Real Estate Photography Overkill

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentI’m thinking of a number between six and infinity. If you can’t get to six, you’re eliminated from the competition from the get-go. If you’re leaning closer to the infinity mark, you also probably have a date with the exit.

How many photos are too few on your average real estate listing (let’s throw out 3 bedroom, 2 bath around 1,600 square foot as “average” for the exercise)? Clearly, zero would be too few. One almost certain is as well. In fact, you ought to be able to reach the six mark – the arbitrary limit currently set by the Arizona Regional MLS without having to break a sweat:

  • Front elevation
  • Back elevation
  • Kitchen
  • Master bedroom
  • Family room/great room
  • Secondary bedroom/special feature

That was pretty easy, huh?

The new MLS coming to the Phoenix real estate market has the capability of unlimited photos. Some are cheering in the background at this announcement but indulge me and look around the room in which you’re sitting. How many facets of this room would you say are photo-worthy?

Taken one step further … at what point do the photographs serve to eliminate buyers (or cause buyers to eliminate your home) rather than attract them? I long ago stopped adding room dimensions to my listings not to be difficult but because I wanted buyers to see the room for themselves. It seems silly to risk someone eliminating a house based on a 17×15 master bedroom because they want 18×15. Take a look at the room and tell me if the extra 15 square feet really matter.

I read one blog where it was written with pride that the agents had taken more than a couple hundred photographs of the property. What are you photographing at that stage? Electrical outlets? Each individual cabinet? Smoke detectors?

Photographs lie. Buyers learn this fairly quickly. I can’t tell you how many times one of my buyers “favorite” houses was eliminated in short order when they saw what the pictures did not reveal. At the same time, I’ve had many buyers who are pleasantly surprised when they see in three dimensions what was rendered in two on a website.

Do you really want to risk your home not selling because someone doesn’t like your switch covers, retail value $2.27?

I didn’t think so.

[tags]real estate marketing, Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Charleston real estate today 10 years ago

    JD, good point but aren’t you up a little early. Our MLS previously allowed 9 pictures and recently expanded it to 24. I like to think in terms of good marketable shots. I had one listing and just couldn’t get a good picture of the master bedroom. The seller said, don’t worry about it, we have an “ugly” bedspread and buyers will know that there is a master anyway.

  • Steven Stearns 10 years ago


    Unlimited can be too much of a good thing – there is still a huge gap between what most Realtors think is a great visual experience and what consumers expect.

    And you know consumers run from a bad experience.

    Realtors need to put their money where their market is – on line – and make sure they are providing consumers-buyers!-witht he best photos they can buy.

    Having great images is a point of branding.


  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Steven – not sure what you’re getting at.

    Howard – that’s part of the challenge. Many homes out here have 11×11 secondary bedrooms. Let me know how to get a good photo of one of those, know what I mean? Look kids – it has a corner and a window!

  • Steven Stearns 10 years ago


    Thanks for getting back to me – I’ll lay it out:

    Realtors are not photographers. They generally take mediocre to average photos, and consumers do not like these at all.

    So, Realtors should put their money into the best images they can buy and consider it part of their branding.

    Oh, BTW- working in a room less than 11×11 requires a lens that is less than 18mm -this can cause some really bad distortion, but can be removed with various programs.


  • Jim Little 10 years ago

    JD, I agree, too many photos will be a bad thing. Personally, I like 5 photos and a floor plan when available. If the new system allows more, I will add a few more, but not much more than 8 I think.

  • Charleston real estate today 10 years ago

    For everyday mid priced listings, a real estate agent simply has to have a good eye and the best camera they can afford, wide angle is needed for that 11×11 room but forget about it if the house is vacant.

    For higher end listings, I would pay a professional photographer.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Steven – now I’ve got you. I’m fine with the idea of using a professional photographer. I’ve done just that on and off for the last several years. I’ve got less expensive, just as effective options on virtual tours – using mostly slideshows these days after trying panoramics and 360s – but the photos are the key.

    But my point remains that too many photos can make it more difficult to sell a home. Few if any buyers make an affirmative decision to buy based on the listing on the computer but most buyers eliminate properties based on the same.

    I’d rather have them see enough to peak their interest and get them into the 3-D version of the house, the real thing, than eliminate a property based on a too-detailed photo.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Jim – If I can get to 8 to 10 photos I’m pretty happy.

    Howard – I agree. Professional photographers on a higher-end listing are a must.

  • Steven Stearns 10 years ago


    …thanks…you are right about too many photos can drive a consumer crazy!

  • Athol Kay 10 years ago

    Unlimited photoraphs seems a bit over the top.

    Personally I’d just shoot all the features in the house. It does give you the freedom to give an alternate angle on say a kitchen without missing out something.

    11×11 bedrooms are always hell to shoot. If you shove a super wide lens on to shoot an 11×11 and then correct all the distortion in photoshop you’re basically making the room look 17×17 and that pisses buyers off.

    Sometimes all the message you need to send with photos is “look, this isn’t nasty”.

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