afternoon. Remember, natural light is always better!
  • Take lots of photos so you can review later and choose the best.

Which picture would you click?
The photo on the left makes it unclear as to which room we are looking at.  It is dark, cluttered, and the angles are all wrong!  The picture on the right (of a home currently on the market for $209,990) shows a clear shot of the dining room and entry.  The windows are not casting a light that is distracting and the overall lighting shows the space perfectly.  

When prepping your home for either professional photos or photos taken by your Realtor, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Vehicles in the driveway
  • Brown grass
  • People or animals in the shot
  • Cluttered areas- Countertops, backyards, etc.
  • Out-dated furniture
  • Out of season photos (for example- using winter photos when trying to sell in the summer)

This process can be a bit grueling, but things like this are what your Realtor is there to help with. Make sure to ask your Realtor lots of questions and they will provide you with the best options.

You want to impress potential home buyers from the get-go, and having good MLS pictures will help sell the home. With marketing being so digitally advanced, home shopping is being started online. It is important to make sure your home does not get overlooked with sub-par photos.  Don’t knock down your home’s worthiness with some bad photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, let your photos say “your next home.”

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