The Lazy Agent Series: Just The Facts, Ma'am

Real Estate Agent with United Realty Group, Inc. BK641413

Seeing new & used cars that are marketed better than some homes on the MLS is frustrating for both real estate agents and buyers. This post is a slight departure from my previous two entries for "The Lazy Agent Series" but it's to bring home a point.  That point being that, time and again, studies have shown that the number one thing buyers want to see are photos... lots of them!  Knowing this (or even just putting yourself in a buyer's shoes), why do so many listings in MLSs throughout the country offer no photo or even just one photo?  I decided to get some real, hard facts for this post, so this morning I searched the MLS for single-family homes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Here's what I found:

  • Total # of Listings:  2,186
  • Listings with NO photos:  313 (14.3% or 1 in 7)
  • Listings with just 1 photo:  235 (10.8% or 1 in 9)

This means that out of 2,186 listings, 548 of them had no photo or just one photo.  That's a whopping 25% or 1 in 4 listings!  The Southeast Florida MLS allows us to upload up to 16 photos and, yet, this is what we see in 1 out of 7 listings:

      No Photo Available

If you can relate to this and would like it to change, albeit slowly, consider writing a blog post of your own showing the numbers that you find in your area and then including a link to your post in a comment below.  Perhaps the more sellers get 'wind' of how lousy their homes are being marketed, the more photos we'll start to see!  Wouldn't that be nice?


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Blue Ridge Ga Real Estate >> Real Property in Blue Ridge Georgia
United Country Landmasters - Ellijay, GA
Leanne... It drives me crazy when I come across a listing with new pictures.  What a waste for their client but somtimes it is because agents have a lack of computer knowledge.
Jun 21, 2007 05:11 AM #1
Maureen Maureen
Orangeburg, NY
Leanne - Great series.  I don't understand why agents don't post photos.  I think it would be a great way to get people to list with them.  If they advertised that they posted photos I think it would be a big marketing point.  
Jun 21, 2007 05:11 AM #2
Endea Thibodeaux
Lanham, MD
Solar Energy Consultant, CDPE, CLHMS
It costs us money in our MLS to upload photos so because of that a lot of agents won't do it.  The only one that is free is the exterior photo.  I do virtual tours with realestateshows so I don't bother with having to pay to upload photos.  Hopefully other agents will catch on to that.
Jun 21, 2007 05:19 AM #3
Michael Eisenberg
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Real Estate Guy
Definetly one of my pet peeves, I have had clients who don't even want to see a listing with no photos, Some agents just don't get it.
Jun 21, 2007 05:20 AM #4
Robert Schwabe
EXP Realty - Orange Park, FL
Orange Park Real Estate
Leanne, I never put a listing in MLS unless I at least have a picture of the front of the house. Then I tell my sellers that we need inside pictures right away. If there is no pictures why bother looking at the home it could be a total waste of time. I look at it this way if there is no picture it must be a dump and the agent is embarassed with the listing. 
Jun 21, 2007 05:37 AM #5
Dawn DeGroff
Fredericksburg Realty, Inc - Fredericksburg, VA

Leanne,  I did a similar post awhile back...

Here in Fredericksburg, VA (only the actual City of Fredericksburg) there were 262 Active homes.

16 had no pictures - 6%

140 had more than 1 pic - 53%

41 had some sort of virtual tour - 15%

I agree that we should do more.

To take this a step further let's assume the average price of a home in your area is $375,000, you charge a 3% listing commission,you get a full price offer and settle on the home.  Your commission is $11,250.  Why not invest $50 to do a virtual tour, multiple pictures, or something more to get your listing noticed and sold!  So long as we are talking percentages that is a mere .4% of your commission.



Jun 21, 2007 06:41 AM #6
Kimberly Grant
Exit Leon Crawford Realty - Huntsville, AL
Real Estate Agent - Huntsville Alabama

Leanne... I love these posts!!!!

WOW!!  I did not know there were areas where Realtors had to pay to put photos in the MLS.  We pay quarterly fees to use our MLS, but that's it.  I looked today and about 25% of our active listings only had one picture.  The other 75% I wish I could count how many had worthless pictures.  I came across a listing today with six pictures of the park across the street from the house and NOT ONE picture of the house itself.  Our MLS requires at least one picture but does not say what that one picture has to show.  It could be of a dead tree down the street. 

Jun 21, 2007 07:35 AM #7
Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV
In Las Vegas we are REQUIRED  to post at least one photo within 48 hours of the time the listing is entered into the MLS.  If it's not done there is an automatic fine...I'm not sure if it's the MLS committee that polices this or if someone in the office actually does it.  We only have availability to upload 8 pictures though...I would LOVE  to be able to upload 20 pictures...8 is just not enough in my opinion...I put 15 on my website.
Jun 21, 2007 09:23 AM #8
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
I like that rule Mary. I discovered this winter that one exclusive (for the Cleve area) community on the east side is experiencing good sales...more buyers than homes on the market. So they weren't adding photos, room sizes (they did all have primary photos but no extra ones). I was flabbergasted, didn't know that good practices only applied in buyer markets!
Jun 21, 2007 09:48 AM #9
Cathy Tishhouse
RE/MAX Showcase Homes - Royal Oak, MI
Royal Oak Real Estate
I am going to look it up in our MLS to see how many don't have photos and blog about it as you suggest - sellers should know what they are getting and be educated to ask for it, confirm it and expect it.  I do so much on the internet for my clients and I never post a listing on the MLS without at least one photo and usually I have them all right away.  Now days sellers need the best internet exposure they can get.  I do individual websites for most of my listings where I can put as many pics as I want - buyers expect it and don't want to see a listing without multiple pics.  I do a little survey with each buyer to see what made a difference - mostly because I don't do virtual tours as I don't find that it makes a big enough difference with my buyers.  Multiple pics is the minimum they expect.
Jun 21, 2007 11:06 AM #10
Rita Taylor
None - Sanford, NC
Sanford NC Real Estate - Homes for Sale in Sanford North Carolina
I hate this as well.  I try to have at least one photo ready as soon as I put the listing in the MLS.  I may go back and take additional photos on a sunnier day or after the seller gets the house straightened up but I try to get at least one photo in right away and 8-15 total as soon as I can.  People want to see more pictures so lets give the pictures to them and make them the bext pictures we can!
Jun 21, 2007 04:06 PM #11
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

Doug - you're right, of course.  Sometimes it's because the agents lack computer knowledge, but there's no reason why they can't learn, ask for help or hire someone to do what they don't know how to.  Ignorance is not bliss to a seller who deserves maximum exposure of his/her property.  I highly doubt these properties get shown as often as they would if they were marketed better.

Maureen - I think some sellers just assume that the agent will do a good job of marketing their home.

Endea - I'm surprised there are still MLSs that charge for uploading photos.  I'm glad you've come up with a good work-around. I'm curious... how much does your MLS charge for each additional photo after the first free one?

Michael - I've had a few of those clients as well.  With as much inventory as is available, they don't want to waste their time going to ones that didn't include photos.

Robert - I do the same... include at least one photo at the time I submit the listing but almost always have at least 3-4 up right away, then more as soon as I get them.  It's rare for me to not use every one of the 16 slots for photos my MLS allows.  Your theory about "if there are no photos, it must be a dump" is often proven true.  Just a couple of weeks ago I showed a home with no pictures and, boy, was it a dump!  The yard hadn't been maintained in months and the inside had not seen any updates since the 70's.  BTW, the listing agent was the owner!

Dawn - that is part of the point I'm trying to get across.  Marketing doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  Digital cameras and virtual tours are not terribly expensive.  Sellers should expect more & better marketing than what most receive.

Kimberly - you're lucky you pay your fees quarterly.  My local MLS makes us pay once a year and if we want to split the payment in two (with the second half being due in 3-4 months), they charge a hefty fee.  I think it's safe to assume that the listing with 6 pictures of the park across the street and no picture of the house is probably a dump.

Mary - I wish my local MLS required photos... any photos... at least we'd have a better chance of seeing something!  Ours used to only allow up to 8 photos, now we're up to 16 which is usually sufficient.

Carole - I'd take that information and run with it.  Advertise yourself & your superior marketing services to that community!

Cathy - I like your idea about the buyer survey.  Also, when you blog about the results of your research, remember to come back to this post and include a link in your comments.

Rita - I, too, have been known to change the photos in my listings if I take better ones on another day.

Jun 22, 2007 05:26 AM #12
Carol Smith
Casmi Photography - Mebane, NC
I get absolutely steamed when there is not even ONE photo of a property.  If you are too busy to snap at least   a photo of the front of the house, then you need to slow down.  Heck - with everyone carrying camera phones now there is absolutely no excuse.
Jun 23, 2007 12:00 PM #13
Ronda Myers-Waters
Willems Realtors, Principal Broker - Chesterton, IN

My mls has fines if there is no picture within a week of the listing.  But it is sad to say that most listing only have one picture.  My mls doesn't have a limit on the number of pictures you can up load.

Jun 26, 2007 11:40 AM #14
Billnulls Blog Florida Realty Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Unfortunately, you are right on the money! Our area in Port Charlotte/North Port allows 12 photos and while many of my local colleagues do use this to their advantage, a very large number don't! Too many agents post onlly a single photo, which makes me think that the home must look so horrible that they don't want the photos shown on the internet! If a listing has only a single photo or NO photo, I generally go on to find those that offer several photos of the listing. Clients want to see what they are going to visit BEFORE they commit to going out! Time is an issue for all of us today and agents that don't post several business are not offering their listing clients the service they deserve!
Jun 26, 2007 11:48 AM #15
Caroline Dunn
Rossman Realty Group, Inc - Cape Coral, FL
Realtor Cape Coral Florida

Hello Everyone!

I belong to 2 MLS Systems in Cape Coral and Fort Myers Florida. We used to have the same problem with agents not uploading photos! Clients that are looking for properties want to see photos!!! How hard can it be?? It is so easy now a days with DIGITAL cameras to take photos!! I myself take photos the day I get the listing agreement signed! My camera is always with me!! In our Ft Myers association the MLS Committee & Board of Directors adopted a rule that "all improved listings" must have at least one photo before being approved on our MLS System. This means when you enter in a new listing YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE PHOTO!! If not the listing is incomplete and can not be searched by anyone! What a way to make sure a listing has a photo!!! In our Cape Coral Association we adopted the rule that you have to upload at least one photo on improved properties within 10 days or we will be finded. In order to make a difference within your Association, I recommend you join your MLS Commitee. This is where you can start to make a difference!

Jun 28, 2007 02:47 AM #16
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

Carol - To me the bottom line is that with inventory as high as it currently is, I am more tempted to skip over listings with no photos unless it matches most of the criteria of what my buyers are looking for.  Even then, it'll may get put "at the back of the line".  You have to ask yourself if the agent actually wants the listing to sell.  They probably think the listing info should be enough but even that is often lacking.

Ronda - You're lucky that your MLS doesn't have a limit on the number of pictures you can up load.  Mine allows up to 16 but every once in a while I'd like to upload more than that.

Bill & Barbara Jo - Time most definitely is an issue and the lack of photos shows disrespect for your fellow colleagues' time.

Caroline - Digital cameras are inexpensive enough nowadays that there's no excuse for not having one.  Also, some are small enough to fit in our pockets.  If you can bring a lockbox to your listing, you can bring a camera with you, too!  I love the rule your MLS adopted.  I was on the MLS committee at my board for 4 years (I took this year off) and tried to get the "1 photo" rule adopted but the board of directors wouldn't go for it.  I do feel good about the years I volunteered because some of the suggestions I made were needed and ultimately implemented.

In case any of you are interested and have missed others in "The Lazy Agent Series", here's a link.

I also started a new (2nd) series titled "As Seen on the MLS" for photos that don't quite fit that title but are educational & interesting in their own way.

Jun 28, 2007 06:16 AM #17
Vanessa Plante-McDonald, MBA, REALTOR® - Cash Rebate to ALL My Buyers!
Bethel Equities, LLC - Laurel, MD
If you lack computer knowledge as an agent, get some! You're doing your clients a disservice by improperly marketing their property.
Aug 19, 2007 01:18 PM #18
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S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL

Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
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