Listing photos that shouldn’t have made it to Trade Me

Nowadays with smartphones, everyone has a camera in their pocket. But does everyone know how to take a good photo when it comes to their listing?

When listing your property to rent on platforms like Trade Me, great photos are essential. You’re trying to attract the best possible tenants, so you want to make sure the best aspects of your home are captured.

Except in these photos, they aren’t.

Left out rubbish, open toilet seats, and an abandoned shopping trolley. These are some features present in these listing photos that probably shouldn’t be there. A Sun Rice bag as an oven splash-back is another unique feature of one property that’s sure to be a talking point for prospective tenants. Although this may not seem like a huge deal, all of it reflects badly on the properties and will affect how people see these listings.

Why do your property listing photos matter?

It’s important to remember that your listing is the first impression someone has of your home. Potential tenants place a lot of value in the photos that they see. Make sure the images you take:

  • Are of good quality and not blurry
  • Are not focused on an irrelevant part of the property that doesn’t add value

There are several other things to consider when taking property listing photos and we explain them here.

Lighting and composition are two simple but important techniques to consider. However, the issues in the photos below are something you want to completely avoid.

To see these listing photos and to read a more in-depth description of what’s wrong in each of these listings, keep scrolling! We promise we won’t let you make the same mistakes.

1. The sleeping tenant

Property listing photo of a bedroom that shows a rolled blanket looking like a sleeping tenant
Fully furnished with beds so comfortable you won’t ever want to leave.

A great effort at getting a photo when the lighting is right, but why is there still a sleeping tenant in this bed? At a glance, it seems as though the photo isn’t bad because it’s in focus and not blurry. The rolled blanket that looks like a sleeping human is distracting and implies that no effort has gone into presenting this home to new potential renters. It’s always important to give your home a good clean before taking pictures. This includes making beds and ensuring all sleeping tenants are not in the frame.

2. The Sun Rice splashback

A property listing photo that shows a plastic Sun Rice package being used as an oven splashback
Do you live a #Zerowaste life? This house is for you!

Props for being innovative and going with the popular “reduce, re-use, recycle” method for stopping cooking splatters, but this Sun Rice splashback looks pretty terrible. Although other areas of the photo could also be better including the lighting, it is the sellotaped rice bag on the oven wall that lets it down. It looks bad. It also implies a lack of care on the landlord’s part as tenants are having to refer to a D.I.Y method for protecting the walls.

3. The vacuum photobomb

A photo that shows a vacuum cleaner that could easily be moved to make the room look better
Living room features include a single overloaded powerpoint located halfway up the wall

Much like the sleeping tenant photo, this is an example that could have been hugely improved by simply moving one thing: The vacuum cleaner. Seeing someone’s nice furniture displayed in a house is great. Seeing the vacuum cleaner they use to clean it gives a very different vibe. In this case, the vacuum should have been removed. There is also a foot in the right of the frame.

4. The human photobomb

A photo that shows a man bending over when the photographer could have waited for him to move
Spacious living with plentiful storage. Dad for scale.
A property listing with Mum photobombing the background
Grand entranceway with fully functioning doorways as shown.

In the first photo, we see a person bending down to grab something out of a cupboard. Then in the second photo we catch the back of a woman walking across the image. Again it’s important to avoid taking photos of things that will distract from how amazing your home is. Wait until the person has walked past or gently push them into the cupboard and close the door before taking that final snap.

5. The open toilet seat

An open toilet seat in a property listing photo
If you like a wee drink, our toilet comes with a cup holder.

There are a few things that could be improved with this photo but a major no-no is the uninviting open toilet seat. Is the depth of the toilet a special feature of the house? If no, you should put the seat down before taking a photo. Small details like this are quick to fix, also clearing the Macca’s rubbish on top of the toilet would make the bathroom look a lot better.

We’d also recommend moving random mess out of the frame such as the unfolded flannel and clothes hanger with socks drying on it, which contribute to a cluttered look.

6. The abandoned shopping trolley

A trolley that has made the property listing photos by accident as it sits outside the rental
Off-street parking available for up to ten *vehicles*

This photo is well-timed in terms of lighting but the abandoned shopping trolley hanging outside of the house is not a good look. Not only does it distract from the listing, it begs the question as to how it even ended up there. If your tenants are forgetting their reusable bags and taking trolleys of groceries home, perhaps gift them one or two of the 27 eco-bags you have stashed in the boot of your car. Our best advice when it comes to this? The trolley has wheels, so move it!

7. The right intentions but the wrong camera settings

A property listing photo taken on the wrong camera settings
Third bedroom suitable for roller skating or a waterslide. Slide in to our DMs to view this property.

A photo that has the lighting right and the composition ready but looks distorted. Why? Because the person behind the lens has accidentally used the Panorama feature of their iPhone to take a photo that should just be on the normal settings. A quick tip: If the photo you take does not resemble what you see yourself then consider changing the camera settings. If you’re unsure about how to do this then all you need to do is ask Google.

8. The unasked question: “does this add value?”

A property listing photo that shows a blurred hallway and does not add value
A  photo of an empty closet that does not add value
Comes with seventy more coat hangers than you will ever need.
A photo of a dirty laundry

These last examples show photos that do not add value to the property listing but are still included. This is a common mistake and many people still make it. When it comes to taking photos of a property as some people approach it as a “point and shoot” exercise. This method of going to your property and taking any old photo of any old thing is not one you want to follow. Instead, we recommend only taking photos after you have asked yourself “does this add value?.”

If you can’t answer this then does your future tenant really need to see it? What can you change so that the photo does add value? Sometimes simply clearing up space to show how big it is or approaching something from a different angle is all you need to do before your answer to that question changes.

How to take better property listing photos?

So now you know what your property listing photos shouldn’t look like, you probably want to know how to take them?

In all types of photography, there are certain rules and techniques that can make the photos you take look a lot more professional. Yes, you can take amazing photos of your property with a smartphone nowadays. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what you use if the lighting is dark, the composition is poor, and the settings are wrong. Click the link below for some basic rules of thumb when it comes to taking great photos of your rental:

How can I take better photos of my property?

Click here to find out about taking better property listing photos

*All of these photos are from rental properties listed in New Zealand in November 2019.