Can I remove my house photos from Zillow and other websites?
The answer is both yes and possibly no.
When a seller lists a home for sale with a real estate brokerage in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service,) at least here in Towson, Maryland, the listing agreement comes with terms about sharing photos and videos with third-party sites like Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and a good number of others.
Real estate agents do not have much control over Zillow or Redfin or other websites. With a signed agreement, photos are taken from the listing in the MLS and posted on these sites, as sellers usually want the most exposure to as many potential buyers as possible, and many homebuyers search these websites or apps.
When that home sells to a buyer, it is usually changed in the MLS to “sold” or “closed.”
What happens with the pictures?
Usually they remain up. Interior photos help tremendously for comparable sales when an agent is trying to help another seller determine how their house compares to others. It is also crucially important to appraisers to be able to view the insides of homes that sold and they can’t see in person, to be able to come up with a value for the loan on another home in the area.
In the MLS, if the buyer of a home requests the photos to be removed from the MLS, the listing brokerage is usually able to have those photos removed from the MLS within a certain amount of time after closing. Again, this hurts appraisals for home loans and for pricing other homes in the neighborhood (please note that if you have a loan, the appraiser for *your* loan most likely used photos of the interior of other homes to help make sure your house was worth the price you were paying for it!)
That being said, homebuyers sometimes are uncomfortable having photos of their new home on the web.
Unfortunately, even if photos are removed by the listing brokerage from the MLS, the brokerage usually does not have control over photo displays from other websites.
Once the home is sold, Zillow stops taking the feed from the local MLS. With our current MLS agreement with a site like Zillow, we, as agents, cannot edit or remove any photos from their website, even when they are active/live. (Trust me, I have tried! When the feed on one site was showing an old photo of the outside of a house I had listed, the home was the wrong color!) We get an error message stating that the photos come from a third-party feed and we are locked out of changing them.
So, how can you remove photos of your new home from the web? Once you own the home, you can “claim” the home on Zillow, and as the owner, you may be able to remove the photos you do not want posted.
This does not help with Redfin or Realtor.com, or any other websites, though. You can try to go through each website and app’s customer service to try to have your photos removed. Redfin and Realtor.com also have “ownership claim” abilities. Many other sites do not.
If you want photos of your new home removed from Zillow and other websites, make sure to give yourself a good chunk of time and patience to go through each website you find to try to get them removed.
If you are looking to sell your home in Timonium, Towson, or the Greater Baltimore area, please contact me. I would love to be of service!