It’s common knowledge that your home sale must have multiple high-quality photos.  If you don’t, then be prepared for a long disappointing sale.  Multiple high-quality pictures have not only become a home sale must, but it seems as if photos and tours have become the central feature of many real estate agents’ marketing plans.  Not to downplay the importance of photos, however, there is new research that suggests that photos and virtual tours are only part of the marketing puzzle.  Home sellers and agents who emphasize photos and tours as a way to appeal to home buyer sensibilities, may not be giving their listing full attention.

It’s 2020, and there’s no reason your agent shouldn’t have professional high-definition pictures included in the multiple listing service (MLS) listing.  Of course, the purpose of photos and tours is to help home buyers get an idea of the home before visiting.  There is a truth that listings without pictures are often skipped over.

Statistics reported by the National Association of Realtors reveals the power of MLS listing photos (How Photos Help Sell Homes; Realtor Magazine; April 2, 2008).  Not only does having more photos decrease time on market, but may also help the sale price.  Even though these stats were from 2008, you can imagine that the effects are probably greater today.  The reported stats suggested that MLS listings with only one photo was on the MLS for an average of 70 days.  Days on market (DOM) dramatically dropped when multiple photos were included.  When a listing had six pictures, the average DOM was 40.  If there were sixteen to nineteen photos, then the average DOM dropped to 36. If there were twenty or more pictures, the average DOM was 32.

The article also discussed the potential for a higher sales price.  The average sale price of MLS listings with only one photo was 91.2 percent of the list price.  However, when there were six or more quality photos in the MLS listing, the average sale price was 95 percent of the list price.

It was statistics such as this, along with rapid technological improvements that made many agents become reliant on home photos and associated tours to attract home buyers.  As a result, it seems as if the use of meaningful MLS descriptions is becoming a lost art.

A recently published study by Luchtenberg, Seiler & Sun suggests that you can have a better response from your MLS listings when photos and meaningful descriptions are combined (Listing Agent Signals: Does a Picture Paint a Thousand Words?; The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics; November 2019; v. 59, p. 617–648).  The study relates how the application of signaling theory can boost your home sale.  Signaling theory suggests that consumers will more likely consider an advertiser’s product when the descriptions honestly match consumers’ needs.

The study looked at how words and images influenced homebuyers to visit homes for sale.  The authors determined that when descriptions were used, the agent’s perceptions of the home were typically understood by homebuyers.  They concluded that “using only positive words has a significantly higher impact on likelihood to visit a property than a high-quality picture” and brief house description.

However, you should be careful that your MLS listing is not exaggerated or contain altered photos.  Attempts in using deception to get homebuyer visits could reduce your credibility and actually repel home buyers.

Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Platinum Realty in Bethesda, MD. You can access more information at

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