Seasoned real estate agents and brokers are well aware that online marketing choices have a vast influence on how fast and for how much the home sells. This information was quantified in a recent Zillow report.

The report found that the number of photos included in the listing has an influence on how fast the home sells.

However, the number of photos doesn’t make a quantifiable difference until the home has been listed for at least 40 days. Before the tipping point, a home is just as likely to sell with five photos as with 25 photos (and the likelihood is low, as most homes sit on the market longer than 40 days before selling). The exception: the Bay Area, where homes sell rapidly, and the number of photos on a listing begins to makes a difference at 20 days out from listing. Once the listing becomes relatively stagnant, proper marketing speeds up the sale compared to a listing with few photos.

Of course, the home’s listing price is the most important factor in how fast the home sells. The right number of photos attracts homebuyers, but this won’t matter as much if the home is overpriced.

The sweet spot for photos varies based on region. In California, homes are likely to sell quickest with:

  • 22-27 photos in Los Angeles;
  • 22-27 photos in San Francisco;
  • 16-21 photos in San Jose; and
  • 9-15 photos in San Diego.

Of note: listings with more photos tend to be more expensive, as they include more features and more space to market, and higher-priced homes tend to take longer to sell in general. Thus, listings with more than 27 photos take longer to sell than other listings, save those with fewer than nine photos, which sell slowest regardless of price-tier.

Photo tips

The quality of the photos is as important, if not more important than the number of photos in the listing.

To get the best photos, selling agents need to take at least four times as many pictures as they plan on using. This covers the likelihood of some blurry shots or over-exposed pictures. The seller doesn’t want to be bothered by the necessity of a reshoot if the only shot taken of the kitchen has a thumb in it, so it’s best to take multiple pictures of everything. This includes overview shots of all living areas.

Shots of the exterior and any views the home may have are also important. Schedule the shoot for a day with nice weather for the best exterior shots. Any other selling points worth mentioning in the listing ought to be photographed as well.

The Zillow report found that page views in the first week of listing influences the timing of the sale. Those with more page views in the first week of listing sold faster. That means the featured image ought to be chosen carefully, as it’s the only thing an interested buyer will see aside from the very basic information of the listing. An appealing photo will nudge the buyer to click, increasing the chance the home will sell quickly.

To choose the perfect photo to feature, agents can consider what the most desirable aspect of the property is from a buyer’s standpoint.

Does the home have an amazing view? Does it boast a brand new chef’s kitchen? The photo that sets the listing apart from other similar properties is a good pick for the featured photo.

For a handy guide to photographing listings, see: Tips for real estate photography.