The Multiple Listing Services don't have a clue.

Services for Real Estate Pros with | Nashua Video Tours

Nearly 90% + of buyers begin their search on the internet.  That's a pretty large majority!

MLS is a dinosaurYet, most MLS systems have a maximum number of photos they allow.  The size of the photos are not much bigger than a large postage stamp in many cases.  And to make matters worse, their systems compress all of the life and color out of those photos when they put them on their system.

If that wasn't bad enough, they limit the number of characters in the description, which forces Realtors to get "creative" with their abbreviations and punctuation.  In most cases, those abbreviations are made up on the fly, giving 'regular people' absolutely no hope of understanding exactly what the heck they are talking about!

So, lets see... almost all buyers start looking on the web, yet what they see are a limited number of muddy, sometimes unidentifiable photos with descriptions that sound like they're written in another language.

Boy, I can't think of a bettter system than that!

"Curb Appeal" of yesterday is "Web Appeal" today

Your web presentation means everything.  Buyers are eliminating properties solely based on what they see on their computers.  It doesn't matter if you think it's right, wrong or unfair - it IS what buyers are doing. 

With a record number of properties on the market, and broadband connections and computers in every home why wouldn't you do that?  You can see photos of the exterior... then step right inside and look around and see the house!  Why wouldn't you make your decision based on what you see? 

Yet, the MLS seems to be stuck in the days of the old MLS books - offering poor quality and tiny photos and a brief description of the property.  Of course, back then you HAD to call a Realtor in order to have any clue as to what was on the market, right?

Well, those days are long gone.  At least has it together when it comes to presentations.  You can put up to 25 LARGE photographs, plus a video or virtual tour on your listing.  But not with most MLS IDX systems!

How to offer on the MLS what buyers want, even though you can't.

Even though your MLS may be living in the stone age, there is a way around this:  A virtual tour.

Of course, most Realtors use this virtual tour to link to a zooming slideshow of the bad photos that the buyer just looked at on the MLS!!!!!

Exactly what is the point here?  You're offering NO additional information to the buyer, and I hardly think buyers are fooled into thinking that those photos are any different or better because now there's zooming and music! You're just offering the same information in a slightly new package.

Done properly, with the click of the virtual tour link, you can present your buyer with a full screen presentation of large, beautiful, clear photos!  You can show a walk through video tour of the home.  ALL AVAILABLE ON YOUR LOCAL MLS.

This is an example of what can be shown to buyers directly from your local MLS

If you have a lot to say, a way around the short character limitation of the MLS descriptions is using a narrated video tour! You can give complete descriptions, and perhaps interesting tidbits, the history of the home, local amenities and more.

This is also an example of what can be shown directly from the local MLS with narration

Just because your local MLS is still living in the stone ages, if they offer a virtual tour link,
you have the opportunity to provide a killer presentation
that will entice that buyer put YOUR listing on their short list to visit in person!

Comments (128)

Jim Dvorovy
Cutler Real Estate - Canton, OH
REALTOR - Canton Ohio Real Estate

In my area most viewers could not view your tours with the medium speed internet. I attempted to watch the virtual tour here at our office, and it took about 3 minutes to watch 26 secs. That was unacceptable to myself (a boomer). Seeing that it was a 7 minute tour, I clicked away. I next clicked on the pictures, and watched a rotating thingy for awhile and then clicked away from that also. If I cannot watch it from our medium size market area below Cleveland Ohio, I am wondering what it must take in the rural areas. Most high end tours are too bandwidth intensive for the average viewer. Some reports say Gen X and Y has an attention span of only a few seconds.

Apr 20, 2009 08:49 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I can't complain about our Maui MLS system by Paragon.  But if I did have a beef, I would do something about it.  It's up to us, the members to take control and have what we want and need.  If you don't like you MLS system, what are you going to do about it?

Apr 20, 2009 09:51 AM
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

Love your vitual tours! I didn't read all the comments, so don't know if this has been asked, but can we get those tours in other areas. We do have virtual tours for our listings, but these are so much nicer.

Apr 20, 2009 09:54 AM
Michelle M. Arnold
Keller Williams Realty Yuma - Yuma, AZ
Associate Broker

Thanks for the great topic Fred!  It reminded me that I need to fill out our board survey & Bash our system.  Our contract is up & I think  12 pictures is dispicable!  I can take 20 pictures of an 800 square foot house, imagine what I take of a 2500 square foot house!! 

Apr 20, 2009 10:22 AM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Brilliant post.  I bookmarked for future reference.

Apr 20, 2009 04:53 PM
Cherry Temple

Very interesting discussion, but shouldn't we be taking these concerns to our local boards if we feel the current MLS is not adequate?  For my needs our MLS seems adequate the photos can be enlarged and virtual tours are allowed.  If the average listing agent is not taking advantage of what is already allowed, why should I pay more in MLS dues?

In my work as a buyer's rep I find the biggest problem to be the poor photographs posted by the listing agents.  The two biggest crimes are the poor resolution photos (the ones that hurt your eyes to view) and messy homes.  I used to be happy to see a virtual tour in place when the listing photos are really bad.  But as was noted above, they are the same old photos in a dffierent format with elevator music.

As far as the Virtual Tour link in the blog, 10 photos before you even get to to the inside of the house?   If agents are not willing to take good photos in proper resolution and showing the assets of the home, not furniture and accessories of the home owner then all the bandwidth on the internet will not help them.

Apr 20, 2009 11:31 PM
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

This post is exactly what the MLS system needs to see. If everyone here on AR forwarded this to the powers that be at MLS do you think they would take action to improve the system. They may be thinking about it already, maybe not so let's do something about it.

Apr 21, 2009 12:01 AM
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Helping Buyers & Sellers of Waterfront Property

I love the term web appeal....I think I will begin to use that in my listing presentations.  My MLS does allow up to 99 photos and they are a good size.  There is also the ability to create virutal tours from photos uploaded or to input the URL of one you created elsewhere.  I guess I feel lucky!

Apr 21, 2009 03:51 AM

High resolution pictures are great, but these would take days to load on a slow connection losing you tons of clients.  I'd recommend lower the resolution a bit to compromise quality for overall experience. 

Apr 21, 2009 04:24 AM
Gary Steuernagel ASSOC. BROKER, ABR, CRB
Keller Williams Southwest - Sugar Land, TX

Here in Houston we are required to provide a minimum of 6 unique pictures and a maximum of 16, plus we can add a virtual tour.  ALL of our pictures and viirtual tours and selected buyer information is available to the public at  Our pictures are large and easily viewable, all listings are IDX shareable and may be searched through your individual website.  All of this costs every member agent of MLS only $74.62 per quarter.

The goal of taking a listing is to sell the property at the best price, under the best terms possible in the best time frame for our sellers.  Our MLS makes this possible by getting the maximum exposure to the property to agents and the public. 

What we offer to the public through our MLS and is what the public expects to be the norm.  I get calls from clients all over the country and I refer them to my website and and they respond back "why can't they get this information in their home areas". 

Most MLS's, due to budget and other constraints, may not be able to do this, but this is what buyers and sellers are asking for. 


Apr 21, 2009 05:09 AM
Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit - Breckenridge, CO

The Summit Association of Realtors in Summit County, Colorado, based upon reading most all of the comments that I have read so far, seems to have a most progressive Multiple Listing Service. 

12 pictures can be uploaded and the user can see all in a slide show or photo gallery format and the size of the pictures is quite large.

Video tour links, both branded and unbranded are also available to be added to all listings.

Unfortunately, a lot of brokers here, as I am sure it is true everywhere, do not take advantage of either of these features.  Plus,most all think that their point and shoot cameras are just fine and why would the same realtor bother making the bed or doing a bit of staging before taking pictures.  Of course, if the pictures are already fuzzy, and the windows are all blown out then, I guess what is the point?

Nancy Yearout

Apr 21, 2009 07:57 AM
Eve Hansen
Thomas J. McCarthy Real Estate, Inc. - Southold, NY
Long Island Realtor

Congratulations Fred on all the comments and for being featured, you sure got everyone talking.  I think that there are to many agents out there who don't want to spend the money for a professional virtual tour.  There is such an obvious difference in quality when it is a beautiful virtual tour like yours compared to the inexpensive and free alternatives out there that rely on the agents photographic abilities. As for all the MLS gripes, I'll let everyone else comment - I think they've said it all.

Apr 21, 2009 08:24 AM
Spencer Rascoff
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Spencer from Zillow here,

Very interesting post.

I have a slightly different perspective on the topic, since I view whether or not an MLS "has a clue" through the lense of listings syndication.

I've had a lot of interactions with various MLSs over the last year, as Zillow now connects to hundreds of MLSs. Most of them are hip to the benefits of "listings syndication" and view their role as to help their member agents and member brokers sell more houses. As such, they usually believe they should send their listings to a site like Zillow which has a ton of buyer traffic. Kudos to MLSs like HAR (Houston), and MLSPIN (Boston) for not only syndicating their listings, but for doing it on an "opt out" basis which means their members have to explicitly decide NOT to send their listings to a distribution partner.


Apr 27, 2009 05:29 AM
Kelsey Barklow
Hurd Realty - Johnson City, TN

Lots of great comments here. Our MLS allows Virtual Tours but unbranded so my name, phone number, website, etc. are hidden from the public. Go figure!

Apr 27, 2009 10:16 AM
AMBER NOBLE GARLAND - Top Real Estate Expert, Property Tax Appeal Specialist & Author
Strategic Marketing Expert & Relocation Specialist Serving New Jersey and nationwide! - Marlboro, NJ
- The Agent You Can Trust To Deliver REAL Results!

I agree Fred; most MLS systems are really behind the times in terms of their thinking and functionality.

Apr 27, 2009 03:30 PM
Gregory Robinson
Prudential NJ Properties - Clinton, NJ

I belongto 3 Mls's and  they are up to date in NJ/Pa but most people got to and you can edit your site there, Prudential NJ Properties redid theier web site and all agents have their own web page and we have to put 18 pictures on our listings and they will do a visual tour and charge you a minimum fee at closing, It is the agents responsibility to market their properties as best as possible or 1 you will not get listings because you will be out gunned by a competing realtors, and you willl not have success in bringing in offers in this market

Apr 28, 2009 12:51 AM
Listed - - Henderson, NV
A National Relocation Resource For The Green Home
There is an argument along the lines of what is an appropriate amount of images for a property. Some may say that a few photos will generate "increased interest" on a particular property, thus encouraging the Buyer to inquire, where as too many photos will tend to make the Buyer make up their minds before even considering to view the property any further. David Syring
Jun 05, 2010 06:56 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

A fast moving old tech information conveyor...squeezing the life out of property. Not letting it breath and shine so everything kind of looks alike. Has a sameness. Sad when a property shines in real life, and that is where real full motion with natural sound comes in. To breath life back in to the property listing. Maine does allow 25 images, but lots and lots of empty mls plane flights with all those empty socket seats.

Look, here is Fred Light on the road to capture the flavor, shoot, edit and upload a new listing video somewhere in MA as I sailed by. Honked twice and captured an image or two on the way to Colorado with youngest son starting year two of college.fred light video fred light video




Sep 06, 2010 09:47 AM
Fred Light
| Nashua Video Tours - Nashua, NH
Real Estate Video Tours for MA and NH

Ah, that WAS you!  I looked inside, but it didn't look like you!  (must have been the child!)

You're funny....

Sep 06, 2010 11:55 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I think, our MLS allows us 50 or even more images and 500 symbols for description. Very few realtors use that.

Aug 29, 2015 05:01 PM