Property Inspector: When property photos go wrong

Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Ivan Radford @themovechannel

This month,'s Property Inspector examines what happens when property photos go wrong. Embarrassing images can range from cloudy skies and messy rooms all the way to scantily-clad homeowners. Why are these photos included in property listings? Why do sellers take them in the first place? And what impact can they have upon real estate marketing? Listen to the full investigation...

Photo credit: Snowshot's Property Inspector: Taking a closer look at global real estate each month.

In this month's podcast,'s Property Inspector examines property listings - and what happens when property photos go wrong.

The picture of the property is the first thing a buyer sees when searching for a house for sale, but images are frequently overlooked by private sellers and agents alike. These embarrassing images can range all the way from messy rooms and inappropriate decor to wayward pets and, in extreme cases, scantily-clad homeowners.

Why would a property portal include these photos in a real estate listing? Why are these pictures taken by seller in the first place? And what impact can rogue images have upon real estate marketing in general?'s Property Inspector sits down  with Accounts Director Chris Thompson and Charlotte Ashton, director of AB Property Marketing, to investigate.

Chris, what's the thought process behind a seller listing a property with such images?

"Sometimes, it may be that people have taken too many photos and they don't realise which are the best ones to put up. A lot of people haven't got the time to think about it or worry about how it looks on the site, they just want to get it uploaded and out of the way."

What's the worst photo you've seen?

"I've seen photos of just the roof and sky and of empty swimming pools, but also things like rusty balconies."

So a lot of the mistakes are smaller things that can be avoided?

"Yes, absolutely."

When property listing photos go wrong
Photo credit:


In terms of operating a property portal, where does the buck stop in making sure a bad photo doesn't get listed?

"I think it's 50/50, to be honest. It's up to the seller to make sure they are taking the right photos to attract a buyer to the property, but for us, we need to monitor the listings. If I'm filtering through the site and spot a bad photo, I will advise the seller or agent and get them to change it to a better picture. The advantage of advertising with a portal is that you can have lots of images on your listing - if one isn't ideal, you can switch it for another."

How much of a difference can one bad photo make out of, say, eight good images?

"It's about getting the right balance of the right photographs. As long as the other photos show the property off in the best light possible, it shouldn't be too much of a problem."

Some mistakes are more extreme than others
Photo credit:

Charlotte, what property photo horrors have you encountered?

"There was once a house in Bulgaria with an old lady sitting outside on a sofa, and a UK buy-to-let property with boarded up houses on either side..."

Is this just a property listing problem or does it extend to real estate marketing in general?

"It's both. As well as the written content in brochures, it's really important from a PR perspective. Some of our clients don't always provide high quality imagery, but a lot of the print media require high-res pictures to go with a story. If you're trying to get into print media, it's essential that you have decent images that show exactly what the property is."

Where do you stand on Photoshop?

"I think there's a place for Photoshopping. You can enhance lighting, say if it's a really grey day, but I don't agree with removing things or putting things in. Enhancing is acceptable, but I don't think doctoring is."


Photoshop: "Enhancing is acceptable. Doctoring is not."
Photo credit:

What kind of tips would you give to an agent or developer advertising their property?

"If you can, get someone professional to do it. If you're a developer in the industry with a luxury house, you've spent so much constructing it, a couple of hundred quid for some decent photos is a drop in the ocean." 

Chris, what advice would you give to sellers?

"It's the outside of the house that says yay or nay. Make sure you pick a clear day and get the whole house in there. If you've got a pool in your back garden, show it off. It's about showing what you've got. Another key thing is to make sure the inside of the house is tidy. You don't have to clean for hours on end, it just has to look nice for someone to walk in and decide it's what they're looking for."

Listen to the full investigation here:

Notes to Editors

Founded in 1999, is the leading independent website for international property, with than 400,000 listings in over 100 countries around the world, marketed on behalf of agents, developers and private owners.

The website address is and the office address is 45 Lafone Street, Shad Thames, London, SE1 2LX. 

Contact Dan Johnson on 0207 952 7650 for further information.

Author - Dan Johnson

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