When is a Listing Ready for the Austin MLS?

We have a new listing, and it’s not yet in the MLS. Why not? We don’t enter a listing into the MLS until it is 100% ready to go. For us, 100% ready means the home is ready and staged, the yard mowed, walls painted, carpet cleaned, house is professionally makeready cleaned, maintenance items handled, all photos taken, the virtual tour completed and online, flyers ready, and the sign and lockbox are up. On this one, we don’t yet have the photos, flyers and Virtual Tour, which we’re having done today.

Why not enter the listing when it’s “almost” ready, perhaps with one photo of the front of the house? Because first impressions matter. Not only do they matter, they matter A LOT.

Every buyer we work with has an online portal with automatic notification of new listings that match their search criteria. Sylvia and I also have various portals set up for ourselves, which we use to monitor and keep and eye on certain areas and neighborhoods we like. Each morning, us and our Buyer clients, receive notification emails for new listings that match the different search parameters being watched.

I’m amazed at how many agents enter listings into the Austin MLS with no photo, or worse yet, crappy photos. Those listings are at a disadvantage from day one.

Which listing, upon initial preview online, would you be most interested in learning more about?

This one?.. Austin default MLS Pic or this one?.. Austin Real Estate

When we or our Buyers get the aforementioned email notifying us of a new listing, and we click on that listing link to view the property, that is our first impression – either a nice photo of the home, or the ugly default “no photo” image shown above.

It is within about 10 to 30 seconds that I will decide if a new listing warrants further investigation, or if I’m going to drive over for a preview look. For some listings, I know instantly that the home will be sold within days, based on the location, price and the photos. Many of our Buyers, especially if they’ve been viewing the portal on a regular bases, are savvy enough to spot a good new listing right away also, and they call us immediately and ask about it. First impressions matter!

Listings that have all 8 photos plus a virtual tour get a longer, harder look than the ones with no photo. If there is not a photo, or multiple photos, it diminishes our first impression of the listing because we can’t see what it looks like. Great photos of beautiful homes can generate an instant emotional attraction that result in further interest in the home.

In addition to no photo, some new Austin MLS listings have comments such as “work still in progress”, or “new carpet coming”. In other words, the house is NOT ready for the market but the seller and/or agent are in a hurry to put it on the market anyway. This is not a smart way to sell a house. I’ve walked through a bunch of these ill-prepared homes and we usually walk right back out unless there is some other over-riding merit, such as a very low price. There is nothing you can do as a Seller to hurt your chances of receiving a good quick offer, at or above your asking price, than to not properly prepare your home for its first day on the market.

As a Seller, you know, or should know (and your agent as well), that your new listing is going to pop up on hundreds, maybe thousands (I don’t know for sure) of Buyer and Agent search portals, as I’ve described above. You want your listing to be studied at that moment by as many potential buyers and/or agents as possible. Research shows, people look at photos first and foremost to decide if they’re interested in a home. You keep their eyeballs on your listing, as their interest grows, by making sure your listing represents a beautiful property, priced right and ready to go. You can’t do that when the photos are missing.

Then you want those interested buyers to call their agents, or vice versa, and start talking about that listing. Then you want the agent to go preview the listing, or better yet, meet the Buyers at the home to have a look. When that first walk-through happens, you want the home to be clean and staged and to show beautifully. If you’ve done that, you increase the opportunity for the buyer to have continued interest that hopefully culminates in a quick, full price (or better) offer.

And this process all starts with that first online look at the listing and photos, either by the buyer sitting at home viewing a search portal, or the agent through the Austin MLS at that day’s new listings. That first impression determines whether the ball gets rolling toward a quick offer, or your listing gets a quick glance and passed over. First impressions matter!

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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Mare - 9 years ago

Whoa – I thought that once a listing agreement was signed, the broker/agent has to have a pic in the MLS within 48 hours (or 2 business days). And I have to say that photos of interior shots as the main picture SCREAM that cosmetic work (at least) needs to be done on the house. I’d also like to know, do agents roll up their sleeves and help the seller get their home prepped, such as cleaning and painting? (I’ve seen too many episodes of Sell This House!)

Mare - 9 years ago

Quick Edit: It has to have a photo in MLS within 48 hrs or there is a $200 penatly per day – please correct me if I’m wrong.

Steve - 9 years ago

Hi Mare,

The Austin Board-owned MLS does have a 2-day rule, but we change that agreement with the Seller in Special Provisions, saying that the home will be entered into the MLS only after all pre-sales prep work has been completed and the Seller instructs us to enter it into the MLS.

It’s tricky because proper prep work often takes days or weeks but agents want to have a signed listing before helping coordinate all the work.

> do agents roll up their sleeves and help the seller get their home prepped,

Many do, I’m sure. Others probably never do.

> I’ve seen too many episodes of Sell This House!

We don’t get cable or watch much T.V., but I’ve heard about all the real estate shows .Some day I’d like to see one.


Steve - 9 years ago

The 2-day rule is for entering a new listing into the MLS.
Once entered, an agent has 7 days to enter at least one photo of the listing.

Jim - 9 years ago

There should be a 24hr rule about photos, as well as a requirement that at least one be of the outside, and one of the inside. Since many listings sell in under 7 days, the agents never even bother with photos. This makes future CMAs and pricing very difficult. I do my part and rat out any agent who didn’t put photos up, even if the listing went pending. They’re doing us all a disservice and need to be punished.

Michael - 9 years ago

Sometimes it’s the subtle indicators that let me know what type of experience I and my client might expect with the listing agent. If the agent’s effort on the listing is minimal, more often than not, that too is my experience with the agent. What’s negligible effort? Simple things like: a minimal amount of pictures, poor quality pictures, a description that doesn’t do justice to the home, and an listing that lacks any thought pretty well sums it up.

Amy Broghamer - 9 years ago

I think we here in Cincinnati have 7 days to get photos published. But, regardless, it doesn’t take but a few snapshots at least to be placeholders on the listing. A lot of agents are too worried about getting the contract agreed on before they get down in the trenches and start doing all of the work.
I take pictures before the listing goes live, and have my IT guy have the virtual tour ready to go so I can put the link in the MLS immediately.
Anyways, as important that those pictures are to perspective buyers, there are a million things (mostly simple) the buyer can do to get their property in pristine condition for potential visitors.

Steve - 9 years ago

By the way, the home in the picture above sold in less than 5 days with multiple offers. One of our buyers tried to get it, and even offered $6,000 over the list price. But that wasn’t enough. The place showed like a model and was in pristine condition. I proud that it was one of our fellow KW agents who did such a good job of presenting that home to the market.

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