MLS Photos for Real Estate Agents

The images on your company website and even on MLS listings create the first impression for many online shoppers and investors.

20 Minute Tutorial


The subject of this tutorial is the preparation of images for your real estate and investing websites plus all MLS listing images. The images you select to represent your properties will provide a lasting, first impression and develop or diminish your opportunity to take the next step with each buyer or investor who browses your site.

Camera Set Up

(Not all cameras use the same terminology. You may need to refer to the user guide for your camera). 

  1. Keep your battery charged whenever not in use.
  2. Exposure Metering should be set to Center Weighted (this is very important).
  3. Image Size - use the medium setting which produces an image of 1,800 x 1,200 pixels.  The file size varies - about 700 KB.   We recommend you set your camera to at least 800 x 600 pixels.
  4. On Camera File Storage = Anything that is not internal memory is OK - When possible use an MMC/SD Card or other external memory storage device.
  5. Zoom Lens - Recommended is default which is usually set to 'max wide angle'.

Artistic Considerations

  1. Close the garage door, and remove all "clutter" (the best driveway is an empty driveway).
  2. If there is a trash can in front of the house, move it out of the picture.
  3. A rainy day can be a good day for a picture, but many rainy days don't offer enough natural light to properly eluminate your image. Snowy day is always bad. Soft light is better than a bright day with intense light. You have no control of the light - all you can do is come back at some other time.
  4. Time of Day -   You want the light (sun) at your back.
  5. Time of Year -   Spring is best. Autumn and summer are both good.  Winter is the worst season for MLS photos.
  6. Where? Proper distance from the subject (house). Start near the house and walk backwards until you can just barely get the entire house in the photo - then take a couple steps back and take another. Get a few shots from several locations to find the perfect one later.
  7. Also, get at least one photo from each of 3 locations in front: center and both side angles.

Dark Room

  1. You must crop.
  2. I use the Photoshop crop tool.  I recommend that you do too.  However, Photoshop is high tech and expensive.  It will require a few hours or days of learning curve.
  3. Kodak Easy Share is free, easier to learn, and will allow you to produce an acceptable end result.
  4. also offers free, simple resizing.
  5. Image Resizer is a Microsoft program which you can download to your computer and use it to crop and resize your images: (click on your operating system to download the correct version)
    • Windows XP Windows 7 & Vista Windows 7 (64-bit) & Vista (64-bit)
    • Click on the downloaded file in your Downloads folder. (ImageResizer-2.1_??.msi)
    • Click "Run" and follow the installation instructions.
    • Once its installed on your computer, all you will have to do to resize a photo is right-click on the icon of the photo (you don't even have to open it) and select "Resize Pictures":
    • Windows XP: choose "640x480"
    • Windows 7 & Vista: click "Advanced" then "Custom" and enter the size "640x480"
    • The program will make a copy of the photo for you with your selected new size, and your original image will remain unchanged. Your new photo will be in the same folder, and it's name will be the same as the original image, with the additonal label (small) or (custom), or whichever type was selected.
  6. Crop according to your MLS aspect ratio. With Photoshop you can get it exactly right. With Kodak EasyShare, you will have to settle for "close enough". Aspect ratio is determined (set) by your MLS. California MLS is 640 x 480 pixels for an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 or 4:3. In Massachusetts, the MLS file is 512 x 400 pixels for aspect ratio of 1.28:1 (Massachusetts is more like a square, less like a rectangle). This does make a difference. You need to get this part right.
  7. Optimize (reduce) image size and file size. Keeping the file size small will save you time uploading. If you submit a file that is too big, MLS will change it for you. Your best option is to submit a file that MLS will accept with no changes.
  8. It's OK if your file size is a little too big. It's never OK for your file size to be too small.

File System Considerations

  1. Never lose or modify the original file - always work on a copy
  2. Transfer and copy from the camera to your computer right now while you are thinking about it.
  3. Keep your camera memory card tidy/clean.


  1. Make a periodic (careful and critical) review of your listings - including the MLS photo.
  2. Update (replace) your MLS photo for improved market appeal.
  3. A system that generates good MLS photos costs no extra money and very little extra effort.
  4. Bad MLS photos (including the dreaded no-photo) may damage your reputation and act as a "referral repellant".
  5. Your good photos will generate word of mouth and Internet referrals - for your property and for you.

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