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.

Steve Crossland

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

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Michael @ The Stage Coach - 10 years ago

Hi, Steve:
I agree – if you look at a lot of listings like I do, you see a lot of crappy pictures. And 25 is way too many. I would rather them double the resolution than double the quantity. As corny as it sounds, Quality, not Quantity, is what they need. Frankly, as a Home Stager, I am pressed to get 25 shots when doing Before & Staged pictures.
12 pics at 1600×1200 or even 5mpx (2592 x 1944) would be much more valuable. I come across listings all the time (from one particular real estate company, generally) that posts photos at 1mpx or less always with some kooky whitee frame around them. I can take better pics with my cell phone!
And to address your comment about duplicating pictures, it’s quite obvious when I see a listing with 20 photos on ( your favorite ) Zillow, that they are duplicated. IMHO, that’s a bad move as to me it says, “There’s not enough good things about this house to fill all of the slots, so I’m just going to upload what I have.” But I’m hyper-critical by nature.
Looking forward to others’ replies!
Michael @ The Stage Coach

Michael @ The Stage Coach - 10 years ago

One more point:
I was working on a presentation for a client this morning, and I came across a listing that breaks one of my cardinal rules: This particular listing had photos of the childrens’ rooms online. With 25x photos, people will post these secondary rooms just to fill spots.
Now, I know my wife and I are a little crazy when it comes to our daughters, but I recommend to every home seller: Do not allow photos of your kids’ rooms online and do not keep pictures/personalized items of your kids visible during the sale of your house.
Michael @ The Stage Coach

Larry - 10 years ago

I just want to note that the limit changed. It is not mandatory to have 25 photos. For this perspective, it is good to increase the limit.
If somebody wants to place 14 or 15 photos, they can now. If you think 10 photos are enough, so be it.
I completely agree that quality should be more important. Some pictures are so bad that even a child could do better.
If used properly, more than 12 photos may help sell the property. But I am afraid it is not going to happen. The number of bad pictures will increase. On the other hand, it increases the chances to have some good pictures among them.
Overall, I think it is good to increase the limit.

Sam Chapman - 10 years ago

I agree with you at a lower price point, but at a higher price point and for large homes, I think more photos will be useful. Granted that most of these have virtual tours, but some take a while to load and go through.

arz - 10 years ago


Think of it this way: train your eyes to look for things to shoot. Sometimes a good photograph will go a long way and believe it or not, some minor things may in fact attract attention. If you know what to shoot and make them pretty, that literally set yourself apart from other agents.

It’s like selling your whatever things on craigslist. The ones with better pictures tend to sell much faster than the ones without or with crappy photos. The number of photos are relatively less important, though if you show them more, they feel like getting more thorough information.

Doug - 10 years ago

I believe buyers look at pictures to eliminate properties as I do, not add them as prospects. Pictures often times do a disservice to a property. Agents “use to” previewed properties for their buyers. Now, that appears to be passé by most in the industry. More is less!

Steve Crossland - 10 years ago

Followup: I’ve changed my mind about the photos. Having entered several listings now with the new photo quota, we’re not having any trouble finding 25 photos to use, and it’s actually turned out to be helpful to be able to show 3 different angles for the kitchen, for example.

So, I think my initial reluctance to accept this was a bit premature.


Will.I.Am - 8 years ago

Carbon footprint from digital photos? Are all realtors as stupid as you are? Good god.

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