Buyers! Don’t Skip Photoless Listings. Save $15,000

Punchline: Buy homes with No Additional photos= Save $15,000 on a $400,000 house.

Buyers LOVE seeing tons of photos for each listing online. I think said that listings with multiple photos get seen 6 times more than listings with 1 photo. The tendency for buyers is to see a photoless house and think it is garbage and skip to the next listing, when in fact it might just be a sucky listing agent or a foreclosure with an underpaid agent. (see the Arlington foreclosure Megan bought, it had no extra photos and she almost skipped it)

I’ve vented previously about Sucky Listing Agents that use free “drive-by” high school photographers to post one default photos on the MLS. Well sucky listing agents are GOOD for buyers!

Fewer photos= Fewer showings=Fewer buyers= LOWER PRICE!

Therefore, DO NOT skip photoless listings. I know it is a pain (also a pain for the buyer agent, which should be making a photo album for each viewing), but take the extra effort and potentially save $15,000.

I painstakingly reviewed 268 Sold listings in Fairfax since 5/1/07 from $400k to $500k.


This is embarrassing! Also note that 57% of FORECLOSURES, Bank Owned, REOs etc had no extra photos.

Only 12% of agents posted the maximum 20 photos. This amazes me ( Requires All 20). Note that the local MLS just went to 30 photos, and now they are free. So if the $12 was too much for your agent, now they have no excuse.

I also found listings with more photos sold faster (duh). Here are the photos to Days on Market (DOM, not the champagne) analysis:

  • 1 Photo = 70 DOM Avg
  • 6 Photos =40 DOM
  • 16-19 = 36 DOM
  • 20 MAX= 32 DOM

The Closed NET Price as a % of the Original Price also showed a direct correlation.

I scrubbed the data to find the REAL Original price. I manually adjusted the 20% of listings that were relisted (see my best of 2006 blog on MLS DOM data fudging), and I adjusted for seller subsidy.

Listings with fewer photos sold for less.

  • 1 Photo= 91.2% of Original Price
  • 6 Or more= 95% of Original Price

Therefore on a $400,000 home, Photoless listing sells for 3.8% LESS.
(Now one can argue that a sucky listing agent also might suck at proper pricing, but come on, you get the point)

Bottom line for Buyer: Just like I’ve said staging gets you MORE $ for your listing, the opposite is true for buyers. Buy unstaged homes (see Don’t Buy Staged Homes) when you can and consider the poorly marketed homes to get a better deal.

Bottom line for Sellers: Duh, at the very least, make sure your agent puts a ton of photos.

Bottom line for Agents: Keep up the bad work, it makes me look better.

Share this blog post with a friend. Make sure to sign up for this blog (upper right of the page as next week I’ll show more of the data and how Days on the Market correlates to price. Also more on DOM-M vs DOM-P Relisting tricks.

- Written By Frank Borges LL0SA Broker

Please report typos!

  • 21
  • November
  • 2007

28 Responses to “Buyers! Don’t Skip Photoless Listings. Save $15,000”

  1. Jeffery Prevatte, REALTOR, ABR says:

    HOOORAHHHH!!!! Finally someone who told it like it really is! I too believe in the, “If I can post 12 photos…dang it I am going to post 12 PHOTOS!” theory.

    I have actually had buyers tell me that it was the photos that sold the home so I know it works.

    Go ahead bad listing agents….keep posting none or one….I don’t mind, I am going to do what is best for my client!

  2. Kevin McGrath - says:

    But Frank – Digital photo’s are so expensive…………..

  3. Gary Bland: says:

    I am with you on having plenty of pictures as you know many are going to search the web to see what is going on.

  4. Susan Walters says:

    This is one of my pet peeves too. Even showing the one required photo is nowhere near good enough but the no-photo listings, what are they thinking?! I say the sooner those agents are out of business the better for the rest of us. They can’t possibly get referrals with so little effort; I have no doubt your DOM stats are correct too. That won’t enhance a realtor’s resume!

  5. Renee Burrows - Las Vegas NV Real Estate says:

    Banks are now wanting to know what the agents are doing to market the properties. Maybe they will get savvy to this!

  6. Rick Harrington says:

    I’ve been trying to market that approach in Central Ohio. As inspectors we have access to the homes and can provide pictures. Not that it’s hard to use a digital camera and upload. It’s just time consuming and we are out and about anyway.

    Use the home inspectors in the areas to get into the house and take many pictures and the realtor can choose which ones to use.

    Great point Frank and thanks for the statistics!!!!!

  7. Athol Kay says:

    Great photo Frank. I’ll be quoting! :-)

  8. Ginger Foust- Dream Interior Redesign & Staging says:

    Frankly, as a stager, I do my best to stay away from such agents. Whatever the excuse, ( now I understand the bank owned and foreclosures, thanks Frank), it’s just unexcuseable to not post as many photos as possible. Like you, I take an excess of photos of the homes I work on, in the hopes of a couple of good ones. My husband use to be a broker and NO photos for a listing did not happen in his office. If the agent couldn’t get out to get the pictures before it hit the MLS, then the listing waited.

    Many realtors in our area have gotten better but I still find the ole’ “no photo available”, and I just don’t get it. LAZY, you betcha!

    Thanks Frank, now I feel better too!

  9. Chelle Gassan-NOVA Realtor and Stager says:

    Frankly, you always tell it like it is and I love it! I wonder what excuse the drive by shooters are going to have for not utilizing the free 30? Since this is new to MRIS, I wonder what your stats will look like this time next year.

  10. Teri Ellis, ABR, CRS, GRI, ePRO, Realtor MRE - Mesa, Arizona Real Estate says:

    Frank, interesting post. In our MLS, we can only add six photos, but on top of that, I add a RES virtual tour which holds lots of photos and a floorplan and more details on the listing. You’re right though about the turn off for those homes with only one photo. Laaaaaazzzzeeee Realtor for sure. My buyers typically don’t even want to see those with one photo for the reasons you mention. Good post.

  11. Fran Gaspari says:


    Can I deduce that only 12% of agents are providing more than a minimum level of servicing to their sellers?

    Thanks, Fran

  12. Mike West says:

    Amen! I just love those listing agents that let the MLS photographer take the photo a week after the listing is entered. Of course, the prospecting e-mails went out on the listing the morning after the listing was entered! D (DELETE) ENTER

  13. Adam Brett - Fullerton, California Realtor says:

    Great stats. This is a wonderful talking point with potential clients.

  14. Maureen Henry - Rockland Home Staging says:

    Frank – Great advice for buyers. I think my local MLS allows 9 photos. If there are not 9 or 20 different shots in a home it is nice to do a close up on an architectural detail, molding or fireplace. Kind of breaks things up.

    I know you are not a huge fan of the Virtual tour, but do you have any stats on homes sold with and w/o virtual tours. I’d be curious. Here is my theory (keep in mind I’m not even an agent so I could be way off) – I think homes in the lower price points, where virtual tours are uncommon, will sell faster if they have a virtual tour. I think people will think that the home is somehow better than the tourless homes. Can you prove me right or wrong?

  15. Kim Peasley-Parker says:


    Great advice. Obviously you spent a lot of time working on the numbers for this blog. Thanks for sharing. This makes me wonder about listings in my area. Might be a good point to use when going after expireds!

  16. Susan Peters - Seattle Realtor/Staging Specialist says:


    I love sucky listing agents. I have buyers right now who are probably going to get a great deal on a wonderful house that has only so-so pictures and no lockbox.

  17. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Maureen,

    No, I don’t have any stats on Virtual Tours. The problem is there are so many of them. Some will make their horrible 4 photos into a “tour.” I would have ot open up all 250 houses and decide which ones I determined to be real tours or not.

    Also I don’t really think that the actual photos is 100% of the reason for the difference. I think a lot of it has to do with the agent. An agent that goes out of their way to post 20 photos, probably will go out of their way to fight for a higher price.


  18. Maureen Henry - Rockland Home Staging says:

    Thanks for the reply Frank. I thought maybe it was some kind of information that you could access. I think you are right about a lot of the credit going to the agent also. Chances are if they are posting more photos they are willing to try harder with everything. It really is about getting the right people working for you.

  19. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    And a listing agent that posts 20 photos, is probably more likely to… STAGE!

    Maybe I’ll go through all 200 and see if I can tell which are STAGED and which are not. That would be interesting!


    (Update: I did the above and only found about 1-2% were staged)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Great analysis – we picked it up on the Estately blog –

  21. Edward W. Lui says:

    Frank, I ran the numbers for my market (greater Austin) in Georgetown and here are my findings:

    I think one possible explanation is that some agents might stick one photo on the MLS because it’s a “hot” listing and then it sells before they add the rest of the photos. That’s maybe why the average days on market is actually less for these listings with fewer photos.

    Thanks for the mental “exercise” I’m always interested in running the numbers and comparing markets especially since I’ll be moving to the Maryland/Virginia area in a few years. Keep up the great blog!

  22. pam says:

    We are a military family living in California getting ready to move to Virginia. Our ability to fly across the country is severely limited. We like lots of pictures. I admit to wondering what is wrong with the homes if there’s only one photo. Additionally if you only have the time to post one photo what makes you think I have the time to look at it?

  23. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Pam,
    First of all, you should try since the goal with that site is for buyer agents to add MORE photos to listings.

    But if you get mad at these listings, and you only buy well marketed listings… then you will pay more.

    WHat you need is a good buyer agent that will go out and take 40-100 photos of the homes you like (have them add it to the site)

    We have had people buy without stepping foot in the home. Let me know if you are not getting this level of service. I will find you somebody that will.


  24. [...] they sell for $15,000 less but they are a pain for everyone. Oftentimes foreclosures or a listing by an underpaid or sucky [...]

  25. [...] way too many listings go photoless, (see Buyers! Don’t Skip Photoless Listings. Save $15,000) even the listings WITH photos are meant to put forth the best angles for the seller, not for the [...]

  26. [...] photography or no photography reduces the perceived value of the home. Some home browsers are going to skip right over your [...]

  27. Jaye Panama says:

    Thanks for the entertaining read! Alright playtime is over and back to school work.

  28. [...] completeness (ie fewer photo homes sell for less See Photoless? Save $15k [...]

Leave a Reply