Real Actual Listing Photos: Step Away From the Photoshop

Let’s tone things down a bit with another installment of Real Actual Listing Photos. Once a month (or so) I round up some of the most bizarre listing photos from around the Seattle area and post them here, with brief excerpts from the real actual listing description, and probably a bit of snarky commentary.

The idea for this series stems from the ongoing forum thread Detrimental Listing Photos, which is where you should post your nominations for next month’s Real Actual Listing Photos post.

This month’s theme is over-Photoshopped images. A little color correction and cropping is fine, but sometimes things get taken a bit too far. The most common of these abuses is the over-saturated photos (which there are some great examples of below), but there are other offenses as well…

Enough explanation. Let’s get to the photos! Click the photo to view the Real Actual Listing.

485 Whitecap Bellingham, WA 98229“Meander through tropical vegetation and over a babbling creek into this NW custom built home.”

Wow, the text description is just as over-saturated as the listing photo. Nice matching by the listing agent.

1213 212th Place SW Lynnwood, WA 98036“…a number of original touches make this one of the most unique properties you will ever see.”

But not quite as “unique” as it looks in these hyper-saturated photos.

6746 14th Ave NW Unit B Seattle, WA 98117“Slate and hardwood floors, fir doors and trim, gas fireplace, slab granite kitchen counters and stainless steel appliances.”

*Color-changing dining set not included. (Best viewed full size.)

21112 Locust Wy Lynnwood, WA 98036“Freshly painted with new flooring, updated kitchen and baths, lighting and more.”

*Again, color-changing dining set is not included in the price. (Full size)

2033 Killarney Wy Bellevue, WA 98004“Beautifully constructed in 2007 on a shy half acre with magical, west facing views of Lake Washington, Seattle and the Olympics.”

And by “magical” here, we’re referring to the way everything on the deck emits a fuzzy glow in the early evening.

9205 Shoreland Dr SE Bellevue, WA 98004“Meydenbauer Point. .. an arc of tremendous views and homes of substantiality. Mediterranean villa shining ~ a European Coastal signature.”

So are the glowing window edges part of the “substantiality,” or the “villa shining”?

Let me know if you have an idea for the next “Real Actual Listing Photos” theme.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    ray pepper says:

    “Let’s tone things down a bit ”

    Love it….!! Was wondering how you were gonna transition outta that topic and get to something more relaxing!

  2. 2

    In one of those pictures I think it’s obvious they photoshopped out the sex offenders living in the bushes! ;-)

  3. 3
    NewHomeOwnerInFremont says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 2:

    In one of those pictures I think it’s obvious they photoshopped out the sex offenders living in the bushes! ;-)


  4. 4
    Peter Witting says:

    The stairs in the last house (third picture) appear to be nearly vertical. I imagine going down those steps would be “breathtaking”, indeed!

  5. 5
    Charles Mawby says:

    That’s not Photoshop… that’s how everything looks on LSD!!

  6. 6
    sdb says:

    This technique is called HDR, and it really needs to end, *especially* in real estate images. HDR hardly ever looks good, even when done right. It’s awful. Please stop, realtors.

  7. 7
    Suitably Skeptical says:

    I like the Killarney Way photos…they have a picture of the Seattle skyline that could only have been taken with a 300+ telephoto…the image you included shows the actual perspective…
    I am still trying to identify JUST ONE real estate agent who is worth paying. Uugh!

  8. 8
    HDR says:

    RE: sdb @ 6 – Just curious, do you think these look good? This was the first place I saw HDR and I thought it was great. That was in 2007, now it’s everywhere and I agree overdone, but I still like this guy’s pictures. Definitely does not belong in listing photos, though.

  9. 9
    crunchy says:

    Can’t help noticing the last listing is by WENDY LISTER who has a narrative style that borders on barely english. Her descriptions are so convoluted as to be hardly legible, as well as instantly recognizable and quite predictable and amusing once you recognize her style.

  10. 10
    The Tim says:

    RE: crunchy @ 9 – Hah, you’re right. She’s a pretty prolific and well known high-end listing agent. I’d never noticed that about her descriptions before. Good stuff. Here’s a search that should show you all her listings.

  11. 11
    Nigel says:

    Photo 5 on this listing from the Atlanta area ‘tops’ them all (nsfw):

  12. 12
    sdb says:

    @8 Some of those are ok-ish. To be honest, HDR reminds me of the computer “art” that came out of the desktop explosion in the 90s. Tons of computer generated images of spheres on multicolored grids, fractals, blah blah blah. It’s the sort of thing where the first time you see it, you go “oh cool,” but I would never own a piece of art in this style let alone put it on my wall, and I certainly don’t want to see it on the houses I’m interested in buying. I don’t know why agents go through the trouble or think this looks good. They would be much better served by simply learning about lighting and appealing angles (natural and low). I hate this so much that I’ve considered registering “” Maybe I’ll just start a Tumblr, instead.

  13. 13
    TylerG says:

    Best to read those listings in your best Christopher Walken voice.
    RE: The Tim @ 10

  14. 14
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Nigel @ 11
    Now that is funny.

  15. 15
    Real World Express says:

    RE: sdb @ 12

    5 Annoying Trends That Make Every Movie Look the Same

    Everything Else is Teal and Orange

    Just like an early 90s parachute pants designer, movies lately have decided the only two colors they need are teal and orange. As some very sharp-eyed bloggers have pointed out, it’s usually unnaturally orange-tinted skin tones against blue skies…

  16. 16
    t-towner says:

    @11 MLS. photo. ever!

    Don’t clicky if you don’t like “girls gone wrong” NSFW!

  17. 17
    David S says:

    Listing photos runner up! Love the ashtray focal point and the Bic lighter matching chairs. I think some some saturation would help this one.

  18. 18

    RE: t-towner @ 16 – Strange use of the word “best.” Worst would be more like it.

  19. 19
    Peter Witting says:

    RE: Nigel @ 11 – Oh. My. God.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Dirty_Renter says:

    Those last 2 pictures remind me of a Thomas Kincade painting, with light emanating from everything – creepy, very creepy.

  22. 22
    Johnny says:

    The truth is, much of this photography does exactly what it is meant to do. Agents tend to forget that the most important hat they wear is that of marketing professional, they would do well to learn a bit from 5th avenue pros about the psychology of marketing. Much of these photos can bring in two to three times more the amount of internet and foot traffic otherwise expected. We can make fun of Burger King and McDonald’s as well for their advertising photos showing burgers that are perfect in shape, size, and form – but they know it works.
    And by the way, this stuff isn’t new, it was made popular by Ansel Adams and his “zone system” of black and white processing, it’s just new to many because of the computer.

    Of course, like all things, it can be easily taken to extreme.

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