Bad MLS Photos

There’s a real estate agent in Bristol, Connecticut by the Name of Athol Kay who has a great blog. Among other things, he has this little schtick called the Bad MLS Photo of the Day where he’ll show photos like the one above. He’s gained quite a bit of notoriety as a result, including some press in national publications  as well as the likes of the Los Angeles Times. It’s absolutely hysterical stuff, folks! I love going to Athol’s blog…I can’t believe what some realtors and sellers do with some of these photos. I guess I’ve always had the opinion that photographs are taken to try and promote a listing, to put a property in it’s best possible light. What do I know?

Seriously, I think taking good photos of a house may be the most important thing (outside of pricing it right) that a seller and their agent can do to market their home. 85% of home buyers begin their search on the internet looking at listings, the home needs to show well online first. My office has a full time, on staff, photographer for just this purpose and, although I’m not 100% sure of this, I think most of the other offices around here provide the same kind of service. I’m sure there are plenty of agents who do it themselves too…some of them are even good at it. Professional photographers really do have a knack for this though. I’ve seen photos in the local MLS featuring only an open toilet, kitchens with dishes stacked in the sink, beds with laundry on them, pictures of the sellers pets and backyards that were completely brown…all the vegetation was dead. My favorite recently had 9 separate still shots of the front exterior of a house in San Mateo taken from slightly different angles…like maybe 6 inches to a foot at a time. I was completely unclear of the concept but I did get a progressivly better view of the wheels on the little Toyota in the driveway via that technique.

There’s a bank owned foreclosure in Foster City right now, that actually sold because it was priced right, that offered this picture.

We’re not immune, huh. Maybe the only thing worse are no pictures at all. I can’t tell you how often buyers ask me why a house they’ve seen online has no pictures. There are several right now in Foster City, go figure! Some listings are on the market for weeks before the photos show up too. Folks, people are shopping online. They’re looking at photos of homes in their price range to determine if that home is worth actually going out to see in person. If there’s no photographs at all there and all of your competition has photos, why should they be interested in your place?


  1. Richard Williamson says:

    Nice photos Jim, we certainly aren’t immune. My favorite was one years ago which depicted the home covered with crime scene tape and the caption “Great Location!” Great blog, I always enjoy enjoy it!

  2. Jerry Freeman says:

    Hi Jim,

    Your mention of a bank owned property reminded me of something I heard. For about a year now, I’ve heard through a couple of sources that there is a person who pays top dollar for “fixer uppers” and then flips them. I’ve heard that this individual has done more than a dozen of these flips and maybe as many as 20. Do you know if this is the case? Have you heard of anything like this in Foster City?

    Thanks Jim,


  3. Jim Minkey says:

    Welcome back Jerry! I don’t know about 1 individual in particular…and the “top dollar” part seems unlikely to me, but I do know of several people who’ve made a career out of buying fixers and flipping them. It wouldn’t be me who would do it because I don’t have the personal skill swinging a hammer…etc, but there are lots of people who do and it makes alot of sense for them. For some reason I can’t think of a pure flip in Foster City lately…but I’m sure there has been a few. I saw one in San Carlos that closed in October for $888,000, turned around by April and closed again at $1,300,000. Not bad for 5 months worth of work!

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