Getting The Best Possible Quality Photos On MLSs and Syndicated Sites

April 22nd, 2015

MLSphotosBill in Cleveland says:

In Cleveland the MLS is taking photos from the Realtors at 2048 pixels wide then they the MLS knocks them down to 640 pixels for their use but when they send them on to Zillow, Trulia and they are sending the 640 resolution and not the 2048 res. I believe it is a software problem that is causing this, and they seem not to be interested in correcting the problem which most software techs that I know say it is an easy fix. What are other MLS’s doing in this regard so agents do not have to go to all these sites, claim there listings and reload the high res photos. My big concern is they pay me to deliver high quality and resolution and the the MLS screws it all up. There is such a huge sharpness difference between 640 and 2048 res.

Yes, this kind of MLS photo mangling is classic. Previous discussions on this subject always raise similar complaints. There are a number of things that photographers and agents can do to minimize the MLS photo mangling:

  1. Understand what pixel dimension your MLS requires and supply exactly that so the MLS downsizing is avoided. The pixel dimensions are more important than the file size.
  2. Make sure your clients are aware that they can create an account on Zillow, Trulia and and claim their listings and upgrate the photos. I done this for our listings and rentals for years. It’s worth the effort.
  3. Explain the local MLS problems to your clients and encourage them to lobby their MLS board to get problems fixed. The MLS board that runs the MLS is only going to pay attention to demands of it’s members.
  4. Supply a tour to your clients. MLS bungling and crappy photo displays on real estate sites has always been a large part of the motivation for tours. With tours you can bypass MLS foolishness and show large, high-quality photos. But of course tour links are never syndicated, but if you have

These kind of problems have been going on for so long I’m afraid everyone has gotten used to it. I don’t know any easy way to fix this kind thing.

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16 Responses to “Getting The Best Possible Quality Photos On MLSs and Syndicated Sites”

  • I supply to the Albuquerque MLS a 1200X800 72ppi and they only down size it slightly to something like 1180. The images so far have not only looked sharp with the standard listing size they also look sharp on the full screen slide shows.

  • I started supplying images to my clients for each MLS they use, Trulia, Zillow, and a final 3000px wide set for printing. The improvement is enormous and with a Lightroom preset, it doesn’t take much time to output all of the sets.

    The local MLS will take your high res uploads, knock them down to their pixel dimensions and then toss the originals.

    The problem I have seen is that Zillow will accept the agent’s higher res uploads and still add the lower resolution syndicated feed images while putting text on the high res images denoting them as from a previous listing. I haven’t had my schedule mesh with my clients to sit down and work through the problem yet. I’m hoping it’s a checkbox that can be ticked in preferences.

  • Oh yeah, dpi doesn’t matter when outputting images. Pixel dimensions are what counts.

  • Hey Ken:

    So what do you recommend for DPI/PD when off-set printing is necessary?

  • I finally after about 2 years successfully lobbied our MLS provider to increase the dimensions on our photos. They were previously reduced to a whopping 20kb in size, if that tells you anything about the “quality” retained in them. Same size and system used from when the MLS first transitioned from books and the phone-in system around 2001. Pretty bad it took 15 years for someone to complain enough to change it.

  • I’ve contacted my local MLS twice about this and got crickets in return…very sad.

  • I deliver to agents via Dropbox:

    3 folders-
    MLS – 1000px (long side of image)
    Full-Screen – 2000px
    Full-res – for offset or desktop printing

    It’s up to the agent to use them appropriately after that. They don’t always. I do make myself availible to them to show them how to install and use Dropbox, as well as explain the benefits and uses of the different sizes.

  • Our MLS has changed sizes over the years and use to supply in 600px, then 800px and now 1500px – which ironically is the same size ‘preferred’ by Tourbuzz. As they increased the size, my old size that was customized to them, looked like postage stamps. I use to use Dropbox for delivery, delivering 3 folders – MLS, 1500px (for web) and full size (for printing), and the file name as exported from Lightroom labeled to reflect size. The only complaint I would have would be the call “MLS won’t upload the pictures” and they were trying to upload full size.

    As I ran out of ‘free space’ in Dropbox and had to purchase premium, for the same price I switched to Zenfolio, which had a lot more features, including the new website with client access for delivery. Since I was pre-paid for the job, the default free download looked inviting but it was full size only and teaching the realtors how to downsize was not something I would want to do. The workaround was even better – even if the process is a little counter intuitive. I created a custom price with 2 download choices “Full Size” and “MLS/Web 1500px” both of which were priced at $0 and then added prices with markup for individual prints, and books which I am suggesting to Realtors would be an excellent closing gift, particularly if the last page had their photo with a “Thank You” note and subtlety asking for referrals. What I like about this is that it forces acceptance of the licensing agreement (I custom wrote over their defaults) before downloading and delivers a copy with the download. The convoluted part is the process for download as you add to cart, checkout, then they are emailed a link to download for the .zip file. I suggest that they create a folder reflecting size to unzip into as downloading both sizes in separate ‘orders’ will have the same file name on their computer. Have a few Realtors that require some handholding…particularly the first (second and third) time. Tempted to create an account for “Ima Realtor” and do a screen capture video as Ima goes through the process, then post that video in each of their accounts as a “how to” reference.

  • @Robert, My advice for printing settings is to talk with the print shop doing the work and let them tell you what they have found that works best with their system. Either that or give them the file as a full size .tif with no compression.

  • I am SOOO frustrated with MLS. Excuse me if this is repeated, but I really need help. Greensboro uses Matrix. ” The Maximum resolution that is displayed on Matrix is 640px x 480 px, but any larger proportionate dimension will be accepted………1-24x768px etc. it’s a 4:3 ration.
    So I spend HOURS shooting , editing, and then if I resize to their dimensions, my image go’s slightly out of focus and looks crappy on MLS. I tried to talk to MLS and got NOWHERE !!!
    SO what do I do?

    Should I CROP my images to a 4:3 demension and lose some of the image?
    Do I resize the image BEFORE I edit???
    DO i just send in a different demension and let them add their padding to the top/bottom or left/right of the image…. and it does not look that great.



  • @BethJ – I would just supply a set of 640 x 480 images for the MLS and also provide a tour that really shows off the property. Include a tour with every shoot tours cost $12 each.

  • Larry,
    Thanks for the reply. So, do I resize it to the 640×480 before or after I edit each image in PS? I don’t crop it to that dimension…. right?

  • @BethJ – you downsize as a last step before you deliver. And you keep a set of full size images… and make sure the images you deliver are in sRGB color space because that is what is used on MLSs and other websites. If you shoot Canon, images are not exactly 4:3 they are 800 x 533 instead of 800 x 600 so you will need to crop slightly to be exactly 4:3. My experience is that some (not all) real estate sites will put a white strip at the top and bottom if you don’t supply exactly 4:3. I think Nikon is exactly 4:3 so no cropping there.

  • Well, I am a Canon girl. So, I guess I could just start shooting a little wide know that I’m going to crop the image to a 4:3 ratio and will lose some on each side. Thanks SO Much for your feedback.

  • I just noticed that my photos were no longer being rendered in 3/2 aspect ratio. My photos are losing a vital foot on each side. This is DEVESTATING to my business as a real estate photographer trying to tell a story for each property. . .those 2 feet are VITAL. . .it’s a WIDE-ANGLE world we live in and cropping to 4/3 is nuts. . .Why do we spend thousands of dollars per our wide-angle lens if our photos are going to be cropped like this? When did this change. . .I look at photos from two months ago and they are at 3/2?

  • KevinM – I think wide angle is deceptive to the viewer, especially these “ultra” wide angle photos. Ridiculous really. I’d rather we live in a realistic 55 mm world.

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