Code of Ethics Pop Quiz: Advertising Listings

Code of Ethics Pop Quiz 4

You just received your listing photos and they look fantastic! The photographer did a great job with the lighting, angles, and touch-ups and your seller is extremely happy. These photos will really make your listing shine! However, upon closer inspection, you realize that something is not right. In the photo showing the front of the house, there is a beautiful sunset in the sky directly behind the house but you know this isn’t possible because the house faces south. Do you have the photographer correct the mistake or leave it as is?

a.) Have it fixed.

b.) Leave it. Who would notice? It is not an important detail and not worth the delay/cost to change.

c.) Ask the seller what they would like to do; it is their house so they should decide if the photos are acceptable.



If you answered A, then you are correct!

You should never knowingly misrepresent a listing, no matter how small the mistake might seem. While there is nothing wrong with having a photographer make very minor adjustments to an image (such as removing blur or straitening a crooked shot), listing photos should always be a true representation of the property.


What does the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics say?
Article 12 states that REALTORS® must always be accurate in their marketing and portrayals of a property. “Realtors® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”

Furthermore, standard 12-10 goes on to specifically define what constitutes a misrepresentation of a listing in terms of content, images, and websites:

“Realtors®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes Internet content, images, and the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits Realtors® from:

 1)  engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites;

 2)  manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing and other content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result;

3)  deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic; or

4)  presenting content developed by others without either attribution or without permission; or

5)  otherwise misleading consumers, including use of misleading images. (Adopted 1/07, Amended 1/18)”

Bottom line – make most of your changes in person and limit what is done to the appearance of the home in photographs.

Additional Resources on Article 12:

REALTOR Magazine: When Does Photoshopping Go Too Far?
REALTOR Magazine: The Worst Offenses in Virtually Staged Photos
REALTOR Magazine: 4 Surefire Tips for Better Listing Photos