polaroid-pictures-w300-h300It has been 10 years since the St. Louis MLS moved their listings to the current online system.

At first, most of the listings didn’t have pictures. Before long, agents started adding a few pictures and gradually it became the norm for listings to have multiple pictures that show off the entire interior of the property along with the outside.

The quality of pictures has also gotten better as agents got more adept at using digital cameras and things like fisheye wide angle shots disappeared. The price of professional photography came down and more and more listings (like mine!) have pictures that show a home at it’s best through the use of professional equipment and expertise.

Compared to most MLS systems around the county, the St. Louis MLS is pretty advanced. We can input 1000 characters in the agent remarks (so everything doesn’t have to be abbreviated) and we can upload up to 99 pictures.

But there have always been a few agents that fail to provide a minimum level of professional service to their clients. We still find listings that don’t have even a single picture.

Just this weekend I got a call from another agent about a listing with no pictures. She has been working with a client in Arkansas for a few years. Her client is engaged to a man who is trying to sell a house in St. Louis. Even though the house has been on the market for 53 days, the marketing remarks still say “pictures coming soon” and there isn’t a single picture available. Not surprisingly, they are shopping for a new agent.

Change is Coming:

policeman-pointing-w300-h300I got an email today from Mid America Regional Information Systems (MARIS), the local MLS listing service.

Finally, MARIS is going to start requiring agents to post at least a picture of the exterior of the building or lot. The exterior shot doesn’t have to be the primary picture (the one that shows up as a thumbnail in the search results). But, it does have to be included somewhere in the listing.

Here is the email I got yesterday:

New MARIS Rule Regarding Property Photos

Please note that this Rule is Coming Soon. Currently, proper­ties without photos are not in violation. MARIS will give am­ple notice as to when this rule will take effect.

The message below has been updated based on questions MARIS received after sending last week’s NewsFlash.

Many MLS’s across the country have photo requirements.

As a result of member requests MARIS will be adding the following rule to the MLS Rules and Regulations:

A minimum of one photo or rendering of the front exterior of a list­ing or vacant lot representing the current condition of the property must be included within two (2) business days of the listing being entered into MLS.

*The exterior photo does not have to be the first photo. Notice the rule above says a “minimum” of one photo.

*For Condos the exterior of the building/entrance will suffice.

Each office will receive a copy of our updated Rules and Regulations prior to the start of enforcement of this rule. A notice will also be posted to the MLS prior to MARIS begin­ning to enforce this rule. Failure to comply will subject the listing agent to fines.

I’m thrilled.

One picture certainly doesn’t qualify as acceptable customer service from a listing agent, but maybe the fines will be enough to convince a few of these offenders to find another profession.

Cleaning house would be a good thing for all of us.

What is the MLS?

Multiple Listing Services (MLS’s) operate as a way for brokerages that have listing agreements with sellers to offer compensation to other brokerages if they represent a buyer who ends up purchasing the property. MLS systems provide access to area listings to their members and not to the public, though agents have the ability to forward the listings to their clients via email or a client portal account. MLS systems also work with 3rd party software providers to offer limited information to the public (examples are sites like Listingbook, Realtor.com and Wolfnet – my IDX provider).