Real Estate

11 Awful Real Estate Photos—And How to Make Yours Great

An Internet real estate listing can be crucial in attracting buyers, and the photos that accompany that listing are incredibly important. They are the first impression buyers get of your home—and, as we know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Learn from others' mistakes, and steer clear of these real estate photography faux pas.

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A Bad Reflection

Florida-based Realtor Barry Bevis understands the importance of real estate photography. His blog, Bad MLS Photos, highlights some of the worst listing pictures he’s seen and explains how they could be improved. This shot has two problems. First, you want to make the best impression possible, so clean up the bathroom before you put a picture of it on the Internet. And, when you’re taking that photo, make sure you, the photographer, aren’t in it.

Googled Curb Shot

It’s tempting to use an existing photo of a property, especially if you’ve already moved away. But refrain from choosing a Google Street View pic to advertise your home to potential buyers. Google’s satellites and Street View cams are not experts in curb appeal. The photo quality won’t be great, and you’ll give house hunters the impression that you just don’t care that much about your home (or the listing). It takes only a few minutes to go out on the street on a sunny day and take your own picture.

Related: Ready to Sell? 17 Things to Do First

Christmas in July

Your house may be on the market for several months, so it’s important not to post photos that are overly seasonal. If potential buyers see decorations from a holiday that was celebrated months earlier, they might question why the house hasn’t sold yet. So, before you take pictures for your listing, definitely take down the Christmas tree, twinkly lights, and other holiday decorations. 

A Hidden House

Before you take curbside pictures, try several vantage points around the front of the property to find the best angle. You’re trying to sell your house, so you don’t want it hidden behind a big tree, a truck, or other obstruction. Move all the cars out of the driveway, and make sure the shot of the front of your home shows the entryway. 

Related: 10 Fast-Growing Plants for (Almost) Instant Curb Appeal

Cluttered Mess

As a general rule, you should remove all signs of your own existence so prospective buyers can imagine themselves in your home. Case in point: The papers on the side of the refrigerator in this otherwise tidy kitchen, though neatly arranged, have a cluttered look that draws the eye. As well, the items on top of the fridge could be seen as an indication that the kitchen doesn’t have enough storage—a serious drawback for most buyers. While you’re decluttering, it’s a good idea to remove pet paraphernalia too. When potential buyers finally pay your house a visit, you don’t want them sniffing for smells, or zealously looking for stains and scratches.

Stuck Sideways

Take the time to ensure that all the photos you upload are cropped correctly and properly oriented. Prospective buyers may find it off-putting to have to crane their neck to the side to view a picture, and all that contortion may make it difficult for them to get a good sense of the space.

Related: 9 Mistakes Not to Make When Selling Your Home

Live TV

Turn the television off before taking pictures in the living room or den. The image on the screen will be a distraction to anyone looking at the photo, and potential buyers won’t see what you want them to see—a room that they can relax in.

Pets in the Picture

You love your pets, but as adorable as they are, not everyone feels the same way as you do. A pet in a picture can be a cause for concern for house hunters worried about scratched floors, fur in the carpet, and stubborn smells and stains. Leave the pets off the picture so the house can take center stage.

Related: 8 Red Flags to Look For in a Real Estate Listing

Derelict Pool

Believe it or not, a pool is often considered a drawback. They’re expensive to maintain, and a lot of people don’t want the responsibility or liability. So, if you do have a pool in the backyard, make sure it looks like it’s straight out of a resort brochure. Anything less will trigger immediate concerns in a prospective buyer’s mind.

Unstaged and Unloved

Staging your house for sale is a vital part of the selling process. Not only do you want the home to look appealing, but you also need to make it easy for prospective buyers to see how a room can be used and envision themselves in it. Leaving a room empty, or with scattered, random furnishings, will just make the space feel awkward. Stage each room simply, with furniture that attractively highlights the purpose of each space.

Related: 9 Age-Old Real Estate Tips to Ignore Completely

Awkwardly Angled

Some spaces, especially tight ones, are difficult to photograph. Don’t make the situation worse by using an impossible angle to get the shot. This bathroom is actually very clean and cheerful, but taking a picture from the ceiling only underscores the fact that it is small. It’s OK to take more than one picture to give prospective buyers an accurate and inviting view of a space.