How to Remove Old Photos of Your Home for Sale From Websites

Woman sitting on sofa in new home thinking about the photos of her old home on a realtor's site.
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The first question many agents generally hear from buyers after closing is: how do I remove the photos of my new house from Zillow and all of the other real estate websites? They think the listing agent will do it for them, but it is not that easy.

MLS Forever

It starts with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Sellers want their home advertised everywhere possible online. Increasing the exposure to online shoppers tends to maximize profit potential; their thought process is the more websites, the merrier. Many websites get their feed from the MLS. Sellers don't necessarily care about the ramifications or the buyers' privacy after the transaction closes.

Photos of Your Home for Sale After It's Sold

A funny thing happens, though, after buyers become homeowners. Although the buyers may have lusted after their new home on their smartphone prior to purchasing, right after the sale closes they may suddenly feel differently. What was once a fantasy becomes a reality. They now claim ownership, and ownership feelings can be intensely and extremely private. So private, in fact, that they feel invaded by the online photos. They want to stop anybody else's eyeballs from falling upon their built-in dishwasher or six-burner range.

Legally, the photos do not necessarily belong to the homeowner. The homeowner may not have the legal right to demand the removal of the photos. Furthermore, some of them simply cannot be removed.

The Never-Ending Galaxy of MLS

To figure out how to remove photos of your home from real estate websites, it helps to begin by understanding how the photos ended up there in the first place. It starts with MLS. Depending on your local MLS, that system might distribute its contents downline to 20, 60 or 100-plus different websites. Automatically. This includes popular homes for sale websites such as Zillow, Trulia or realtor.com.

For many years, agents could just post listings to Zillow. However, Zillow no longer offers this as an option. Instead, it has instead negotiated feeds directly from MLS companies across the country.

Each website might also distribute the data to its sister websites. Agents might blog about their new listings on social media—like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest—and post photos. In the case of Pinterest, other users can then snatch the photos to "pin" on their own page. It's like a never-ending galaxy that often leaves the homeowner in a black hole.

Best Way to Remove Photos of Your Home from Websites

The single best way to remove photos of your home from real estate websites is to ask for this in your purchase offer. Make the removal of those photos from MLS a contingency of the sale. This means once you have removed your contract contingencies and are close to funding the loan, you might ask the listing agent to immediately remove all photographs from MLS. Since MLS databases are paid services for licensed agents and brokers, they will be the only ones able to access the listing to remove it. Keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean removal from other websites or social media platforms. For example, if you post a listing to realtor.com, the website offers ways for you to remove your photos.

Secondary Ways to Remove Photos

If you've already closed and you want the photos removed, start with the listing agent. Be polite and nice. State your case. You might even suggest that you realize the request might seem insignificant to the agent, but you would appreciate if the agent could take a moment to remove the photos from some of the websites to which the agent has access, such as Zillow.

The agent is under no obligation to grant your request; however, many real estate brokerages and—by extension—the agents themselves, prefer to foster goodwill in the community and might help you out. 

Do It Yourself

You can also remove photographs from Zillow yourself by creating a Zillow account. Then, sign in to your account and claim the home. Once the home has been claimed by you, you have the ability to remove photographs. Zillow customer service representatives can also assist if you find this step challenging. To remove listings to Trulia, you can contact their customer service team directly for help.

Most other websites, with the exception of MLS, will remove photos if you ask their customer service department for assistance. Some will also let you do it online. MLS is fairly strict and does not want to alter its research archives. To find these websites, enter your home address into the search box of your favorite search engine. For example, a random home that sold six years ago may still be listed in 72 entries, some with photos and some without.

Article Sources

  1. National Association of Realtors (NAR). "Multiple Listing Service (MLS): What Is It," Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  2. National Association of Realtors (NAR). "Copyright Considerations for MLS Photographs," Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  3. Zillow. "How Do I Post a Home for Sale Directly Through Zillow?" Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  4. National Association of Realtors. "Multiple Listing Service (MLS): What Is It," Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  5. realtor.com. "How to Add, Edit, and Remove Listing Photos," Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  6. Zillow. "How Do I Add or Remove Photos of My Home?" Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.

  7. Trulia. "How Do I Remove Photos of My Home From Trulia?" Accessed Nov. 6, 2019.

  8. Redfin. "Removing Photos on a Sold Home," Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.