Real Estate Sampler: Bad Photos Edition

by hookedonhouses on July 27, 2013

girl sleeping in bed bluffdale utah listing

So many of you have been sending me so many bad mls photos lately that sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or curl up in a fetal position like this poor woman. It’s crazy to me that agents are still trying to sell houses with pics like this. Here are 5 of my (least) favorites of the week…

trash in bathroom Utah listing

1. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that this messy bathroom was featured in the same listing as the bedroom above. Looks like a nice house if you can see past all the dirty clothes, piles of trash, and general clutter. I had an agent tell me it’s not his job to clean up the house before taking photos. Okay, but could you at least close some of the drawers first? Kick the bags of trash out of the way? Anything?

blurry house photo Pittsburgh listing

2. This photo from a listing in Pittsburgh is so blurry I’m not sure why the agent bothered posting it–and only it–to represent a house “that has recently been updated and is move-in ready.” Guess we’ll take his word for it!

grandpa in the listing burbank

3. The advice to depersonalize your home for potential buyers includes removing the persons. When people pop up in the listing photos, that’s all we see, and this one from Burbank is a good (bad) example.

bloody footprints plymouth MN

4. One reader questioned why there appears to be a trail of bloody footprints across the floor in an otherwise perfectly normal-looking house in Minnesota.

bad-mls-houston-indoor-snow-1

5. The only other time I saw visible floating dust-snow like this was in a former hoarder’s house. This house doesn’t look as filthy as that one did, though, so I’m not sure what’s going on. WTF Real Estate found this in the Houston listings.

Thanks to all the readers who submitted these. If you spot something strange in the real estate listings, send me the link! -Julia

Click here to see my Bad MLS page with more head-scratchers, including…

7 Unusual Things Spotted in Real Estate Listings


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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Edwina July 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hehe, I just clicked through to the Hoarders House. Looks like ours did when we first took it on. We’re about 9 months into the makeover now. You’re right, they’re not for the faint-hearted.

Love the shots above. I can’t understand how real estate agents can be allowed to get away with such poor photography in the internet age.

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MIGirl September 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

I clicked through to the hoarder house pics too. It reminded me of my sister-in-law’s parents’ house. They were such hoarders that when they died she and her sisters didn’t know where to start to clean it up to sell (her folks had lived there for fifty years). We suggested they just just rent a dumpster and trash it all, but the sibs were afraid that there might be “valuable stuff” in the house. Fortunately one of her parents’ neighbors stopped by and told them he would buy the house “as-is,” for X amount of money. They jumped on the opportunity, thinking that nobody would buy the place if they saw it inside.

The neighbor bought it, hired a cleaning service to trash everything then thoroughly clean, he remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, replaced the carpeting, painted, etc., and then sold the place for a nice profit. I think if it had been left to my SIL and her sibs they would STILL be going through the stuff 15 years later (there’s a bit of a hoarding gene in that family).

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Linda G July 27, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Great post, as always! I understand that the agents may not want to clean up after their homeowners, but doesn’t it behoove them to do so in order to get the house sold for as much as possible? I’m sure it’s a fine line and “suckers” who clean up after their homeowners get burnt out from doing it, but how can it be worthwhile to list a house with messy bedroom and bathroom photos? Maybe the bigger question is why agents choose to list and try to sell homes in this condition without stipulating that the homeowner is going to have to clean up.

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Connie Nikiforoff Designs July 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

Linda G…To answer your question about why the realtor doesn’t stipulate cleaning up a home before the photos….It’s sad to say but some smaller less expensive homes get listed because the home owner wants to sell….not because the realtor actually cares whether they sell that particular property or not :-( Realtors sometimes are hoping to make money on the ‘big ticket homes’ and don’t really give a rat’s patootie about some homes. I’m a decorator (did my own staging) and both my husband and I have been in sales so we sold our own home. We did very well on the sale btw ;-)

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Maria July 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

My assumption? Renters. Renters that will need to move once the house sells, so not selling quickly is to their advantage.

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Karen August 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

Probably true on all counts. We I was looking for a home some had renters and they were not very cooperative. I think that made it much harder for the real estate agent to sell the place given how they behaved.

Connie’s comment was spot on and is one of the main reason’s why I have such a poor opinion of most real estate agents. I even heard one woman state that the reason she became an agent is because she wanted to get RICH. Fine, but in my experience people who are motivated by money only are not people that give a hoot about anyone other than themselves.

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Vickie July 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm

OMG, in that first photo, is that someone laying on the bed amongst all the rubble? Why would they be on the bed when the photo is being taken? LOL. I’d be hiding too if my house looked like that. This post really made me laugh. I am amazed – I’d be embarrassed just for the agent to see that, let alone photos put out for everyone to see.

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Carol M July 28, 2013 at 8:20 am

Vickie, I had to go back and look at the picture. You’re right — there’s a woman lying in that bed. I didn’t even see her the first time I looked. Too funny!

I don’t understand homeowners that want to sell their home and get the best possible price not taking a bit of effort to make the house look decent. It’s pretty obvious they just don’t care.

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Wynter July 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I agree with Maria:
“My assumption? Renters. Renters that will need to move once the house sells, so not selling quickly is to their advantage.”
The first two pics are either a renter, pics of a teen girl who doesn’t want to move (the dream catcher and piles of clothes look just like a teen girl’s), or maybe even a spurned wife on the verge of a divorce where the home has to be sold. Perhaps the husband gets the home sale proceeds and she gets the contents?

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Connie July 28, 2013 at 7:37 am

I just want to barf! Why realtors would even bother to take photos like this to post online or in their magazines is beyond words!!! I could go on….but my words wouldn’t be allowed……Bad, bad, bad (both the pics and my words)!

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missgulfsouth July 28, 2013 at 8:32 am

AHHHHHHH!!!!!! Julia, those are the most terrible MLS photos! EVER. There is no excuse for it. The blurry house just looks…….haunted. Likewise, all of the floating “orbs” in that living room. As for the bloody footprints……..I think they belong to the dead girl on the bed. Maybe the Hare Krishna guy in the 4th photo did it! ;)

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hookedonhouses July 28, 2013 at 8:52 am

Maybe you’re onto something–ha!

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Diane Williams November 3, 2013 at 3:38 am

LOL. I didnt see the gal on the bed first timearound either!

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Catherine July 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

Oh my gosh, I love these posts. They make me laugh so much! I truly cannot believe they actually post these. Words fail me. I was actually looking at it on my phone first and had to wait to get home to see it on my computer screen so I could see the woman lying there! What the???

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Luci@BungalowAtHome July 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

As a Home Stager/Decorator I see homes that look like this quite often but at least the Real estate agent has the common sense to know that these people need help and they send me in to help and they of course pay for my consultation as part of their marketing strategy..
I have to disagree with the agent who said it’s not his job to clean them up.. No, maybe not but it is your job to do whatever is possible to help this homeowner sell their house so you you are not doing your job (by posting pics like this) and you don’t deserve the commission!
Ggrrr.. Thanks for letting me vent!

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MIGirl September 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

Lucy, I agree. The realtor is NOT doing the homeowner any favors by posting pics like this online. If the homeowner or the renter won’t clean the place up, the realtor should not put interior pics online. Not every house has interior pics.

These pics do remind me of the HGTV show “Love it or List It.” I watched several episodes with my Dad in the room one day when they were having sort of a marathon. After four or five episodes my Dad (who is elderly and has dementia) said, “For heaven’s sake! These people all say they need a new house because their house is too small. If they’d clean it up and stop buying so much stuff, they’d have plenty of room!” As I watch new episodes I find myself thinking the same thing.

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Tracey July 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

My guess is the messy house with the girl on the bed is a rental and the owners have put it on the market and the renters have no intention of helping it to sell.

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House Crazy Sarah July 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

zactly my thought as well. Either that or the sellers are slobs with a teenage daughter who just wants to be left alone…. and why is there a strange person in HER room taking pictures of her!?!? :)

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CC July 28, 2013 at 10:37 am

Do people actually live like that???

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House Crazy Sarah July 28, 2013 at 11:26 am

These are great Julia – thanks for the belly laugh!
One of my two pet peeves in real estate are realtors who don’t a least try to tidy up a little before snapping a pic (how hard is it to close a drawer and kick some trash out of the shot??) And even worse, are the realtors who don’t even bother to take pictures. Or who take one really shoddy, blurry picture from a moving car. It just shouts out: “nobody cares about this house – it’s a piece of crap!”
I always look twice at a house, no matter how small, dumpy or cheap, if the realtor has taken the time to get some nice pictures that show off the house’s strong points.
If the house has no strong points, I appreciate it when the realtor is honest with: “This house needs work. Sold as is.”

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Angela M. July 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This gives us (realtors) a bad name. I am constantly dismayed by the poor photography I see in listings. If you don’t want to take the time to take good photos or hire a photographer, time to find a new career. If I have a client that isn’t willing to straighten up/clean or pay to do it, I move on. If the owner doesn’t care, why should I? Rather spend my time prospecting for clients who appreciate the service I provide.

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Christine Bewley July 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Haha! I didn’t even notice the person on the bed in the first photo until I read it! I thought she was just more clothes at first glance! :)

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AmyK July 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

OMG. The house for sale in Burbank is two blocks away from me. HA! I couldn’t help but go to the full listing for that one just to see if I knew it. I don’t, but looking at all of the other photos explained a lot. The realtor apparently felt that the roof, the fridge in the garage, and the A/C unit in the backyard were important features. There’s a shot of the bathroom and a roll of toilet paper is just sitting on the counter. Does the house not come with a TP roll holder? For $650,000, I would hope that it would.

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stef July 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Any ten-year old with a digital camera could take better pictures. I’m thinking the lens on picture five might have water spots ( and other debris) on it, rather than capturing dust motes.

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Wynter July 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I completely agree. It simply looks like a dirty camera lens issue to me. Of course, the realtor should have gone back and taken another shot, rather than settling for and posting this one.

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Christiina from Dallas July 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Oh boy these crack me up! Why oh why can’t the homeowner and the realtor get on the same page and work together to present the house in the best light possible? It’s not rocket science!

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LouAnn July 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I agree with all of the other comments. I just can’t imagine being the real estate agents that had to publish these photos. I wouldn’t show them. LOL.

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Jenny July 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I clicked on the Minnesota one to try to figure out the bloody footprints, but that pic is no longer in the listing. Thank goodness!

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hookedonhouses July 29, 2013 at 8:27 am

Interesting! It was still there yesterday. They must have seen us talking about it. :-)

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Kim July 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

These listing pictures are terrible. How do any of these realtors have a job? I certainly wouldn’t hire these people.

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Patience July 29, 2013 at 5:06 am

Regarding renters: three times, we were living in rented houses that were listed for sale. It’s incredibly stressful, and yes, many renters will not be motivated to assist their landlord to sell the house. We were often treated disrespectfully by real estate agents and potential buyers who violated our privacy and, on one occasion, left the front door of our house unlocked while we were on vacation. Let’s remember that renters aren’t squatters.

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Jane George July 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only reader here with any empathy for the young woman on the bed. We don’t know what her story is.

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Deanna August 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Soo true. I’ve had this happen to me more than once, with rent paid up, with a month or two to go on my lease. They couldn’t wait for me to leave–their good renter– as they might lose a half-month’s rent with the apartment being empty, which I call the cost of being a landlord! They didn’t respect my schedule, or my privacy. So I kinda like this Bed Person’s rebellion :)

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Tracie July 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm

The real state agent’s comment is obnoxious! My parents just sold their house in 2 days for cash (crazy, I know). And agent recommended depersonalizing the housing and moving some furniture out before even listing it! She even helped my mom move things. An agent who doesn’t feel that’s their job is a lazy agent who is basically just hoping for easy money.

Like you, I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or hide when I see photos like this! Those first two pictures are across the line freaky!

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Cherry July 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

The realtor shots that really grind my gears are the ones that feature absolutely NO information about the house itself. They don’t include a single window, door, sometimes not even a corner, just a wall and the owner’s furniture. It’s nice that the agent likes the furniture, but anybody else looking at the photos is looking for information and isn’t getting any.

There used to be a website devoted to bad RE listings. Some were lousy photos, some were decent photos of incredibly tasteless decor, some were properties so bad it looked like they should be demolished rather than sold, but it was always hysterical. Unfortunately, it shut down a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine why, it’s not like there was a shortage of source material!

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Mike July 30, 2013 at 6:38 am

Nice set of tips on which photo’s can mislead your clients. I agree that a fine clear image inside and outside of the house clean can increase the chance of sale.

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Amanda Shaub July 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

Unbelievable! I can’t stand it when people say, “That’s not my job!” How many of us have had to do things that didn’t fall under our job description. Shove that bathroom mess out of the way! Clean your lens! Come on!!

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Barb July 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Sadly, another reason for some bad pictures is foreclosure. I worked with a woman whose home was in foreclosure. She was mortified when the bank/realtor came by, unannounced, and took pictures of her house. The kitchen, family room etc were fine, but her children’s rooms were less than presentable.

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MIGirl September 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

Excellent point, Barb. I was in the mortgage business for years, and you would not believe the things people do to their homes once they are in foreclosure. We had people rip out all of the cabinets, rip the mirrors off the walls in the bathroom, smash holes in the drywall, put big stains on carpet and hardwood, etc. They seemed to think that they were “getting back at the bank” by doing this. What a shock it was when, after the house finally sold, they got a bill from the IRS for the taxes on the amount the bank lost on the sale. The bank’s loss is taxable income to the homeowner. The more we lose, the more you pay.

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Julie July 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

The photo that was listed for our current house before we bought it was terrible. Just one blurry discolored exterior photo. Almost looked like they posted the negative. But it worked to our advantage though. It’s a beautiful street and a large home that we’re now renovating. Guess no one else saw the potential in that one nasty photo!

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Virginia August 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

These are pretty bad photos. The listing photos of my new house didn’t do it justice either. See pics here: http://my.diynetwork.com/crash-me-please/South/Memphis-TN/detail.esi?oid=30714526
I’m surprised people don’t want the best return on their investment, but as someone said below, it’s probably renters beings ousted.

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Karen August 3, 2013 at 11:21 am

Some of these pics are unbelievable, especially what looks like bloody footprints! I’ve mostly seen pics that are blurry of otherwise nice looking homes and I find that rather annoying and there is no excuse for that. Some of those homes are also in pricey neighborhoods.

When a home in my neighborhood came on the market I checked out the listing and it only showed pics of the outside–nothing on the inside or a description either. That tells me that the home was a rental and also was not updated or in good shape, but who knows. What the listing included was terminology marketing the home as an investment property (rental) or a future scrape-off.

People still want massive homes and are seeking to scrape-off. I have to wonder why they just don’t go find that in the suburbs.

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Caleb September 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

Wow, it is hard to believe that people can keep their homes like this. Especially just leaving trash and food everywhere. The smell alone I could not handle.

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