Sucky Listing Agents. I Vent.

Ok, I’ve had it! Yes, many Listing agents suck! I’ve said it. Off my chest, what a relief.

On the one hand I’m pissed because their laziness adds to my workload 3 fold.
But then on the other hand their suckatude (level of suckiness) makes me look better I guess.

Ok, what am I ranting about?

Here is one example: I just got a reply email from a listing agent selling a $1.5M home in Virginia. I have a client looking to buy a home that is specifically on a golf course backing to one of the holes. Max price is $4M (yes I dropped that irrelevant piece of information just to impress you).

You would think it would be easy for me to find with all my tools. Just do a Matrix search (back end Realtor search) for View= Golf Course. Problem is, if the listing agent doesn’t check that box, then it won’t magically appear in my search. That agent was either too lazy or too inexperienced (did I say the listing was $1.5M!) and doesn’t know how to fill out a simple MLS listing.

And it doesn’t end there.

He had only one photo on the listing! You are selling a $1.5M place? I even got ticked off enough that couldn’t hold back and I had to ask him directly:

  • “I gotta say, that a house like that with no photo on the MLS, you are doing a TON of harm to your clients. I almost didn’t write because of the lack of photos. Can you help me understand why some agents don’t use photos? I don’t get it. It only costs $12 through keystone [our MLS].”

His reply was:

  • “I do not understand your e-mail. There is a picture on MLS listing and further information on our website.”

Um. Thank you for lowering the bar so much that I look like Javier Sotomayor (the world record holding high jumper, A Cuban like me). Yes there was one photo, I meant why did you have only one photo! Not only was it a pain to go to his website and find the listing (that is why the MLS was invented so that all the info could be in one place), it still only had one photo. that is what you call “more information?”

I once had to hire somebody to drive 2 hours to take photos of a $5m mansion because the listing agent only had like 4 photos. He took 100. Actually I do that for every home that I see with a client, I take about 100 photos and I make an online mini album for them to remember each listing. Does your buyer agent do that? And I digress… Back to sucky listing agents…

The secret about MLS photos

If a Realtor is too lazy to take one photo, for free they can have the MLS take one. This entails the MLS paying a high school photographer to literally do a drive by shooting. They slow down the car and grab a shot and hurry on to the next house, a drive by shooting. You can tell if your Realtor opted for that if the full MLS listing says “Photo Option: VIC Exterior Only”

And then to upload 6 photos it costs a whooping $6, and the super rich will splurge and pay $12 for 20 photos!

That isn’t the end.

How frequently does this occur? I did a sample search in my building.

8 active listings:
* 4 had no photo at all, not even the free drive by.
* 3 had the free one drive by photo
* 1, only 1 spent $12 and uploaded 6 photos
(full disclosure: The stats aren’t ever this bad, this is unusual. I’ll get you full stats later)

No wonder some were over 260 days on the market. Yeah the market is slow, but having no photos doesn’t help. And one even offered a special $5,000 extra bonus for the agent? Why not have your client save $5,000 and market it well, no, that would be asking too much, how about just not suck.

SOON I WILL POST HERE THE % of homes in ALL of Arlington with and without photos.

What about Virtual Tours? I guess they are ok, but I don’t like them personally. They tend to crash my computer and some annoyingly force you to watch the “tour” with romantic zooming in and rainbow transitions with Celine Dion in the background, to add to the mood. Just give me 20 photos, so I can click on the next listing. I’m busy, lets get on with it. Is it that so tough?

When picking an agent, ignore the 4 inch binder that costs $250 to produce and is standard issue from their office (including a group shot of 100 agents, as if that somehow will help sell your house) to win your business. That binder won’t sell your listing. Ask him right there in real time to pull up their last 2 listings. See if he ordered the free drive by photographer service. See how many photos they have posted (and he better not trick you into showing you photos on their website or firm website, that is hogwash, nobody will see it, make sure it was on the MLS and that they paid the $12). And then take that binder and keep it in your car trunk. They work great when you need something heavy to put under your tire after parking on a steep hill in the winter.

Oh and if any of my competition is listening, when you put up a listing, you might want to have your photos ready and upload them that night. Why? Well the following morning will be your most important listing day? Why? Because your new listing is sent automatically (not spammed) to a ton of people that specifically signed up for email alerts in your listing’s area. If you put in your photos a day or two later, guess what? Your NEW and exciting new listing will have “photo coming soon” and will oftentimes be trashed.

Also did you know that a listing with multiple photos gets seen exactly 6 times more frequently online? I hate stats, but I believe these. Who wants to waste hours at work surfing and looking at houses if there are any photos?

So my main issue is a lack of photos on the MLS, secondly I have issues with an agent that won’t fill out important details on the MLS. Those two might not seem like major things, but they are early indicators to future problems and other laziness.

How hard is that agent going to fight to get you that last $10,000 if they can’t do something as simple as market your property with multiple photos?

Update: You need to see Norm Fisher’s blog about “The Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photography Hall of Fame and the virtual tour!

– Written by Frank Borges LL0SA-

  • 19
  • January
  • 2007

25 Responses to “Sucky Listing Agents. I Vent.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Frank, you’ve demystified the entire sucky MLS listing for me! I’ve often wondered why there wouldn’t be a photo, much less multiple photos, for listings in San Diego. I thought maybe you guys used some reverse psychology like “if there’s no picture, they’ll have to call me for one and then they’ll get my sales pitch!”. But it turns out they’re just idiots???!!! I don’t stop to look at houses without photos because I think to myself that either the agent was being tricky (see previous logic) or the house is too ugly!

    P.S. I have also been shocked by listings where the agent didn’t mark important attributes of the property…like acreage! It’s easy to see why nonagents think agents are overpaid.

  2. D'Ann says:

    While I typically don’t think it’s right to talk bad about other agents to make yourself look better….you make some interesting points here. I was shocked when I moved to DC from TX that the MRIS didn’t even have s.f. as a required field. Properties with multiple photos ALWAYS generate more interest!

  3. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Dear Anonymous,
    Don’t forget that the average Realtor in the US makes $17,000
    per year. Just image what a below average Realtor must make!

    I did meet an agent that said that she took down photos because they didn’t show the charm of the place. With the traffic being dead she used that as a strategy. But this is a rare strategy. I would have taken better photos. Even if the place is a dump, more people will see it and a re-habber will know early on what they are getting into.

    As for skipping units with no photos, watch out, you might miss a gem. think of it this way… if an agent is so bad that he doesn’t post photos, and the price keeps dropping, you might actually get a great deal.
    If fewer people see it, it will sit longer and the price will drop.

    I bid on a place for me personally last year. It was an awesome unit in my building. The listing had no photos! There were 30 units in my building and nobody knew that this was a gem. A unobstructed monument view too! Even though I told the agent I was interested, I lost out on the place. I offered $5k over another offer, but she had already accepted the other offer.

    Do you see a pattern? No photos= lazy, no attempt to contact me to get a higher price= lazy.

    Lazy= low price for the seller.

    So this brings up discounters. Nothing is wrong with them, if they do a good job, but oftentimes the no photo listings, do come from discount firms or weekend warrior agents. How much do you save (net) if your agent isn’t working hard to keep your price up?


  4. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Thanks D’Ann,
    I will leave off specific mention of agents, but I want to let everyone know what they should be looking for when hiring a listing agent.

    They should hire you!! If you use photos!


  5. Norm Fisher- Realtor says:

    Frank, Check this one out. Listed at $125,000,000 US, long enough ago to make the Forbes list of most expensive homes for 2006. Owned by Donald Trump. Can you say, “you’re fired?”

  6. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    No wonder the big D has to do publicity stunts like keep a flag over his house at a tune of $1,000 a day.

  7. Allison Stewart says:

    Hi Frank

    Pictures help sell the listings..virtual tours are a great tool as well. I have a 1.2 million 3 acre house on A lake,in an exclusive community here in Florida which I am working on formatting BEFORE it goes up on MLS so everything is in place. I agree an agent not wanting to do a complete job does make things harder. You said what I only implied in is your Realtor a Hoover….a while back. Glad you vented.

  8. drwende says:

    Love this post!

    An acquaintance tried to sell his investment property. The listing realtor always does the “photo coming soon” thing for a couple days. This time, he followed up with photos that were blurry and pixelated. That realty also seems to have a policy of pricing at the very top of comparables, then never reducing price. (Oh, and the agent now works for a title company that also has a broker. Gotta love it.)

    Do you think the house sold?

  9. Randy Worcester says:

    There is no excuse for a bad picture. Visit my rant at Bad Real Estate Photo Tour

  10. Tom Propes says:


    Just remember the old Spanish saying: “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey Frank,

    Most of your listings have one photo! Your listing 5803 Pearson Lane, Alexandria, VA has only one lousy photo and was on the market 219 days in 2006. Shame on you!

    Yes, no excuse for not posting photos of your listings! Practice what you preach before you start venting and acting like a “self-proclaimed” expert after being in the business for a couple of years.

  12. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey “Anonymous”!

    Thanks for your comment!

    That wasn’t a full service listing, and I will be detailing that later in full blog. I stopped doing those types of listings since I posted the Bill Of Rights (can you or your company adhere to them??).

    That seller was an idiot and I told him that up front and in writing. You can’t force people to do some things.

    But I am flattered that you did an CRA analysis on me!!

    Too bad you didn’t have the guts to put your Realtor name on your posting. Don’t worry, I won’t delete and cover up your posting.

    I think jealousy is flattering!


    2003 NVAR Rookie of the Year
    Featured in more magazines and newspapers than [anonymous] have read.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow!, I couldn’t have said it any better myself-I am an independent Broker and I go all the way to put the information in the buyer’s hands—I want that “one” great call to sell my own listing. I wish I had some great way to let these seller’s know just how ineffective some of these listing agents truly are.
    Linda Marshall, Broker
    Houston, Tx.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I purchased my home about a year ago. I paid $60,000 less than the original asking price because of a “lazy agent”.
    They had only one picture, which showed trees with yellow and gold leaves(this was in March). But the best thing was they didn’t check the water view and water front boxes. I did some homework on Google maps one night on several homes in our price range and discovered this. In the three months it had been on the marcket only 2 other people had looked at it, and the owner had to move for her job the week we closed.

  15. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Wow! That is a great agent.
    Just curious, can you send me a HUD1. Were they a “discount” agent or a “full service” company?

    That client probably lost $20,000 and put it into your pocket.

    I tell my BUYER clients to not disregard “no photo” houses. They can be GREAT deals since few will go and see them.

    Great job!

    What state are you in?

  16. map says:

    It is not always laziness or indifference – some affluent and famous sellers in the DC metro area simply don’t want their home interiors to be available for public viewing – they want the house to be shown to qualified buyers working with an agent who will give them access to the home. They may also have certain valuables or collections of art and such that don’t need to be “advertised” to others.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Frank, What I like about our slowing market in the Lehigh
    Valley, PA area…is all the agents that are in business Part Time or not serious about their career will be going back to their other full time jobs and getting out of Real Estates…but, as you mentioned it isn’t the only Part Time Agents…it is Brokers and Top Producers…I just wonder how they get away with it!! Thanks for venting for me…that felt good!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Pet peeve #1: No photos.
    Pet peeve #2: Spelling errors. If you can’t run spell check or recognize a misspelled word in proofing, what other details are you missing? It’s sloppy!
    Thanks for the info on photos. I’m house hunting for homes in Northern Virginia from 2500 miles away. I need photos and as much other info to maximize my house-hunting time while I’m in the DC area.

  19. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Anonymous,
    Did you see my new site? where buyer agents ADD photos to photoless listings.

    Read my blog post about it.

    Also read the post about how Photoless listings sell for $15,000 less, so don’t skip those either.



  20. […] vented previously about Sucky Listing Agents that use free “drive-by” high school photographers to post one default photos on the […]

  21. Jeff Secrest says:

    On, when you’re in the grid form, it will show that there’s no photo – but if you go to the detail screen there may be several photos.

    SUCKY LISTING AGENTS – what an appropriate description. Excellent post.

    Listings require time and unfortunately a large number of agents don’t have the skills to take high-quality photos (some don’t even own a camera), and write good descriptions.

    It’s not uncommon in Lynchburg, VA for a listing agent to just copy information from the previous listing (room sizes, sq. footage – and yes, sadly even photos).

  22. Jeff Secrest says:

    Perhaps a need for some clarification. I’ve only seen the grid saying “No Photo” (when there actually are photos) on a sporadic basis, and I’ve only noticed it on listings from CAAR (Charlottesville). It may be a CAAR problem.

    I’ve not seen an MLS anywhere to rival I just wish that we had it in Lynchburg (instead of, or in addition to, what we have). I appreciate the fact that it gives us more information, and is infinitely easier to use.

  23. joan says:

    so I think my agent sucks – she really doesn’t answer the questions we have. So maybe someone can tell me if it is common for the buyer to pay for termite and septic and well if it is a short sale? Also, for the buyer to sign saying the seller is not responsible for the any problem with septic et?

    Also – if the seller is behind in property taxes can that make the purchaser responsible? or what on the contract or in general takes teh purchaser off the hook? thanks!

  24. MA Realtor says:

    Real estate agents/brokers don’t all suck of course but when I come across one (or two) it really stands out. I emailed two brokers last night about vacation properties in NH. One has been on the market for a while. It said it had a view of MT Washington which is a big plus. But, NO PHOTO of the view! I am skeptical so I ask. Her response: “There is a view from the deck off the living room. When I took the pictures there we’re trees there and soon after I took the listing the owner cut the trees down to expose the view but I don’t have a photo of it”. The listing has been on the market for 10 months!

    The other is a two week listing with a photo of the view (great!) and 1 photo of the outside of the house. That’s it. I ask if she has interior photos and she says, ” I plan on getting some next week and will email them to you.” I don’t get it. Why would you list a property for 3 weeks without having all the photos you need to market it.

    It baffles me and I am a broker.

  25. […] your listing agent soliciting back up offers? No? (see Sucky Listing Agents ‘07 post) They should […]

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