Taking Great Photos for Your MLS Listing

by John Prell

Photos that you include with your MLS listing are critical. This is the first look that people will have of your home for sale, and what will ultimately help them determine (other than price) if they want to come and see your home.

First, Do NOT Make These Critical Errors:

  1. Do not use a disposable camera, camcorder or camera phone to take your photos. While you don’t need a professional quality camera, you’ll need to have zoom capabilities and make sure that they are high enough quality to look good.
  2. Your photos should be horizontally oriented. Do not send images that are vertical shots. The MLS system will distort the photos.
  3. Make sure your photos are the right size: 640 x 480 pixels. This is the size they’ll be online, and we request that you send images that are this exact size. (See details below on how to check and change your photo size.)
  4. Don’t crop your photos unless you are sure to keep the 4:3 image ratio.

What Should I Photograph in my Home?

Show the areas where most of the “living” goes on. These are the rooms where the most time will be spent, so they’re the most important. Unless the bedrooms have special or unique features, you don’t need to include pictures of the bedrooms. Additionally, because they’re incredibly difficult to photograph well, bathrooms should be excluded as well unless they have phenomenal features.

Make sure to include:

  • A front shot of your property
  • Primary living area
  • Kitchen
  • Primary eating area
  • Formal dining area
  • Formal living area or second angle of primary living area

If your flat fee listing includes more photos, consider including the following:

  • Backyard/ garden / patio / sunroom
  • Entryway, if unique
  • Master bedroom, if special
  • Any other area that you think might capture a potential buyer’s attention (Consider including a great neighborhood park or pool.)

Make Sure You Capture the Best Pictures Possible

Lighting is key when shooting photos for your MLS listing. Natural light is preferred, but when shooting an interior photo, if the light coming from a window is very bright, the camera’s setting will adjust for that bright spot, darkening the rest of the room. Ideally, shoot your interior rooms on an overcast day with the window coverings open to allow natural light to come in. Keep the flash off. If your photos are still too dark, turn on interior lights, but be mindful that interior lights can make your rooms appear yellow in photographs.

When you’re shooting outside home features, a sunny day is the best option. To avoid dark spots, position yourself so the sun is behind you. If your home faces north, you may need to shoot the face of your home on an overcast day so the bright sky doesn’t cause the face of the house to darken in your photos.

Most importantly, review your photos with a critical eye before submitting them. If they don’t show your home’s features in the best way possible, try shooting photos at a different time of the day and see if you get better results.

Photograph Sizes

TA photograph’s size is measured in pixels. The Multiple Listing System will not display images larger than 640 x 480 pixels. However, most digital cameras will produce high quality images that are far too large for emailing or posting online.

To figure out what size your images are, and you are using Windows XP, you can run your mouse over the image file and a small window will pop up which will tell you the photo dimensions. Alternatively, you can right-click on the image file, select “Properties”, select the “Summary” tab, and you’ll see the dimensions there as well.

If you Need to Resize Images

If you don’t have a photo editing program, here’s the easiest way to resize photos. It’s a Microsoft program you can download for free that works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Windows users follow these steps:

Click on the “download program” link to the right of your operating system below:

 Windows Operating Systems 
  Windows XPdownload program
  Vista & Windows 7download program
  Vista (64 bit) & Windows 7 (64 bit)download program

Click “Run”, and follow the installation instructions.

Once it’s installed on your computer, all you will have to do to resize a photo is right-click on the icon of the photo (you don’t even have to open it) and

Windows XP: select “Resize Pictures”, and choose “Small 640×480”.

Vista & Windows 7: click “Advanced”, then “Custom” and enter the size “640×480”.

The program will make a copy of the photo for you that is the smaller size, and your original photo will remain unchanged. Your new photo will be in the same folder, and it’s label will be the same as the original, with the added word “(small)”.

When Sending Us Photos:

  • Again, make sure that your photos are taken with horizontal orientation, NOT VERTICAL.
  • Once you take the photos, do not crop the image unless you’re positive you’re maintaining the 4:3 image ratio. If you’re not sure how to do this, please send us the image with a detailed note of how you’d like the image cropped so we may do it for you.
  • Email your photos to us in a JPG or GIF format. When you download the images from your camera to your computer, they should be in one of these formats, so as long as you don’t change the format, the images will be in the correct format. If you send a photo not in one of these formats, we’ll ask you to resave the photo in JPG or GIF format and resend it.