Earlier this year, we announced the ability to edit listings directly from the HomeSpotter app. As a reminder you can edit the status, contingency, price, public and agent remarks and expiration date on your listings in the HomeSpotter app – this video shows you how.

HomeSpotter added another new feature with the ability to add and update photos from your device, this includes editing photo captions. You’ll find this new option under integrations in the Highlights tab, right beneath Edit Listings option on your own listings.

After you’ve saved any changes in your photos, there is a delay of approximately 20 minutes before these changes will be reflected on the MLS and on your HomeSpotter mobile app.

How do you get started with HomeSpotter?
You can download HomeSpotter here or search “HomeSpotter” the App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android for the free mobile app. Sign in with your MLS credentials to get started and access agent only information.

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Rules Roundup — Don’t Risk a Copyright Lawsuit!

When you submit a photograph to the NorthstarMLS database, MLS rules require that you have the authority for the Service to include the content in MLS Compilation, in any statistical report, on comparables, IDX or Broker Reciprocity data feeds, RETS data feeds, listing syndication, and any other form of licensing permitted under MLS rules and authorized by NorthstarMLS.

Who owns the photo or who has rights to use it can be confusing, but it’s important to ensure you have the rights to use every photo you load on NorthstarMLS. If you did not take the photos yourself, the National Association of REALTORS® offers three sample agreements (see below) between an agent and a photographer. A copyright lawsuit could cost you thousands, even if it was unintentional – here’s a recent example.

The agreements do not constitute legal advice, or substitute for specific legal advice or opinions. The user of a sample document should not use it without consulting with the broker and legal counsel. The use should be modified to address the specific legal needs of the user.

Work for Hire Agreement: The commissioned photographs are a “Work for Hire”, which means the commissioning party is the automatic owner of the photographs from their creation. Read more…

Assignment Agreement: The photographer assigns all right, title and interest in the photographs to the broker. Read more…

Exclusive License Agreement: The photographer grants to the broker an exclusive license to display and distribute the photographs in connection with the real estate industry. Read more…


Submit Your Own Rules Roundup Question or Topic! Do you have a question or topic that you would like to see featured as a Rules Roundup article? We’ll supply the answers. Just send your idea to tips@northstarmls.com. We will use one submission each month and the winner will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card!


Rules Roundup On Demand Want to check out older Rules Roundup topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Rules Roundup entries.

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Tip of the Week – Don’t Forget About Photo Captions!

Are you including photo captions with your listing photos on NorthstarMLS Matrix? Captions can be added to each photo that you upload and can help make your listing photos more enticing. Quality captions enhance the details of each photo and can effectively provide more information about the property that buyers might otherwise miss.

Currently, over 65% of listing photos for active single family homes on NorthstarMLS do not have a photo caption.

Photo captions appear in NorthstarMLS Matrix reports that agents provide to their clients, and are also sent to broker reciprocity websites. Consider adding photo captions to your next batch of listing photos, or update your current listing photos that aren’t using captions today!

To add [or edit] captions to your listing photos:

  1. Go to Add/Edit and find the listing you wish to add photo captions to
  2. Click on the ‘Add/Edit Media’ link (near top right of page) and a pop-up window will appear with each of your previously uploaded listing photos for the selected property
  3. Click on ‘Add Caption’ and a text box appears where you can type in your photo caption, up to 250 characters
  4. Once you’re done typing the caption, click ‘Save’
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each photo
  6. Click ‘Save and Close’ on the pop up once you’re finished adding the photo captions

ICYMI: You can now upload 24 photos per listing with improved photo resolution.


Submit Your Own Tip! Do you have a question that you would like to see featured a Tip of the Week? Or maybe you have your own tip you would like to share with other NorthstarMLS users. Send your question or idea to tips@northstarmls.com. We will use one submission each month and the winner will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card!


Want to check out older Tip of the Week topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Tip of the Week entries.

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Last quarter, the NorthstarMLS Rules and Regs department issued over 320 notices for listings with a photo missing – the most since Q2 of 2014. It’s a NorthstarMLS rule that a property photo must be uploaded within two business days of entering a listing. This goes for all property types except Lots and Land and properties listed with a status of Under Construction.

Ideally, a photo will be added at the time of the entry of the listing, but NorthstarMLS rules allow two business days in the event that is not possible.

First Impressions
It’s no secret that photos will greatly enhance the value of a listing to buyers and other agents. Often, a decision on whether to set up a showing is dependent on the property photos a potential buyer first looks at when house hunting.

Also, the nearly 5,000 broker and agent websites displaying the listing data are depending on the photo to make their site appear more professional and complete.

Other Reminders About Your Listing Photos:

  • No text (regardless of message) allowed. Use photo captions for messages and photo descriptions.
  • Unless you have permission from another MLS subscriber, don’t copy listing photos for your own use
  • The photo may not be digitally altered (“Photoshopped”) to the point it no longer accurately reflects the property
  • No broker/agent/builder signs, banners, marketing or any other type of promotional material is allowed in the photo.
  • ICYMI: You can now upload 24 photos per listing with improved photo resolution.
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Tip of the Week – Photo Fail

Adding photos to your listing with Add/Edit? If needed, don’t forget to correct the orientation of the photos and save in a third-party photo editing application, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PaintShop Pro, before uploading the photo(s) to Matrix. There are a plethora of photo editing tools out there — free and paid subscription. Make sure you have saved the photo in its proper orientation before you upload to the MLS.

Failure to do so could result in your photo uploads to appear upside down or sideways on the MLS or Client Portal. More homebuyers than ever before begin their home search online and listing photos are often the first thing they see. So make a good first impression!


Submit Your Own Tip! Do you have a question that you would like to see featured a Tip of the Week? Or maybe you have your own tip you would like to share with other NorthstarMLS users. Send your question or idea to tips@northstarmls.com. We will use one submission each month and the winner will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card!


Tips On Demand Want to check out older Tip of the Week topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Tip of the Week entries.

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NorthstarMLS Listing Photography Tips – A picture could be worth a 1,000 leads

Check out Part 2 of our series on MLS Photo Tips with John, as we follow him around an MLS listing photo shoot in a local Minneapolis home. Throughout the video, John explains some of his own photography techniques and tips while taking the actual listing photos he snapped for local agent Molly Gill’s listing.

On the Internet, homes with better photos get more clicks. The more views your listing gets, the more potential buyers you reach. If you’re an agent snapping your own listing photos, John’s photography tips may help make your listing photos standout online!

Click the Play button on the video above to watch in your current browser window, or click the link below to view it in a new window.

Click here to watch the video in a new window


Did you miss Part 1 of MLS Photo Tips with John Walsh? Click here to view it now in a new window.

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NorthstarMLS Listing Photography Tips – A picture could be worth a 1,000 leads

No verbal description can compete with a good listing photograph when entering a listing into the MLS. Many buyers search online during their home buying process and view properties for the first time online before actually seeing them in person. That means good, thoughtfully composed photographs are your clients’ property’s first impression to potential buyers. On the Internet, homes with better photos get more clicks. The more views your listing gets, the more potential buyers you reach.

We realize that many of you hire professional photographers to shoot your listing photos and that’s fine, but there are many that do not have that luxury and must take your own listing photos. To better understand some of the basic fundamentals, techniques and challenges associated with taking better real estate listing photos, we went out on site to watch John Walsh (professional photographer and local broker/real estate agent for 25 years) shoot photos for one of local agent Molly Gill’s listings.

Check out this video as John shares some of his photography tips to help make your listing photos standout online!

Click the Play button on the video above to watch in your current browser window, or click the link below to view it in a new window. This is one of a two-part series — watch for the second part coming soon.

Click here to watch the video in a new window

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As announced yesterday, NorthstarMLS is taking actions to strengthen listing photo and data copyrights.  As described in that announcement, part of that process (when new listings are entered) is to record whether a NorthstarMLS subscriber took the photos and wrote the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Do I have to respond to this prompt for each individual photo? You will respond to the prompt for each separate upload. So if you upload them one at a time, you will be prompted for each one. But if you upload multiple photos together, you only have to answer the prompt once for the whole group upload.

What if a subscriber took some but not all of the photos? Upload the photos the subscriber took and did not take separately. That way you can answer correctly for each batch.

I need to get the photos/listing uploaded and cannot determine who took the photos or wrote the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks. What do I do? Go ahead and upload the listing and/or photos. Answer “No” to the copyright prompt. If you later find out the answer is actually “Yes,” you can change to Yes for the Public/Agent/Financial Remarks simply by going back in and changing the dedicated Yes/No field next to the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks fields. For photos, the only way to change it is to delete the initial photos, and then upload them again.

I am being prompted to indicate who wrote the Public/Agent/Financial Remarks, but not who took the photos. Why? If your broker selected “Option 2” in the new NorthstarMLS Participation Agreement (no group copyright protection), then you will never be prompted to indicate who took the photos. But more likely, your broker has not yet completed their new Participation Agreement (they have until July 31st). Once they complete the Agreement (and if they select Option 1), then you will start being prompted.

If my photos do not have the copyright watermark, does that mean other NorthstarMLS agents/offices can take and use them on their own listings? No. Although we cannot enforce the copyright against theft outside the MLS, NorthstarMLS rules still prohibit using another agent’s work without permission.

Are you going to incorporate this into the listing input forms? For Agent/Public/Financial Remarks, yes we will add a checkbox to the forms for the agent to indicate whether a subscriber wrote the Remarks. We will work with Instanet on it this week and get it published as soon as possible. Photos are not practical to handle through the listing input form. When the agent sends you the photos, they should indicate whether or not they or another NorthstarMLS subscriber took them.

Who can I contact if I have more questions? Email our Help Desk at help@northstarmls.com or call them at 651-251-5456 (toll free at 1-877-251-5455).
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IMPORTANT NOTICE

Did a NorthstarMLS subscriber in your office take your listing photos? Write the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks?

Starting very soon, these are questions you (or your office input staff) must answer each time you upload photos and Agent/Public/Financial Remarks to a listing on NorthstarMLS.

The purpose is to determine what watermark to place on the photo and the type of ownership information that is communicated for both photos and Agent/Public/Financial Remarks.

Here is how it will work. Each time you upload photos or enter Agent/Public/Financial Remarks for a listing in Add/Edit, you will be required to answer either yes or no to the question “Subscriber took all photos [or wrote all Agent/Public/Financial Remarks] being added to the listing.” A “Subscriber” is any person who has their own user ID for the MLS system. If a Subscriber took all the photos uploaded to the listing, the correct response is “Yes.” If the seller or a professional photographer provided one or more photos, select “No.” Click here for a screenshot.

  • If a NorthstarMLS subscriber in your office took the photos (wrote the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks) and your broker has chosen to take advantage of NorthstarMLS group copyright protection: A copyright symbol plus “RMLS” watermark will be placed on the photo. Your broker will have a license from RMLS to use the images and Remarks. But the copyright is assigned to RMLS for it to control use on NorthstarMLS and to protect the content if another individual or site illegally uses the photos or Remarks.
  • If a NorthstarMLS subscriber in your office took the photos (wrote the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks) and your broker has chosen to NOT take advantage of NorthstarMLS group copyright protection: NorthstarMLS will not place a watermark on the photo and will not be in a position to enforce the copyright if another individual or site illegally uses the photos or Remarks (but your broker may choose to do so).
  • If a NorthstarMLS subscriber in your office did NOT take the photos (did NOT write the Agent/Public/Financial Remarks): Some agents may use professional photographers for their listing photos. The photographer is the owner and copyright holder unless those rights are assigned to you or your broker. NorthstarMLS will not place a watermark on the photo and will not be in a position to enforce the copyright if another individual or site illegally uses the photos or Remarks (but the photographer or author of the Remarks may choose to do so).

Why are we doing this? As an owner of the copyrights, RMLS wants to be in the best position to protect against the unlawful use by others. In the event the copyrights are violated, this photo watermarking procedure ensures we have the correct proof.

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