Don't Use Flickr for Real Estate

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Venture Realty International

clipart purchased from iclipartHow would you like to find your Flickr account deleted without even a warning? 

How could that happen?

  • Do you use photos from Flickr in your posts?
  • Do you keep your listing photos on Flickr?

If you said yes to either question it could happen to you. 

Last week I read a featured post recommending the use of free photos from Flicker to make your posts better and increase your SEO. It is not a good idea.  Here is what the TOS (terms of service) from Flickr says: 

"Don’t use Flickr to sell.

If we find you engaging in commercial activity, we will warn you or
delete your account. Some examples include selling products, services,
or yourself through your photostream or in a group, using your account
solely as a product catalog, or linking to commercial sites in your
photostream. If you engage in commercial activity elsewhere on the
internets or in the real world, you’re still welcome on Flickr—in fact,
we’ve even set up some best practices especially for you."


There are clipart purchased from iclipartActiveRain members and other real estate agents who have suddenly had their account deleted along with any photos that they have posted there. 

If you have any listing photos  on your Flickr account you should immediately move them to another hosting account and I would recommend backing up any photos that you have on Flickr including your photos of friends and family.  You might get by -- but what would happen if you did find your account deleted  -- would you lose everything?

clipart purchased from iclipartOf course now you are saying -- I'm not a photographer, where will I get my photos? 

The answer is to purchase them from a stock photo agency or you may find some for free with a Creative Commons license. 

Here are some stock agencies that you might consider:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I know some agents feel that they should not have to pay for photos for there blogs.  They feel that anything on the Internet should be available for no charge. 

I guess I feel that photographers are entitled to be paid for their services just like real estate agents.


You don't want to discount your commissions so it is only right for you to pay for the services that you receive.

Disclosure:  I take my own photos and pay for clipart and photos I use that are not mine.  My photos are copyrighted but I am quick to give permission for ActiveRain members to use them for free if they first request the use of my photos and give me credit for them.  I also have stock images for sale but not at this time on any of the sites that I listed.

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Comments (19)

Marge Piwowarski
Phoenix AZ Horse Property - Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC

I have never used Flickr, or any of the other online album sites.  I zip and email photos to family members or host them on my own website. I have very little patience with host sites telling me what I can't do with my own images.  Of course, I don't like HOAs either...

Great info, I know lots of people use those sites.

Nov 22, 2011 04:20 AM
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Gary thanks for the warning.  I've never used flicker thank goodness!  I appreciate the links you provided and had rather pay and be safe than loose everything and be sorry!

Nov 22, 2011 04:22 AM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Marge, The only online site I have used is Picasa and that was to share some travel photos and some from a Pony Express reenactment and only because I needed to share with large groups of people.  I also have at least two hard copy backups of all those photos. 

John,  I though it was very important to let people know especially after I saw the use of Flickr recommended in a featured post.

Nov 22, 2011 04:28 AM
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Gary - I never understood the utility of posting my photos - at least the ones that aren't totally personal for sharing with friends and family - on sites like this. And you're absolutely right about only using other's photos if they are clearly and unequivocally free. Buying clip art and stock photos is cheap enough that it's certainly worth the insurance against the big potential downside of a copyright complaint.

Nov 22, 2011 04:32 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

I always appreciate this kind of "tip"...thank you!

Nov 22, 2011 04:32 AM
Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

Gary - this is very useful information and just to be clear - Flickr can delete our own photos that we took and branded, or ones that people stole took from another person's account? You would think people would know that just because it's on the Internet, doesn't mean it's free and I see this all the time. Some people even post photos from Shutter Stock with there branding clearly seen in the photo! In most if not all cases, photos aren't free!

Nov 22, 2011 05:14 AM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Dick, The thing that happens is a person shares them as a personal matter and then sees them on a "commercial" site -- it doesn't make them very happy. And as you said it is not expensive to purchase photos and clipart.

Li,  You're welcome.  I thought it was an important item to share. 

Kristine,  Actually both are against the terms of service at Flickr.  There have been agents who used Flickr to store all their own listing photos only to one day find out that everything was gone.

And it is also clear cut that using photos uploaded from Flickr on a site designed to promote a person or that person's business is wrong according to Flickr's rules.

Nov 22, 2011 06:49 AM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 116 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK


Flickr has a search option allowing you to search for photos that are licensed creative commons and one of the options you can choose is to use commercially.... 

Nov 22, 2011 02:33 PM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Judi, That is good to know.  So far all I have heard is of real estate agents and photographers complaining about Flickr's policies and actions.  For example, it says int the terms of service that they may warn or delete the account.  The most common complaint was that they were not warned and the other complaint was that if they received a warning from Flicker, they had a difficult or impossible time finding out where they were in violation.  I still think that I want control over my photos and I am leery of Creative Commons.  I once used a photo from Wikipedia's Creative Commons and later received a cease and desist -- that the photographer did not want me using his photo. I know I was completely right in the use - it was on another website and not AR but I felt the even though he had changed his mind or did not understand creative commons that I would honor his feelings so I immediately removed it.  That does tend to make me want to use only my own photos or photos from a stock agency.

Nov 22, 2011 02:47 PM
1~Judi Barrett

Gary,  Just saw this today... over 5 years later!   

Mar 03, 2018 04:47 AM
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

I chose to use my own photographs or promotional photos for groups and organizations with their written permission. I just don't want to have to worry about it. 

Nov 22, 2011 03:12 PM
Doug Bullwinkel
Envoy Mortgage,NMLS ID 6666 - Sacramento, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #281609

Wow.  That would really be a bummer to have your photo library deleted right out from under you.  If you read their disclaimer, it clearly states that will happen if you use their photos for any promotion or link to a commercial site.  I personally use for most of my photos.  Only a buck or two for the ones that I use and then I don't have to worry about it.  Pay as you go is a good plan.  I've noticed Flicker has been recommended on several AR blogs in the past but I never got around to using them.  Glad I procrastinated trying them out.

Nov 22, 2011 03:14 PM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Joni, Good for you -- it is so much better when you don't have to worry. 

Doug,  It would be disaster if I lost my photo library.  Anyway, you mentioned -- it is an excellent stock agency and very affordable.

Nov 22, 2011 04:25 PM
Cheryl Dickson
Retired Realtor / Retired Home Inspector - Oklahoma City, OK
Retired Realtor, GRI / Retired Home Inspector

Gary, Thank You for the heads up on Flikr, I rarely use it, but my granddaughter has MOST of her modeling portfolio on it. I just emailed her the heads up, she said to THANK YOU! You have been SUCH a TREMENDOUS HELP to me. I really appreciate it! 

This blog about Flikr can prevent alot of folks from a big disaster. SUGGESTED!!!

Nov 22, 2011 04:43 PM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Cheryl, Thanks for the "suggestion". I felt that this was very important so the more people that see it the better.  I'm glad that I have been able to help a little.  I have a few more ideas and will try to call you tomorrow.  Have a great evening.

Nov 22, 2011 04:50 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Gary, thanks for the heads up on Flickr. I do have an account, but do not use it much. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Nov 23, 2011 04:54 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

When Flickr was created, I loved it and used it.  

But Yahoo / Carol Bartz just totally wrecked Flickr.   I don't use Flickr anymore.

Nov 27, 2011 05:53 PM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Rebecca, I think it is probably best not to use it too much.  There are a lot of other ways to store and share photos. 

Fred, I definitely agree with you.

Nov 28, 2011 03:19 AM
Rick Frissell
HomeXpress Realty - Valrico, FL
aka "The Red Baron of Real Estate"

Good idea to bring attention to this.  But, the terms of service are confused with reality.

Recently I downloaded several pictures from Flickr with be used as background with the use of Chroma Key.  In my search, I was careful to use only background shots that release it for "free use."  See example of a partial below.


So Gary, you pointed out the exact terms of use, of which I had not known before, and yet the owner has released it for free use. 

Intuitively I have always been cautious with any Flickr picture used.  But your caution seems to point that I have not been cautious enough.  None means none.  Too bad.

Dec 01, 2011 01:45 PM
Gary Coles (International Referrals)
Venture Realty International - Las Vegas, NV
Latin America Real Estate

Rick, Too often there is a difference between reality and terms of service.  I know many, many people use Flickr for their business and personal use and never have a problem.  It is up to each individual to decide whether or not to use Flickr and take a chance of losing their account and photos. I know many people who post on Flickr have no problem with any and all usage of their photos.  Unfortunately, if someone complains - possibly a competitor or just an unhappy person, Flick can and has in the past taken action.

Dec 05, 2011 09:35 AM