Let’s face it, fastidiously clean and neat homes spend less time on the market.  That’s based on my six years as a Realtor.  When shooting home photography, keep in mind that this is going to be your main marketing tool for the MLS (multiple listing service), flyers and advertising. Some of my recommendations also apply to staging a home in general.

As a Realtor, I had a listing, a run-down house in a desirable neighborhood.  Had this homeowner shown their house a little love, the house would have moved quickly; it didn’t.  Generally, when a house spends a lot of time on the market, either the price is too high, or potential buyers can’t see themselves living in the house.  My client’s home had the latter of these problems.  Anyone viewing the house had to circumnavigate the home by walking a narrow path that meandered through piles of junk and garbage. 

A house that is cluttered doesn’t photograph well, or show well for that matter.  A lot of minutia makes the room look smaller than it is.

Mind your nose; sniff out any malodor in the house.  A house with a heavy odor is a turn-off; causing the potential buyer to leave the house as quickly as they can.  If you have a cat and a litter box, make sure it is cleaned out before showings.

In getting your home ready for photographing, the secret is to minimize, minimize, minimize.  If you must put stuff in storage for a few months, do it.  Give the potential buyer a blank canvas on which to paint their future life.

Let’s start outside the home.  When it comes to “curb appeal,” some folks make up their mind just from seeing the outside; they might not even get out of their cars if not inspired.  Make it welcoming.  A few key points to think about:

  • No cars should be sitting in the driveway.  Park them on the street while your home is photographed.
  • Remove garbage cans from areas being photographed.
  • Bright green garden hoses steal focus from beautiful photos.  Put them away.
  • Open all interior window treatments.
  • Make sure that any patio furniture looks clean and tidy.
  • Don’t leave pool toys lying around or in the pool.  Cleaning robots should also not be left in the pool.
  • Trim hedges and cut the grass. Keep bushes trimmed away so that they do not cover windows.
  • Close all exterior doors (unless shooting a 360° virtual tour).
  • MLS rules prohibit real estate signs from being shown in photos.

Photographing the home’s interior…

  • You want the interior of the home to be bright.  Turn on all the lights. 
  • Hardwood floors are a desirable feature, don’t cover them with throw-rugs. 
  • As stated above, all window treatments should be open to allow as much light into the room as possible. If there is an ugly scene outside of a window, hide it with semi-sheer curtains.
  • Clean smudges from windows and mirrors.
  • Put pet beds and toys away.
  • All burned out light bulbs should be replaced.
  • Declutter, then declutter, then declutter a little more.

Photographing the heart of the house, the Kitchen…

  • Small appliances should be removed from counter tops. Any that remain should have their cords tidy and out of site as much as possible.
  • Dish racks and drying dishes should be put away.
  • Remove dishtowels from oven and cabinet handles. 
  • Put the garbage out of sight.
  • Remove dishwashing detergent, soap dishes, sponges, etc. from the kitchen sink.
  • Remove the clutter from the front of your refrigerator, including magnets, pictures, news articles, recipes and anything else that clutters up a neat, clean look.
  • Pet dishes should be put away.

For the bathrooms…

  • Toilet seats should always be down.
  • Put away soap, shampoo bottles, hanging towels and bathrobes.
  • Remove soap dishes, tooth brushes and razors from the vanity.

Tell your agent that you want your home’s photographs shot by a professional real estate photographer.  Quality photography can make the difference between a home that sits on the market for 30 days, and one that’s on the market for 170 days.  When you think about the fact that photographs bring in prospective buyers, it’s a small price to pay.

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