Remove photos of the home on the internet

Laptop computer showing a house - remove photos of the home on the internetEvery few months I get an email asking me to remove photos of the home on the internet after a new owner closes escrow. These aren’t my listings, but they are on my website through an IDX feed, which I’ll explain below.

What’s going on with photos after closing?

Once the home sale closes, buyers sometimes expect that the listing agent remove photos of the home on the internet. Is that the case? No, not automatically, no, not even normally. This is not something like the for-sale sign coming down, and home buyers may be surprised that the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) does not facilitate this after closing.

Recently I’ve done a bit of a deep dive on this topic. Here are a few quick pointers for those of you asking a listing agent or anyone else to remove photos of the home on the internet after closing:

  • There are 3 broad categories covering where the listing images show up:
    (1) on the MLS itself
    (2) on any sites to which the MLS feed syndicates (Realtor.com and many other sites) – this is most of it
    (3) and to any other websites to which the listing agent may have uploaded the photographs directly (such as a virtual tour site, their Facebook or other social media sites, etc.).
  • After the sale is finalized and the status on the MLS is changed to “closed”, the listing agent can no longer edit anything on the MLS, including which photos are displayed. Any changes must go through the customer support department at MLS Listings.
  • NEW: WHILE closing out the sale, though, the listing agent now has the option (as of summer 2022) to make some of the photos “Agent Only” and viewable only on the MLS, not syndicated out. This is a nice option as it keeps the feeds syndicated, but can provide more privacy for the buyers. Info can be found on that here:
    https://support.mlslistings.com/s/article/Listing-Management-Hide-Photos-for-On-Market-Listings-Post-Sale
  •  The MLS will not remove photos after closing, but it will agree to turn off syndication to other sites. I just learned this recently myself – it was something I have had done in the past, but apparently it’s no longer an option. If syndication is turned off, the listing will entirely disappear (not just photos). Many listing agents and their brokerages like to showcase their sold listings, and may refuse that request.
  • The listing broker is not responsible for removing the images after the sale. And you were told. If you bought a home in California, you likely signed off on the Statewide Buyer and Seller Advisory, which includes this:  “Buyer and Seller are advised that Broker has no control over how long the information or photos concerning the Property will be available on the Internet or through social media, and Broker will not be responsible for removing any such content from the internet or MLS. Brokers do not have expertise in this area.” The local purchase agreements both alert buyers to the same reality.
  • The photos (and videos, if any) actually belong to the listing agent, who paid for them to be shot. Asking for removal is a favor and not a right.
  • Contract update on this issue: As of late December 2021, the new California Association of Realtors purchase agreement states in paragraph 21 that the media (think images, videos, floor plans) belong to the listing agent, and “are not in control of the buyer. Buyer acknowledges that such information will not be removed after Close of Escrow, and Seller and Seller’s Agent shall have no obligation to remove such items.”
  • Perhaps you aren’t worried about the pictures, but instead want to know how to remove property details from internet. In California, real estate and sales info is public information. You may be able to limit sites if the syndication is turned off (more on that below), but otherwise there’s not much you can do. The California Civil Code requires that this information be available for 3 years – that’s the law.

What can be done to remove photos of the home on the internet if the listing agent leaves them visible?

There ARE things that can be done to remove photos of the home on the internet – but not by me (if it’s not my listing). There are things you as the home owner can do, though.

First, let’s consider the MLS, since that is where the bulk of the exposure has come from. (more…)

Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Make Sure Your Front Door Gives a Great First Impression!

Twelve Silicon Valley Doors, shown as black & white (photos by Mary Pope-Handy)

Thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home?  When your house or condo is for sale, curb appeal is crucial because if buyers don’t like what they see on the outside, they will not bother to see what’s on the inside!

It’s hackneyed but true:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression“.

This is no where more true than with front doors! Staging begins on the front porch.

In my real estate practice, I usually see at least 10 or 15 San Jose, Los Gatos or Saratoga area homes per week – usually many more than that too.  A good, clean front door with nice paint or varnish, no dust, clear glass and sparkling hardware gives a good welcome to your home’s visitors, whether they are coming as prospective buyers or simply as guests.  Amazingly, though, not every home seller gets this basic principle quite right. Very often, front doors are dusty, dirty, in need of paint or perhaps even in need of replacement.

And we’re just scratching the surface!

Exterior home doors found all over Silicon Valley

A home’s front door sends a message. What message does yours give off? Photos by Mary Pope-Handy

Here (to the right) are some doors I’ve encountered in my work as a Silicon Valley Realtor. What do you think of each of these?

Some homes have a “security screen door” in front of the regular front door, which is mostly obscured.  What message does this kind of strong grill give?  If it’s the only one on the street, it might imply that one person nearby has concerns about safety. But if there are several doors like this on the same street or nearby, it can give buyers concerns about the safety of the area.

The black door with the white trim in the center is a typical or average San Jose or Santa Clara County door.  It has a painted exterior and a fan light window on top, which allows some light into the home.  It’s a little more inviting than something without any windows, but there’s no cover for rain or an inviting front porch, either.  This type of door is not super expensive, but it does come across as at least fine, if not “good”.

Some of these doors are not the front door. I once viewed a listing which had access through a scratched up door facing the backyard, and when I shared the photo several people asked if it was a short sale or bank owned property. To everyone’s amazement, no, it’s a “regular sale!”  This kind of introduction to the property, is anything but regular and left far from a good first impression!  It is a discredit to the agent and the seller to put a home on the market with such a terrible first exposure to a property.
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Why Isn’t My Silicon Valley Townhouse Selling?

why is my Silicon Valley townhouse not selling?Why isn’t my Silicon Valley townhouse selling?” wonders the home owner. Even in a seller’s market some properties struggle. Real estate agents know why the home (or townhome, or condo) isn’t getting any offers, or worse yet, any traffic at all. In fact, local Realtors who’ve seen it might wonder if the owner of the property has seen the MLS printout at all!

Why isn’t it selling?

Whether your home has been on the market for a while or you’re just about to list it, here are some of the most common culprits to look out for:

  1. Terrible photos (or not enough of them): in our San Jose area MLS we are allowed 9 photos. How many are in your listing?
  2. More on photos: Would it be so hard to turn the lights on in the home when photographing the property? Real estate looks much better when well lit than when dark. Even beautifully remodeled kitchens can look so-so if the lights are not all on! A bright room will make you money…a dark room will cost you!
  3. Is there a video or virtual tour? **
  4. Is the listing syndicated so that buyers can find it on multiple websites?
  5. How is the pricing? Did you price a 2 bedroom townhouse as if it’s a 3 bedroom? That’s a very common but huge mistake! Compare apples to apples – the buyers are doing that, and when you bought your home, you did too!  Did you price the home using comps from 6 months ago, or comps from 3 miles away, or a different school district? Huge mistake!
  6. What’s your competition? Luxury homes will almost always take longer than a mid-priced home nearby – they’re in entirely different markets with entirely different demands. You’ve got to know what market you’re in and what buyers will be comparing your home against! If you’re a short sale, you need to be competitive against other short sales. Don’t be satisfied that your home is less expensive than a “regular sale”. They are two entirely different things!
  7. MLS description and comments: Don’t waste this valuable space! What kind of comments are in the precious few words allowed to describe your home in the multiple listing service? I have seen inane things use up that space. It is imperative that the descriptions be strong. For example, not “nice kitchen” (that could mean almost anything), but instead “slab granite countertops” – specifics that buyers want to hear about!
  8. Commission rate: if your townhome is a “regular sale” and everything in your area is selling with a buyer’s agent commission rate offered at 2.5% or 3% but you’re offering 2%, guess what happens? Little or no traffic, that’s what! Remember that agents are selling homes as their livelihood, and while many will overlook a low commission, many others will not. (When I list homes I run the CR of similar homes so that my sellers can make an informed decision on this point.)

**This is more important than ever right now with restrictions on showings and open homes during the pandemic. Read more about how covid-19 is impacting the real estate market in Silicon Valley and how to sell a home during the quarantine in my articles on this blog.

There are many reasons why a Silicon Valley townhouse might not sell, but marketing correctly will give you the best odds for success and, in a sellers market as we are in, may bring you a higher sales price. If yours isn’t selling, have a look at the price, the photos, and the description and see if anything is amiss, and check what’s happening with comparable properties in the market. These are the most important areas to consider. Other issues may be at play, but if these are correct your home should sell despite other challenges.
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Neighborhoods and homes of Silicon Valley

Whether you call it the San Jose area, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, The South Bay, or even the old moniker of “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”, there is a lot to love about living here. I’ve put together a gallery with a taste of the residential communities in and near San Jose, including Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, Evergreen, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara and more. Sit back and enjoy the photos!

 

 

Alviso Marina: San Jose’s Bayfront

Alviso enjoyed an important position in local Silicon Valley history.  It was once a bustling port from which important products were shipped – things like mercury (quicksilver) from New Almaden, tallow, hides and grain. It was incorporated in 1852 but in 1968 became a part of San Jose.  As a bayfront community, Alviso’s residents have suffered some severe flooding in the past.  Today, though, the water front and marina are a shadow of their former selves, due to the fact that the slough is no longer dredged and vegetation has overtaken much of the marina.  Today I’ll share some photos of the Alviso Marina area which I took a few months back and hope it will encourage this site’s readers to make a trip out there and enjoy the local sites in person.

 

Alviso Marina - where San Jose meets the San Francisco Bay

 

In the photo above, you can see that boats are now surrounded by rushes and reeds rather than open water.  The next one, below, provides a view of the San Francisco Bay in the distance.

 

Alviso Marina and San Francisco Bay

 

The public shore sign seemed out of place today.

 

Alviso's Public Shore sign - but no visible shore today

 

Closer to the slough, a clear channel does remain but it’s not very deep. (more…)

The Mixed Real Estate Market in Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley real estate market is a mixed bag and home buyers and sellers here may read the headlines and wonder why things seem so different in the news than in their own personal reality!

Here are a few quick facts and observations about the San Jose and Santa Clara County real estate market for houses, condos and townhouses:

  • It is a seller’s market for both houses and condominiums in Santa Clara County (homes are selling well and very close to list price on average)
  • The average and median sales price for houses & duet homes is down month over month and year over year (properties that are selling are those which are priced lower)
  • For condos and townhomes, prices are up month over month (but down year over year).  The condo market here has taken a huge beating in recent years.
  • The market is not equally hot everywhere!  It’s red hot in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino, and areas nearby (Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View).  It is also hot where there are low priced foreclosure houses which can be bought at bargain rates.  The move-up market has been tough entry level houses in the best school areas are very sought after right now.  (The market is decidedly cooler in Los Gatos and Almaden Valley.)
  • Homes that are selling best are completely remodeled and have no “issues” (such as high voltage lines, poor floorplan, proximity to something undesirable etc.) and priced aggressively  OR are distressed sales with great pricing

In the best areas, or those with the hottest markets, we are seeing some multiple offers with overbidding.  At the same time, we are finding homes that look great but languish on the market due to some issue or another or pricing that’s not as competitive as it needs to be for today’s market (or both). (more…)

Los Altos Country Club Area View Home for Sale

 

Permission to blog about 1557 Plateau Avenue, Los AltosSituated on a small knoll in the prestigious Los Altos Country Club neighborhood, the home at 1557 Plateau Drive features many of the most highly regarded elements which make a house a luxury property and a joy to see.

The Los Altos Country Club Neighborhood

The Country Club area of Los Altos is highly sought after for many reasons, including its scenic green views, proximity to the Los Altos Golf and Country Club, gently rolling hills, a semi-rural, quiet, understated and private ambiance, easy access to major roads and highway 280 – and, of course, fabulous Los Altos schools. Additionally, some locations enjoy fabulous views of the golf course or the bay, too.
Several years ago I had the pleasure of selling an estate home on Hillview Avenue, which is just a stone’s throw from the lovely house for sale on Plateau in the Country Club neighborhood. I got to know the area and came to appreciate why it has such a strong and enduring appeal to Silicon Valley home buyers.  It’s not a region with a high turnover – instead, people move there and stay put.  The area is hard to beat!

 

Younger, Elegant Mediterranean View Home

The Country Club area was first developed decades ago, so many of the houses in this area are fairly old (mid century and later ranch style houses are not uncommon).  Slowly, homes are being either extensively remodeled or rebuilt and a few are less than 20 years old.
Living Room with view at 1557 Plateau Avenue, Los Altos (Country Club area)The property at 1557 Plateau Avenue is younger, just 18 years old, constructed by a builder who was making it for himself and his family.  As you might imagine, the owner-builder utilized the land to make best use of the view opportunity.  He also created it with many extra features & finishing touches which distinguish a quality, custom home from tract housing.
What about the views?  This Mediterranean style house enjoys panoramic views of the peninsula and eastern foothills.  On a clear day, you can see the bay and the bridge too!

The floorplan is flexible. There is a 2 car garage at street level, but a third which is accessed from the rear of the property – ideal for RVs, boats, and extra cars or vehicles. The 3rd garage can be used as built, or as a rec room, extra storage, or a number of other options.

Please see the MLS information on this elegant home below! Open house Sat June 25 and Sun June 26, 2011. (more…)

View of Lake Vasona from Wild Way in Los Gatos

A week or two ago I stopped by to see a luxury home on the real estate broker’s tour in Los Gatos – a fantastic estate on an enormous parcel with an expansive view over Lake Vasona County Park, the hills and so much greenery.

It was an overcast day with some intermittent drizzle and sprinkles, but clear enough to provide visibility for this infrequently enjoyed vantage. Take in this vista of the lake, the dam and Mount Sombroso in the background which is seldom seen except by a small group of fortunate residents perched on Wild Way.

Vasona Lake from Hillside above University Avenue (Wild Way) - view spot not open to the public

Vasona Lake from Hillside above University Avenue from backyard of residence on Wild Way – view spot not open to the public

 

 

 

“The house was ‘termited’ four years ago. Do we need to do it again?” – Question of the Day!

This afternoon I was driving along Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos, with my destination being the salad bar at Whole Foods, when my cell phone rang.  A woman who did not identify herself or her location said to me, after noting that she called the number from the blog/site, “a house was termited four years ago. Do we really need to do it again?”  She needed professional, unbiased real estate advice, and figured that since I had nothing to gain either way, I’d tell her the truth.

I asked her what she meant by “termiting”.  Was it an inspection, a fumigation, or some other treatment that was done 4 years ago?  She elaborated that the house was tented for (drywood) termites four years ago.  She didn’t want to waste her money “termiting” again (to use her words).

“Are you buying a house?” I asked her.  “Yes” she confirmed.  I continued, “then you probably should get a termite inspection from a licensed and reputable company because drywood termites can come right back after the treatment.  Not only that, but the inspector will look for other things, like subterranean termites, dry rot, fungus, boring beatles, and more.” (I did explain that you don’t just tent for drywoods – they may or may not be a problem. What you want is an inspection to see if there’s anything that does need treating. The inspector might find cellulose debris, for instance, and will note whether it’s infected or not.) (more…)