Real Estate Photos Can Be Tough

By Dave Fratello | September 24th, 2015

We got a kick out of seeing this line in a recent Manhattan Beach listing: "DON'T LET THE PHOTOS FOOL YOU!"

Hey, isn't that the whole point?

Photos are supposed to put a home in its best light, aren't they? Make rooms look bigger, make dated features look fresh, and generally put a shine to even the darkest corners. Photos may not "fool" anyone, but they had better entice you to come see (and maybe buy) the house. Otherwise, someone's not doing their job.

1510 23rd Street Manhattan Beach CAIn that one case (1510 23rd, pictured, just sold for $1.940M), the point of the "don't let the photos fool you" warning had something to do with persuading potential buyers that the home was not just one of many cookie-cutter "Roth built" homes with the same old/same old floorplan and features. No! See, it was customized by Mr. Roth himself!

OK, but still, the photos could have done the home justice, and you wouldn't have to SCREAM about ignoring the photos, right?

3509 Laurel Avenue Manhattan Beach CAWe recently got a nice set of photos for one of our own listings (Dave's at 3509 Laurel) and while the photos didn't "fool" anyone, here's what they almost did: Persuade the sellers not to sell!

The sellers, happy to see their little home in such a nice light, from good angles, with bright colors, appropriate lighting and so on, suddenly had a moment's hesitation. Do we really want to sell this humble beauty?

The moment passed, and we got down to business and sold the house. (With multiple offers.)

Now, here's a quick little secret: Sometimes, when we're in a rush, one of Dave's listings will begin with mere iPhone photos.

But even if/when we get that new 6S, phone photos are never going to match the caliber and quality of real photography.

For any listing, those iPhone photos should be just a (slightly embarrassing) placeholder before the "real" photos come.

Sometimes, though, whatever is on the agent's iPhone goes in the listing, and everyone just waits for the buyers to line up.

Pile of laundry on the bed? Yep, it goes in the listing.

Dog hassling the agent during photography? In the listing.

Or here's one of our recent (achem) favorites: Mattress flat on the floor without sheets? Yes, that goes in the listing. (Fire your stager!)

We've gone off on a little rant here, so we'll plant one more thought.

Haven't you seen those listings where the agent drops in a bunch of "area" photos to show the joys of living in Manhattan Beach?

Why is it that so often, the homes are east of Sepulveda, there are like 8 house photos, and then they lump in 4-6 more photos of the pier, the beach, volleyball players, etc.? (Worth noting: Often the agents don't own the copyrights to those photos.)

Fortunately, buyers have maps. (And clever websites like this one show maps, bird's eye view and Google Streetview easily, too.)

So if you try to show today's buyer a little half-lot cottage east of Harkness along with photos of the MB Pier, buyers "won't be fooled." Thank heavens.

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