Great Real Estate Photography - A Listing Agent's Responsibility

Real Estate Agent with ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite 148333

Oakdale homes for sale

One of my colleagues, another local agent, brought up an interesting conversation on Facebook earlier today, and since I'm always up for the opportunity to educate others on something I believe in, here we go.

She said:

"OK for all you realtors using this fancy new photography!-It is an illusion and it makes the house look way better than it does in person! It is deceiving and disappointing when you get there! I would rather have the real thing and not waste my time…."

Some of the replies from other agents went as far as accusing agents who employ "fancy new photography" of "masking defects." Here's the deal. As a specialized listing agent, my sole responsibility is to sell my clients' homes. Quickly. 3 things make that happen:

Edmond Oklahoma Realtor

If one of those things is off, the house simply won't sell as quickly as it should. The longer a house takes to sell, the less it will sell for. Common sense, right?

I won't go into the pricing or the staging right now. Those are conversations for another day, but let's talk photography. I guess the question is, is there something wrong, deceiving, or misleading in hiring a stand-out photographer to create incredible, colorful, jump-off-the-page photos of your house?

The short answer is that there's a fine line that must be adhered to. NO agent should EVER photoshop material facts of a property (i.e. removing power lines, adding double-ovens, or hiding material defects).

The longer answer is that EVERY listing agent has a duty to their client to present their home in the best possible light and get it SOLD! After all, what do you hire a listing agent for? It's not for their brilliant personality, right? It's because you need an expert at marketing homes. If not, you'd do it yourself, wouldn't you?

Ask yourself this. The last time you saw a Braums commercial late at night, showing that luscious ice-cream sunday, hopped in the car, and raced up there to get one before they closed, did it look as amazing and perfect as the one you saw on TV? Or how about that burger you bought last week? Or the last time you bought a new car, was it as fast, shiny, and sexy as the one in the magazine? The last time you drank Bud Light, did it make you instantly popular and attractive to the opposite sex? Well, OK, maybe that one works as advertised.

Edmond, OK Realtor with great pictures photosThe point is, those advertisements are designed to SELL sundays, burgers, cars, beer, etc. Shouldn't your real estate agent be making the same efforts to SELL your home? If your agent is not a MARKETER, you've hired the wrong person.

FACT: More than 90% of home buyers start their home search online. Half of the challenge is getting those online shoppers through your door.

One of the most common complaints agents hear from home buyers is that the listings online don't show enough of the house. They say things like:

  • "Why are there no pictures of the back yard?"
  • "Why are there only 3 photos?"
  • "Why does that picture only show the bed? I can't tell how big the room is."
  • "There are no pictures of the inside, so it must be a wreck."
  • "The photos are so dark, I can't tell what room that even is."
  • "Is that carpet old, or just dirty?"

You get the point. Buyers want to see lots of clear, colorful pictures. If they don't, they'll cross your house off the list.Still doubt? Here's what I know from cold, hard experience:

  • My listings used to sell at an average of 38 days on the market.
  • When I first hired my current photographer, the showings on my listings tripled.
  • The listings for which I've hired stand-out photographers have sold in an average of 9 days on the market.

Plain and simple, more showings mean quicker sales, and quicker sales mean higher SOLD prices. There's only one other way to sell a house quickly. Grossly under-price it. Which method would you prefer?

Now it's your turn. Whether you're a home seller, a home buyer, or an agent, do you agree or disagree?

**Originally posted on, where you’ll find out more about Oklahoma City, Edmond, Moore, and beyond.

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Comments (57)

Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

I've not yet had a seller pay for a stager, so when I take pictures I first clean out the clutter from each room, move furniture, etc., then snap a picture.  I show the sellers the picture and say, "This is how your house should look for showings."  If the potential buyers show up and find too much furniture and clutter everywhere, whose fault is it that they're disappointed?

Oct 12, 2012 01:26 AM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team
Hi Ryan, great photo and that will catch people's attention.
Oct 12, 2012 02:03 AM
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Totally agree! Not only should you have good clear pictures but a story can be told visually as well to entice and romance the buyer.
Oct 12, 2012 02:24 AM
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
By the way enough pictures of toilets with the lid up, Trash or debris in the yard. when I went in to take the pictures of a home it was a little messy, I asked the owners for 15 minutes of their time they agreed. I actually had them shift the clutter behind me and the picture, once the picture was taken, put everything back on the kitchen counters and I did that room through room. Every room looked clean and enticing even though there was a little bit of a mess, I refused to take the pictures with messy countertops and unkept bedrooms etc.
Oct 12, 2012 02:31 AM
Rob Renk
Center Street Lending - McKinney, TX
AE | Fast Fix/Flip Loans for Residential Investors

A picture is woth a thousand words.  So many great pictures can help tell the story of the house.  Use the photos as the sizzle to get them to take a closer look at your listing.

Oct 12, 2012 03:39 AM
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

Hear-hear Ryan, That is a pet peeve of mine too. A client is hiring us and will potentially pay us thousands of dollars to market and sell their home. Yes, yes I agree with you that we should do everything possible to put their property in the best light short of changing things. The guys that said something… probably has 3 dark photos of his listing and has been getting away with it.


Oct 12, 2012 08:37 AM
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

PRice it properly based on the criteria that we all know. Do a comparative study and add and subtract.

Oct 12, 2012 08:50 AM
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC - Braintree, MA
Massachusetts Broker Owner

Excellent post, how true, our job is not that of a Realtor ten years ago or even ten months ago!

Oct 12, 2012 10:20 AM
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Spend all you want on good photographs. Just represent the house as it will look in person. Also, you can't take too many photos.

Oct 12, 2012 01:24 PM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Marketing is simply compelling a consumer to take some action to examine or own a product or service.

Some industries use deception to lure consumers to take action, however, simply having a property that looks good in pictures and reality doesn't ensure a sale even if it is competitively priced, doesn't it, especially if the neighborhood is undesirable for one or many reasons? Consequently, it may not be sold due to one or more issues.

Professional photographers should always be employed when selling a home, especially when the sale price exceeds a certain level, for example; an executive home.

Oct 12, 2012 03:32 PM
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite - Edmond, OK
Realtor, Team Lead

Thank you all for your input. I'm curious what you all spend on your photography, if you hire it out? My shoots run $300 and up, depending on the size of the property and the extensiveness of the shoot. I think consumers would be surprised how much a great listing agent actually spends on marketing their home.

Oct 12, 2012 11:47 PM
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


We must be sure to provide great, professional photo of our listings.  No photoshop or other deceptive photos.  Photos should be of the entire house, all rooms, backyard any room or area that the buyer would want to see.

Oct 13, 2012 07:14 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

It's only deceiving if you Photoshop the picture - and change things. Some people just like to complain.

Oct 14, 2012 05:32 PM
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Ryan - While I don't hire a professional photographer for my listings, I did invest in a high quality digital camera with interchangeable lenses so that I can do them myself.

Oct 17, 2012 12:05 AM
D. Fonville Photographer
Springfield, TN

These are all great points and very good to hear as a real estate photographer. I'm curious of how everyone was introduced and persuaded by their photographer? Some markets just aren't as receptive to professional real estate photography. So it would be great to hear how more photographers and realtors could team up to move homes off the market.

Oct 19, 2012 02:08 PM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Happy Birthday Ryan, enjoy your day. 

Oct 28, 2012 11:39 PM
Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate

Ryan Great post, thank you for the tips!

Nov 07, 2012 05:22 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Pictures lure buyers.  Also, I feel that potential sellers are looking for agents on the web as well (or perhaps from a flyer) and the photos need to be professional looking.  Bad pictures (or just one picture) to me shows a certain amount of not caring about one's listing.

Dec 14, 2012 03:32 AM
Bart Foster
Keller Williams Realty Boston - Metro - Boston, MA
Boston MA Real Estate

Ryan if agents look at your photos at it is easy to see when you made the switch to a professional photographer who is using the HDR techniques... My examples are at I'm still a work in progress but will say the results do get more buyer interest.

Dec 17, 2012 08:43 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Each listing on line should be more than images with car mirrors and part of the door way window opening in them. What the place looks like from every angle means get out of the car lazy. Climb a tree if you can or lay on your belly and shoot up at the rear vermont slate open porch, gazebo. Same eye candy effort in the inside zooming in on the stained glass, roaring stone fireplace. Video that picks up the grandfather clock in the study, the wind chimes at the front entry stoop add the sizzle to the steak. 53 images added to one of our listings sight I just uploaded this morning. If you can fill, have 36 sockets, why would you leave any empty? Isn't the property, your seller, buyer, brand image worth it?

Feb 12, 2013 09:32 PM