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Do these Sexy Real Estate Listing Photos Cross the Line?

Are you ready to dive into the scandalous world of real estate marketing? In the heart of Silicon Valley, where young, affluent techies thrive, a new trend has emerged. Real estate agent Stephan Marshall has...

Are you ready to dive into the scandalous world of real estate marketing? In the heart of Silicon Valley, where young, affluent techies thrive, a new trend has emerged. Real estate agent Stephan Marshall has taken a daring approach by hiring female models to spice up the listing photos of a retro midcentury home in Belmont, California. The results are both provocative and polarizing.

Caught Between Edgy and Offensive

The debate surrounding the use of sexualized imagery in real estate listings is not new. In an industry where "sex sells," the line between edgy and offensive can be blurry and subjective. Marshall's unconventional marketing strategy may resonate with the rich bros of Silicon Valley, but would it fare well in Minnesota or any other market?

While some agents view this approach as clever and attention-grabbing, others, like Shelley Rossi, vice president of communications at Windermere Real Estate, worry that it may alienate female buyers or half of a homebuying couple. Excluding an entire gender from target marketing is a risky move, after all.

A Polarizing Response

The Inman Coast to Coast Facebook group was abuzz with opinions on Marshall's daring photoshoot. Silicon Valley agent Jeff Colon praised the marketing as clever and effective, stating that the buzz surrounding the listing was going wild. However, Tiffany Kjellander, a broker-owner from New Jersey, pointed out that the provocative imagery did nothing to overshadow the musty and stale vibe of the house itself.

Justifying the Risks

Marshall is aware that his listing photos have divided opinions, but he believes the results speak for themselves. The open house attracted a significant number of potential buyers solely because of the provocative images. He also went the extra mile by creating an eight-page flyer, reminiscent of a 1960s fashion magazine, to further market the home.

Navigating MLS Policies

Several agents in the Inman Coast to Coast group highlighted the restrictions imposed by their local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) regarding the inclusion of people in listing photos. While some MLSs explicitly prohibit the use of individuals in listing photos, others, like the Sunnyvale, California-based MLSListings that covers Marshall's listing, do not have such specific rules. Instead, they rely on the MLS's ability to remove objectionable content based on their judgment.

The National Association of Realtors' (NAR) MLS policy also does not have a rule against including people in listing photos. However, local MLSs may enforce rules that prohibit irrelevant information or promotional items from appearing in listing photos.

The Controversy Continues

The use of sexualized imagery in real estate marketing will always spark controversy. Marshall's bold decision to employ female models in his listing photos has undoubtedly generated attention and interest. Whether it crosses the line or not is a subjective judgment, but one thing is for sure - this approach pushes the boundaries of traditional real estate marketing.

Listing Photos Listing photos featuring models.

Listing Photos More of the home's listing photos.

Listing Photos Listing photo showcasing the brochure.

Listing Photos Additional listing photos.

Listing Photos Another listing photo.

Images source: Sanaulac.vn

As the real estate industry continues to evolve, agents must find innovative ways to capture buyers' attention. A daring and controversial marketing strategy may not be suitable for every market or property, but it certainly invites discussion and challenges the norms. Ultimately, the success of such tactics depends on understanding the target audience and navigating the ever-changing boundaries of real estate marketing.

Email Paul Hagey for more information.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information about NAR's listing photo policy.