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Good Dog! Why Pets Are Popping Up in Listing Photos—but This Cuteness Could Come Back To Bite You




By Kiri Blakeley | Jun 17, 2024


Opinions on best practices for real estate photos vary, but one thing everyone agreed on—until recently—is that sellers’ pets should never appear in the listing. Buyers want to picture their own lives in the home, so photos should be a blank canvas.


But more agents are saying that thinking is for the dogs.


“Usually, we don’t put animals in pictures. It’s not a thing in the industry that is done,” says Corcoran Group agent Noemi Bitterman.


Yet, when arranging a photo shoot for a three-bedroom Brooklyn co-op she was representing with her partner, Kajsa Hutton, earlier this year, the sellers’ brown poodle hopped on the couch and refused to leave.


“So we were like, ‘OK, let’s just go with it,'” Bitterman says.


That ended up being the photo everyone loved.


“She just looked so beautiful, and she blended in with the color of the couch,” recalls Bitterman. “She gave the apartment a feeling of warmth and family. People were calling up saying, ‘I love that photo with the dog.'”


The $998,000 co-op sold fairly soon after. Good dog!

Agent Noemi Bitterman included the sellers’ poodle in her Brooklyn listing. (Realtor.com)


Pets in listing photos—a growing sales tactic?



While Bitterman was more or less photobombed and forced to include pets, other real estate agents have embraced them as the hot new sales prop.


Suzanne Weinstein of Coldwell Banker Warburg recently featured a black poodle in the photos for a one-bedroom Park Avenue co-op in Manhattan for $679,000. She thought the pup would not only add a feeling of “elegance and warmth,” but would also promote the building’s pet-friendliness.

This black poodle is the star of this Park Avenue listing. (Realtor.com)


However, not all dogs are treated equally.


“I don’t think I would include a breed not known for friendliness,” she says, tactfully not naming any breeds in particular.


And dogs aren’t the only pet in the picture, either. House flipper Tyler Drew of Anubis Properties once bought a home with a custom-built pet door that proved so popular with homebuyers that it sparked a bidding war. He made sure to leave a cat in the listing photos.


And like all things, pets are best in moderation.

“If I see more than four animals in a listing, I’ll usually just avoid the property,” Drew says.


The risks of placing pets in listing photos



But many think that agents’ decision to include pets in listings photos is barking mad: Why alert homebuyers to potential issues such as unwanted odors or fur-clogged filters?


“I would be sniffing intently to see if there is any spray or issues on the floors or lower walls,” says Elizabeth Boese of Coldwell Banker. “Furry animals in the home can also mean a forced-air furnace or AC were overworked as the filter clogs more frequently from the extra fur in the air.”


Listing photos are no place for furry friends, agrees Cedric Stewart of Entourage Residential Group at Keller Williams Capital Properties.



“I get the logic, but I think it is a very bad idea,” he asserts. “In the same way that you want to paint and change the carpet if a seller is a heavy smoker, it’s best to do all you can so that someone who is allergic to pet dander can still enjoy the tour and express interest. I tell my sellers to remove any signs of a cat or dog, which is the exact opposite of this trend.”


Devin Kay of The Exclusive Group at Douglas Elliman is also in the no-pets camp.

“Agents use marketing tactics like including pets, staged people, or other props to make their listings go viral,” he says. “But in my experience, buyers prioritize location, architecture, and interior finishes, not pets or other props.”


Paige Elliott of Elliott & Elliott Real Estate Group says she doesn’t even know any photographers who would allow pets in a photo.


“There are insurance and security concerns,” she says.


One agent equates showing pets in listing photos to having a presidential campaign sign on the front lawn.



“You’ll attract some and repulse others,” says Bruce Ailion of Re/Max Town and Country. “Why take the risk of alienating anyone?”


If you are itching to use a pet in a listing photo, stay away from the four-legged ones, asserts Chrissy Grigoropoulos, founder of Property Shark Realty and author of “Ladyshark: How To Become a Millionaire in Your 30s.”


“Fish are easy pets to include that don’t yield any odor or lingering allergy possibilities,” she says.


If you simply must stage your dog, keep the photo in the backyard, she says.


But there is one type of listing where animals are always welcome, concludes Christine Sparacino of Re/Max Sparrow Realty: “a farm.”


Let us know what you think! Do your furry friends win, or should they stay away? If you're thinking of selling, let's connect today!



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