Austin MLS Now Allows 25 Photos – Too Many?
Our Austin MLS system now allows up to 25 photos to be included with each Austin MLS listing. That’s too many, I dare say. Sometimes I have a hard time even coming up with 12 (the previous limit) photos that are MLS-worthy to include with a listing.
Not that twenty-five Austin MLS photos won’t be appreciated by some listing surfers, but I predict we’re going to end up with a whole lot of crappy photos saying “3rd bedroom” and showing a vanilla wall with a window. Or we’ll start seeing a photo of the doggie door, or the mailbox, or, one of my favorites “front door”, as agents stretch to find additional shots to fill the bucket with all 25 photos.
How many areas of interest are there in a home anyway? We have the kitchen, living(s), dining(s), baths, bedrooms, exterior front and back and … uhh … let’s see, I guess that’s about it.
That would cover 12 shots in a standard 3 bedroom home with 2 living areas, 2 dining and 2 baths. What shall we serve up for the additional 13 photos? We’ll also be seeing a lot of photos that say “another view of kitchen”, which I actually do sometimes already when I’ve run out of interesting or worthy shots. I guess that’s ok. But come on.
An aside: Does doubling the number of MLS photos have any affect on our carbon footprint? Just wondering. I’ll bet it does in various secondary ways. That’s gonna have to use up a lot of extra hard disk space and bandwidth. But I digress.
But here’s the thing. As a buyer surfing Austin real estate listings online, you can only ascertain so much about a property from photos.
It’s the same for us as agents when we’re trying to select a good batch of homes to show the less engaged buyers who are not up at 3AM sending us emails saying “can we add this one to the list tomorrow?”
The photos are no doubt helpful, and it’s nice to have a full set of 12, but I think 25 is going to be a tough quota to fill with A+ shots. And I wonder if the virtual tour people are going to have to start charging more?
At some point, as a buyer, you just have to get out and see the houses. Sylvia and I show enough homes and sell to enough buyers to know that the photos are not reliable predictors of which homes a buyer will ultimately like. In fact, we encourage buyers not to necessarily rule out homes just because you don’t like a photo.
Standing in a front yard taking in the full view of a home, the street, and the neighbors homes provide you with a much better impression than even a 360 degree virtual tour of the exterior front. Walking through a home provides some interesting comments, such as “it looked bigger in the photo”, or “this is much nicer than it looked in the photos”.
So, I’m just saying, photos are absolutely 100% valuable in the home search process, but there is a limit to the degree to which photos can inform a buyer.
At present, about 50% of the listings in the Austin MLS have the full set of 12 photos. I doubt we’ll see that high a percentage having all 25 a year from now. And now as an agent, we’ll have to decide whether to fill in all 25, even with redundant shots of the same areas, just to make sellers happy, or if sellers will accept that the good photos will really thin out at around 10 to 15 shots for most Austin homes.