Some buyers have the hardest time imagining how a home will work for their families, and in the digital age, Realtors are providing tools like virtual open houses and tours to help these buyers fall in love with their listings. So I wasn’t surprised when MetroTex Association of Realtors increased the number of photos agents can upload for each listing from 25 to 36.
Of course, some Realtors and real estate professionals see this as a fantastic development. Others? Not so much.
Photographer Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography says that the response has been mixed. He sent out a survey to his clients, asking them whether they would want the additional 11 photos at a slightly higher fee should he begin offering them. He received 18 responses, and only four said that they would definitely want the extra images.
“Of the remaining 14, 8 clients have stated they are interested in having the 36 photo option as part of my services, however they wouldn’t choose that package for every listing,” Selgo said. “That leaves 6 clients that specifically said no, they aren’t interested at all in the 36 package.”
Of course, not every property warrants 36 photos. I mean, can you imagine using 36 photos to market an Uptown condo? Selgo says he has a hard time shooting 25 photos in smaller properties, and 36 would mean shooting several shots of each room from slightly different angles. “It seems redundant,” he added.
But several of his clients, and many other Realtors, feel that having 36 photos helps them show off larger estates and even ranches.
“For some properties, 36 images may be excessive. But, for what I do, it sounds great,” says Keller Williams Farm and Ranch Realtor Kathryn Roan. “I often struggle to choose what images I’ll use for a farm and ranch property — it is hard to capture the house, land, barns, fields, fencing, etc. in 25 images! So, for that reason, I’m happy to at least have the option, even though I may not use that many for every listing.”
For luxurious estates, having more photos allows Realtors to show off details and architectural interest. Christine McKenny of Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate says that more photos help her buyers and sellers understand the larger, unique spaces her listings may have.
“My Woodland Drive listing is a great example,” McKenny said. “We could feature more secondary bedrooms, various angles showing how rooms connect, powder or secondary baths, more exterior property and yard angles. In the past I have always needed to narrow the possibilities and usually had the seller assist me. Sometimes I would want to cut an image that they felt was important.”
Of course, some Realtors feel that 25 images for a listing was plenty before, and now with 36 images, there’s no incentive for buyers to come out and see homes in person.
“Somebody has forgotten — I don’t know whether it is our MLS vendor or our Association leadership — that the purpose of these images is not to provide an archival database showing the color of every bedcover in a house,” says M Streets Realtor Ken Lampton. “The purpose is to help real estate agents entice prospective buyers to come on out and visit our listings. I don’t think the addition of 11 more images will make a house more enticing. In fact, I think prospective homebuyers will be bored by the extra time it takes to look at all the images. This change will serve no useful purpose in the end.”
In some cases, Lampton may very well be right, but what about a home that has unique detailing you may not be able to see in a photo, but definitely adds to the character and attractiveness of a property?
“Many times there are specific features and details of a home that often go unnoticed during a showing or on the MLS photos online,” says Home Star Staging founder Karen Otto. “Getting creative with the photo marketing is now possible with the additional number allowed or even just being able to show multiple angles in a room.”
You can also use collages and split-screen images to show off features that you won’t see in traditional MLS photos, Otto said, allowing buyers to glimpse unique features like an updated granite counter, a built in you may not notice, hidden storage for garbage cans and recyclables, in the same image. You can also include community amenities, illustrative graphics, nearby attractions, and all sorts of visual enticements you couldn’t put in your listing’s description.
“What rule says you have to use the same old same old photos for the MLS?” Otto added. “With the general buying public loving sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and the unique, stylistic photos we see there, now Realtors can do some marketing that stands out from the rest and still be able to show the house in traditional fashion, too, and not feel like they have to omit certain photos that can help showcase the property even better.”