Presenting Our Listings In The "Best" Light

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Today on our brokers' tour I saw a pretty house in Woodley Park, one of my favorite neighborhoods.

The MRIS information had a very well-done virtual tour, with professionally done photos taken of very well-staged rooms. If I were a buyer doing an on-line search, these photos would certainly get my attention and make me want to put this place on the top of my list.

When I got to the Open House today, I had to admit the place was adorable.  It was charming.  And it wasn't really what you'd call tiny, but it also was nowhere near as large as the beautiful photos made it look.

The house way way too small for the buyers I was checking it out for, and at the same time, I am glad that I saw it.  It might work for someone else.  But it definitely fell short of the expectations.

The photos made the rooms look a whole lot larger than they actually are.  And the agent and I started talking about this.

So the question here (and neither one of us had the answer), is it better to use wide angle lenses, PhotoShop and other modern wonders to get people into a house that might disappoint them?  Or is the idea to just them in the door?

Not having the most flattering photos possible is sort of counter-intuitive, is it not?


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patricia kennedy
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Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I do believe it is our job to get the buyer into the home and then the home has to sell its self. Making it look appealing with out exaggeration is a line we need to be aware of.

Nov 10, 2009 03:10 PM #9
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

Patricia - Last week a client drove by one of the listings I sent her and called me to say the house in the MLS photo was not the one on the lot.  Now that's a mistake an agent should not make.

Nov 10, 2009 04:53 PM #10
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents

I'm trying to do better. However, I'm so disappointed with my last photo shoot, that I may want to consider purchasing some reflectors and flashes to compensate for the "dark" areas of some rooms. I go all out when it comes to photography. It's what I put out there that represents me. It should never be "mediocre".

Nov 10, 2009 09:26 PM #11
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Hi Pat, I belong to 2 different MLS's. I was posting photos on the second MLS the other day for a rental I have, and an interesting thing happened to the kitchen photo. It is a small kitchen, when I put the photo in, it stretched it and skewed the picture! Now the kitchen looks like you could fit 25 people in it for a party!

I take great pride in my photography, I am very critical and if I can't get a good shot, I won't put a bad shot in the MLS. Or, I won't put a horrible shot in, LOL.

Great post!

Nov 10, 2009 10:37 PM #12
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Pat - I do think that photos that set very high expectations can be almost as much of a problem as no photos or bad photos. I can especially relate to photos of homes that were lived in and very nicely staged but are now REO's and are dirty, flooring and carpeting missing, etc.

Nov 10, 2009 10:46 PM #13
Ken Montville
RE/MAX United Real Estate - College Park, MD
The MD Suburbs of DC

Pat - Article 12 in our NAR Code of Ethics states, in part, "REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations."  Now, the big question is: "What does 'true picture' mean?"  We all know that the purpose of marketing and advertising is to get potential buyers excited enough to want to purchase.  My guess, it that photographic technology has really not reached the level that Joe or Jane Realtor can really go out there, buy something and take a "true picture".  Ditto many of the virtual tour companies that are nothing more than Realtors that learned good camera angles and couldn't sell real estate.

It's really a tug of war -- home buyers don't like house that don't have photos on the Internet and sometimes pass them by completely.  On the other hand, when they see the house in person, they may be disappointed.  Let's not forget that even if the home pictures are as accurate as can be they don't always show the neighborhood - as you pointed out in your previous post about "views".

This is why, in my view, it is critical to see the house live and in person either by previewing, as you do, or with the buyer in tow.

Nov 10, 2009 11:11 PM #14
Leesa Finley
RED Properties - Wake Forest, NC
RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate

Oh - I have been to MANY of THOSE homes...... I do take pics for my personal listings from all kinds of different angles.  For one thing, I am SHORT - Only 5' 3/4" (yep, not even 5'1") so I stand on ladders etc BUT only to get a perspective on the room from a normal persons height. IMO - the wide angle lenses will often times distort the room instead of making it appeear bigger.  I stay away from the wide angle..... but, that's just this short person's opinion!  ;)

Nov 11, 2009 01:35 AM #15
Kathleen Cooper
Kathleen Cooper, Sposato Realty Group - Worcester, MA
Sposato Realty Group - Broker Owner

I'm not sure what the correct answer is here, but we always try to make our homes show in the best light possible.  We use a wide angle camera to help show more of the room.  It doesn't make it look bigger than it is, but helps show more of it than a regular camera.  I don't doctor my photos to make them look fake, but you always hear "looked better online" or "the photos didn't do it justice" so who knows?



Nov 11, 2009 02:00 AM #16
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

Good photos can be a great sales tool however wide angle lens tend to warp the true room. I think it is best to not use them for interior shots.  Nothing is more disappointing than getting to the house and thinking it is alrger than it really is- although, a good agent would pull the lsiting info in advance and have the room sizes handy.

Nov 11, 2009 03:01 AM #17
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Pat..that is a very good question..On one hand the buyer will be disappointed that the home is not what he or she expected..on the other hand  you have the sellers asking where are all the buyers?? why isn't anyone looking at my house..Who do represent???   I don't think you should doctor up photos as one agent suggested.. but as a listing agent isn't it your job to make the home appear as desirable as possible???

It is a picture ..You have to see the home and the area my vote is with KEN

HelpfulHannah your friend in Philadelphia

Nov 11, 2009 05:52 AM #18
Janice Roosevelt
Keller Williams Brandywine Valley - West Chester, PA
OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker

More than taking the photos, I love photo shopping them. It is amazingly fun, but I need to discipline myself there and let others do it.

Nov 11, 2009 07:53 AM #19
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

A wide angle is sometimes required.  But it should not be routine.  Too many tire the eye...and the patience.

Some use one just to be lazy.

Modifying pix will quickly get you in trouble with my MLS.

Nov 11, 2009 09:34 AM #20
Beverly Carlson
Carlson Properties 325-721-2429 - Abilene, TX
Abilene's Staging Realtor

Good photos represent the house the way it really is.  If the photo is distorting things in some way don't use it.  I have the opposite problem., to me the house is better in person than what is portrayed in the photos that I am usually able to take.


Nov 11, 2009 01:25 PM #21
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

I don't care for the results with wide angle lenses - I do sometimes use Photoshop to improve my own photos but always attempt to have a 'what you see IS what you get' presentation -

Nov 12, 2009 12:48 AM #22
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

Well the start is getting GOOD pictures!  I think photoshop is fine - to "help" a photo - not to change the subject.  I once had a great listing that had the most wonderful natural sunlight.  Of course the week before putting it on the market - it rained everyday.  Photoshop help create the sunlight !

Nov 12, 2009 01:06 PM #23
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


there are a few issues here. One is intentional distortion. Can happen, but it is sometimes akin to perfect staging. Both are to impress. And the other issue is just using the technology. You shoot with wide angle, and yes, it shows more of the room, but it distorts the dimensions. But try to make a good shot of a galley kitchen with a portrait lenses and you get crap.

Nov 12, 2009 03:23 PM #24
Theodora Wu
TJ Investments - Burien, WA

MLS descriptions always seem exaggerated.  Intentionally distorting pictures seems wrong as well.  As a buyer reading these things and seeing pictures that no where near the same as the property leaves a bad taste.  It also lowers my expectations and it is possible that someone going out of their way to show the property as it is may get discounted to.

Nov 12, 2009 06:19 PM #25
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

The purpose is to get them in the door. If they don't get in the door, you have absolutely 0% of selling them.

Best wishes!

Nov 12, 2009 07:43 PM #26
R. Greg Osmond
Sutton Group-Capital Realty Ltd. - St Johns, NL
MBA, Red Maple Realty

I was in to A and W the other day and notice the photos of hamburgers hanging all around the place.  They made the hamburgers look so large.  The proportions were definitely jigged.  I had one because of the nice presentations and I have to say was totally disappointed.  I won't be going back for another one. 

When it comes to photos of a house, I don't doctor them at all and I don't think they shoud be.  The house is what it is.  Potos of the house are only going to get you a viewing.  To get you a buyer, you have to let the actual house do the talking.

Nov 14, 2009 01:04 PM #27
C. Lloyd McKenzie
Albuquerque, NM
Living Albuquerque

Well, the thing you did right was you previewed the home before you showes it to your buyers.  Technology should be used to nake our job easier, not to enhance bad features

Nov 14, 2009 07:09 PM #28
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