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What Size Photos Should Real Estate Photographers Deliver?

November 27th, 2018

RMLSTom asked about the size of photos he should deliver to his clients:

I have been uploading photo files to my agents at the guidelines recommended in the September 9th, 2009 article you posted titled “What You Need To Know About Uploading To MLS.” Yesterday, I had an agent tell me the 800 x 600 pixels are too small. Up until now no one really complained about it. He also said the minimum should be 1600 x 1200 but prefers 2048 x 1536. What is the new standard everyone is using today? Is there a new standard?

The problem with recommending a specific size is that MLSs run a wide variety of system software. Because of this, there is no  standard. Some MLS software does a good job at downsizing if you give them a bigger size than they like but in the past, MLS downsizing has been notorious for mangling photo files, so the theory has always been that if you give them the exact size they want, they end up not touching the files during uploading. Here are my updated recommendations for figuring out what size photos to upload to your MLS:

  1. Call your local MLS(s) and ask them what size (pixel dimensions) they recommend for photos that are uploaded to their MLS.
  2. Try to get them to tell you what pixel dimensions to use rather than a file size because it is the pixel dimensions that trigger their downsizing.
  3. For photos that will be displayed online, always deliver in the sRGB color space because this is the color space that all browsers use.

Of course, it is advisable to also deliver images sized for printing in addition to images sized for the local MLS.

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12 Responses to “What Size Photos Should Real Estate Photographers Deliver?”

  • When you say, call MLS, who do you call? Usually, they require Realtors license to talk to them. Also, most of them do not really know the right size. Could you recommend a generally accepted size? I understand it varies by State.

  • @Luis – To call your local MLS first find their website. For example, in the Seattle area, it’s https://www.nwmls.com. There will be a number to call on the website. Tell them you want to talk to their technical support people. Tell them you are a local photographer and ask them what size photos they recommend. They will talk to you.

  • There is no “standard”. My local MLS has a maximum pixel dimension of 767px. I have no idea where that came from. If you can’t get a specific answer from the MLS, try sitting down with a customer and find the largest image posted that you can and see what size it is. After sampling a few, you should have your answer. You can also see if they are using a 3:2 aspect ratio (Still photo DSLR “standard”) or a 4:3 ratio (standard video). The last time I talked to somebody at my local MLS, they had no clue. If you can provide the exact dimensions, your images stand a better chance of not being processed by the horrible MLS software. The maximum file size doesn’t have any relevance. They put that in place so agents aren’t uploading massive files that eat up a bunch of compute cycles on the MLS hosting computers.

    BTW, the dpi has no bearing on images being specified by pixel dimensions. It’s just a conversion factor used for print output so don’t worry about it.

  • While contacting MLS should be considered “the source” ask the Realtor (or more likely their assistant) what instructions are given on the website where they upload the photos into the MLS system. Usually it will state maximum size but also may be hidden behind a “help” button that gives extended instructions for that section. Also, it may be noted on the MLS Data Entry form that even the owner may have to sign off on during the listing process making it required paperwork in the listing package. Essentially, that form mimics the order of all the fine and standardized detail they input that you see on a listing and the photo section won’t have actual photos may have instructions of what is required. Over the years I have seen MLS change from 600px to 800px and now 1500px, but the kicker is, when they put a 600 or 800px in it displays like a thumbnail and never enlarges.

  • I feel your pain, but assure you there is someone at the mls who knows the numbers. Be assured the best output sizes for the mls are not the best output sizes for Zillow, so if you are only delivering one set it now becomes a choice. If your client upoads to Zillow directly they can control the output size but if it’s from a feed there is no control. In my South Jersey area here are the numbers from the mls. The Zillow numbers are from the Zillow Photographer page.

    Photo Output Sizes

    Zillow 960 x 629 @ 72 DPI

    Mls 1280 x 960 @ 125 DPI

  • My agents all use the photos to make their brochures. So they do need something large enough to look good. Our MLS board has minimums, but recommends 2048 x 1536. That is the size I have always sent my agents. Its basically a 4×6 and large enough for their advertising purposes. I never touch the DPI – I always keep it at 300. You don’t want your photos looking like crap and fuzzy, etc.

  • Hi all,
    The image dimensions vary by MLS provider. As others have stated, either calling the person in charge of the MLS at your local RE association OR calling the MLS provider is the best solution. MLS providers have been upgrading their image capacity and will change the settings every year or so without notice to you – however the association board usually sends this message to realtors in advance. Additionally, you may want to consider customarily providing medium or high resolution duplicates for client printing purposes; a nice way of increasing your rate for this additional service.

  • Years ago, following your advice here, Larry, I called the MLS that my clients use and have been using those dimensions (1800×1200) for the internet set of photos I supply. They seem to do well with the MLS as well as for Tourbuzz as well. I also supply full res JPEG versions to my clients for print work.

    Easy to batch resize using Bridge to convert my PSD versions to both HiRes and LoRes JPEGs in just a matter of a few minutes. Some of my clients use the photos for local real estate magazines including covers which involves trimming a horizontal to a vertical and so they need all the resolution they can get. And they also produce high resolution 300 dpi glossy two or four page flyers for the higher end properties and also need HiRes for those.

    So I supply the same images in both internet size and print size. That fits my market but I am sure others have different requirements.

  • Every MLS software and even the individual associations if they’re running same software (IE Paragon, Flex,Navica, etc. etc) may be different dimensions. You’ll also find that the resizing of the photos by the MLS software can vary widely. I’ve saw some that leave terrible aliasing and moire on lines like roof shingles, siding, etc. due to their resizing system once they’re actually uploaded to the MLS or syndicated out. It destroys even the best photography.

    The agent themselves should find out the exact dimensions for their particular system and then let the photographer. You should help educate your client on this so that you can deliver the best product to them.

  • A day late, but it is a related issue. Several related easy enough to export in multiple sizes to accommodate both MLS (locally 1500 pixels) and printing. Very true, and on the Export in Lightroom even change file name to “address” for file name, and second export is “address-1500px” where the sequence number will match between the two. The question is – are you really getting re-size you think you are getting? Is there some quirk in Lightroom Export? I noticed it in the past but just checked yesterdays shoot about to deliver this AM. Lightroom Export setting “re-size to fit” checked to apply: 1500 pixels, long side (Don’t Enlarge checked but immaterial on full size source file). Actual Export output: 2249×1500. Essentially, Lightroom applied the 1500px to the short side rather than the long side as instructed, and I am essentially delivering 2249 pixel files.

  • @Peter D’Aprix, Lightroom is really easy to export multiple sizes from. I have presets made for each destination (MLS, Trulia, Zillow, Realtor, Print). Takes just a couple of minutes. Since LR will multi-thread exports, I don’t have to wait before starting each one for the previous to finish.

    @Larry, I put the pixel dimensions in both the V and H boxes along with checking the “don’t enlarge” box. About the only thing that I shoot vertically is small bathrooms, so if they come out a bit smaller, it’s not an issue. I haven’t ever seen LR messing up the exports. I check sometimes if I’m looking at a jpg and can’t remember which preset I was using for it. They always check out with no strange dimensions.

  • After 2 weeks going from one person to another in my local MLS, they told me: 1600 x 1200 pixels and no more than 3Mbytes. This applies to South Broward in Florida.

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