So you have a challenging listing that’s not getting any love. What’s a real estate agent to do? Stage listing photos with half-dressed models, of course.
By now, you may have seen or at least heard of the photos of 590 Mosswood Drive in Conroe, TX, which features a young couple engaged in various household activities—none of them dirty, but that hasn’t stopped people from raising an eyebrow, and an objection. In fact, there were so many objections to the somewhat risqué photos (a shirtless changing of a lightbulb here, some scantily-clad cooking there) that the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR) took them down the morning after the pictures were added. (You can still see them on listing agent Kristin Gyldenege of Home Pros Real Estate LLC’s Instagram.)
We talked to Gyldenege about how the photo shoot materialized, the pictures’ impact on the listing, the overwhelming response, and why she feels there is a larger issue at play here that’s threatening the long-term viability of the real estate industry as we know it.
Realty Times: What gave you the idea to use these photos for your listing?
Kristin Gyldenege: I wanted something that would catch people’s attention. It just felt like such a great house, and our budget was really limited, so we couldn’t stage it or anything. This was a way that we could do something to get attention and show the house for what it is, with a young couple enjoying the house they just bought. Part of our job as Realtors® is is to imagine who might live in the house when we’re staging, taking pictures, or writing descriptions. We thought maybe this visual representation would help take it a bit further.
RT: Have you ever done anything like this before?
KG: This was a completely new thought process, but something we wanted to do for a long time; we just had to have the right house and seller. We needed a seller that would be open to this, and a house that would be something that would appeal to a younger generation. The seller was supportive from the get-go; she was really happy to be a part of it.
RT: I know there has been a bit of backlash about the photos. Why do you think that is?
KG: Overall, I feel like the support has been much more profound than the backlash. I’ve received so many messages from all over, with people saying they love the progressive idea and the photos.
The majority of the people who have been negative have been from older generations—people looking to ‘protect the integrity of the industry.’ The fact that these pictures, while not really showing a whole lot, garnered so much attention, is telling. I truly feel like this is a prime example of how the industry needs to change to keep up with the times. Agents are so worried about being replaced, and we will be if we don’t bring more to the table. The younger generation is going around us because they don’t see the value in working with an agent. When you’re able to create marketing that takes a listing to a new level, it gets noticed. Younger generations are embracing being able to capture social media attention and being able to cross-promote, and not just take pictures of a house and stick them up on the MLS and pray for the best. We’re in sales and marketing. If you can’t be creative about sales and marketing, you’re limiting yourself. Eventually, you’ll be phased out.
Photo Courtesy Kristin Gyldenege
RT: Why this particular home?
KG: This house was on the market for 40 days before this. We didn’t get any showings, and there were less than 2,000 views in all of October on the MLS. The home is located in a flood-prone area and most agents who know Houston tell clients to stay away from this side of 45. But this particular house is 20 feet above flood level, and has never flooded. If this house floods, we’re all in trouble. But it’s like an automatic no-fly zone; people don’t even take a look at it.
It’s also a double lot, which makes it appear overpriced at first. It’s the newest home in the neighborhood and more expensive than anything else in the neighborhood, so it may appear as though it’s above buyers’ price point. It’s a challenging listing. I’m certain I will sell it faster than if I hadn’t done this—but it won’t be overnight. The listing had 20,000 views within the first 24 hours after the pictures went up but they were only up for 10 hours.
RT: Why were they taken down?
KG: HAR took them down because they said they had over 100 complaints by 10am the following morning. I know several came from Realtors® because they were bragging on social media that they had called to complain. It inhibits me being able to do my job. Here this listing is getting all this attention, but people are looking at the listing on news stations and sister sites because they can’t see the photos on the MLS. It’s kind of frustrating.
It’s also very sad—we’re in an industry that used to pride itself on helping each other, and this is very cutthroat. You have some people who claim to be trying to protect the integrity of an industry that is changing and that they may not understand anymore.
Photo Courtesy Kristin Gyldenege
RT: What would you say to people that question your strategy based on what they consider to be the questionable nature of the photos?
KG: Our job is to get as many people to see this house as possible. I want to do whatever it takes to sell it. I’ve also had a number of people contacting me who say they wish I was their Realtor®, and it’s great to be able to put them in contact with people who share a similar mindset.
RT: Any way we may see the photos back up on the site at some point?
KG: I just have to go with it for now. I’m waiting until the smoke clears a little bit to approach HAR and try to work with them.