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How To Prepare Photos For The MLS and Why You Care

Published: 24/08/2011

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Just yesterday I was accused of not having a anything on the blog or in my book about preparing photos for the MLS. This post will fix the blog part and I'll make sure I have similar material in my book in the update that is coming soon.

There are a bunch of discussion threads on this subject in the Flickr group. For example here is one that gives a lot of opinions. Not all are accurate by the way.

Here's the issue:

  1. As a listing agent or real estate photographer you care about how your photos look on the MLS because MLS sites send  (syndicate) photos to regional, and national real estate sites.
  2. It's impossible to make many general statements about MLS photo specs. They all have their own requirements and quirks.
  3. MLSs will mangle the photos in some way because they have software  that makes sure photos aren't too big and are the right aspect ratio etc.
So what can be done to keep the damage to a minimum?
  1. Take the time to find out what the suggested upload specs are for you local MLS.
  2. Take at the time to see how your photos look on the MLS and on regional real estate sites.
  3. Real estate photographers should supply a set of photos specifically optimized for MLS upload.
  4. My experience is that photos that are sized 800x600x72 with file size around 80K work best for me. This doesn't mean this will work well on your MLS.
Unfortunately there just isn't one simple answer that works everywhere. You have to talk to your local MLS, experiment and see what works best.
Larry Lohrman

6 comments on “How To Prepare Photos For The MLS and Why You Care”

  1. Unfortunately none of this will replace the Realtor-error factor. Despite meticulously preparing files, I predict no end to the late evening phone call, asking why the full page picture on the fliers is pixelated because the Realtor sent the wrong file to printer, DESPITE having renamed files with "print" or "mls" as the first part of the filename (and placing in separate folders on the CD with the same appropriate name!) and I need to pay for a new run of material, or my favorite, "You messed up the photos, these won't upload!" when they are trying to send an 8mb jpg to the MLS.

    I wish I could say it wasn't common, but (in my experience) it seems like there is no middle ground with this, either the realtor "gets it", or they NEVER "get it"! Also, in my area, both of those trucks would need flat tires and dead batteries too (unless the homeowner wasn't home at all to move them!) for that house to be "photo ready" on the scheduled shoot day. I had no idea how many times that could happen to me on a shoot!

  2. Larry, I sent an email to the local MLS manager this morning asking what size image they require and the resolution. Below is her response.

    · Width for property pictures is 767 pixels.
    · Maximum width for personal (agent) pictures is 200 pixels.
    · Picture height is not restricted; however it is recommended that picture height not exceed 300 pixels.
    · Pictures must be in JPEG format.

    Yet when I look at every image on the local MLS the image size is 460 x 307 @ 72ppi. I replied to her response asking what is the difference between "property pictures" and "personal (agent) pictures". Curious to see what her response is. I'm beginning to believe, what a lot of others here have stated, they don't have a clue about image size and resolution.

  3. Agent photo is a headshot. There are some secondary functions on MLS that includes photo, like when emailing listings to clients, so every Realtor should have a headshot on file.

    Out MLS had a non-standadrs size. The specify 512 x 400. I supply at 600 wide which is about 400. Just means is a little narrower that the size allowed. I don;t know how they came up with 512...cell phone pic?

  4. I will add that often times the photos that are syndicated to other MLS portals will undergo another step of compression that further reduces the quality of the already mangled MLS image. I replace the photos on the sites that I care about the most (Zillow, Trulia, for my listings and I encourage my agent clients to do the same. The original file I provided for the MLS works just fine and in some cases, if the file size is small enough, you may just bypass the sites upload compression altogether.

    On a side note, it really is a shame to see images that were once majestic in all their hi-res glory reduced down to a only a pixelated husk of their former selves. Even more reason to find a way to make sure the agent or seller gets a Hi-Res tour/slideshow to see the images how they were really intended to be viewed...

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