Are Pictures Really Worth a 1000 Words?

Realtor magazine published an article about whether or not listing photos should stay online after the home has sold. Some homeowners have privacy and safety concerns over these photos being available.

From the point of view of an appraiser though, it sure is handy to have those photos. Years ago, when I was just starting as an appraiser, we would have to spend hours going through sales books and driving around taking pictures to get an appraisal done. Rarely, would we ever have interior photos.  We had to rely on the agent to give us information about the condition.

That’s the way it used to be.  Today we often rely on interior photos of the comps (as well as real estate agent interviews), to describe the condition.  Of course, those pictures are a small piece of the wh

ole appraisal, but they are worth 1,000 words. Interior photos let you virtually walk through the house.  Sure, I’ll still drive by and take a picture, but I’m not going to be on the inside of that property.

In the first paragraph of the article, Realtor magazine indicated that some homeowners expressed concern that photos of their properties continue to live on real estate websites after they’ve closed on the purchase, and they’re asking real estate professionals to help them take them down, citing privacy and security issues.  The magazine wasn’t advocating for leaving or removing the photos, they just wanted to get the discussion going.

Real estate companies, including appraisers, like to see the photos and use them as comparables.  Afterall, it is so important that appraisers understand what actually was sold, because that’s the data that they use to value new real estate. Does what the sales agent described as “close to shopping” really mean that Walmart is your neighbor? Photos can quickly tell a lot about a property. Can you imagine just having the written data and no pictures, other than maybe the exterior photo?

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 480

6 thoughts on “Are Pictures Really Worth a 1000 Words?”

  1. Pingback: Are Pictures Really Worth a 1000 Words? - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Interesting. I can understand the argument. I could see a compromise by prohibiting the interior pictures on public sites like Zillow, which do harvest the MLS interior pics, but leave them in MLS for agent/appraiser use; or maybe even another log in which leaves a digital marker when you view them post closing. It would really change things drastically for us if they were removed. Texas removed sketches of houses from CAD years ago for similar reasons and we have no real reference to the counties size estimate.

  3. I like what Andy said as a comprominse. Special sign in after closing in FMLS/MLS only and remove from Zillow. We absolutely rely on those photos in appraising. Removing them will lead to ASSUMPTIONS and you know what that means!!

  4. If agents started pulling all the photos down after the sale, I find it hard to believe that appraisers would not be able to get the photos from another source. It’s hard to purge the entire internet. If agents were successful to purge the internet and appraisers could not get photos from another source, I bet appraiser groups would start downloading and saving photos before they get removed.

  5. I am a reviewer and don’t have access to the various MLS sites in the markets where I review. I would be crippled without these photos. Realtors cannot be relied upon to accurately portray in their descriptions the actual condition of the interior. Realtors can’t even be relied upon to enter only actual sales that occurred in MLS, but that’s a whole other topic.

  6. D- I love listening and reading your stuff. but sometimes I dont have 10 or 15 to listen. Would you please look into allowing the viewer to speed up your speech. I think it will help you have a larger listening audience if you can. I know its nik pik, but 6 minutes is better than 11.


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