It's Time to Change those MLS Photos!

Services for Real Estate Pros with RES.NET

As I'm sure some of you may know from reading some of my other blog posts, I'm currently looking to purchase my first house.

The market in the Mission Viejo area of Orange County, CA is red hot, and properties are in pending status soon after they are listed in the MLS, so as soon as something comes on the market that looks great in photos, you need to get out there to see it in person immediately to determine if an offer should be placed or not.

I recently found a condo in Mission Viejo, that was fairly close to my office, and had an incredible view from the backyard. The pictures of the place were amazing, and I couldn't wait to see it!

Luckily, there happened to be an open house that weekend, and I drove all the way out to go see it. I was so excited walking up to the front door because the neighborhood was great, and I could already see myself living there.

Then I walked in the front door, and my excitement dropped.

The place looked NOTHING like the pictures. Instead of the clean, well decorated, move in ready home, I was met with a dirty, smelly, fixer-upper.

After talking to the agent, it turns out that people were currently renting the house, and the pictures he had used were from when the owners originally lived in the home. He told me to not worry though, because the place had "great bones!" It did, I agree, but it wasn't what was advertised.

So my immediate thought was, why didn't the agent take the time to redo the pictures? The property had obviously changed since the original images were taken, so why couldn't he reflect that in the MLS? I feel like I wasted HIS time, not just my own by following a promise that wasn't true.

It's time to change those MLS photos! Photos and file changes are so simple with today's technology, so there's no excuse to continue to use old photos - regardless of how red hot the market may be.

- Pauline


By the way, my name is Pauline Perenack, and I’m the Marketing Manager here at RES.NET. Maybe you have probably seen me around the internet, or met me at conferences, so I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce RES.NET to you as well. Feel free to find me on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page, or contact me at any time through ActiveRain if you have any questions!


 FB  Twitter  YouTube  LinkedIn  G+


Call Today 1.800.760.7036




Comments (29)

Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

Thank you all so much for your comments!

@Joy - If the agent had warned that the place looked different, I definitely would have gone into the place with a different mindset, and maybe would have been able to see the "good bones" more clearly.

@ Leanne - I have definitely found that a few listings where the pictures did not clearly convey what the place looked like, both on the good and bad side.

@Dave - I'm pretty sure the agent was betting that the hot market would make up for the lack of newer images.

@Barbara - Thanks so much! The right house is out there somewhere for me.

@Mike - Thank you! This house search has definitely been an eye opener on what's out there for sure.

@Morgan - Lol, I've seen a few MLS listings with Christmas decorations up in the pictures. I always figured it would help me with tree placement should I end up buying the listing. ;)

- Pauline

Jun 27, 2012 12:42 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Pauline -- I agree with Joy that when a property is tenant-occupied I may show vacant or "better photos" but always note in the multiple listing service of that fact.   I can't tell from your profile if you are an real estate licensee or not.  If not and you are calling listing agents to show you homes -- a buyer's agent might be a better way to find your dream home - just a thought.   

Jun 27, 2012 01:09 PM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

In our area we have agents that do no change the photos when the listings lapse in seasons. There's nothing like looking a a photo of a house in May with snow.

Jun 27, 2012 01:19 PM
Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

@Michael - I'm just a regular old buyer who happens to manage the Marketing department at RES.NET, so I get to deal with real estate all day, every day. :) I have a wonderful buyer's agent who has been helping me every step of the way, and there's no way I could be where I'm at now in my search without her. Thank you so much for your comment!

- Pauline

Jun 27, 2012 01:19 PM
Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

@Ed - Lol, I totally get what you're saying, but then again, I grew up in Calgary, Canada, so sometimes you actually are looking at homes in May with snow. ;)

- Pauline

Jun 27, 2012 01:21 PM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

That's a prime example of bait and switch. I don't take kindly to that. Photos should always be current. He should have disclosed that the condo was a fixer-upper in the description and put in the MLS that the photos were not how the condo looked now.

Jun 27, 2012 01:47 PM
Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

@Tammie - That's why it always pays to physically go see listings. I'm happy I did! Although, I could have done without paying for the gas on that trip. ;) Thanks for the comment!

- Pauline

Jun 27, 2012 02:06 PM
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTORĀ®

Oh my goodness. SO sorry. I was expecting to hear about snow photos in the summer or Christmas in June photos. This is actually worse! IMHO.

Jun 27, 2012 03:14 PM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Good post and I hate pics like that. What I hate even more are the pics that use technology to give a home look that it does not have.

Jun 27, 2012 07:09 PM
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Pauline,

Intriguing post from a buyers perspective.

A messy tenant is the worst promotion for a great place.


Jun 27, 2012 08:34 PM
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

That's pretty frustrating.  That has happened to me and my buyers many times.  A few times it didn't even look like the same house.  Good post and good luck to you in your home search!  

Jun 27, 2012 09:14 PM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

That is very misleading!  I see this all of the time and it is so frustrating for buyers. 

Jun 27, 2012 09:17 PM
Ritu Desai 703-625-4949
Samson Properties - Ashburn, VA
Northern Virginia,Washington DC & Maryland Realtor

Just imagine if you had taken a buyer...they would be so pissed. I have used some pictures from past but do disclose in the remarks. That way expectations are set!

Jun 27, 2012 10:03 PM
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h
There is a risk in taking photos of an occupied home in that you may be advertising the contents to thieves. This is a true statement. Are the listing agents above who so readily agree with you going to step up to the plate and pay for stolen items?
Jun 27, 2012 10:06 PM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Good Morning Pauline, here in NH my favorite photos are the listings taken in winter with a nice blanket of snow, it would be nice except it is now June. On another note I use your system and recently tried to upgrade with not so well results.

Jun 27, 2012 10:24 PM
Judy Jennings
Top Agent Plus - Middleboro, MA
Tap into Judy's real estate expertise & resources.


I remember showing a house where the tenants were living like hoarders and the MLS photos showed the pristine "before" shots of the home. The buyer took one step inside, saw the food, pots, pans and crud all over the kitchen promptly backed out of the house and proceeded to scream at the listing agent. I don't think that agent ever used old photos again, at least not without a disclaimer.

I laughed when I looked at listing photos the other day and the home had Christmas decorations everywhere, except outside the photos were current. It was a NEW listing, and it's June!! Good grief!


Jun 27, 2012 11:59 PM
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Pauline, there is really no excuse for this. For me, that would be false and misleading advertising.

Jun 28, 2012 01:04 AM
Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

Wow, thank you so much for the comments everyone!

@Joni - Lol, I definitely would rather see the Christmas in June photos. At least they're festive. ;)

@Tom - I agree, some people use way too much photoshopping nowadays.

@Phil - Thanks! Yeah, I always wonder how homes can be left in a state like that.

@The Christiansen Team - Thank you so much!

@Paula - It's definitely frustrating.

@Ritu - For sure! Just as long as you know what you're going in to, it's a much better situation all around.

@Mark - I find that most places have images of furniture in them, as people are many times still living in the home at time of listing. In my recent experience, the images showed all of the original owners' items, not an empty house. I do remember when I was a kid though, whenever an agent came over to take pictures of the house, my mom made me put everything in drawers, so the only things showing were the heavy pieces of furniture.

@Scott - Lol, you have to love the snow pictures. It's always a surprise as to what's under that snow once it melts. And, oh no! I notice that you upgraded to our medium level, the Premium level. If you don't mind, I'll have my sales manager give you a call, and he can go over your profile with you, and help you maximize your profile, and show you ways to use the system to its fullest potential.

@Judy - Oh wow! What did you say to your buyer afterwards? I'm sure agents have walked into all sorts of unexpected situations when showing a house. And yeah, lol, I actually saw the same thing the other day. It was a new listing, but the photos had a Christmas tree up in the living room.

@Sandy - It was a little frustrating for sure.

Jun 28, 2012 01:18 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

There are homes that change a little (or quite a bit) during a listing period.  For example, a house that had marketing photos taken with the family Christmas tree up.  BUT, it is now JULY!

Jun 28, 2012 01:35 AM
Kara Roberson
RES.NET - Lake Forest, CA

@Mryl - You'd definitely think that listing agents would pull out their camera every couple months when they're checking out their listings so they can make sure they have the most recent images possible. Thank you so much for your comment!

Jun 28, 2012 02:03 AM