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MLS Photo Rules

August 28, 2023

A property photo must be uploaded within two business days of entering a listing on NorthstarMLS. This goes for all property types except Lots and Land and properties listed with a status of Under Construction.

Ideally, a photo will be added at the time of the entry of the listing, but NorthstarMLS rules allow two business days in the event that is not possible.

First Impressions
It’s no secret that photos will greatly enhance the value of a listing to buyers and other agents. Often, a decision on whether to set up a showing is dependent on the photos a potential buyer first looks at when house hunting.

Also, the nearly 5,000 broker and agent websites displaying the listing data are depending on the photo to make their site appear more professional and complete.

Rules About Listing Photos:

  • No text (regardless of message) allowed. Use photo captions for messages and photo descriptions.
  • Unless you have permission from another MLS subscriber, don’t copy listing photos for your own use
  • The photo may not be digitally altered (“Photoshopped”) to the point it no longer accurately reflects the property
  • No broker/agent/builder signs, banners, marketing or any other type of promotional material is allowed in the photo.
  • Photos/videos of listed property should not include people or pets. Wildlife, harvested game, equine, and farm animal photos are permitted. An exception is made for lifestyle videos when shot from an overhead view. In this instance no person should be identifiable, and pets may appear within the view.

What are the sanctions for not complying?
If a photo is not loaded within 2 business days, a reminder is sent along with an administrative fee of $25. If the photo is not loaded within 48 hours after the reminder, a $100 fine is added. The fine continues to escalate until the photo is added or service is suspended.

The fine for loading a photo that belongs to another broker or photographer without permission is $100 for a first offense. Make sure the photo does not belong to someone else.

Where can I read the full rule?
RMLS Rules and Regulations can be found here (pdf). Rule 3.2 addresses the timeline for photo entry. Rule 5.4 addresses the photo content. Rules 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3 address copyright issues.

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