Having Great MLS Photos Should Not Give You An Unfair Advantage

Home Stager with Sharon Tara Transformations

I've been a Home Stager in New Hampshire for many years now, and I'm surprised that the quality of MLS photos hasn't improved very much.  With the growth of the home staging industry and all the media attention I would expect to see a change. 


The majority of MLS pictures are still average, or below average, in both visual and emotional appeal.


Most listings I see are not using MLS pictures to their full potential. Only a small percentage seem to understand the power of using high quality MLS pictures and the value they have as a marketing tool. 


So....what exactly makes high quality MLS photos so powerful?


mls man


Quality photos  REFUSE TO BE IGNORED

Potential buyers skim through MLS pictures at rapid speed.  A listing with great pictures captures their attention and holds it.   

Quality photos  HAVE AN ATTITUDE

They proudly represent both quality and value with confidence. 



Having quality photos is like having a Super Hero on your marketing team.....the competition doesn't stand a chance!


Obviously, hiring a professional photographer is your best option. 

If you are going to take your own pictures keep these tips in mind.....

Preparation is key. Each room should be clean and furniture should be arranged to show space and function. Keep small items to a minimum, they are distracting in photos. 

The best shot is not always from the doorway. Consider shooting from different angles. Shoot through an open window or stand inside the closet.

Different points of view will make your photos more interesting.  Try standing on a chair, or squatting on the floor. 

Each room should have a positive feature as the focal point. Look for something of interest like a fireplace or built-in shelves.

Lighting can be tricky. For exterior shots keep the sun behind you. It's much easier to shoot on cloudy days.  For interior shots take shots with lights on and then again with them off.  

Take a lot of pictures of each room so you have plenty to choose from.

Taking a photography class is a good idea to develop technical skill.  Practice makes perfect!


Photography Tips From Other Real Estate Professionals:

A Thousand Words

 Taking Better MLS Photos... 

10 Photo Tips To Get Buyers Calling You 

Stop Using Vertical Photos in MLS 

Photographing Small Rooms 

The Seven Deadly Sins... 

5 Photography Tips For Listings 

Photography Checklist... 

Golden Hour and Other Photography Tips 

Five Tips on Great Photography...


Having great MLS pictures should not give you an unfair advantage....

Having great MLS pictures should be the norm!


But hey, it's not the norm.....so take that well-deserved advantage and run with it!


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Robert Vegas Bob Swetz 08/29/2015 02:07 PM
Home Selling
Home Staging
New Hampshire - Real Estate and Life in The Granite State!
Advice for Sellers
real estate photography
mls photos
mls advice for sellers

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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Sharon, have been looking online for rental lofts in downtown Chicago and am amazed at the poor thoughtless photos posted for some units! Enjoy your day!

Aug 29, 2015 11:27 PM #58
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I am glad that I didnt miss your post, thanks to Kathy's weekly summary!

Aug 30, 2015 12:12 AM #59
Sussie Sutton
UTR Texas Realtors - Pearland, TX
UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers.

Great post! I never thought of standing in a closet. I would love to take a class.

Aug 30, 2015 12:27 AM #60
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Inna Ivchenko  There are some homes that just are not professional photographer and/or home stager worthy. Some properties are what they are and as long as they are priced accordingly so be it.  However, there is no other excuse for "bad" mls pics for most other listings.  If an agent won't or can't spend the money on a professional, then they should at the very least understand the basics of photography. They should make sure the rooms are prepared prior to shooting and have the proper lighting. Just HAVING pictures at all would be a step up for some agents!

Aug 30, 2015 01:11 AM #61
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Gita:  Thank you!

Sheila Anderson Thank you for your honesty!  That's a perfect example of how there are agents who don't even realize that their photos could be so much better.  For many, their pictures are fine....but with the right preparation and a professional behind the camera, they could be true marketing magic!

Barbara Todaro I've told you before how much I love your line "the eye buys".  Your money shot examples are just the kind of thing that grab a potential buyer's attention and lead to showings! Thanks so much for adding your experience to the conversation!


Aug 30, 2015 01:16 AM #62
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Debbie Gartner :  You are a true marketing genius and I have no doubt you understand the value of photos in marketing!

Wayne Martin If you take the time to look past the mess and distraction in the photos it could work to your advantage because a great place could be hidden in there and other potential buyers are passing it over.  You could find a great deal!

Kristin:  I'm glad you didn't miss it too!  Thank you Kathy!

Sussie:  Taking a class is a great idea and will greatly improve the quality of your mls pics!  Not every home requires a professional photographer (obviously the best choice) and if you are going to be taking your own pics, it's a smart thing to learn more about using your camera!



Aug 30, 2015 01:22 AM #63
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Absolutely. Some buyers refuse to see houses with crappy pictures - those pictures are doing the seller such a disservice.


Aug 30, 2015 01:39 AM #64
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Assuming the house has been prepared - With today's digital cameras there is NO excuse not to take enough pictures to end up with some good ones. I guess some agents are just "too busy" to do the job correctly. 

Aug 30, 2015 04:08 AM #65
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

I love taking my own photo's - it's one of the more fun and creative aspects of the job. Thanks for the tips; all make sense. Bad photo's are a distraction and a disgrace.

Aug 30, 2015 04:39 AM #66
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Sharon, I do all of these things! I take copious amounts of photos, all from different angles/perspectives, I've shot "up", I've shot "down" and really you just don't know FOR SURE until you get back to your computer and start the editing process. I have opened sliding doors and stepped back to give more perspective. I have turned on every single light in the place, and then found later that just a couple of lights worked better for ambiance. 

When we photographers used to have 35mm to choose from only, I learned about the "insurance shot". In other words, you find a great venue, shoot it and then take a 2nd one just in case for insurance. The lighting may have been off in the first one, or or or...now of course, it's easier with digital and immediate, BUT you still need lots of choices. I have had more buyers ask me if I had photos from a certain spot that AREN'T on the MLS and I can accomodate them! 

Wonderful post!!!

Aug 30, 2015 06:07 AM #67
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Kat:  A big disservice. Not sure why any seller would hire an agent without checking to see what their other listings look like.

Marte Cliff   No excuse at all. I understand agents not using professional photos for all their listings, but if they don't they sure better be able to take decent ones and present the best possible product to buyers.

Aug 30, 2015 08:50 AM #68
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Olga:  Nothing wrong with taking your own....just don't understand how so many agents take such terrible pictures and are able to somehow justify using them.

Gayle:  So what you are saying is you provide your sellers with the marketing that they signed up for....the marketing that is going to get their home sold for as fast as possible and as close to their asking price as possible!  Imagine that? Why haven't many of the other agents figured this out yet?

Aug 30, 2015 08:55 AM #69
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

Hey Sharon I caught this from VB's reblog. I would have thought that pics would have been more important when Real Estate converted from a book to online so this makes no sense other than sloppy and lazy

Aug 30, 2015 11:59 AM #70
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Sharon...You are so right. A prospective buyer watched a professional videotape six times before getting to see a house I had listed. It was how she fell in love with the property.


Aug 30, 2015 12:21 PM #71
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I tried taking a photo of a walk-in closet from the floor. Good thing no-one was around to watch me get up OFF the floor. 

Aug 30, 2015 01:44 PM #72
Jon K. Judd
Keller Williams Realty - Central Delaware - Dover, DE
GRI, e-PRO, SFR, Delaware Homes

Excellent post... with some great useable tips!!

Don't forget.... take that picture with the toilet seat up so we can all see there is no ring around the bowl... ... NOT!!  :)

Aug 31, 2015 12:32 AM #73
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

David:  Thanks for letting me know that VB shared it!  I agree....there is a whole lot of sloppy and lazy out there!

Kate:  Falling in love with the property doesn't happen unless there is both visual and emotional appeal in the photos! Thanks for commenting!

Pat:  Not always easy to get those shots, but well worth it!

Jon:  LOL!  Why are there so many toilet seats up in MLS?????

Joshua Hess :  Some agents make that very same promise....they just don't live up to the standard of excellence they claim at the listing appointment!  I've added a link to your post "A Thousand Words".....great post!


Aug 31, 2015 10:22 AM #75
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Sharon Tara These are all great tips.  Unfortunately, some professional photographers are not as creative as others!  When we find a good one we need to keep them busy.

Sep 01, 2015 07:51 AM #76
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Such great tips Sharon! Great photographs are critical and it is worth hiring one to make sure that your house stands above the competition - professionals are worth their weight in gold!

Sep 01, 2015 08:35 AM #77
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Sharon:   Thank you.  Not all professional photographers are a good choice for real estate pics. Choose wisely.

Joanna:  Thank you.  The difference in the quality of photos can be night and day! Well worth the investment!

Sep 02, 2015 01:23 PM #78
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New Hampshire Home Stager
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