Do Pictures Really Help Sell A Home?

give-my-tallahassee-home-for-sale-12-pictures-on-the-internetI was up early this morning, reading a bunch of great real estate blogs from around the country. I find a lot of useful ideas and information by scanning the work of other real estate professionals across the country. One blog that I find myself returning to from time to time is the The Phoenix Real Estate Guy because his writing style is so easy to read.

Today, he was ‘ranting’ about one of his favorite pet peeves. You see, this guy really doesn’t understand why real estate agents post new listings (new homes for sale) in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) without a full complement of pictures. While I encourage you to enjoy his rant at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy, I also decided that this would make a great case study in which we would use actual numbers to determine the validity of his concern (but applied with real estate graphs for the Tallahassee housing market).

Tallahassee Homes Sell With Use Of Pictures

give-my-tallahassee-home-for-sale-12-pictures-on-the-internet2While I typically am not a “ranter” when it comes to writing the Tallahassee Real Estate Blog, I really do have to concur with Jay in Phoenix about sloppy work and missing the mark when working to sell a home in Tallahassee. When I study all of the homes for sale in Tallahassee, as well as all the homes that sold in the past 24 months, I find that many real estate companies do a good job of displaying many pictures of their listings for buyers to view. As a matter of fact, better than 1 in 3 listings had maximized its use of pictures. But I did find it shocking that nearly 25% of active Tallahassee home listings have 2 or fewer photos in the MLS.

maximize-the-number-of-home-pictures-you-have-on-your-home-for-sale

Proof That Pictures Help Sell Homes?

This final graph appears to suggest that pictures do have an affect on the saleability of a home listing. In all but one area of the MLS, the average number of pictures per home is higher in “Sold” listings than it is in “Homes for Sale.” Coincidence…. I don’t think so! I wonder what Jay would think?

pictures-of-homes-in-the-tallahassee-real-estate-market

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Joe Manausa is a real estate investor and the Broker and Co-Owner of CENTURY 21 Manausa and Associates. He can be reached via e-mail through the Tallahassee Real Estate Website or catch his latest writings on the Tallahassee Florida Real Estate Blog , or by calling (850) 386-2001.
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4 February 2009
Joe Manausa
FL
Century 21
Last modified: February 4, 2009
About Joe Manausa

Joe Manausa, MBA is a 22+ year veteran of real estate brokerage in the State of Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.

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  1. Great stuff Joe! I assumed the general lack of listing photos wasn’t something Phoenix held exclusive rights to. Thanks for pulling the data that helps confirm that assumption (and it wouldn’t surprise me to see similar numbers in any major market).

    I don’t think there is any question that photos (and ideally, high quality photos) help sell homes. What’s remarkable is how many listings lack either….

  2. I agree on this thing about the pictures. Another thing that says, “I don’t really care if I sell this house.” is a mess of dirty dishes in the sink or rubber duckies in the tub in pictures. Sellers should prepare their homes for sale (duh!) and then demand that pictures show the property at it’s best.

  3. I must compliment you on how detailed you presented your case study and I totally am in agreement that real estate agents must take maximum advantage of including good quality photos in the MLS. Besides my maximum allowable pictures, I also include a virtual tour. I’ve seen agents displaying one or two pictures in addition to a virtual tour. Has this been the case in your region?

  4. Amen! our mls supports up to 16 photos and it is amazing how many listings have 1 or no photos.

  5. Joe:
    I think mls rules should be adjusted to photos must be uploaded in x number of days.

  6. I did my own impromptu Dubuque MLS research on a sorta boring Saturday night while watch a DVR on TV. I found that nearly a whopping one in four (101 vs 408) listings in my MLS has two or less photos. I don’t care if it’s some run-down one bedroom foreclosure that hasn’t been updated since 1971, I’m fairly sure I can always find our local MLS’s limit of ten photos.

  7. Joe,

    Great research. Let’s hope that more of our colleagues start thinking along the same lines.

  8. Forrest Parker says:

    I agree. When my wife and I were looking for a home we didn’t even bother with the listings that didn’t have pictures. Another thing that would be nice is a floor plan. Often times is it hard to figure out the layout of a home even if there are lots of photos. What do you guys think?

    • Thanks Forrest and a floorplan would be a great idea. In fact, many areas in the country have this as part of their tax base and so it is contained in the MLS. Unfortunately, most homeowners in Tallahassee do not have a floorplan to provide.

  9. Gail (Gail Ink) says:

    I would love to see a study about the quality of the pictures as they relate to sale of the listings. I skiped over listings with no pictures, but I also skip over listings with bad pictures. Am I alone? I don’t think so. There are an abundance of homes on the market right now. I couldn’t possibly see them all. Picture quality is a good way to filter listings. I don’t even read the details of the listing unless something in the pictures piques my interest. A picture is worth a thousand words. They tell a much bigger story than the story about the house.

    The pictures tell me whether or not the listing agent is reputable. I work with the understanding that if the pictures are bad, then the listing agent isn’t reputable, thus I question the listing itself. After all, if a listing agent won’t even fully honor the listing agreement with the seller, where does the end of the deception lie? What is not going to be disclosed by a less-than-dutiful agent? In my recent home search, I saw some pictures that were so bad (or so few) that they suggested a breach of fiduciary responsibility. I ended up setting up a database and I went through every MLS listing in my current area and rated the pictures. I learned that picture analysis is a GREAT way to find out which agents AND AGENCIES I should avoid when it comes to either buying or selling a house.

    I didn’t need to look at ALL the listings, because the patterns were so clear, but I did because the more I searched for a home, the more I learned about the real estate business. As my curiosity grew, so did a business idea that I will bes test-marketing next week. (Gail Ink – http://www.gailink.com )

    Not only did my study introduce me to the unprofessional agents who represent their listings poorly. My study showed that the unprofessional agents all seem to work for the same agencies. I found that curious until I talked to the agent with the best pictures. Guess how she fishes for new listings! Guess who my new agent is.

    I also wish that floorplans were included. It would make life easier for the selling agents as well as the buyer. I understand that showings per buyer have more than doubled since the inception of the Internet as the way to begin a house search. Is this a way to reduce an agent’s workload and serve the seller better? It seems to me that an extra hour spent posting the listing with a floorplan may save tens of hours in showing the same house over and over again.

    Thanks for your article.

  10. Thanks Joe, its something to think about even here in the Bahamas.

  11. Ron Falconberry says:

    Joe, I was glad to run across your article. I always wondered why you would see 24 to 36 photos of $10,000+ vehicles posted online but then see house listings of $200,000 and up that had just four to eight photos. Just today I saw a house listing that had eight photos where six of those were just different angles of the front exterior.

    If the lack of photos is indicative of the effort an agent is going to put into selling the house or if the house is so bad they don’t want to post photos then I’m not going to waste my time inquiring about it.

    Thanks for the excellent article.

    Ron

  12. Wow lucky us here down under!

    We can get up to 25 photos plus floor plans and a virtual tour.

    We place a big emphasis on our photos and use the best guy in the business – and we’re getting the results. Good photos help position the property in the buyers mind.

    It’s a visual world and people are now used to seeing GREAT photography of everything – makes sense to use great photos of a product when you are trying to convince someone to invest their life savings into it!

  13. We have far too many listings in our market with NO INTERIOR PICS. And sellers wonder why their listings expire with no offers. There is too much inventory available to waste your time begging for pics from a listing agent who isn’t doing their job.

  14. Thanks Jay. I just find it interesting how similar our numbers (percentage) were. Keep up the great work!

  15. Thanks Kathy. Absolutely. This is the most competitive market that I’ve seen in 18 years, Sellers must do everything they can to stand out among their competition.

  16. Absolutely Petra. We find that properties with 8 or more pictures get viewed 600% more than properties with just one picture. The jury is still out with the virtual tours, though I think it makes sense to do them as well. There could be issues with download speed for some.

  17. Thanks John. Ours will support 12 and surprisingly, over 1/3rd of us max it out. It’s just the majority that do not take advantage of the additional exposure.

  18. I agree John. The trouble is policing it. Our board controls/owns our MLS and we have a MLS committee. It’s hard enough keeping status’ up to date.

  19. You are right Rob. Not to mention, you can always include relevant community pictures and nearby amenities. Buyers pull the listings that have the pix!

  20. Thanks Tom and I agree, although it really is a good discriminator in our industry.

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