The Top 10 Things to Avoid with Your Listing Photos

Real Estate Agent with Re/Max Classic 314578

Listing photos are one of the most important elements when marketing your home. They’re often the first thing that prospective buyers take note of, and they can create a strong impression. High-quality photos make your home look warm, inviting, and spacious. Bad photos, on the other hand, can turn potential buyers away.

Hiring a professional photographer can be a great way to ensure you get the best possible pictures for your real estate listing. However, you and your agent can take high-quality photos on your own if you’re willing to invest the time and energy. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid with your listing photos:

Clutter and Personal Items

1. Clutter and Personal Items

You can stage your home for pictures just like you’d stage it for an open house. Your goal is to help viewers imagine their own lives and families inside the home. Excessive clutter and personal items can make it difficult for prospective buyers to take interest in the property. Additionally, cleaning up clutter can make your house look far bigger and more inviting. De-cluttering can be a major project, but the results will be worth the effort.

Bad Lighting

2. Bad Lighting

The lighting in your photos is almost as important as the actual contents of the pictures. Dim lighting makes it difficult to see the details of the room, and it can make your home look dull or dingy. However, intensely bright light can be overwhelming and can also obscure some of the details in the space. Natural lighting is typically your best resource for real estate photos, so you should shoot most of the photos standing by the window.

Incorrect Color Balance


3. Incorrect Color Balance

If you can’t rely on natural light to shoot your pictures, you should ensure that your photos have the correct color balance. Most interior lighting sources have warmer color temperatures than natural light, but this mix of warm and cool colors can look strange in photographs. You might have to invest in a professional lighting setup or hire a photographer who has the correct lighting equipment if your home doesn’t get enough natural light to fully illuminate the photos.

Corner Pictures

4. Corner Pictures

When homeowners take their own photos for real estate listings, they often include images of corners. These pictures can look awkward, though, and they don’t showcase the size or layout of any room. Instead of making the corner the focal point of your photos, every picture should feature at least two corners of the room. This ensures that the photo captures the actual size and design of the space, which is far more helpful for interested buyers.

Too Many Close-ups

5. Too Many Close-ups

It can be tempting to take close-up shots of appliances, landscaping, or other elements of the home you think are good selling points. While you should absolutely showcase the features of your house that will appeal to buyers, close-ups are rarely ideal for real estate photos. The purpose of the pictures is to give buyers a broad view of what your home looks and feels like, and close-ups don’t accomplish this. Prospective buyers will get a chance to inspect the appliances and other details when they view the home in-person, so allow your photos to let your home as a whole shine.

Grainy or Blurry Pictures

6. Grainy or Blurry Pictures

If you rush through your real estate photos, you may end up with grainy, blurry, or out-of-focus images. In this day and age, phone cameras are capable of taking high-quality, focused pictures, so blurry photos are completely avoidable. To prevent this mistake, take multiple pictures at each angle, and give yourself plenty of time to take the photos. Then, you can sort through all of your images and select the best option at each angle.

Showcasing Valuable Items

7. Showcasing Valuable Items

Safety should always be a concern when you’re sharing the interior of your house online. Unfortunately, homes on the market sometimes become targets for theft, especially if you host open houses. If you feature any highly valuable items in your real estate listing, you could make yourself vulnerable to crime. Before you take photos, you should remove anything that might catch the eye of a burglar.

Not Enough Photos

8. Not Enough Photos

Your real estate listing should include enough photos that a prospective buyer has a general understanding of how the entire house looks. Even if your photos are high-quality, having too few photos might lead to a lack of interest from buyers. The typical recommendation is to include about 25 to 30 photos in your listing, but this can vary depending on the size of the property.

Only Exterior Photos

9. Only Exterior Photos

Including only exterior photos in your listing is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. When prospective buyers see a listing with no interior photos, they will assume that the inside is filthy or in disrepair. A listing with only a few exterior photos is a major red flag, so it’s almost always worth making the effort to stage the inside of your home for pictures.

Incorrect Order

10. Incorrect Order

Arranging your listings in the correct order can help to generate interest in your home. Buyers tend to make judgments quickly, so the first few photos in the listing can make or break their decision. It’s almost always best to start with one exterior shot of the house. Your next photo should be the most eye-catching room in the home, which is likely either the kitchen or the living room. From there, you can take the viewers on a tour of the house, going room by room and finishing with bathrooms, hallways, and other secondary spaces.

High-quality listing photos can draw the eyes of potential buyers and help you get more offers on your home. To ensure you make a good first impression, your photos should be focused and well-lit, and they should show off a clean, spacious house. If you’re concerned about your ability to take quality listing photos on your own, a real estate photographer may be worth the investment.

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Comments (14)

Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share.

Have a great day and an outstanding weekend.

Aug 12, 2022 06:03 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it. 

Have a super fantastic weekend! Bill Salvatore with AEP

Aug 12, 2022 06:18 AM
susan paige
Canzell Realty - Spring Hill, FL
Pet Friendly

I love the quality and order of photos. I usually ask if I can move things but will replace back to the original place( right down to trash). That way I have a staged home for the photos. I do like the lighting aspect since I don't have lighting. I do use my flash each photo even during the day. Great post and so needed. I find many agents are not putting in many photos since the home is under contract within hours to only a few days. I want to take the time and do it correct. Professionals do wonderful but I usually add a few of my own. Thanks again.

Aug 12, 2022 06:26 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Lots of great tips.  A few years ago, my broker told me to stop being cheap and to hire a photographer.  It has made a big difference!

Aug 12, 2022 07:10 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Tom, photos of your listing is like eye candy, and the worst is taking photos with your cell phone, or like you say -- close ups.   The dining room table is really nice, but does not convey.

Aug 12, 2022 09:19 AM
June Piper-Brandon
Coldwell Banker Realty - Columbia, MD
Creating Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

This is great information for listing agents and sellers.  I am still surprised at how many bad photographs still make their way into our MLS

Aug 12, 2022 11:43 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Tom,

So glad that June Piper-Brandon re-blogged your post! Excellent! There is absolutely no excuse for a listing with no pictures at all or just one of the exterior of the home. I provide professional photos to my all my sellers, at no cost to them.

Aug 12, 2022 12:18 PM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Hello Tom Gilliam- RE/MAX Classic these are important list of things to avoid with listing photos.

Aug 12, 2022 01:47 PM
Gwen Fowler SC Lakes & Mountains 864-710-4518
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc - Walhalla, SC
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc.

Listings in the MLS drive me nuts; 25 pictures of the yard and not one of the kitchen or bathroom pictures with the agent in the mirror.  Just hire an expert and make them do their job.

Aug 13, 2022 08:40 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Too many close ups and not in the correct peeves of mine! When showcasing a house, it flows so much better online if the pictures are in the order that the house flows...front exterior, inside first floor, up to second floor, etc.  And the close ups can be off putting

Aug 13, 2022 09:34 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I have always taken 25-75 pictures of every listing.  Never had a buyer complain! They want to see as much as possible.  And every direction is good ... the more the better in my humble opinion.  Thank you for this excellent post.  All worthwhile tips!

Aug 13, 2022 11:06 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it.

Have a super fantastic week!
Joe Jackson, Realtor-KWCP

Aug 19, 2022 05:35 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Tom - these are wonderful photo suggestions and I am glad the Roy Kelley re blogged.  I am bookmarking.

Aug 19, 2022 06:16 AM
Kalene Bagwell
Realty Executives Of Kansas City - Blue Springs, MO
Realtor - Selling Blue Springs - Kansas City Metro

Hi Tom,  Really good points and suggestions! You are right about the lighting and close ups. It also frustrates when there are no interior photos.

Dec 12, 2022 06:48 PM