A good photographer, such as Rick, can give you a keen perspective on how to prepare a home for real estate photos. Getting a home ready for real estate photos can be the one of the most stressful times when selling a home. Not only is the physical work taxing on the homeowner, it can also be stressful for the real estate agent. Many agents have to finesse their clients into putting in the extra work. Having a home photo ready is the most important part of the listing process. They won’t have a second chance at making a first impression! Here’s a handy guide to help you coach your clients through the process.
- One of the surest ways to make a home shine for photos is to remove unsightly items. Things to consider removing are—End tables, knitting baskets and magazine racks, foot stools, small shelving units, secondary chairs, clothes hampers, trash bins, and other unsightly items.
- A good real estate photographer will look for open “alleys” that can show floor to wall to ceiling. By composing around these alleys, the rooms will really open up in the photos.
- Decluttering will also allow the photographer to capture more angles, thus producing more photos for the listing.
- Utilize all closets, garage, and behind beds to place items.
2. Clear All Surfaces
- When you prepare a home for real estate photos clear all surfaces including countertops, bathroom vanities, dining room tables, end tables and night stands, and other flat surfaces. This will give a clean and uncluttered look to the photos.
- Clearing the surfaces will open them up and showcase their usefulness in the photos. Buyers will always like as much counterspace as possible. A clean surface on the vanity will showcase the expensive upgrade the homeowner made without distracting personal items such as soap bottles, makeup, and table mirrors.
- Adding a bit of staging to these surfaces is recommended. Make sure the staging doesn’t obstruct lines of sight. A large floral arrangement might not be best for a kitchen island, but may work on a dining room table. Low profile items with color such as, bowls of fruit, small floral arraignments, and colorful nick knacks work best. When staging try to select items with color so they accent the room better.
3. Remove or Repair Window Treatments
- Window treatments take up a large portion of the photos are often overlooked. They can become the focal point of the photos, so having the right window treatments in place will improve the presentation of the home on the listing.
- Venetian type blinds are the most common window treatments found in homes. Be sure these are in working order prior to the photo shoot.
- Things to inspect the blinds for—Be sure they are functional. At the very least you should be able to open and close the louvers. Check the blinds for cleanliness and discoloration. A discolored window blind will make the room look dirty and dingy in the photos. It’s very important that the window blinds, if not fully functional, at least reach the window sill and look even. Do your best to make all the window blinds are at the same length and look even.
- When you prepare a home for real estate photos be sure not to overlook the curtains. Curtains can be problematic for a real estate photographer. Outdated curtains will give a sense that the home is dated and needs remodeling. Dark curtains will also create “bloom” around the windows in the photos when backlit by a sunny window. We suggest removing all curtains to create a clean updated look.
4. Clear the Entryway
- When a homeowner is trying to prepare a home for real estate photos it’s important to remember the entryway. The first impression a buyer is going to have of the interior of the home is the entryway. If there are large decorative items that may in hinder flow then it’s best to remove them.
- Use your best judgement here. If an item, such as a bench, table or hutch are hampering the walk flow then it might be too cramped for photos. General rule of thumb for good flow is that two people can walk side by side in any given area.
5. Remove All Signs of Pets
- Every home is pet friendly, however let’s not deter any buyers that are not fond of pets.
- Remove dishes, cat trees, and beds from all sight. These things will not only not look good in photos, but might deter anyone that’s on the fence on whether to view your home or not. We want as much activity as possible and don’t want to give any excuses for someone not look at your home.
6. Depersonalize the Home
- Remove all personal photos and anything that’s connected to the homeowner from view. Items to consider removing are: diplomas, personal craft or art projects, notes, and anything personal that’s connected to the homeowner. These items will show in the photos and create a connection to the homeowner and the home.
- Things often overlooked are towels, bathrobes, slippers, and hampers with dirty clothes in them. A good photographer will remove most of these items from the frame, but may not always get them.
- Other items to consider removing in the kitchen are dish towels, magnets on the refrigerator, and food items from the kitchen counter.
7. Religious Symbols
- Small symbols of faith are ok to keep visible in the home. However, large religious symbols may be distracting in the photos. The photos should focus on the features of the home and not anything else that does not pertain to the home.
8. Lightbulbs Can Be Your Best Friend or Worst Enemy!
- Change all light bulbs to a soft daylight bulb. This will create a balanced light throughout the home and reduce color casts. Yellow based candescent bulbs will create a yellow “film” covering the photo. This will make the home look dingy and dirty. Yes, this can be removed easily in the photo processing, however it’s near impossible to remove the discoloration at the source of the yellow lights. Editing the yellow color cast may also compromise another discoloration that may need to be fixed as well.
- Dimmer switches are a real estate photographer’s best friend! A photographer will want all the lighting to be even. Problematic areas can be connecting rooms such as the family room and kitchen. Family rooms tend to be a little darker, while the kitchen is one of the brightest rooms in the home. Living in the home this lighting scenario makes sense. However, for photos it can be an unpleasant if the shot is from the kitchen and little detail shows up in the family room. It will look as if the family room is a cave. A good photographer can compensate for this, but sometimes the compensation comes at a cost. Such as, making the kitchen look harsh. One solution would be is to place a dimmer switch on the lighting for the kitchen. The photographer can dim the kitchen lighting and bring up the exposure of both rooms in the camera to make an evenly lit photo. The dimmer switch is inexpensive, easily installed, and could be considered an upgrade!
- Ceiling fans and bathroom vanities can cause the most problems. Exposed light bulbs on both will create harsh “hot spots” that will be distracting in the photos. Changing these fixtures isn’t an option in most cases. However, there is a work around. When doing your prep work turn off these lights and observe the room. If you can still make out the details that matter most—the brick work of a fireplace from across the room or the wood grain of a bathroom vanity, then the ambient light should be adequate. If the ambient isn’t adequate then change the lightbulbs to a soft daylight bulb that is diffused or painted.
9. Have Home and Carpets Professionally Cleaned the Day Before Photos
- After decluttering and all of the other steps above have the home professionally cleaned.
- Professional cleaning services come at a cost; however, the reward will outweigh the money spent.
- Professional cleaners will make the home sparkle in a way that a general house cleaning won’t. Professionals will clean important surfaces such as, shower doors, bathroom mirrors, floors, and appliances. These items will look shiny and new in the photos!
- Decluttering and cleaning go hand in hand. We suggest hiring pro cleaners because they are trained to know how to make the home looks it’s best!
10. Last But Not Least– Exteriors
- The front of the house is the first impression the buyer will see not only upon arriving, but in the photos as well.
- Items to prepare in the front are—remove garbage cans, remove hoses and hose reels, trim and spruce up any landscaping, remove all vehicles from sight, and generally make the front look as neat as possible.
- The backyard is very important for any home. Make sure to declutter the backyard just as you did the interior of the home. Make sure the patio area isn’t overrun by outdoor furniture.
- If there is a pool make sure it has been skimmed and swept. Remove all cleaning tools such as skimmers and brushes. Make sure the cover is removed. If pool is in poor shape, then keep the cover on.
- If an RV pad is present make sure it is clear and open. You’ll want to see a clear space from the ground to the gate to the sky. This will make the space look functional and large.
- Clear any space in front of gates. Gates to the backyard are a nice feature and should be clear to photograph from both the front side and backside.
- If there is any built-in cooking area such as grill and sink, make sure these are clean and open. The photographer doesn’t have to get a detailed shot of these if they are in disrepair, however these should be shown in the photos albeit from a distance.
- Utilize the “small” side yard for clutter. A good photographer will know to photograph away from the clutter. Moving clutter to the back fence or back of the house isn’t recommended, as it’s hard to miss these elements in the photos.
Now You Know How To Prepare a Home For Real Estate Photos
There you have it! It’s a lot of hard work getting a home ready for market and we know this. This is why we respect the effort that went into getting the home ready and creating the best possible photos. By properly prepping the home for photos will allow Rick to take as many beautiful photos as the home will produce. Here’s some more advice from our friends at Zillow and Realtor.com.
Not everything will get done in this list to prepare a home for real estate photos and that’s ok. Rick is a craftsman and can compose the photos away from the undesirable elements of the home. The more the home is prepped the better the chance of getting those awe inspiring photos that will reel in those perspective buyers! If you ever have any questions on home preparation please don’t hesitate to contact Rick. He can give you guidance on how to best deal with any situation you may be dealing with. Rick has shot over 1500 homes in his career and pull on this experience to help you out!