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Désirée Ávila, REALTOR®

Bad MLS Photos: Ghost in the Machine


By Désirée Ávila, M.A., P.A. | desiree@desireeavila.com
Realtor®, PSA, SRS®, SFR®, ABR®, e-Pro, AHWD
C2EX- Commitment to Excellence endorsed by the National Association of Realtors

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars

Eighty-five to ninety percent of people begin their search for a new home on the internet. Their first impression of the homes they see are the pictures they view in the Multiple Listing Service, commonly referred to as the MLS. Through the MLS, these images are syndicated throughout the internet and become illustrative of the property that is for sale.

Some listings have professional pictures that really make the listing stand out and create a desire in buyers to want to see the property. On the flip side, other listings have poorly taken pictures with a number of issues. They either have poor lighting, distracting objects, unintelligible angles, poor housekeeping, or some type of reflection in a mirror or other reflective surface. The latter, which I like to call ghost in the machine is the most common culprit. That culprit can make a bad impression on potential buyers and cost you thousands of dollars. 

Let’s have a look at some of those ghosts.  

Ghosts in the Mirror

Reflective surfaces reflect objects. So naturally when a picture of a reflective surface is taken it make reflect the photographer in it, unless they know how to property position themselves to get the shot while not shooting themselves. 

When photographers don’t take care to not capture their reflection, the images they produce often look like the ones below.

Look, it's my real estate agent!

This is one of the most common ghosts in the machine. Agents often appear as the ghost in their own images.

There they are again! 

…and again! Although in this last attempt they tried to not appear, but to no avail.

Ghosts in the Glass

Glass will not reflect as clearly as a mirror but it will reflect ghost-like images like in the photos below. 

Ghosts in the Machine

The feature image for this article is exemplary of the ghost in the machine. The glass on a microwave door is a reflective surface. It will capture the reflection of anyone who may dare stand before it and even capture a part of their soul… boooohahahahahahaha!

Just kidding about the soul part, of course, but not about the reflection part. Check out the images below.


There really is no reason why there should be any ghosts in any pictures that are placed in a listing. They can be easily eliminated in one of the following ways. 

  1. Take the picture from an angle in which the photographer does not appear.
  2. Hire a professional photographer.
  3. Photoshop it away. While Photoshop can perform miracles on photos, there are really lots of ways to get rid of unwanted reflections in images. Choose an image correction program and bust those ghosts right out of the picture!

Out With The Ghosts, In With The Dollars

The problem with ghosts in the machine is that if a picture is worth a thousand words in real estate it can be worth thousands of dollars. Having great pictures of your property is a basic premise of good real estate marketing. 

The first impression buyers get will determine whether or not they want to see the property and if it is worth what it is listed for. So make sure if you are listing your property for sale, there are no ghosts in the machine!


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