Why Do So Many Home Listings Have Bad Photos?

by Will Smith


Here is a statistic that may surprise you: Eighty percent of prospective home buyers are using the internet to find their new home, according to Inman.com.

If that number is accurate, then UrbanTurf has a question: Why are there still so many property listings on the web with poor photos or no photos at all?

In an effort to feature the best that the DC market has to offer each week (top deals, new properties, open houses), we spend a good amount of time combing through home and condo listings. What constantly shocks us is the fact that many of these listings are presented in such a poor manner that they do not even look worth visiting. And if there is a photo where trash is on the floor or a bed looks like it was recently slept in or the yard is a complete mess, chances are that listing is not going to attract any buyers.

In most cases, it is not the content in the photo, but the shoddy quality that is a turn-off. We know that there are free slideshow services out there, but the quality and usability leaves much to be desired. The point of this piece is not to lobby for outlets like HomeVisit and RealTour, however, the professionalism and quality that those services offer could be well worth the $100 to $150 that you have to shell out. Anyone that comes to look at your listing is much more likely to visit the property if you can entice them with 8 to 10 beautiful photos that make the property shine.

This seems like a no-brainer. So why is it that so many listings have bad photos? If you have an idea, please let us know in the comments.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/why_do_so_many_home_listings_have_bad_photos/739


  1. roslyn said at 1:59 pm on Wednesday April 1, 2009:

    I wish i knew!  As a stager, it drives me bananas to see it. I don’t understand - I can’t tell if it is the realtor or homeowner. Either way, neither party seems serious about selling with pictures like this?!

    I would be curious to hear from a realtor or homeowner on the reasons too!

  1. kevin said at 2:42 pm on Wednesday April 1, 2009:

    Don’t forget my fav, mouseonhouse.  That service really helps putting the home in perspective rather than just a stream of photos.

  1. Tom A. said at 3:47 pm on Wednesday April 1, 2009:

    Most potential buyers are pretty smart.  Filling an ad with pictures of the local grocery store, park, or metro station is a HUGE red flag to me.

  1. anon said at 5:27 pm on Wednesday April 1, 2009:

    I get that not everyone has a design forward kitchen and some owners are trying to move rental properties, but if nothing else, at least tidy up BEFORE taking the pics.  That pic above looks about as inviting as a meth lab.  A clean place with decent quality photos is the bare minimum needed for marketing.

  1. Mark said at 11:09 pm on Wednesday April 1, 2009:

    There is a very funny blog dedicated to these types of photos - It’s Lovely! I’ll Take It!

  1. Shari Walker said at 10:45 am on Thursday April 2, 2009:

    Hi!  I am a Realtor, and the only insight I can share is through a personal experience.  I once took a listing that was owned by a group of siblings (inherited from their deceased parents).  They wanted to sell the house, and when I took the listing, the house was vacant, pristine, and newly fixed up.  After I took the listing, they allowed their one sister to move into the house while it was on the market, and she TRASHED it!  I would BEG them to clean up for pictures, open houses, showings, etc.  We had meetings.  I showed them photos of what the house SHOULD look like.  I wrote checklists of exactly what needed to be done.  I even vacuumed the listing myself during one open house.  No matter what I said, the place looked like the photo above.  They wouldn’t even take their pitt bull out of the basement when a potential buyer wanted to look at the basement before writing a contract!  When after all this, I came by one Sunday to hold a pre-arranged open house and there was actually a LIVE mouse stuck in the bug trap in the kitchen, I finally lost it and had to fire the client and drop the listing.  It still hasn’t sold to this day. 

    I agree that lazy agents who don’t bother taking and posting photos - or who post poor quality photos - are frustrating many potential buyers (and their buyer agents!), but sometimes it is the homeowner who simply refuses to listen to anything their agent tells them, and those are the clients that agents need to be wary of taking on.  Many times they think that a buyer can see past the mess, but buyers typically go on “gut feeling” or that warm fuzy happiness they get when they walk into a beautiful, well-appointed, and well-staged home.  They want a place that makes them feel good when they walk in.  And if what you can see looks this bad, it makes them wonder about the condition of what they CAN’T see (plumbing, electrical, roof, etc.).

    Bottom line: you hire your agent for a reason.  Listen to their advice and present a home YOU would want to buy.

  1. Shhhhh... said at 5:03 pm on Thursday April 2, 2009:

    As someone who got a great deal from a listing with bad photos, I must ask that you stop telling people about this issue.  The last thing I need are sellers wising up and putting better photos up, and buyers realizing that photos often don’t to a place justice.  It’ll only drive up prices! grin

  1. Shannon F. said at 9:56 am on Friday April 3, 2009:

    I could not agree more with all of you!  Good photos are so important.  I had a listing purchased by a buyer who was relocating back to the states from India.  He found the property and used the photos (both of the condo and the surrounding area) to make his decision to purchase.  He was represented by an agent who saw the property but he didn’t see it until he moved back to the states.  I don’t think there is any better reason to have great pictures than this.  Seller’s should demand it and Shari is right to fire a client who doesn’t listen to good advice!

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