Bad MLS Photos and the Lessons They Teach

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Remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words. With most people first seeing the home they wind up buying on the internet, it behooves sellers and their agents to take some care with the photos they post. And yet, much to our collective amusement, not all do.

Here are some lessons to be learned from others' bloopers.

1. Don't be lazy.
Here we have a home shot from the driver's seat of the car. The car's side mirror is clearly in view. If your agent can't be bothered parking and walking across the street to pose the photo, find another agent.

2. Hold the camera straight.
Credit to agent Barry Bevis of Bevis Realty in Tallahassee, Fla., for finding these. As Bevis notes, photos tilt to the left, tilt to the right. We'd hate to see the agent who shot these try to walk a straight line in a DUI stop.




3. When they say "depersonalize,"
they mean you!

The dead animal trophy room (is that a stuffed dead dog on the sofa at left?) is a bit over-the-top for most tastes. To each his own, but the best course in selling a home is the neutral one.

4. Show me the house.
Sounds obvious, but perhaps not always. While this is a lovely tree, buyers want to see the house behind it -- and shot from a different angle, perhaps they could have. Looking at bad MLS photos is such an industry past-time that there is now even a Facebook page devoted to it.








5. Don't go nuts with lens distortion.
There are times when using a wide-angle lens works. And then there are times when the photo technique is overdone. Safe to say, buyers can tell the difference. Although maybe this room (above) really is concave?

6. Declutter before the photo is taken.
Are they selling a laundry basket of old toys or a house? Photos should reflect your home's spaciousness, not underscore how little storage space these poor people actually have.







7. Keep the people out of the photo.
While these guys certainly seem to be yucking it up, if the point is to show off the backyard barbecue, it gets lost when you include people.








Also see:Newest Home-Staging Trend: 'Placement Pets'


For more hilariously bad MLS photos, view the gallery below:
25 PHOTOS
Terrible Listing Photos
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Bad MLS Photos and the Lessons They Teach

With all the hoops to jump through in selling a home, homeowners are bound to make a few mistakes -- but snapping subpar listing photos should never be one of them. Selling a house in today's market is difficult enough -- so why compound the problem by showcasing your one-of-a-kind office/bathroom? With an eye for the most face-smacking offenders, we've compiled a list of some of the worst listing photos to ever see the light of day.  Click on to see the most cringe-worthy listings on the 'net.

You'd have to be a "Psycho" not to want to live here. The fishbowl lens effect gives the room that warm and inviting I'm-watching-you-from-the-peephole vibe. Meanwhile, nothing says "move-in ready" like a trio of Elk heads staring down at prospective buyers. We're just glad photos of the shower weren't included.

What could have possessed the owners of this Hermosa Beach home to pose this creepy doll in nearly every shot of the listing? "To your left, our handsome wood-burning fireplace. To your right, our daughter's murderous talking doll." It turns out the home did eventually sell -- but only after the owners removed the pint-sized guide from all the photos.

Keep your eyes peeled, though. This isn't the last you'll see of Tina.

What is there to say? It's not a good idea to feature in your listing a photo of a shirtless, couch-bound man with a beer belly next to a Chihuahua. Well, on the bright side, the listing tells us the house is "lead free" and has "long-time tenents" [sic]. So, why exactly are we impressed that Joe Six-Pack here is a long-time tenant? Good thing the home is only listed for $38,500. The icing on the cake, though: "Owner is a licensed Realtor," the listing says.

If your establishing shot fits right in besides your toddler's macaroni picture frame, you may want to consider hiring a professional photographer. This is probably the closest you can get to real estate bedazzling -- it adds no value to the object and makes onlookers seriously question your life choices. 

What takes this uninspired photo from bad to worse? The photographer didn't even step out of his car! Did he even bother to park, or was this a drive-by snapping? It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the safety of the neighborhood.


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My, what a lovely home you have, Tina. Didn't we just see you in front of the fireplace a second ago? No matter. We love the color of the living room. What's that you say, Tina? Red Rum? Why yes, that is a pretty shade. 


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Either our entire staff is suffering from vertigo or this house is built on a sinkhole. Well, we suppose there's a third possibility -- awful photography -- but we're leaning toward "house-swallowing sandpit." Any takers?


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Is this a listing photo or a cry for help? To be honest, we've seen far worse, but something tells us this is what the living room looks like after a thorough afternoon of tidying up. The sad thing is, without the clutter, this is probably a well-apportioned and spacious room.


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The cardinal rule of home staging is to depersonalize the space before showing buyers around. This is especially critical when your "Malibu Barbie" bedroom is littered with anthropomorphic polar bears. Fingers crossed that this is a child's playroom.


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It's a small wonder the television doesn't have horns. This uber-masculine man-cave could be the ideal location for a hunting enthusiast. It's too bad that just about anyone else would run screaming for the hills.


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Oh God! Er ... I didn't see you there, Tina. You weren't included in the house sale by any chance, were you? You just stay right where you are. Your owners couldn't possibly have included you in any more listing photos....


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Adjust the blue-felt bench, the blue-felt chairs, the desk, the lamp, tweak all of it, go on, make everything just right. Actually, don't -- no sort of staging, short of eliminating the kitschy pattern blighting every corner, can render this room appealing. Or so you thought: Stare at it long enough to tease out the optical illusion. Keep staring. Just hang in there, you'll see it. Seriously, you will.

"Come hither, rich, wasteful businessman," whispers this photo. Putting suggestively-clad models in a golden canopy bed is, well, not so tasteful. But perhaps the Realtor has really thought things out here. Only the tackiest buyers (i.e., "new money") would choose to live in this gilded, garish mansion. This is a home fit for a sultan, his marketing insists, a home where you regularly solicit the company of part-time models. Only the best for tomorrow's captains of industry.

We get it. Make the most of the space you have. But when duty calls, is it really so much of a hassle to walk to a different room in the house? Throw in a shower head and you'll have the world's first self-cleaning office space.


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What a spectacular view of, er, a tchotchke on a toilet tank? Mostly, though, we have a drab shower curtain to stare at, one which, along with its uninspired color scheme, will be absent when the buyer moves in. The tub behind the curtain might be a real beauty -- but we'll never know for sure.


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The painting here may suit some, but it's definitely not for everyone -- namely, everyone who is not interested in having a nude painting above their heads when in bed. What should be noted here, however, is that, despite its carnal decor, the photo was well executed -- the bed is pictured at a nice angle and the lamps flank it with neat symmetry. 

This for-sale sign is one big curbside pity party. The theme appears to be "end my despair by buying my house," rather than "buy my house because it's a good deal" -- your more conventional pitch. You have to give the owner honesty points though: He puts his misery right on the table and caps it off with an admission that his house contains hazardous material. Cheers to that. Bartender, one whiskey for this guy. 

Snapped by someone who is either committed to candid portrayal or utterly indifferent to presentation, this photo captures the living room in its natural state of activity -- fan turning, television playing. The only trouble here is that the two devices hog our attention. Is that a pundit?


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This photographer apparently decided to try and sweeten up buyers by Photoshopping holiday cheer into his/her listing photos. But we would venture to say that superimposing objects evocative of Santa Claus will do less to woo the viewer and more to alienate him. 


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The amateur photog captured in the mirror's reflection is either an exhibitionist, or a stern believer of the maxim "sex sells."  Come to think of it, maybe we're talking about a different kind of amateur here...


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If you choose to ignore all the other staging tips we've provided, remember this: It's never a good idea to capture what appears to be a body-shaped bloodstain in a picture that you are using to sell your house. Period.


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Thanks for the hospitality, Tina. This is really a nice place you have. Please send our regards to its owners. What's that? The backyard? Well what would they be doing back there? Under what? You've done a bad thing, Tina. If only they hadn’t posed you in all these goofy listing photos, they might still be with us today.

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