This article is part of a larger series on Real Estate Lead Generation and Marketing.
High-quality listing photos create the first impression of a home for potential buyers. A well-photographed property can draw in interested parties, but bad real estate listing photos will discourage people from even considering the property. Real estate listings with quality photos typically generate more views and higher engagement and tend to sell faster—and even at a higher price.
To see the importance and the impact of good photography, here are 35 terrible real estate photos and tips on how to avoid bad listing photos:
Dark Listing Photos
One of the most common reasons for bad real estate photos is poor lighting. Many properties and spaces don’t receive much natural sunlight, which makes it difficult to get a clear, bright photo. On the other hand, it’s difficult to balance the lighting in a room with windows. However, dark photos are extremely visually unappealing and make it difficult to see everything in a room.
How to Avoid Dark Listing Photos
Although lighting is one of the most challenging parts of real estate photography, there are multiple potential solutions. Make sure you use high-quality camera equipment, which has various settings to more efficiently capture light even in dark spaces. In addition, plan to take listing photos at an optimal time of day for the most ideal lighting. The best time of day for lighting depends on which direction the property faces, but it is generally around dusk or dawn.
To reference high-quality listing photos with balanced natural lighting, scroll through homes on Zillow or visit its blog for research and photography tips. By visiting a variety of listings, you’ll see the impact of listing photos with bright lighting. Plus, you can even use Zillow’s Agent Finder tool to search for a local real estate photographer.
Blurry or Unclear Photos
One of the fastest ways to lose potential buyers and real estate leads is by uploading blurry, low-quality images to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). You could spend time thinking about the lighting and placement of a photo, but you’ll still get terrible real estate photos if they are low-resolution. Photos that are obviously blurry or grainy don’t communicate professionalism and won’t attract high-quality buyers.
How to Avoid Blurry or Unclear Photos
A few of the most common reasons for blurry photos include:
- Camera movement
- Slow shutter speed
- Inadequate lighting
Solve camera-related problems by using a tripod, applying the right camera settings, and planning ahead for lighting. Another important factor in getting photos with high resolution is the file type and the way that you transport photos from the camera to the listing. For example, taking screenshots or sending photos through email can decrease the photo quality. Instead, upload your photos directly from the camera or use a shared drive to achieve the highest resolution.
Damaged or Distressed Area Photos
Sometimes, the worst real estate photos are problematic because of the content, not a photography problem. Unfortunately, many homes have areas or rooms with significant or noticeable damage. The ideal choice in these cases is to address the problem directly before taking listing photos and putting the home on the market. However, if that is not a possibility, make sure you do your due diligence of being honest about the state of the property without exposing some of its worst qualities in photos.
How to Avoid Damaged or Distressed Area Photos
As a real estate agent, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter properties or spaces that aren’t ideal for buyers. Part of your listing marketing plan should include making suggestions for homeowners to prepare their property for the market, making sure it’s clean and clutter-free. However, if the owners are not willing or able to make the necessary changes, you have to choose your marketing strategy wisely. It’s important to be honest and upfront, but you also don’t need to include photos that will immediately repel potential buyers.
Make sure you check out our 12-step Real Estate Listing Marketing Plan and Checklist to help improve your listing reach.
Photos of Unconventional Spaces
When someone owns and lives in a home, they are able to make use of the space in the way that best suits their needs. However, when it’s time to sell a house, having spaces set up in unusual ways can work against the seller’s best interests. For the best results, listing photos should showcase how the home would be used by the majority of people. Homebuyers are more likely to put in higher offers if they are able to envision themselves living in the home. However, when there are highly unusual items or unusual configurations of rooms, it distracts buyers and makes them wonder if there are other hidden problems with the property.
How to Avoid Photos of Unconventional Spaces
As a real estate professional, your job is to determine how to best arrange the spaces within a listing and how to effectively communicate to your clients. Make sure you clearly advise clients about the problems with keeping highly unconventional items or furniture choices in their homes while it’s on the market. You may even choose to make this a topic on your real estate listing checklist, so you thoroughly explain how your sellers can maximize the appeal of their property by eliminating odd items.
Unique & Personalized Items in Listing Photos
One of the most common home staging tips is to remove highly personal items from a listing, like family photos or named items. This is even more important when the personalized items are likely to raise an eyebrow from buyers. The property might be a great fit for potential buyers, but a few questionable choices can cause them to make a low offer or even prevent them from making an offer at all.
How to Avoid Unique & Personalized Items in Photos
One of the main differences between good real estate photos vs bad photos is that good photos and staging will help potential buyers envision themselves in the space, increasing their motivation to put in an offer. By displaying something extremely personal and unconventional, buyers are distracted and less motivated to make the home their own. To avoid this, give clients a specific list of items to remove from their homes before you take photos and listing them on the market.
Photos With Extremely Bold Designs
Interior design is an art, and making bold and unique choices can make a home stand out and be especially beautiful and appealing. However, some home design choices can go too far and ultimately repel potential buyers. Although most homebuyers prefer a turnkey property that doesn’t require any changes or improvements, they are usually willing to repaint a room or make simple changes. However, if they are faced with overwhelming bold choices that require multiple steps to improve, they are unlikely to put their best offer on the home.
How to Avoid Photos With Extremely Bold Designs
Having to conduct difficult conversations is one of the biggest challenges of being a real estate agent. When you work with homesellers who have intentionally made design choices in their homes that you know are going to be challenging to sell, it’s important that you think carefully about how to approach the subject with them. You should do your due diligence and honestly prepare them for the potential impact of keeping their home as is, but you cannot force them to make changes.
When you have a listing with some unappealing features, make sure you utilize the tools available to prevent sharing really bad real estate photos to the MLS. Hire a professional photographer, take photos from the right angles, and consider using virtual staging to give buyers a picture of the space’s full potential.
- If you want to take your own photos, here are some additional tips to consider: 11 Real Estate Photography Tips, Equipment & Mistakes to Avoid
- If you’re ready to hire a professional to take high-quality photos for you, take a look at this article: Real Estate Photography Pricing, Types & Hiring Tips Guide
Poor Quality Virtual Staging in Photos
Virtual staging can be an incredibly effective way to improve bad listing photos and attract buyers. Since it can be done by using a software program or by hiring a company, the quality of virtual staging can range drastically. If virtual staging is done dishonestly or if the items clearly look digital, it will backfire and cause even fewer buyers to schedule showings or submit offers.
How to Avoid Poor Quality Virtual Staging in Photos
It’s relatively easy to prevent having terrible real estate photos from low-quality virtual staging. Unless you have extensive experience in home design and technology, it’s best to work with a virtual staging company that provides high-quality images and room design.
BoxBrownie provides a range of listing photo services, including virtual staging, with highly realistic imagery. By utilizing professional expertise and software, you can virtually stage rooms in a way that attracts buyers who are most likely to make the highest offers. Plus, BoxBrownie offers a 24- to 48-hour turnaround to transform vacant or difficult-to-sell spaces to encourage buyers to see the home.
Including Clutter in Listing Photos
Another foundational piece of good home staging is that spaces should be free of clutter and appear clean and fresh. However, there are still plenty of bad real estate listing photos with unnecessary items lying around. While some of the worst real estate photos have massive amounts of clutter, it only takes a few forgotten items to ruin a listing photo and distract buyers.
How to Avoid Clutter in Listing Photos
Clutter can sometimes be an easy problem to solve by advising homeowners to donate, get rid of, or put away their excess items. You can also offer to help by providing a list of places to donate, professional organizers, or strategies to quickly get clutter under control.
Pro tip: It’s important to be aware that there can be serious underlying reasons for overly cluttered spaces, like disease or mental health. Follow your listing checklist and communicate with your sellers about the importance of managing clutter, but make sure you remain sensitive to unique and difficult situations.
Bad Listing Photos With Unnecessary, Dirty, or Mismatched Items
The best listing photos show a home that is ready for new owners, without excess clutter, furniture, or an obvious need for cleaning. Even if a home is clutter-free, it can still be unappealing in listing photos if the spaces have too many items, mismatched furniture, or unkempt items. Even a small amount of poorly placed items can distract from the space and make it difficult for buyers to feel that this home fits their needs.
How to Avoid Unnecessary, Dirty, or Mismatched Items
Many listing clients are not aware of how their home will appear in listing photos, so it’s essential to communicate with them about improving its appearance. In addition to advising your clients, you should also include a final walk-through of the home on your open house checklist. You may not always be able to remove furniture before an event or listing photos, but you may be able to find a few items that can be removed—like excessive throw pillows or table decor—to improve the overall appearance of a space.
Photos Taken at Bad Angles
Many real estate agents and clients mistakenly believe that real estate photos can easily be taken by walking into a room and snapping a few pictures. However, there is a lot of specific and technical skill required to capture an image of a room that accurately represents the space. Since most people lack this skill and understanding, they take listing photos from poor angles. This results in photos that are too heavily focused on specific items in a room instead of the space as a whole, like a vanity, toilet, or window.
How to Avoid Photos Taken at Bad Angles
Real estate photography requires a specific skill set, and it’s important for sales agents to understand the basic concepts to improve their listing photos, like lighting, angles, vertical lines, and staging. This understanding will help you find and choose a good quality photographer or photo editor, which is the best way to get photos that appeal to buyers.
Finding a professional to improve your real estate listing photos is easy on Fiverr, a freelance marketplace. You can search for photo editors or local photographers with any budget and view their prices and previous work before hiring. Start searching on Fiverr now.
Vertical Images in Listing Photos
Research shows that over 90% of daily photos are now taken with smartphones instead of cameras. Since many smartphone users almost exclusively capture vertical photos, they often forget the importance of horizontal photos for marketing purposes. Vertical photos are not as visually appealing and cannot capture as much space as horizontal or landscape photos.
How to Avoid Vertical Images in Listing Photos
Whether you are taking the listing photos yourself or working with a professional, make sure that all photos are taken horizontally and appropriately formatted for online listings. This helps viewers feel that they are getting a full view of each space and increases motivation to visit the property.
Photos Without Straight Lines
Professional real estate photographers know the importance of creating straight vertical lines in listing photos. When most people snap photos, they don’t think about the visual impact of doors, windows, or corners, but this creates images that feel warped. Potential buyers are unlikely to take note specifically of crooked lines, but they will struggle to feel like they can see the space as a whole and feel less discouraged to visit the property.
How to Avoid Photos Without Straight Lines
It takes some practice and skill to start capturing photos with straight vertical lines. If you are taking the photos yourself, you can use a grid on your camera to ensure that the lines are perfectly straight. In addition, most real estate photo editing software programs have tools and grids to adjust your photos.
For example, Canva is one of the most user-friendly photo editing tools available on the market. With thousands of elements, graphics, GIFs, fonts, and design templates, you can improve your listing photos with just a few clicks. For instance, simply upload your listing photos and add grid lines to fix crooked vertical lines. Plus, Canva is free to start using—try it today.
Limited Number of Listing Photos
Although there are many types of photos that you should not include in your property listing, it’s important to include plenty of photos for potential buyers to view. Most agents find including 20 to 25 images would be ideal for buyers to feel like they have enough information to visit the property. If you only include a few photos, most buyers won’t be willing to sacrifice their time for a home they don’t have enough information on.
How to Avoid a Limited Number of Listing Photos
Make sure you take plenty of photos of the interior and exterior of your listings. If there are things or spaces you need to exclude, make up for them by sharing multiple high-quality photos of each room. Buyers appreciate seeing spaces from different angles and feeling like they see the whole house before scheduling a showing.
Listing photos are incredibly important when selling a property. Bad real estate listing photos prevent buyers from seeing a house thoroughly and make it difficult to sell a property for its maximum value. After going through this list of terrible real estate photos, you should understand many of the common mistakes to avoid in your listings.