Real Estate Agents for Consumers

facebook  03-03

Do you know who’s making money off of your listing photos, who is the one profiting when WE pay for them? 

This ties into last week’s topic of how agents get paid for adding listings to MLS, where we mentioned someone is bringing a fork to a potluck while everyone else is bringing a dish.

Press play to listen to the podcast episode:

…or watch the video below…

Or read on to learn more…

What got us here was Inman’s article “America’s appetite for sex, Zillow in a dead heat”. Inman surveyed 1000 people and featured several statistics. The juiciest one stated, “the preference for Zillow scrolling vs. sex was largely split by respondents with 49% indicating a preference for browsing Zillow and 51% showing a preference for sex”. What does this mean?

The reality is that we’re feeding the fantasy of others but they don’t come to our own personal websites. Individually our photos that we take aren’t as valuable as they are as a collection. The aggregation of ALL of our photos has substantially more value.

Do more photos help you sell the house? No. This is a fallacy that more photos help you sell a house. said listings with more than 10 photos sell for ~7% more than those with less than 10 photos. They’re simply extrapolating a data point that supported their argument and using it how they want.

The Elite Agents actually sell the houses for more money and because they’re the ones that include a lot of photos, it distorts the stats. When we look at comps, the house with cell phone photos never sells for the highest amount. There are other factors that lead to houses selling for more so it isn’t a relatable statistic.

If you read Zillow’s public announcement for the 1st quarter, their views have increased by 17%. This is all about us buying leads off the internet because they’re converting those people into leads. There are 240 million people searching on the web but only 500,000 buying a house. This is roughly equivalent to converting 5-6 buyers for every house.

In the article, 64% of the people surveyed have contacted Zillow for a home they can’t afford. They also said people missed work meetings and abandoned plans with friends to browse Zillow listings (“Zillow browsers”). This is smart for Zillow, but WE are the ones paying for the photos.

Zillow Obsession Insights

Source: Surety First

So what can we do? This isn’t anti-Zillow. We paid for the photos and we control the photos. We want to be more like Getty Images. Have you ever used a Google photo on your website? You probably got a letter with a hefty fine for illegally using a photo you found doing a Google search.

As Michael Wurzer with the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) said, don’t just standardize the data but incorporate a licensing agreement with that data. When you have a licensing agreement you can then charge and get paid. If we are the ones paying for the photos, wouldn’t it be nice to get compensated for use of those photos? It’s as simple as that. What LEOPARD is doing is going to the brokers and telling them “hey, those are our photos!”.

So what are the action items to stop people from benefitting from using photos they haven’t paid for? Some ideas…

    1. Go to and pledge to join us.
    2. Take professional photos, or take cell phone photos and swap them out after the house goes pending.
    3. Add a watermark that blurs out 80% of the image.

Should we be leaving up ALL of the photos after the day of close? Instead, why not leave 3-4 photos up in MLS for agents to see, not 50-70 photos that you leave up indefinitely. This happens once a house goes from under contract to pending since you’re no longer marketing the house. Once a house closes, it’s no longer syndicated.

We want OUR brand that’s being promoted in mainstream media. One day we’ll have an association that advises us, like

We have to pay for those leads because the pictures are more attractive than the text. The stat is that ~97% of buyers only used photos to make their buying decision. But roughly 5% read the write-up to make their decision.

Who’s making money off the listing photos? The aggregators who are “bringing the fork, not the dish”.
So what’s the best plan of action…  Should agents take their photos down when the listing goes pending? Or leave the photos up and uncheck the IDX syndication box when you go pending? Let us know what you think on Facebook: