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13 Listing Photos that Will Scare Prospects Away

October 28 2015

'Tis the season for ghouls, ghosts, and all things that go bump in the night. However, if you're looking for something really scary, you need only look at some of the listing photos uploaded to MLSs around the country. Often, the most frightening thing about a bad property photo is that an agent thought it would somehow attract potential buyers.

In the spirit of the season (and a good laugh), we've rounded up 13 of the scariest listing photos around.

1. Heeere's Johnny!

scary photos heres jonny 1

The best way to show how "open and airy" your new listing is? Frame a random person in the hacked up opening of the basement door. Bonus points for flash-induced red-eye. It only adds to that perfect "The Shining" vibe!

Tip: Keep people (and pets) out of your listing photos. Insist that your sellers be out of the house--or at least far from the room you're currently shooting. That also means no accidental appearances of the photographer in the bathroom mirror! There's no hope for that basement door, though.

2. Free Drifter Included (But Only If You Act Now!)

scary photos drifter 1

The nearest neighbor on this rural property may be a mile away, but your prospective buyers will never be lonely, thanks to frequent trespassing drifters.

Tip: You know how you should keep people and animals out of any photos of the land? Yeah, the same goes for shots of the exterior and all acreage.

3. A (Pirate) Haunting

scary photos pirate 1

Sure, Captain Jack Sparrow inspires a ton of movie ticket sales. Home sales? Not so much.

Tip: Listing photos should connect with the widest possible pool of prospects. Proper staging helps make this possible. If you're not hiring professional stagers, at least make sure you remove as many personal items as possible--especially the quirky ones, as these are most likely to alienate buyers.

4. What Lurks in the Dark

scary photos dark 1

With the old-fashioned furnishings and dark interior? I'd say Miss Havisham is what lurks here.

Tip: Lighting is a crucial part of good photography. If you're shooting your listing's interior during the day, make sure you turn the lights on. Otherwise, you risk the sun making the windows blow out and leaving the rest of the photo dark.

5. The Shadow Knows

scary photos shadow 1

If you thought shadow inventory was scary, just think of this as the lead property photo!

Tip: The Shadow may know, but this Realtor obviously doesn't know that you shouldn't position yourself with the sun or other light source directly behind you. This 'no silhouettes or shadows' rule is in line with making sure no pets, people or their reflections make an appearance in your listing photos.

6. This Home Has 'Good Bones'

scary photos skeleton 1

I'm not sure which part of this photo is my favorite. Maybe it's how this house is completely empty, save for the random pirate skeleton. Perhaps it's how said skeleton's head is on backwards? (Go home, Boney. You're drunk.) Or maybe it's how the lone mirror is conveniently placed for summoning Bloody Mary? Regardless, this photo has all the right elements for creating utter confusion.

Tip: Sure, Halloween's a ton of fun, but buyers don't want to see listing photos full of seasonal decorations. It turns some prospects off, and makes it more difficult for everybody to get an idea of what the home actually looks like. Nix decorations in your listing photos--that goes for Christmas and other holiday decor, too!

7. Where the Monsters Hide at Night

scary photos under bed 1

This photo comes from a set of listing photos that were all inexplicably shot from low angles. That means prospective buyers can easily see what lurks under the bed... and the dining room table... and the bathroom sink...

Tip: Unless you have a good grasp of photo composition, kill the impulse to "be artistic" in your listing photos. It seldom turns out well, and usually just gets in the way of a photo's true purpose--showing buyers what a house looks like.

8. These ***** Snakes in This ***** Tank

scary photos snake 1

Is your listing missing that certain je ne sais quoi? Throw a few snakes in a tank and show 'em off. Nothing repels phobic buyers faster!

Tip: Yes, we already said that you should avoid putting pets in photos. This goes DOUBLE for pets of a more unorthodox, fear-inducing sort. If it's a creature that's typically seen as a pest (snakes, mice, tarantulas), make absolutely all traces of the animal are nowhere to be found in your photos.

9. The Nuclear Option

scary photos nuclear 1

This home has a certain glow about it--perfect for buyers looking to save on lighting and heating costs!

Tip: Unless you want to attract buyers wishing to gain superpowers from the bite of a radioactive house spider, resist overdoing it on the HDR photography. (You can learn more about HDR photography here.)

10. Sun, Guns Ablazing

scary photos guns 1

This charming sun room as doubles as an armory. Convenient!

Tip: Again, be sure to remove personal or quirky items in order to avoid alienating prospects. More importantly, guns should never be in listing photos because it presents a danger to the seller. When these photos go live on the public portals, criminals will be alerted that weapons are available at your client's address--making them an easy target for a break-in!

11. A Crooked Deal

scary photos level 1

Something about this listing just doesn't seem 'on the level.'

Tip: Unless your listing is one of those magical 'Mystery Spots'/tourist traps, make sure you align your photo with the house, not the street. Most phones and modern cameras will have a built-in horizon line to guide you with alignment.

12. Taxidermy

scary photos taxidermy 1

It's tough to make a quick buck on a listing when its walls are lined with... nevermind.

Tip: Few decor choices are as creepy as taxidermy. Maybe it's the stuffed, decapitated corpses. Maybe it's the dead, glass eyes that follow you everywhere. Regardless, buyers don't want to see it. In fact, they want to run the other way. Store the mounted heads in an out-of-the-way place where prospects can't see them.

13. Come Hang, Man

scary photos noose 1

If this was a tire swing, it might be idyllic and charming. A noose just says, "This house comes with 2 beds, 2 baths, and an aura of despair."

Tip: I'm not opposed to the idea of how this shot was framed. The execution (ahem) leaves something to be desired, though. If you want to include trees or other foliage in your photos, make sure no branches or leaves are obscuring a clear shot of the house. And, uh, no nooses.

What are some of the worst listing photographs you've ever seen? Share your experiences in the comments below!