This past week the multiple listing service (MLS) for the greater New Orleans area and its’ suburbs, Gulf South Real Estate Information Network (GSREIN), instituted new rules that will become effective on May 1 2012. The new rules dictate how many pictures will be required for listings, 10 for a property in excellent condition and 5 for a property in lessor condition. The new rule says we must have a front picture which has always been a rule but they are now telling us that we must have a back picture, a kitchen picture and pictures of the bathrooms.
The real estate community as a whole, not just in New Orleans, does not react well to change and that was the case with this new rule. Some agents are just enraged that our local MLS would dictate to professionals something that should be at the discretion of a listing agent and their client, the homeowner. Other agents don’t know how they will be able to take a picture of a small bathroom, some don’t think that we should be placing pictures of what could be a less than perfect bathroom on the internet as we should be showcasing the best features of a home.
One agent has started a petition which has over 400 signatures to date.
As with a lot of things I believe we agents and brokers have brought this on ourselves. Some listings have no pictures, some have only the picture of the front of the home, some pictures have the family dog in the picture and one has to wonder if the dog stays with the house and whether the dog is included in the price or will need to be negotiated separately.
A multiple listing service is a cooperation among brokers and brokerages. The public face of an mls is what you see on the internet and what consumers moving to a community see. In a perfect world buyer’s moving into this area would go to the internet and each property they look at online would be perfectly marketed with wonderful pictures. That would be the brokerage community putting it’s best foot forward but that would require each agent to professionally market their listings and that is the problem. Many agents do not put enough pictures or good pictures onto their listings.
Some agents do not put pictures on the internet because their listing is not in very good condition and I guess they believe by not putting pictures on the internet when a buyer physically goes to view the listing they will not notice that the condition is not great. Agents still measure actual showings as some sign of success for their marketing rather than checking for views of the listing on the internet. The public is shopping on line and so if the pictures of even a not so wonderful property were posted buyers could make educated decisions about spending the time to physically visit a property.
Then there is the appraisal. If pictures were appropriately put on the internet appraisers would be able to do a more efficient job. They would not have to make appointments to preview loads of houses since lockboxes are not used in New Orleans. It is extremely time consuming to try to schedule with each listing agent access to comparable properties. Appraisers need to use sold comparables and if the pictures are not online it is no longer obtainable after the property sells. I believe this will lead to more efficient appraisals.
I am not privvy to the internal workings of the MLS here but I believe that since the real estate community here was not policing itself they had to step in and it was a necessary move.
I understand that I can get a lens for my iPhone to take wide angle pictures and those small bathrooms are going to look fabulous.