In Real Estate a Picture is Truly Worth a Thousand Words–If Not More!

Take good photographs to advertise real estate listings

Most real estate buyers use the internet to buy homes and visual is very important

To be successful in real estate one must realize the fact that we live in an extremely visual culture. 

Beginning as  children we read picture books, and in today’s high-tech world  we continue to focus ever-more intensely on the graphic and the colorful. The question  we in the real estate professional need to ask ourselves is, why are there so many sub-par photographs nowadays in real estate listings?

Recently, I worked with a real estate seller who wanted to list his high-rise co-op.

It was a classic 1920’s apartment with beautiful crown molding and a brand-new remodeled kitchen and bathrooms. However, this seller was very strong-willed (i.e stubborn!) and unfortunately, in this regard, ill informed. He refused to spend even a little bit extra to have his property staged.              

In the real estate industry, staging refers to how we present the property before taking pictures or holding an Open House.

Despite the fact that this seller was adamant about not staging his property,  two interested parties  had already contacted me about the listing.This was undoubtedly due tot he fact that the buyer’s market was moving so quickly, However, for one reason or another, both deals went south. After that I knew we had to change tactics because we couldn’t afford to lose another deal.


Fortunately, I was finally able to convince this seller to re-paint, buy new furniture, and hire the best photographer we could find. No surprise: the results paid off – I received three good offers on his place in one week! It just goes to show that the extra effort to stage and take professional pictures really is worth every penny.


What many Realtors don’t realize is that their listings reflect directly back on them, and can  alter their reputations, for good or ill.

If their online listings have blurry, crooked or sloppy pictures, it might make them seem untrustworthy. Picture it this way: if you walked into a job interview wearing a pair of torn jeans and a stained T-shirt, it would not  matter if you were the most qualified applicant .Chances are that you were not going to get that job.


The California Association of Realtors (CAR) states that 97% of buyers now find their listing and Realtor through the Internet. This is in large part due to the prevalence of smartphones with cameras. While it may seem like a good thing – since we can snap pictures with as much ease as sending a text message – the quality of the pictures often suffers. No matter how high the quality of a smartphone camera  it won’t measure up to a professional-grade camera. A quick snap with your phone will also pale in comparison to the pictures taken by a photographer who knows how to optimize light, space, and angles.


Even if you and your real estate seller don’t want to start breaking the bank for cosmetic changes, there are many little things you can do to ensure that your property is camera-ready. It can be as simple as making sure drawers and cabinets are closed in the kitchen, that toilet seats are down in the bathrooms, and that bedding is completely smoothed out in the bedrooms. These might seem like insignificant details, but trust me: the camera lens captures everything and they make all the difference to the overall impression..

I sincerely believe that the real estate industry needs an overhaul in how we go about posting pictures of our listings. Perhaps we realtors need to work under stricter guidelines. The Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has many rules about data accuracy, and realtors can be fined if those rules are broken and you misrepresent your property. However, no rules or fines currently exist regarding photography, and MLS will just accept whatever people upload. To me this is frustrating because pictures are often  more misleading (again for good or ill)  than the accompanying text, yet there is no penalty.

Instagram, a photography app for smartphones, poses yet another issue for realtors. While Instagram may seem like a useful tool to get your listings out to many people at once – and spruced up with an attractive “filter” on top of it – it is a limited platform. Putting your real estate listing on social media might cheapen the property since it no longer becomes as special or exclusive as it can be when promoted on the proper platforms.  Keep in mind also that it won’t matter if your picture gets “likes” if no one actually wants to buy it.

I believe that we who work in the real estate industry should hold ourselves to a higher standard in terms of photography, which is a big part of  how we choose to represent our properties.  Doing it right might take a few extra steps, but in the end, your efforts will be well worth it. Modern technology can be a very useful tool in are reaching a large number of potential buyers and sellers,  but solid camera-work is an important option that should not be overlooked. 

For more valuable real estate advice and compelling stories visit or contact Paula directly at 415.860.4209;  You can also go to to purchase Paula’s popular new book, Getting the Property SOUL’D – A Breakthrough System for Successful Stress-Free Buying and Selling.

Be aware that any clients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy. Furthermore, Paula Pagano does not accept any liability for the content of any Blogs and this Website or for any actions you take or resultant consequences of actions taken based on the information provided in this communication. Any advice is my opinion after being a 35 year experienced real estate agent in San Francisco.

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