Los Altos Real Estate Blog

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Can a buyer take pictures at an open house?

With smart phones and digital cameras, home buyers are often seen taking pictures of the houses they tour.  This is especially true of homes they really like because they want pictures of rooms to recall specific colors, layouts, etc.  Buyers may also want more photos than the listing agent took.  Regardless, home buyers will frequently bring their cameras to open houses and private showings.

Is it legal? - It is in California but that may change.  The topic has been discussed by the California Association of REALTORS.  There are listing agents and homeowners who think the practice poses a security risk.  Others think it just invades the privacy of the homeowner.  As long as the homeowner doesn't object, I permit pictures to be taken.

Here's what I do:

  • You're welcome to take pictures at an open house, especially if it's vacant
  • I'd like to know why you're taking pictures
  • If you're a neighbor looking for decorating ideas - fine
  • I'd like to know what you're taking pictures of

Should buyers be allowed to take pictures?  Yes, in my opinion.  As a buyer, I'd like to think that the pictures you take will put my listing at the top of your mind when you look later.  It means you're thinking about the home in more detail than the limited number of pictures a virtual tour or photo collage gives.

What pictures should a buyer be taking? 

  • Room angles not in the tour or photo collage
  • Any exterior shots
  • Details of decorating elements of the home
  • Any fixtures that stand out as interesting

What pictures should a buyer NOT be taking? 

  • Personal items of the homeowner
  • Close up shots of any personal items
  • Anything that might be used to test security

Policies vary from agent to agent and you should ask the agent at the open house for permission before taking any pictures.  Agents should have the OK from homeowners before allowing anyone to take pictures at an open house.

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 Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: bryan@catarra-re.com | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc  | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022

 

 

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181 commentsBryan Robertson • March 04 2012 08:00AM

Comments

This happened to me during one of our open houses, a gal came in and started taking pictures of everything we did ask her to stop.

Posted by Kim Carlson, Realtor Mesa, Arizona Homes (www.NowSellingAZHomes.com) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan, if it is an open house and you don't know the person, I would say no pictures allowed and, here, let me give you the printout with all the pictures. The only time, I would allow it is if it is my client and she/he does this everytime for the sake of remembering the house. Other than that, since we don't know the motive, I think it is safer to say "no, sorry...."

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan, This can be a real security issue for homes that are completely furnished. I have had buyers want to take photos when only one member is present for a showing, so they could send photos to their significant other, who was not able to come to the showing. Like you, I will get permission first, and certainly not want them to take any photos of personal items.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Green Home Realty, 210-789-4216,www.Selling-SanAntonioHomes.com) over 2 years ago

Seems to be a security issue-- the person is not known and there is no idea behind their motivation regardless of what they might say. Our 2 cents.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  I think it is just being courteous to ASK persmission first.

Posted by Cheryl Thomson, REALTOR, Retired (U.S. Army), Real Estate in Northern Virginia (Buyers Advantage Real Estate Corp. (c: 703.216.5635)) over 2 years ago

In some instances, this can definitely be a security issue. It is best to get permission from the Seller and keep your eye on open-house visitors. If Realtors provide good graphics and a floor plan, there is less need for potential buyers to take photos.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (Keller Williams Dallas Premier Realty) over 2 years ago

I've never even had a second thought about letting people take pictures but after having read this I can see where some Agents wouldn't allow it. I think I'll just ask the home owners if they mind and let their answer set the rules for the open house at hand.

Posted by Margie Kopp Sorrell, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country) over 2 years ago

if the buyer is unable to take pictures of a home they are viewing, the flyer from the listing agent should have many picture on their flyer of the home to replace what the buyers will do, eliminate the step for the homebuyer

Posted by Nathan Rufty - Home Loans at 909-503-5600, Mortgage Professional / Home Loans / Direct Lender (Mountain West Financial, Inc) over 2 years ago

This just reinforces my belief that open houses are a security issue.  How do you know that the buyer isn't taking a picture of a personal document, credit card bill (or worse, credit card), birth certifcate or some other pertinent information.  Yes, I understand that these should all be put away when the house is on the market but I have shown at least 4 houses in the last two weeks that had the credit card statment, or some other personal mail laying in fairly plain sight in the office.  Our MLS has space for 32 pictures.  That should be sufficient.  A very interested buyer can ask permission from the agent, but snapping pictures at an open house is just creepy.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory (RE/MAX Southwest) over 2 years ago

When we take our pictures we are very careful about not photographing items that might be personal or overly valuable.  We take suffient shots that any legitamate buyer should be able to get a real feel for the house.  It is impossible for the open house agent to really know what the camera is seeing when someone else takes the picture. So unless the house is empty, I say, NO PICTURES.  Take notes if you wish but you can live without those pictures.  People bought houses for years without digital cameras and I'm sure they weren't running down to the pharmacy to get their film developed.

Posted by Leslie G. Rojohn, GRI, ABR ~ MoonDancer Realty (MoonDancer Realty) over 2 years ago

HI Bryan,

We do not always have control over the pictures that are being taken when a property is being shown by other agents at all, at least at open houses we can monitor things just a bit....

We typically take hundreds of pictures of a home and property and as such we can often eliminate the need for a potential buyer to take additional pictures.

Posted by Peter Pfann @ 1 Percent Realty Victoria, and Pay-Less For Victoria Real Estate Results!, Talk To Peter 250-213-9490 www.pay-lessrealty.com (1 PERCENT REALTY, Victoria BC www.1percentrealtyvictoria.com) over 2 years ago

There are some great points being made here. I wonder, how do you prevent picture taking on a Sunday open house when you are holding open a large home and there are a lot of people going through? You can't be everywhere at all times!

Posted by Phil Caulfield, Mortgage Lender - San Francisco Bay Area (Opes Advisors) over 2 years ago

Bryan, it's so easy to take pictures now-a-days and for some vacant listings, the buyer's agent asked me if he can take video to send it to their folks in India. Though it shows lot of interest, I persomally feel that home is better viewed in person despite the fact that a picture is worth thousand words.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (Keller Williams Realty) over 2 years ago

Well, how about this? A buyer can take photos of a home, if they let you take a photo of them holding up their drivers license? Think about it... If they have a bona-fide reason for taking photos, they should be willing to reciprocate.

Posted by George Fanucci, Internet - Technology - Business - Solutions (CoreFact.com) over 2 years ago

Bryan - Great topic.  Should we allow photos to be taken by open house attendees?  Now that you've raised the topic, I'm undecided.  Pros and cons for both answers.

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) over 2 years ago

I'd probably say "no" to picture taking at open houses.  We have no idea what their motive is at that time.  If a buyer is shown the property via an appointment with a buyer agent - that's different.

Posted by Catherine Condon, Pepperell MA Homes - Middlesex County - Hillsborough County (Short Sales - Integrity Residential Brokerage) over 2 years ago

Hey Bryan, good points.  I always ask permission for my clients from the owner or the listing agent.  If the house is vacant then I just let the clients snap photos.

Posted by Eric Salonga, Your Key to the Central Valley (The Salonga Brothers at Reed Realty) over 2 years ago

I don't know. Myself, I just don't think that is something that if I were a seller I would want. I just don't see the need. If a buyer were truly interested, set another showing to see again, or ask the seller permission.

Outside is public, inside is not.

Posted by Scott Baker, Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area (www.eHomeReports.com Coldwell Banker West Shell) over 2 years ago

I like George's idea of taking a picture of them holding up their driver's license, seems fair.

Posted by Scott Baker, Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area (www.eHomeReports.com Coldwell Banker West Shell) over 2 years ago

Thanks for the post. I was just wondering this very same thing the other day as one of my buyers started to take photos of a home without permission and the listing agent was the son of the owner. 

Posted by Angelica Blatt, Selling the Monterey Peninsula over 15 years! (DeLuca Real Estate) over 2 years ago

I ask for permission from my seller like Eric.  I remind them that there are lots of pictures online and do engage in a conversation about the pictures they are taking and why.

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) over 2 years ago

In our area I believe this may be illegal, but it's definitely a no-no.  I once represented a client who ran a pscychiatric practice from her home.  Due to intense privacy regulations, there were no photos allowed of the rooms where any of her medical records were stored.  And those were rooms buyers would undoubtedly want pictures of.  It's always the best policty to ask first.  One buyer was nearly sued for snapping those shots.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Northern VA (Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 2 years ago

Bryan.  When working with out of town buyers, it is crucial to take more pictures than the standard lot provided by the listing agent.  I was working with some California folks and previewed many a home where I took about 40 more pictures of each home.  They had specific needs and wanted to feel that they were in the house with me.  Thank goodness for Dropbox as I was able to toss all the pictures in the Cloud for their viewing pleasure.  Many times, homeowners were there when I previewd and they were fine with the picture taking. 

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Your Real Estate Resource For Life! (Aspen Lane Real Estate LLC) over 2 years ago

Wow, so many great comments...  I personally agree with George Fanucci's comment above.  Honestly, it's hard to control all picture taking at an open house if there are more than one party there at a time.  If I see it happening, I ask for their contact information for the Seller's security.  Never had a problem! 

Temple - in Ventura, CA.

Posted by Temple Schneider Callahan, Search Ventura County Homes For Sale CA (Connect Real Estate - REALTOR / BROKER (DRE Lic: 01427063)) over 2 years ago

Bryan- congratulations n the Feature and for raising a very interesting topic. I see answers from both sides and you've posed a topic that many will be reviewing. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

Thanks for the blog Bryan!  I have never given it any thought to whether or not it was okay for a Buyer to take pictures, but you brought up some very interesting concerns.  I will definitely keep your comments in mind the next time this happens.

Posted by Cynthia Streza, Real Estate Professional (Deer Creek Village Realty, LLC) over 2 years ago

First of all this is a great topic, and a thought provoking one as well.  I would imagine this is a sensitive subject--on the one hand, most houses on the market are still occupied by their current vacants, and snapping pictures can become an invasion of privacy.  On the other hand, people that are seeing homes with an interest in purchasing them are customers that are not only making a very big and often difficult decision (which has only become more difficult since 2008) and they are entitled, in one way or another, to take pictures.  If I were selling my house, or if I were an agent selling a house, I would have confidence that anybody taking pictures is (a) more interested in buying the house in the first place, (b) photos will leave a stronger impression on someone when making such a decision.

I think that real estate agents should encourage home sellers to allow this practice and tell anybody seeing the house (assuming the home seller agrees with the idea) that they can take pictures but lay down any rules before any pictures are shot.  With smartphones nowadays, it is very easy to not only take pictures that are of generally good quality, but it is easy to also (a) take such pictures much faster, (b) do it silently and discretely.  This creates a situation where people could and some people would inevitably take advantage of, so by permitting it openly, under certain conditions, seems to me like a senisble compromise for all parties.

Posted by Bob Caldwell, VA Mortgage Specialist and Military Relocation Services (Fitzgerald Financial, a Division of Monarch Bank) over 2 years ago

Another issue I hadn't considered. I would consider it fine for a potential buyer to take pictures, but hadn't considered the security issues, so this is a good way to look at it and good guidelines to follow.

Gretchen

Posted by Gretchen & Mel Ahrens (ColumbiaGorgeFSBO.com) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan,  I guess I'm ok with most pictures but absolutely none the kids.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 2 years ago

I say no pictures as we really can't control what pictures they take after we let them take the 1st picture.

Posted by Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities, Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az ) over 2 years ago

Definitely have a discussion with the seller and make sure they are aware of all of the possible ramifications.  Better to be safe than sorry, bearing in mind they are trying to sell their house!

Posted by Susan Haughton, Helping You Buy or Sell Alexandria Real Estate over 2 years ago

Great posts and comments! I'm a photographer and I take pictures everywhere, particularly on a new listings to twit or fb them. So, i ask if it is ok~ usually it is fine with realtor.

 

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Los Angeles / Valley Homes (Mannis Real Estate Group) over 2 years ago

I wanted to add:

The reason, i take my pictures~~ if you use someone's pictures, you should technically ask permission( copyrights).

Also:

I always tell homeowner about this possibility, a lot  of visitors will take pictures( realtors as well as clients)~ even if you tell that they are not allowed to take pictures, they will try to do it anyway.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Los Angeles / Valley Homes (Mannis Real Estate Group) over 2 years ago

My very last point:

NEVER, never, never snap pictures with other people there- without their permission to do it( ideally in writing) .

We just recently had huge lawsuit. A realtor took a picture of his country club for his blog~~ we all do it, right? .

It happened that lawyer was walking by and got accidentally into a picture............long story short: it was VERY expensive for realtor and his company!

Bad luck~~ you'll say, but why would you risk to a chance of such?

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Los Angeles / Valley Homes (Mannis Real Estate Group) over 2 years ago

The law is a little different in Ontario.

The buyer can take outside shots. Anything else requires permission.

A real estate agent can only take outside pictures if it does not identify a particular property.

Anything else requires permission.

In both cases, the photographer must be on other property, not that of the subject (tresspassing).

So, public areas are fine, and the neighbour's property, with permission of the neighbour.

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 2 years ago

I think a lot of very valid points are brought up in the comments above, I do agree that you need to watch somebody if they are taking a few pictures.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 2 years ago

Bryan, it depends. It is only courteous to ask, and if the owner has given permission, then fine. If you get very creepy feelings about the person, then I would say no, but if there is genuine interest and they are shooting angles of rooms to remember them, then this might help them get the house sold.

Sharon

 

Posted by Sharon Alters, Your Fleming Island Relocation Agents. (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty) over 2 years ago

Asking is a must, however it depends on what they want to take a picture of, there are always shots that we usually don't take.  I think it's okay, with seller's permission.

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 2 years ago

I think they have to ask - and your seller has ot be ok with it.

Posted by Linda Edelwich, Glasotnbury Office's #1 Top Producing Agent-not on (William Raveis Real Estate) over 2 years ago

Bryan, I have recently begun to take pictures of the appliances. That way, if my buyer requests them I have a record on file of what the appliances looked like and the manufacturer's name.

Posted by Tammie White, Franklin TN, South of Nashville (Benchmark Realty, LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.TWRealtyGroup.net) over 2 years ago

If a home is occupied I make it a practice to ask the listing agent.  Recently there were no inside photos on the MLS of a home that an out of town buyer wanted photos of so I got in touch with the listing agent who had me call and meet with the seller directly to allow and monitor what photos I took.  I find that perfectly acceptable for an occupied home.

Posted by Tammy Lankford, Your Lake Sinclair Expert (706-485-9668) (Lane Realty) over 2 years ago

This is kind of a silly concern as far as I can see. If homeowners are concerned about personal items, it's simple, remove them and make sure they are out of site. They should be doing that anyway. The simple act of putting a sign in front of your home or advertising the sale online can be considered a security risk but it is a common practice in our business. Open houses are a far greater security risk.

If a buyer is taking pictures, it's more than likely it is a property they are seriously considering it or maybe wants to send certain pics to their spouse or family that is important considerations that may have not been shown in the marketing. For example, most listings do not shoot all pictures of bathrooms, basement etc.

If your client is concerned about the security risk, don't have an open house.

Prep your clients up front this will likely happen and have them prep their home accordingly. That is the simple and most reasonable solution.

Posted by Raymond Kennedy (Keller Williams Preferred Realty) over 2 years ago

Bryan: 

I first ask my client if it is OK for people at open houses to take pictures of the house.  I do make sure they are not taking pictures of personal possession.  If the house is vacant than its OK to take pictures.  My photographer takes at least 25 pictures and I think for most people that is enough.  I don't mind if agents take pictures, especially if I know the agent and they ask permission.   Is CAR pushing the law you mention?

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Gallagher & Lindsey, Alameda, California) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan, If they're escorted by a buyers agent, I assume they've been vetted.  If not, asking the questions you mentioned certainly makes sense.

Posted by Ron Cooks, Texas Real Estate, Ft Hood/Killeen Homes for Sale (Options Realty Group / Credit Consultant) over 2 years ago

Bryan...

Wow, these is a very interesting topic and one that I had not seen addressed before. At an open house, the rule should always be "no"IMHO, because the visitor is both unqualified and unidentified.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Coweta Newnan Homes for Sale (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers) over 2 years ago

I'm glad everyone is enjoying the discussion around this topic.  It's seems that the vast majority of us as in agreement as to requiring permission for taking photos.

Evelyn - I don't think they're pushing a law at this point but perhaps rules or guidelines are as far as it'll go.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Catarra Real Estate, Inc) over 2 years ago

Bryan,  You bring up some great points.  When I tour with a number of houses with clients I suggest that they take some photos of what they like and what they dislike about each house.  That way when they are done they have a personal reference to jog their memory. 

I'm always with them so I know what they are shooting.  I have clients where she wants the kitchen and he wants the family room.  It helps later when they are comparing notes and eliminating properties.

Posted by Bonnie Vaughan, CNE SFR - Buyers/Sellers - Lackawanna & Surroundin (Re/Max Home Team) over 2 years ago

I once had an agent turn down my request to do a walk-through video for the wife of buyer in another state. He wanted to add dialogue and share it as he saw it. Request denied. Home unsold.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Broker for San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton (Vickie Nagy, Broker Associate Realty ONE Group BMC Associates | BRE#01363932) over 2 years ago

I've found that it's not just buyers who visit open houses who want to take photos.  Many times I've taken buyers out on a tour of homes for viewing where the listing agent is not present and want to take photos for their own personal recollection or to show another family member.  I feel very uncomfortable allowing them to do it without having prior permission from the listing agent and seller in situations like that. 

Posted by Donna Bigda, Greater New Haven CT Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance) over 2 years ago

I've had buyers ask to do it - usually so they can remember details from one house to another.  If it is vacant, then it is okay.  I tell them if it is occupied, we need to get permission.

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) over 2 years ago

At an open house hopefully the seller has removed all valuables, including anything that can be a five finger discount, for anyone coming into see the home. It is really hard to control buyers that go through the home in clusters, unless you have enough help on hand.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 2 years ago

Bryan, You have given some great guidelines to work by.  My business has a lot of relocation buyers so photos and video are huge in order to get a buyer to contract.  This is why I always tell sellers to put stuff away! 

Posted by JO SOSS, Kitsap County WA Real Estate - HOMEFRONT Realty (HOMEFRONT Realty) over 2 years ago

Very valid queation. I believe it can be beneficial for potential buyers to take additional photos. Just the other night I've stumbled across an agent who posted a picture of personal belongings on Twitter. It was just a book with a funny title, but I felt that was highly inappropriate...

Posted by David Myre (VIP Realty) over 2 years ago

Bryan - with the number of photos good agents put up on a listing web site there is no need to take any. Here in Ontario you need permission to take even those so you had better not be taking any at an open house.

Posted by Kathy Clulow, CNE - ASP - SRES .... Uxbridge Ontario Real Estate (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) over 2 years ago

Bryan ~ this is a great discussion and I can certainly see having some caveats about the taking of photos in an occupied home.  In a vacant one, it seems OK and may indicate interest in the property.  Many sellers though may be uncomfortable with buyers taking lots of interior photos, so your scenario of when it's OK seems very logical.  I'm always advising my clients in occupied homes to hide everything personal or of value ... you can't be too careful.

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 2 years ago

I once had a guy (and his wife) taking multiple pictures in a room. He would walk off how wide it was, hold out his hand and finger(s), and take a picture. First pic would be 1 finger, they next pic would be 5. I asked him what he's doing and he said "this is how I remember the measurements of the rooms. This one is 15 x (whatever)." I told him to stop. They're listed right here on the sheet I gave you.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 2 years ago

Or what about other agents who take shots to use in their blogs?  I do that, usually with the listers permission, though not always.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, For Your Home in the Capital (Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Brian, what a thorough and concise blog! Congrats on the feature and this is something I am sure we have all wanted to know at some point. When I was sent to Missouri to look for homes alone, I had to take pictures just to show hubby later but I did ask. Although most were vacant, I did feel awkward taking pictures when people were still living there but was permitted to nonetheless. Great blog!

Posted by Tammy Emineth, Content Marketer, SEO Teacher, Website Fixer (Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing) over 2 years ago

Brian:  As a seller, my personal preference would be to say a firm no on this.  Especially at Open Houses, as you don't know the circumstances of visitors .. nor are they monitored as well at times.  How do you know why they are taking photos .. and of what?  This just makes me nervous on many levels ...

Gene 

Posted by Gene Mundt, Mortgage Lender - Chicago/Chicagoland Mortgages (www.genemundt.com) over 2 years ago

Brian,

Great points.  There are plenty of times I go to either take pictures or make a video of a home that my relocating clients are interested in.  I have sold many a home off of those pictures or videos.  I always tell the agent or appointment desk the purpose for my visit.  

Posted by Larry Story, Total Care Realty, LLC, Greensboro, NC Real Estate (Total Care Realty) over 2 years ago

Bryan, I never thought of this, but since I'm becoming an agent I need to start thinking of this stuff. I'm like you, I'd let them take pictures if it were vacant, but I'd ask the seller's permission before letting them take pictures of an occupied home..that could get sticky. 

Posted by Lynda White, Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty (Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How) over 2 years ago

When I'm with my buyers the answer is no in an occupied home. Same with staying together in an occupied home. In vacant homes there is less stress of something going missing or concern of pictures being taken. With respect to country clubs not wanting pictures to be taken and lawyers getting in the pictures of bystanders; get a life. I lived in a city and state where there was a particular golf course that got media attention years ago when someone drove by the entrance, got out of the car and began taking pictures of the fairway. The security guards decided it best to tackle the guy and rip out all the film in the camera.

Posted by Randy Elgin, Sells Affordable Homes for sale in the San Antonio (Keller Williams, San Antonio, Helotes, Leon Valley) over 2 years ago

I have buyers ask often if they can take photos with their camera or phone..  for their own review of the property..  

Posted by Judi K Barrett, Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB (Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma) over 2 years ago

If your not willing to allow pictures than maybe having an open house isn't for you. Your letting strangers into you home to look into your closets and case out your valuables as it is a few pictures for someone to remember the house by is probably not going to be the issue. If they are still interested in buying it after being told not to take pictures all they have to do is call an agent for a private showing who will probably allow pictures. I can see why people are uncomfortable with it but I doubt it will ever stop. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 2 years ago

Bryan - I agree with the way you handle this.  I'm interested to see what CAR will determine.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 2 years ago

I agree with the way you do this too.  I know buyers see so many properties that they start to jumble in their heads.  If they can look at a photo that they took it helps them remember the home.  If they're obnoxious in an occupied home, I tell them not to, but that's rare.

Posted by Valerie Crowell, Broker Associate (Keller Williams) over 2 years ago

Personally, for most buyers, I think they need not take photos until AFTER they have a contract on the home. I am more than happy to show it to them as many times as necessary for them to make a decision.  There are always special circumstances which might require obtaining written permission from the seller for additional photos to be taken by the buyer's Realtor and emailed to the buyer.

Posted by Joni Staples, Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR® (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties) over 2 years ago

Excellent Post and Question.  I typically encourage a buyer to take pictures of homes that we tour.  It shows motivation and enthusiasm.  But recently I was scolded for allowing a buyer to take pictures of a short sale property where the owner still occupied the home.  As we were looking around the home I quickly became aware that nearly all of the fixtures, cabinetry, lighting, appliances, plumbing were missing!  The light switches had been wired to shock the individual who used it.  I quickly waved my buyer away from using his camera but not before he had already snapped a few.  After we left I explained that we just witnessed proof of what a distraught homeowner will do when losing his home.  My buyer now had recorded evidence of the crime.  Sure enough, I had a phone message from the listing agent informing me that the seller was very irate that my buyer took photographs of his home however innocent his intentions really were.  It is always best to ask permission before snapping away.

Posted by Diane Wheatley, Broker, SoCal Real Estate Expert (909) 815-4499 (Move Up Properties) over 2 years ago

Great list of why someone can take pics!  We have people coming in with video cameras too.  Most of the time they are not allowed to take pics due to valuables.  Besides we have professional photography for our listings.  Good advice.  Kristine :)

 

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Realtors, Santa Monica Real Estate, CA (www.KimAndKristine.com, Santa Monica Real Estate :) ) over 2 years ago

I always think it is a good idea to get permission to take any photos.  It usally is not a problem.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 2 years ago

Congrats on the feature! You make some excellent points for agents to be aware of when hosting an open house. Keeping a close eye on the previewers is critical to the safety of the sellers and the agents, Thanks for sharing and have a great week.

Posted by Laurie Clark CRB Angel Realty LLC Your Monument Realtor 719-502-6572, Angel Realty, LLC (CRB-CCSS-ASD-HBS-RSD-Denver Short Sale Agents) over 2 years ago

If the home is occupied then I would not let a prospective buyer take any photographs of the inside of the home without permission from the occupant. If a prospective buyer wants to take photos from public areas then I don't have a problem. If another realtor wants to take photos for a propective buyer then I would allow the realtor to take any outside photos that they wanted but I would still seek approval from the occupant before more interior photos were taken. If there is an accepted offer then the appraiser and the home inspector will be taking more photos and I would also encourage the occupant to allow the buyer or the buyer's agent to take more photos of the interior.

Posted by George Bennett, Inactive Principal Broker, GRI (Inactive) over 2 years ago

Bryan, ir's a violatiin in our mls for an agent to allow anyone to take photos of the house without the seller's express consent. 

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, REALTOR - Chicagonulls Western Suburbs (Baird&Warner Fox Valley) over 2 years ago

In thirty years, I have never asked anyone to stop taking photos.  Prior to Open House, I educate the seller or the tenant about what to expect and to put away private things.  I look at it this way, when a Realtor shows the property to their potential buyer, I don't see what they are doing since I'm not there.

Posted by Bruce Hicks, CRS- Your Friend/Helper for Lifetime! 808.9551577 (Best Homes Hawaii) over 2 years ago

Hi Brian--this is a very interesting discussion.  When my husband and I were looking for a new home last year he always carried his camera and took lots of photos.  It was more for us to remember the home than anything else.  Most of the time we were accompanied by our Realtor, but there were times we walked into an open house.  I can see the issue of security, although I am so honest it would never occur to me that people would take photos for devious reasons!

Posted by Janet Jones, Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (Just Your Style Interiors, LLC) over 2 years ago

I don't get the request often, but do check with the sellers before giving permission, and keep an eye out on the photographer.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (the BlueWater Realty team specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 2 years ago

I totally get and respect the NO PICTURE rule of an OCCUPIED OWNER home as this could just be another way to scope out the home for robbing it later.

This has already been approached in the use of virtual tours as a means to select homes to burglarize as well.

The fact that one state is finally thinking this way might be the sign of things to come. 

I know when I went to shoot a virtual tour recently, the homeowner wanted to make sure valuable art was not put on the internet for the world to see.

Posted by Kevin B. Tolbert PA Team, New Home Construction and Luxury Specialist! (Keller Williams Realty of Port Saint Lucie) over 2 years ago

Brian, you allow pictures in vacant houses?  Has it occured to you that someone might then throw those pictures onto  Craigs List illegally to advertise it as a rental they own?  Even asking why the pictures are being taken is a it silly because if someone intends to do something illegal they will not answer you truthfully.

Posted by Miriam Bernstein, CRS, New Orleans and Surrounding Suburbs Real Estate (RE/MAX N.O. Properties) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan,

Great point. I have never thought of it as a security risk, but you are certainly right. I think if an owner knows a bunch of people will be walking thorough their home for an Open House, they are best served to remove important personal items. I will definiteyl clear it with my owners and think about it from now on...

Posted by Rachel Tipton (Litchfield Real Estate) over 2 years ago
Good question. Security of the homeowner is key. I think a buyer should be with their agent to show they are serious about buying. There are a lot of con artists out there. Staging the listing would help in the area of removing personal items that may identify the property, but I am sure the listing agent would have already taken shots of the property that the buyer could use to help remember the home. Joni's comment rings very true. There is no need to take pictures til after the deal is signed.
Posted by Cindy Snider (UPSTAGE) over 2 years ago

WOW!!!   I agree that it is so easy to just take pictures with our phones.  Sellers should be cautioned to have all valuable information and things placed either in their car trunks, or under lock and key somewhere so that is not a concern.   I'm afraid my attitude about homes on the market is that they are a commodity, just like any product in a store, and buyers should be able to turn it upside down and inside out.  That includes pictures.    It is a HUGE purchase.   

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) over 2 years ago

I think professional courtesy would dictate that all agents ask first. Sellers should also take precautions not to leave anything out that they wouldn't want photgraphed, and many sellers don't want their childrens rooms photographed. If sellers didn't want any pics taken, I would put that in the MLS as part of the show instruction, and even have a notice posted at the house " Sellers request that no pictures be taken".  But after it's under contract, it might be ok for the buyers to take additional pics. Some sellers think they can switch window treatments, appliances, and lighting fixtures, for example.

Posted by Jeff Pearl (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 2 years ago

George:  I love the idea of taking a photo of the driver's license when the prospective buyer wants to photograph an open house.  That should keep them bona fide or stop them quickly.

Open houses are such a liability for the REALTOR® and the seller, anyway, and nowadays (is that a word?) you never can tell where those pictures will be posted on the internet.  As REALTORS® we are restricted by the NAR Code of Ethics, but your average buyers have no ethical restrictions.

Posted by Debbie Solano, CRS -- Tulsa, Oklahoma Horse Properties & Land (Coldwell Banker Select, Realtors -- Tulsa, Oklahoma) over 2 years ago

That is a good idea Debbie.   You'd feel pretty foolish if there was an issue and you didn't know who you gave permission to - or perhaps you could take a photo of them.

Posted by Yvette Chisholm, Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500 (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Great points Bryon! I often get asked by buyers if they can take pictures. Maybe this permission should be discussed during the listing presentation.

Posted by Christine Ordze, ABR, CCS, ePro (Royal LePage Benchmark) over 2 years ago

Sometimes part of the issue is that the listing agent doesn't put any pictures in the MLS. Usually when I get that request it is from someone who has previewed the property already and that I have prequalified with a mortgage broker. If not my isting I always ask.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 2 years ago

I even will preview homes for my clients who cant see a perfect home or location right away and take photos myself so that they can decide earlier if they like the home or not. Lots of agents will list the home without photos or not enough.

We aim to please

www.MarleneDietirchNewportCoastRealtor.com

949-400-1021

Posted by Marlene Dietrich over 2 years ago

My rule is if they ask and the owners no longer live there they can.  Usually it's not necessary because I have the property photographed for marketing.

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Coldwell Banker ) over 2 years ago
Bryan - this is exactly why I caution my sellers against open houses. They are one of the most unsafe practices we Realtors do. Unsafe for us and definitely unsafe for the sellers. Pictures or no pictures.
Posted by Lisa Ackerson, CRS - Dallas Fort Worth Area Expert - (817) 994-6639 (DFW Fine Properties) over 2 years ago

Buyers often don't give it a second thought to take out a camera and shoot photos.  I always politely tell them this is not allowed (at an open house or a viewing where I am there as a buyer agent) unless we specifically have permission from the seller or sellers agent.  When I explain to them about security issues, they understand.  It just had never occurred to them.

Posted by Robin Gilman over 2 years ago

This could be a fine kettle of fish! I'm going to speak to my broker - I don't even know if we HAVE rules about this in Ohio at this time!

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson Stow Cuyahoga Falls Silver Lak (RE/MAX Haven - Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 2 years ago

Be sure to take a picture of the picture-taker.

If they object, throw them out.

Posted by Peter Lake (LAKE Real Estate) over 2 years ago

If there are 20-30 photos of the home posted online, it's unlikely anyone will feel the need to post photos.  On the other hand, if there's nothing more than an exterior photo, you can't blame them.  Like so many things in real estate, I think this has to be one of those "case by case" decisions.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114) over 2 years ago

 

This is one of the many reasons where and why a Professional Virtual Tour comes in handy. With A Professional Virtual Tour, You are supplied with Links to the Tour which you can in turn send to prospective buyers, giving them no reason to take their own Pictures. Professional Virtual Tours should never include close-up images of personal items. They will sometimes include close-up detail images of unique aspects of the home but most images will be wide angle shots of the rooms giving buyers all the information they could need as far as colors, layout etc.

 

 

 

Posted by Dale Hart (DragonFly 360 Imaging) over 2 years ago

I get a bit uneasy at an open house that has belongings if pictures are taken. My rule is I need a full sign up if they want that to happen.

now laugh for a moment: I had an open house 6 years ago where I told the prospective buyer that walked in he could not take pictures until he had fill out the sign in sheet. So he sign's the sign in sheet as 'joe blow' ... I look at him and ask him for ID as Joe Blow ( this is miami, so you just never know? ), sure as pie he pulls out an ID as Joe Blow... I let him take pictures. LOL

Posted by Michael Rasch, Michael Rasch 305-741-1819 (Keller Williams Elite Realty) over 2 years ago

Byran, this is the case in Texas as far as taking VIDEOs.  On our MLS sheet... there is a place where the seller gives a yes or no answer to allowing video to be taken of their homes during showings.  I have not seen anything as far as just photos.

So... if it were just up to me as far as simple photo taking... if it was a buyer whom I had been working with for a long time, and had shown many hopes to... I would be much less against it than I would be for a buyer who only wanted to look at one home... and started taking lots of pictures.  I would immediately tell that buyer... if the seller had not allowed videos... that the seller does not allow... pictures.  Just my take... and I do not know if there are any rules in any other states.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 2 years ago

Photographs will be taken regardless of the intentions of the agents or the sellers. Every listing agent should explain the security risks involved in open houses and when homes are shown for sale. 

Anything that the sellers do not want to have photographed should be put away while the home is offered for sale.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Retired Real Estate Broker, Maryland Blogger) over 2 years ago
This has always been a concern if mine. As the listing agent I am concerned about my sellers safety and security and advise them to lock up small electronics, jewlery, prescription medicine... anything of value that's pocketable. The premise is that your home is on the market for sale so start packing. When I represent a buyer I of course want them to remember a home they really like or love so I try to point out specific features that will stand out to trigger their memory of the home. I have in the past let approved buyers take pictures of vacant houses. Thanks Mariam for pointing out the danger of someone putting them on Craigslist as a scam and you too George for suggesting taking a picture of their drivers license.
Posted by Nuncita over 2 years ago

I love your comment about asking why they are taking pictures, it is MORE than a fair question and the answer will tell you a bunch about what concerns you might or should have...nice

Posted by Steve Barker, Steve Barker (Movement Mortgage) over 2 years ago
Whenever a buyer has asked, it because they are paying close attention to what they see online, and know that there were few or no photos online. And usually it is because they have more than a passing interest in the house.
Posted by Karen Crowson, Livermore Wine Country Homes (Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA) over 2 years ago

Thanks for all the comments from all over the country!  I have read every comment.  The one comment I see that I most wish I had included in my original post is that buyers often taken pictures in homes where the listing agent only puts up 1-2 photos.  I totally understand that.  In homes with 20-30 pictures plus a video tour, extra photos probably aren't necessary.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Catarra Real Estate, Inc) over 2 years ago

And with the advent of the very good phone/cameras this becomes even more difficult to monitor.

Posted by Jim Miner, Residential Seller and Investment Specialist (Miner Noh & Associates) over 2 years ago

Security should be a concern whether, or not, photographs/videos are being taken. 

I'm hesitant to invent new rules just for this type of activity.  Rather - simply prove who you are (DL/Valid I.D.) when you enter the property (put a sign by the entry "I.D. Required for Viewing" if you will.)  This simple activity will curtail most issues that might arise.

Naturally agents should keep an eye of folks - showing agents should inspect the property before holding it open - Fluff and Flush (etc.)  Buyer's agents - presumably know who their clients are and should also keep an eye on things.

To me - unless a client specifically states they do not wish to allow any sort of video/photography - it doesn't make sense to reinvent the (security) wheel.  Nor, to be in-your-face about it upon viewing. 

Posted by Otto Routh, Smart Austin (apartment) Locating (Smart Austin Locating) over 2 years ago

Interesting, I have never thought about not allowing photos at an open house..   I never considered the criminal element.

Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty licensed in GA and AL (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 2 years ago

Bryan - This is something we should address with our clients prior to an Open House.  It's their decision, but this post and the comments are very helpful in helping to explain the pros and cons to our Sellers.  If there are already a lot of pictures and a video tour, then you have to ask why do they need more pictures???  Of course, with cell phone cameras, anyone at an Open House can unobtrusively take photos of security details without even asking permission.  Agents can't be everywhere in the house.

Posted by Gail Robinson, CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT (William Raveis Real Estate) over 2 years ago

There are also many  pictures of the home all over the internet..

Posted by Ron Aguilar, Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995 (Real Estate Buying Advice) over 2 years ago

I disagree somewhat - if the property is vacant who cares obviously. Even if you allow certain pictures of a room, you can still see the security monitors (motion detectors) possibly of that room, etc. that can cause a problem. I say NO.

How do you want your own house to be treated?

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Homes (RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago) over 2 years ago

Might be a good idea to have discs available at open houses with pics taken by seller and their agent. That way seller could control content and the buyer may notice things they missed during the walk through. Be nice if ALL agents took the max amount of pics allowed by their MLS. Drives me insane when I see a half million dollar listing with one bad pic.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 2 years ago

Bryan

What a great discussion you've generated. I don't recall seeing this discussed before but it's a great topic. I think that asking permission is appropriate, and if a seller does not want photos people should be told in advance, or if security, etc, is a grave concern don't have the open house. And even if you tell someone no photos, with smartphones it's unlkely tyoucan prevent it unless you follow each person from room to room, and in a busy OH that would be impossible, and behavior that would turn of prospects IMO.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler CRS, Carlsbad CA Homes for Sale (760) 840-1360 (Solutions Real Estate ) over 2 years ago

Everyone has a camera in their pocket these days. With having an Open House you are inviting the public. So even if you said no, the people who are doing it for the wrong reasons could still take photos while your back is turned. Just warn the clients that everything is public when your house goes on the market...

Posted by The Derrick Team - Indy Metro Realtors, You Pet Friendly Realtors (Carpenter Realtors) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for bringing up this issue. Since I have never worked in a high crime area, it never occured to me that someone could have objections to pictures. Many of my buyers bring their camera on showings.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) over 2 years ago

Great Post.  It is hard top stop people taking pictures but you have to watch what they are doing.  They must log into my visitor list and give a phone number or email.  I usually look up people on my laptop idf I am able for added security.  I have even had a customer have all their security room cameras on and the seller watching what happens in every room.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 2 years ago

Interesting discussion as I often take photos at open houses, and use them one at a time in articles I blog about (www.hometips4women.com/articles). When the person hosting the open house asks (they rarely do), I give them my card which identifies where photos will go ... and occassionally, a realtor will call the owners who have always said it was okay. My shots are always of a room or unique home feature like a kitchen island. I never take closeups as I couldn't use them (I do photograph closeups in my own homw for articles like, too many kitchen gadgets,

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) over 2 years ago

This is a good topic for a blog post, thanks for sharing.  I've seen buyers take video as well.  It is courteous to ask first!

 

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) over 2 years ago

The Maine standard form listing agreement allows the AGENCY to take interior and exterior photos IF the Seller checks the "yes" box.  It doesn't allow anyone else to take photos.  If a buyer (at a showing or open house - makes no difference) asks to take photos of one of my listings, I tell them the Seller has not authorized that.  If I am showing a buyer client the listings of others and they want to take photos, it is only OK if the listing agent is also present and allows it.  If we are looking at houses on our own, I tell them we don't have permission to take photos, so "no."  I don't know why so many distinguish between an occupied and unoccupied house.  To me, the unoccupied house is more of a security risk simply because it is unoccupied.  A buyer who shares those photos on facebook so friends and family can see what they may be thinking of purchasing, also could be sending those photos to copper thieves and vandals.  What about tenant-occupied homes?  No.  I say no to photos unless I get specific permission from the Seller for each individual request.

Posted by TERRY DRISCOLL, REALTOR - Get the Attention You Deserve! (MAINE HOME REALTY) over 2 years ago
There have been times when I have permitted a few photos when someone wants to show them to their spouse, but there have been a few times when I was creeped out and asked someone not to take photos when I suspected their motives. It's a touchy subject.
Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 2 years ago

If someone is that interested in the house, they should schedule a showing with their buyer's agent present.  As long as I know that someone is represented with an exclusive buyers agency agreement, I would allow the prospective buyer to take photos of the interior. 

Posted by Martin Kalisker, Weichert, REALTORS - Synergy: MA Real Estate & Mor (WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Synergy) over 2 years ago

Only thing worse than a Realtor playing Lawyer is a Realtor playing Cop.

Your Plan sounds like a sure-fire way to Lose a Sale.

Seller shouldn't have personal possessions on display during an open house!

If a group of Tattooed Gang Bangers enter an Open House:

1. Check their credit or cash supply

2. Sell the house

3. Get Your Commission Check

 

 

Posted by Ira Rudolph, Watts Realty California over 2 years ago

If listing agents take plenty of photos the buyer shouldn't need to take photos. When doing an open house, I make DVD's of the virtual tour to hand to potential buyers that are really interested. It frustrates me as a buyer's agent when I see listings with only 1 to 6 photos. Especially if it's not an REO property. When I see homes with less than 25 photos, I wonder what they are afraid to show potential buyers. When I get to homes with only 5 photos and they are very well maintained and nice homes, I wonder why the seller hired an agent who doesn't realize that buyers start searching on the internet and at least 25 photos and a virtual tour are a must in today's real estate market. Sellers should check out what the agent does to market properties before they hire them!

Posted by Kalene Bagwell, Realtor - Selling Blue Springs - Kansas City Metro (Realty Executives Of Kansas City) over 2 years ago

I've never even given this a second thought.  Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase a person will make, and if they want to take pictures of the homes they see so they have something to refer back to when choosing the home that's right for them, then so be it.  Yes, most listings have pictures included, but often times those pictures aren't enough for the buyers.  They might want pictures from different angles, or perhaps they want to take a picture because the one in the MLS makes the room look so much larger because the picture was taken with a wide angle lens and they want a true feeling for the size of the room.  And let's face it, how often do you see pictures in the listing that highlight damage to the home or things that need to be fixed?  These are most certainly things a buyer will want to have. So if a buyer wants to take pictures, snap away. 

Posted by Kimm Cloutier, Realtor - Agawam, MA 413.642.1655 over 2 years ago

Well, this is an interesting topic Bryan. I never really thought much about both sides of this topic. I see valid points on both sides. I'm guessing permission from the Seller would be needed. If it is a flat out "No" from the Seller, maybe posting a sign that says "No Photos and No Videos Allowed" just in case you are too busy to actually say it to every individual that walks in the door.

Posted by Dominique Britton, Experience the Difference in Real Estate Services (GoHomeToAtlanta.com Realty LLC - 678.250.5022) over 2 years ago

The way I handle this is I offer to take photos of rooms and features not included by the listing agent so the buyers can "spend more time looking at the home."  This way, I am the one in control of what is photographed and there are no security issues.  Buyers will ask me to take photos of areas they want to remember, but no one has ever asked me to photograph personal belongings or security systems, and I've never had a buyer argue that they wanted to take their own photos.  They enjoy the convenience and extra service I am providing and I send them the photos by e-mail the same day.

Posted by Angela Ross over 2 years ago

CYA----GET WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Posted by Don McComb over 2 years ago

This matter has come up among a couple of my advertising/marketing clients. I tell them that if more than one person asks about taking photos it would mean that the photos on the listing advertisement (flyer, online ad, etc.) are obviously not sufficient and need to be updated and/or added to.

 

My other point is that I would be against allowing photos being taken at an Open House, but would use the opportunity to schedule a "private" showing for that to happen. If the person isn't willing to schedule an appointment and allow for a follow up opportunity, you certainly do NOT want him/her taking photos.

 

Just as the purpose of the resume is to get the interview (not the job), the purpose of the open house is to schedule a future showing.

Posted by Dave Kohl, Real Estate Advertising & Marketing Expert (First In Promotions) over 2 years ago

Avoid any problems and ask the seller if they agree or disagree to allow a buyer to take pictures during an open house or showing, it is only one more form to sign at the listing and saves headaches latter on. If the seller says no then it is a simple answer when asked, " at the sellers request no", no need for discussion. I have the sellers sign a form allowing the use of photos and video for listings, should include the request for third party requests also thanks for the ah ha moment.

Posted by Tibor I. Olah (Apex Results Realty Inc.Brokerage) over 2 years ago

Roy Kelly and Kimm Cloutier make the best arguments: While the property is listed it's the "property" of the listing agent, the sellers are only using it. Encourage the sellers to anything that they would not otherwise wish to be public knowledge away. On Kimm's comments, many homes are poorly photo graphed anyway, or buyer's just wish to take their own pictures. Its part of their memory recall process. After a while all the homes become a blur but taking a few pictures themselves helps keep order.

Plus with facebook people are posting a daily log with pictures of what they did. Perhaps their digital recording could help sell a property to a friend. Otherwise if all this just sounds too invasive, listing agents should discuss this topic with the sellers and post a sign on the front door and at the sign in sheet... Please No Photographs.

Posted by Bart Foster, Boston MA Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Boston - Metro) over 2 years ago

great subject, post and comments.  I like to err on the side of discretion.  At an open house, the buyer should pass an informal screen of qualification and motive.  Attended by an agent, we hope they are equally screened.  In all cases, buyers' photography should be confined to realty, never personalty.

Posted by Scott Gleason, Westfield NJ New Homes Specialist (RE/MAX Properties Unlimited) over 2 years ago

I have had several clients who want to take pictures, and even videos when touring homes. I ususally tell them the following:

  1. If the owner is there, or their agent is there, they should ask permission.
  2. If we are there by ourselves, I tell them they can take pictures, but that none of them can be posted online.

There was also a great Active Rain Blog about posting pictures with children's names on them online. For example, bedroom pictures that reveal the names of the children. I can't find it at the moment, but it was a security issue that I had not thought of, but am very aware of now.

 

Posted by Dana Hollish Hill, Vice President & Associate Broker (Buyer's Edge Company, Inc.) over 2 years ago

It depends on the property and the seller, doesn't it? As a seller, i wouldn't object because I'm exiting the property regardless and would do anything I can do to close the sale.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Kimo's Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 2 years ago

With over 100 contributions to you post so far, Bryan, it is hard to imagine that I can add anything really new. Our MLS allows for 30 photos on for a listing. We do put 30 photos up for our listings. With 30 photos available on the MLS it is hard to imagine that additional photos will reveal significant new information for a buyer.

Posted by John Juarez, CDPE, ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN (Prudential California Realty) over 2 years ago

Interesting opinions on both sides of this question. I can see a definite advantage for the buyers - especially if they are viewing several homes in a day and trying to keep the details straight. Also see the security risk for sellers.

I expect the answer is in a case by case basis.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 2 years ago

It is a legal question, so here is the view of an intellectual property lawyer.  As for inside the house, it is up to the owner.  They can condition coming inside to taking no pix, if you can physically enforce it. Do it anyway after being warned (I would put up a sign "no interior photos or you will have to leave.") and it is probably a misdemeanor in most states.

Generally exteriors are pix of architectural materials, copyright protected once completed, but the law (it is federal and I doubt one state can overrule it) allows making pictures so long as the building Can be seen from a public place.  But don't take pictures of people without their permission, because it is potentially a violation (think $$$) of their right to control publicizing their likeness.

This is a general statement of basic legal principles and does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

Phil Marcus

www.youripattorney.com

Posted by Phil Marcus over 2 years ago

As long as the pictures are of general nature at a open house and the viewer ask it is alright. After all it is an open house. If there is such concern I would not have an open house to the public. 

Posted by Frank Rubi, Homes for Sale Metairie, La. (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC.) over 2 years ago

Are we as real estate agents going to have to put up a No Pictures sign near the front door?  With permission I have had buyers take pictures to send to their husbnad/wife who is not there. Then I know who the buyer is and note it in my listing file.

Posted by Steve Davis, Carlsbad CA (Davis Coastal Properties) over 2 years ago

Very thought provoking and appreciated.  It pays to think about things like this ahead of time in order to be prepared with a response, and get up front Seller permission

Posted by Derk Simonson over 2 years ago

my opinion:

If you're a seller who doesn't want pictures taken because of security concerns...don't have an open house! 

 

Posted by Damon Botticelli, Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate (Silver State Realty & Investments) over 2 years ago

Recently I had a Hindu homeowner request that I not photograph a bedroom which he had turned into a "prayer room."  He considered it sacred and referred to it as "God's room."  I am certain that he would not want members of the public snapping away during an open house. 

That said, when I'm showing homes to people who've been prequalified and screened, and can monitor what they're photographing, I usually don't stop them from taking photos.  Once I had a prospective tenant stream a live video tour of a vacant property to his wife via his smart phone.  It saved them and me from having to do multiple showings.  We were able to sign a lease on the spot. 

One major justification for a prospective buyer taking interior photos has already been discussed.  Listing agents who do not include interior photos with a listing practically invite prospective buyers to take photos when they're being shown the property. 

I strongly believe that interior photos are an important part of being 'honest' with a listing.  It it's an REO property and/or the interior is in rough shape, prospective buyers and their agents show know that.  I've had countless Web inquiries about listings from other agents where no interior photos have been included.  They are usually asking me for interior photos, which should have been taken and uploaded by the listing agent.  Even with my REO listings I post the photos, so I don't waste agent's and buyer's time showing and seeing properties in which they would have no interest.

When I see a listing with no interior photos I usually have two reactions;  1. The listing agent was too lazy to take and post interior photos or; 2.  The listing agent is ashamed of the listing's interior.  Either way, I'm not too keen to show such properties.

Posted by Lewis A. Edge Jr. (Richard A. Weidel Corporation) over 2 years ago

A couple things bother me about this. 1   listing agents you should be communicating with your sellers that STRANGERS MAY BE UNACCOMPANIED IN THEIR HOMES DURING AN OPEN HOUSE while you are with another customer.  It happens all the time groups come into an openhouse at the same time.  one person can't be everywhere. 2 listing agents you should have the conversation that the SELLERS should not leave valuables on display while the home is for sale.   have them store their pricey art, jewelery and furnishing use a STAGER.   You need to educate them on security risks associated with an open house before being concerned about photographs from random customers.    If the home has highend appointments, fixtures, furnishing and artwork perhaps you may want to rethink the OPEN HOUSE.  It's not for every seller.     3 just because the mls only allows so many pictures doesn't mean you can't take more and have them available for buyers.      it's your customer, provide customer service. 

however the conversation started with Open House photos.   To protect yourself and your client simply have a sign next to the sign in sheet, no photos please.  offer to provide any photos they may want.  90% will honor the request.   the other 10% will be a problem no matter what.  

Posted by Lynda Cadieux Ferland Realtor KWCR over 2 years ago

It seems to be a different story if you have the buyer or the seller. It's a great way for buyers to share the information quickly, especially if one of the family can't make the appointment to see the house. I would hope that the buyers would ask first, though.

I am not sure that I would permit photos at open houses because I can't control where the "buyer" is going in the house to take the pictures. If it's a busy open house it would be difficult to monitor that situation. Where did that person go? What are they photographing? I would prep the sellers, though, to see if they would allow it - that just makes the question "can I take some pictures?" easy to answer.

Posted by Perrin March over 2 years ago

Bryan--I agree, it's important for buyers to remember the house the way they saw it... which usually isn't the way the pictures look in MLS or on flyers.  And also agree that personal items and security systems should be off limits!

Posted by Tamara Perlman (Referral Network Inc.) over 2 years ago

I've had my buyers wanting to take photos of the properties that I was showing them, and I always ask them to take house-related photos only just to help them remember the particular houses.  When I hosted my open house I would ask the visitors not to take photos, since I didn't know them.  We, as agents working for our sellers, need to take our seller's security as the priority.

 

Posted by Kevin Su (Reliant Loans & Realty, Inc) over 2 years ago

Bryan, I see another disclosure coming ...Authorization for Unauthorized Photography...  I saw a lot of people taking their own smart phone photos at my Open House yesterday, despite the plethora of virtual tour photos & video tour we have provided.  I agree with you, if it helps a potential buyer keep the listing at top of mind or if it helps a potential seller get ideas for improving their property, then that's a good thing.  Unfortunately,there's no fool-proof method to absolutely identify who those people are when we're getting 100 or more visitors to the Open House.   

Posted by Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale, WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula (Wende Schoof) over 2 years ago

Ira - You hit the nail on the head.  Open houses are an open invitation for casing homes.  Sellers in occupancy who allow them need to make certain they have a killer alarm system or a killer dog.  We are already saddled with more responsibility than an ER doc so we need to just stay out of this one. 

Posted by Marnie Matarese, Showing you the best of Sarasota! (J Wood Realty) over 2 years ago

I think it is a security issue, but also some people, myself included, just get a little creeped out about random people taking photos of their home. As one commenter pointed out, sometmes it is because the lidting agent hasn't taken enough photos. So, take lots of photos and leave sheets at the home with shots that aren't incuded in the feature sheet. That should be ample.

Posted by Linda Fidgeon, Make your next move your best move! (Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Page Realty) over 2 years ago

Bryan:  Simple test for honesty of the photographers.  One could say, "You can take any photos you wish, but first, let me take a photo of you and your family with my smart phone for my records."  If the photog objects...I'd want to know why.

If a "problem" arises later, I've got a photo of the photog...

Tom

Posted by Tom Waite, So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments (Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker) over 2 years ago

That is a difficult call but I think it is necessary to ask a few questions on their motive

thanks for the info

Posted by Sharon LittleJohn, 972-365-1084-MLS#32965, FHA VA USDA Conventional H (Summit Funding, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Bryan..

My suggestion is to always ask the seller prior to the open house their view point.  Then I suggest that they put away any personal items.-

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan,

Great post!  This is something that has bothered me and its great to see the responses that are made.  Generally, I DO NOT LET people take pics of any of my listings (and yes, it is a SECURITY ISSUE - at least for me) ... unless of course they have a contract on the house.  The MLS generally allows up to 25 photos and you can always add a virtual. 

If and WHEN the lookers have asked, I flat out reply that NO, it's not OK...would you want a stranger coming into your private space to take pictures?  THe homeowners have entrusted me to highlight the best features of this home and they can be found in my brochure or on the MLS listing.  END OF STORY. 

I am very pleasant with my response ... BUT 99% of the time, we are selling someones PRIVATE SPACE ... and until it sells, this is the homeowners HUMBLE ABODE!

Thanks for bringing this point up!

Marianne

 

Posted by Marianne Infusino, RE/MAX - 201 - Areas (ReMax Accomplished) over 2 years ago

There are generally two sides to everything.  I can see the security issues but I can also see the thing of taking pictures to refer back to.  I think part of the problem is due to the agents that take the listings.  I have seen times when an agent only posts one or two pictures on the MLS.  I know that they are meeting the legal requirements by doing this but it does not give an accurate picture.  My team always posts a minimum of 30 pictures for every listing and most of the time there are a great deal more than that.  This gives a better portrait of the property and decreases the need for more pictures.  If you are an agent that only takes a minimal amount of pictures then you should expect that people will want more pictures.

Posted by Rocky Dole (West USA Realty Revelation) over 2 years ago

I think you're on the right track, of course the person should be required to leave their contact information before, including email address.

Posted by Jack Snyder, Loan Officer, San Clemente, Orange County, California, 949-204-8584 (Loan Officer in Orange County for Omni-Fund Inc.) over 2 years ago

I thought I'd put everything in my listing packet that sellers needed to be careful about, including of course the need to get valuables and anything else that might be "tempting" out of sight.  I even remember the post a while back about anything that would identify children, which I realize just now could well be the notes on the refrigerator as well as what's in the child's bedroom and family pictures on the wall.    I need to add the possibility that people might take pictues, even without permission.   These are also good things to tell the owner who wants to take on the job of working without our professional help.   They need to be doubly careful.

Posted by Mary Sheridan, Creative Marketing, Buyer Agency 423-943-7655 (Keller Willliams - NE TN,Johnson City,Kingsport,Jonesboro) over 2 years ago

When we are acting as Buyer's Agents we now tell the Buyers up front that there is no picture or videotaping of any occupied home without permission from the Seller.  We make an exception for outdoors and vacant homes.  We also offer that if it is a home that they are sincerely interested in that we will come back for a 2nd showing even if it is later in the same day. 

I feel that this is a great safety precaution as well as being respectful of the Seller's property and personal belongings.  It also is a huge help to avoid the distraction of a Buyer taking a dozen pictures of a home that they actually have no interest in other than that they had pre-decided to "take a lot of pictures" on our tour that day.

After years in the business, I do not see any valid point in taking pictures of a home that you are not buying.

 

 

 

Posted by Gary & April Greer, Real Estate Professionals (Century 21 Wright) over 2 years ago

Interesting that you posted this. I had never thought much about this until I had a seller tell me exactly what pictures they would allow in the listing. So in the remarks, I made it clear that no other pictures could be taken. From then on when one of my buyers wanted  pictures...I took them myself and emailed them to the listing agent for permission to send to the buyers. just to be safe

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Realtor, Laguna Beach & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (HOM Sotheby's Intl Realty, 949-510-2395) over 2 years ago

I ask the Seller in advance if the prospects can take pictures during thier viewing. If Seller says NO. I post a note in the front door notifying agents that Seller does not allow propects/agents to take photos. On the other hand, listing Agent should have a lot of great, clear photos in their listing. Grat post!

Posted by Sam Gabilagon, Austin, TX | Sales, Leasing, Property Mgmt (Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Pflugerville, Manor) over 2 years ago

I think if the person asks permission to take pictures, I would ask them what pictures they want to take. I would then tell them that I would ask the owner if it was OK and if so, I'd take the pictures for them. Then, of course, I'd have to get THEIR name, address and email address so I could send them the pictures. In doing it that way, I would have captured the name and email address of another possible client that I could work with. Even if the seller said no, I'd still have the information on a new contact. And isn't that what you're trying to do at an open house; getting the names of potential new clients to work with. When I was still in the mortgage business, I'd help agents have open houses. We'd set up a table in the garage and have a drawing for gas cards. In order to draw and take a chance to get either $10, $25 or even a $100 gas card they had to give us their names, addresses, phone and an email address. I would split the cost with the Realtor and we'd each get the names of the people looking. It was really cheap advertising. I think the most expensive weekend cost us each about $75 dollars but we each recveived over 250 names.

Posted by Dick Piehl (IMB Bank) over 2 years ago

Great post Bryan, most buyers I meet don't even ask, they resond when challenged with "oh I just need to show my partner' and 'it's only a picture on my phone' so it's a universal problem, because people universally don't have great manners.

Posted by Geoff Grist, Selling Sydney (Mosman Neutral Bay Realty, Sydney Australia) over 2 years ago

What are open houses for anymore? To keep the sellers pacified and help the criminals farm their territories I guess.

Posted by Randy & Nancy Selby (The Woodlands,TX Connect Realty.com) over 2 years ago

With all the pictures we are now allowed on the mls and virtual tour there should be no need for a buyer to take any pictures. However, I can see taking photos of a new home, any rooms that we may have not included and exterior of the home and outside landscaping. 

Posted by Nazir Abdulla (Re/Max Results Realty) over 2 years ago

Sad, really sad that we have come to a point that we have to fear our fellow man so much that we have to forbis pictures at an open house. 

Posted by Anonymous over 2 years ago

ONE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I pulled-up to a client's house once - during the daytime - and my vehicle was almost struck twice by a couple of pick-up trucks.  I thought the first driver must have been drunk or otherwise on drugs .... until the second pick-up almost hit me also.  Then I realized I had parked near a community dumpster.  I was in a gated resort community complete with 24-hour gate attendant and roving patrols.  We were near the back wall of this gated community and there was a (mostly) vacant road on the other side of the community wall .......... I made to my clients doorstep and turned-around to see those people (in the trucks) using the community dumpster as a lift-and-toss-over-the-back-wall point for someone's furniture ... big furniture items.  I called the community front gatehouse so they could send a roving patrol by to witness and call the police.  To the best of my knowledge, no one made it before the "furniture throwers" drove away.  I stayed inside my clients' house and instructed them to stay inside as well -- who knows if someone like that had weapons or if they might return to my clients' house if they thought witnesses resided there.

The endeavor of well-done professional marketing provides numerous photographs and a virtual tour of property furnishings for criminals to target. It is always best practice to advise sellers to contact their homeowners insurance agent when putting a property on the market For Sale or For Lease and PUT AWAY valuables.  Open Houses are a security risk for sellers and a safety risk for agents (male & female).  However, Open Houses are also a great way to pick-up new clients, so we all keep holding Open Houses. 

Some agents in this blog mentioned tattoos or otherwise trying to judge an Open House visitors' demeanor. This is wrong - criminals do not wear a sign and often cash buyers do not "dress-up" to go visit Open Houses.  As far as the "under-the-sink" photos ... that comes with the Home Inspection report and time period. 

I find nothing wrong with taking property photos for buyers with whom I am working because I have their information.  I've only had to do this for buyers when a wide-angle lens distorts the photos in the marketing materials (or when the listing agent doesn't include an adequate number of photos).

A lot of good points - success (& safety) to all.  Karen Cross Webster | Coldwell Banker | Palm Desert, California

Posted by Karen Cross Webster over 2 years ago

Wow!  What a lot of great responses.

HoUse pictures are almost as difficult as hoRse pictures to take and still have all the parts look in focus or in proper perspective.  For many years I bred Quarter Horses for a living, and I never, ever allowed anyone to take pictures of either my studs or their offspring.  I didn't want that prospect to have pictures of my animals that were less than great, and I didn't want them sharing them with anyone, either. 

I feel the same way about house pictures!  We work so hard to present a property in its best light, why let anyone who is less dedicated take pictures that could be shared globally these days with a push of a button?

I have always held by the premise that a bad picture is MUCH worse than no picture. 

That being said, I do tend to lighten up on that for exterior pictures. 

 

Posted by Victoria C.B. Trees, Principal Broker (Crater Lake Realty, Inc.) over 2 years ago

You brought up a very valid concern here! As most comments mentionned, a home that is occupied should only be photographed with the owner's permission... however with everyone carrying cell phones these days, it can be hard to monitor the activities during a busy open house.

Posted by Monique Ting, S, e-PRO, SFR (INET Realty Honolulu, HI) over 2 years ago

Key Phrase -- "Ask for Permission first".

There are situations where certain things are not photographed and posted online for the world to see...

For the Naive -- you might want to look into the Cat Burglars of Boca Raton and what they were using to scope out / break into homes...

 

 

Posted by Paul Francis, Las Vegas Real Estate - Summerlin Homes - 702.592. (Prudential Americana Group - REALTORS) over 2 years ago

Obsolutely NO!  Im sorry, as lovely as the house is, it is inappropriate to take pictures at an OPEN HOUSSE. However,  M/M smith, If you would like to schedule an appointment with me, or your realtor, we can arrange this for you, provided we have the sellers permission and appropriate identification .. even your lender can assure your identity for us.

This is an OPPORTUNITY, to schedule an appointment later for their photo session, when they have their realtor with them or YOU.  after their identity is verified and they are prequalified.

Neighbors..?   get their name and phone number and arrange it later!   and ask the sellers permission.

Dont miss an opportunity by letting "open housers" go willie nillie with the camera.. if they are tire kickers, you'll weed them out quickly.  

Put a basket near the door..   PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES, and HOLSTER YOUR CAMERAS!  haha

 

Posted by Gloria Matthews (Principal Property Brokers) over 2 years ago

If I was holding a house open, I'd be really clear with the seller as to what they want. I personally would not want to have to follow someone around to be sure they were only photographing only appropriate things.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (LONG REALTY) over 2 years ago

Hmm, very interesting topic and comments.  There's lots to think about and I will look at picture taking differently now!  Thanks for bringing this up.

Posted by Georgie Hunter, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) over 2 years ago

As an aside - for those who claim they don't allow photography;

It seems to me (devil's advocate) that by doing so, they are somehow acknowledging that a photo can be a safety/security issue - by default then, are the photos they themselves took (or a photographer by direction) being claimed to not be any kind of security issue?

In other words - what did they (or their service) do to prevent any kind of security issues in the 20-30 photos (and/or virtual tours) posted to the MLS and (presumably) to web site(s)?

I think it takes a certain amout of common sense to know not to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to issues/topics such as this one. 

Is it worth putting a sour taste in "Edna's" mouth because she wanted an Iphone picture of the seller's drapes? For some perhaps - for myself (and on behalf of my clients), nope.  But I do know, without a doubt, who Edna is (should those window treatments come up missing.)

 

**Assuming the sellers have not expressed a concern about photos.

Posted by Otto Routh, Smart Austin (apartment) Locating (Smart Austin Locating) over 2 years ago

This has never been an issue for me. Maybe it's the part of the country I live in but most people are very nice and polite here and ask if they can take extra photos. I ask nicely what they'd like shots of & most of the time it's a different angle of a room that's not posted online. There has never been a time when I felt wary about this.

If the seller wants a virtual tour, I ask the photographer to take as many as he can (& they're ALWAYS nice enough to email me extras) and I tell the sellers to put anything that's really valuable somewhere else while photos are being taken. If it's a VERY nice home with valuable art, furnishings, collectibles etc., determine if the items in question are vital for staging should be in photos? Sellers should sign a waiver of liability & a statement saying they have adequate insurance on the valuables.

I agree with Damon above(post #141.) If you're concerned about security. Don't have an open house. And never a public open house on a luxury home.

Keep it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Posted by Mark Hoggard (Churchill-Brown & Associates - Nichols Hills) over 2 years ago

Hi Bryan, excellent post!  You have identified the issues and explored the pluses and minuses!

Posted by Stephanie/Bob The Ruiz/Miller Team, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 2 years ago

having a photo policy is a good idea and asking permission to take photos is always a good idea...if a seller does not want photos, that request should be honored...

 

Paddy Deighan

http://www.homesavers.pro

Posted by Paddy Deighan JD PhD, Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D (Aston McLaren Inc) over 2 years ago

As stated earlier - "Key Phrase -- "Ask for Permission first"."

I'm from the home inspection side and feel you are guest in the owners house. Generally by indicating what the intent of what my photographs will capture, such as electrical service panel, heating equipment or more importantly "significant defects", I have never been refused.

BTW: Great topic and posts!

 

 

 

Posted by Claude Lawrenson over 2 years ago

Bryan Great points!! Thank you for sharing!

Posted by EMILIA B COOPER REALTOR® . SFR . NCHSE, Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate (CHARLES RUTENBERG REALTY) over 2 years ago

I think you have a good policy.  I take lots of pictures of homes because many of my buyers live near you but buy investment properties near me.  Sometimes they make offers and even close sight unseen. 

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 2 years ago

Some things to ponder for me.  I'm just now switching my focus to listings.  In the past I have been focused on buyers.  As a buyer I'm clicking away unless somebody tells me to stop.

Posted by Mike Henderson, HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848 (Your complete source for buying HUD homes) over 2 years ago

It can be a security issue. I ask for an email and email them "additional photos" of what they are wanting later. That way you also have their contact information for later so you can follow up with them.

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagstaff, AZ (Keller Williams Check Realty 928-600-2765) over 2 years ago

I agree with Kalene's comment #124:  It frustrates me as a buyer's agent when I see listings with only 1 to 6 photos. Especially if it's not an REO property. When I see homes with less than 25 photos, I wonder what they are afraid to show potential buyers. When I get to homes with only 5 photos and they are very well maintained and nice homes, I wonder why the seller hired an agent who doesn't realize that buyers start searching on the internet and at least 25 photos and a virtual tour are a must in today's real estate market. Sellers should check out what the agent does to market properties before they hire them!

Usually when a selling agent posts 0-5 photos, they are inadvertently saying to the potential buyers:  "It only gets worse from here on in."  In other words, if they were to add photos, your opinion of the property would decrease.  I still think that selling agents should add good, clear photos.  It saves everyone time in the search process and the correct buyers will find the houses that they would like to buy. 

That said, if selling agents would list enough photos to cover the rooms and outside spaces in the homes that they list, maybe buyers would not ask to take additional photos! 

Posted by Carol Rutgers, Quality service using technology for your benefit (Keller Williams Realty) over 2 years ago

I show a lot of condos in which views are a major issue.  I don't encourage photos of the interior...But if the buyer is concerned about the view - I do suggest they take a picture of same out the windows.  This is often overlooked on the listing - which is strange when one of the selling points is the view - but I digress. I often find that they forget which unit had the best views....so that's why I encourage this particular practice. 

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 2 years ago

Wow, great tips. I know we can probably tell what types of pictures a prospective buyer is taking, but we do have to make sure they are only of the home.

Posted by Jairo Arreola, VA Home Loan Specialist - SF Bay Area - South Bay - San Jose (Aladdin Realty) over 2 years ago

Bryan ~ Excellent points, I hope buyers read & take your advice. The sellers need to be given an opportunity to choose. Their safety has to come first.

Posted by Diane M. Phillips, Realtor 443-286-4365 (Frankly Real Estate Inc.) over 2 years ago

Though this seems like an innocent enough request the majority of the time, I once had pictures of "things" inside of a home I had listed show up in court at a divorce proceeding.  Someone showing the house permitted pictures to be taken without consent and needless to say this was one ugly situation as a result.  Consequently, law or otherwise, I'd get the seller's permission unless the house is totally vacant.

Posted by Allyson Hoffman, Making Today's Dreams Tomorrow's Reality! (RE/MAX Villager (Chicago North and North Suburbs Real Estate)) over 2 years ago

I definitely think that it can be a security risk, but at the same time buyers want photos!  So my suggestion as a listing agent would be to get rid of valuables.  Buyers are going to take photos, sometimes the agent may n not even know it, so it's better to be safe than sorry.  And asking permission is  nice. -Kasey

Posted by Kasey & John Boles - Jon Gosche Real Estate, Boise, Meridian, Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, Boise ID) over 2 years ago

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