The database that real estate agents use to create our listings (CT Multiple Listing Service) has increased the number of images that we are allowed to load for each property. The maximum number of photos has been slowly creeping upwards for years, with the most recent jump from 25 to 35.
There is a school of thought that says you need to use all of the picture slots available. I’ve heard it regularly from the Trulia and Zillow sales people, who claim that the users of their sites sort their search results based on the number of pictures in the listing. So the more images there are, the more likely the home will be seen by a potential buyer. I would imagine this is less true of their mobile apps than the desktop site, but I don’t know for sure. Our previous broker also encouraged us to use the maximum, and seller clients usually pay close attention to their listing versus other homes (“Why does my neighbor’s house have 35 pictures and mine only has 23?”). All this is to say that there is pressure on agents to load 35 photos.
I think the first practical result of the CTMLS change is that we’re going to see many more strange pictures in listings as agents struggle to max out the 35 slots. Realtors are not generally known for being talented photographers, so this will provide us more opportunities to expose ourselves as amateurs. Look for lots of head scratching shots over the next few months.
Our experience is that is only takes about 20 to 25 pictures to thoroughly document a typical home. Consider a four bedroom house with family room (large for Greater Hartford), which can usually be done in 25 shots. It has 8 total rooms, so 2 pictures for each room gets you to 16, which leaves 9 for the bathrooms, exterior, lot, and floor plans.
The move to 35 pictures is an interesting new challenge to agents. Instead of simply trying to figure out how to use all the photo slots for each property, we now need to make strategic decisions. How should we use the 35 images to show our clients’ home in the best light possible? Are there creative things we can do to make it seem more appealing? Do we absolutely need to use 35 photos?
My initial sense is that including low quality images just to get to 35 is a mistake. Our goal is to encourage buyers to tour the property in person. If there are 35 high quality images that say something important about the buyer’s opportunity with the home, then I’ll definitely max out my allotment. But so far I have seen obvious filler in listings that (I think) detracts from the overall marketing pitch.
What’s your take? How do you think about the pictures when looking at the listings? Are more pictures always better?