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Preparing Your Home for Great Photos

Some important things to remember when preparing a home for photos:

What is the purpose of taking real estate photos?

  • to showcase a home’s rooms, spaces and features to potential buyers
  • to raise interest from potential buyers, and get them to want to come see the home in person
  • to help sell the home

Agreed?  OK.  So what can you do to prepare for getting great pictures of your home?

Clean and Declutter

  • From top to bottom the home needs to be cleaned.
    • Floors, windows, counter tops, cabinets, sinks and bathrooms should be thoroughly vacuumed, wiped down and cleaned before taking any photos.  This isn’t an issue of how clean you regularly keep your home, it’s about making sure it looks its absolute best for showcasing to potential buyers.  An attitude of “here’s my house, this is how it looks, take it or leave it” isn’t going to help sell anything.  No one drives to the dealership to look at a pre-owned vehicle because they saw pictures of its dirty floor mats in an advertisement…. think about it.
  • Neutralize and declutter rooms and spaces.
    • Help potential buyers visualize rooms and spaces they can see themselves living in. Getting rid of excess “stuff” for photos makes the spaces look bigger and more attractive.  Personal items, pictures, stuffed animals, toys, books, DVD’s, clothes, shoes, trash cans and dog bowls are a few examples.  These are all a part most everyone’s homes, but their presence in real estate photos isn’t going to help your cause.
    • 3760 Polo Club Blvd kitchen
    • Counter tops should be clear of food, containers, bottles, drying racks and excessive decorations.  Take down “stacked” items on top of the fridge or in the corners of the counter tops. Clean surfaces with a few accent items is perfect.
    •  In the bathrooms, folded towels and a new bar of soap on the vanity can help make any bathroom look sharp. Personal day-to-day items such as toothbrushes and shampoo bottles don’t need to be in any pictures.    It’s not about your personal style, choice of decorating or tidiness with your stuff.  It’s not about your stuff… it’s about getting potential buyers to visualize the space filled with their stuff.  Organized spaces are much more appealing and make this much easier.
  • Depersonalize bedrooms 
    • Make the beds and get everything off the floor.  The bed is the centerpiece and trophy of the bedroom.  No, you’re not selling your bed… you’re selling the room, and a neatly fluffed and tucked bed makes the room look a lot more attractive. Put away anything that takes up floor space and isn’t a permanent part of the room setting.  A neat and organized room without laundry, blankets or toys lying around makes the photos a lot more inviting.  While you might see “just a bedroom”, potential buyers need to see it as their room, their kids room or their guest room.
    • Picture a hotel room when you first walk in… perfect.   Some artwork and photos are OK, just not covering every surface of the room.  A wall with a single hanging picture or painting is actually better than a blank wall.  On dressers and furniture a couple of neutral picture frames are OK, but a dresser covered with 26 picture frames and your entire collection of Star Wars-themed PEZ dispensers is not what people want to see.  Joking… kinda.  Many of the articles I’ve read say to take down ALL family photos to completely depersonalize the pictures…  I agree, but within reason.  If they’re movable picture frames take them down.  Bulletin boards, collages and other personal displays or collections might be something you glance at every day… just take them down for the photos.  Neutral is the key word.
    • Clear some of the clutter in walk-in closets so a photo can be taken showing the size and depth of the space.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be emptied, but it does need to be organized.  If a huge walk-in closet is one of the great features of the master bedroom, have it cleaned up so a good photo can be taken to help sell it.
  • Dining and Family Rooms
    • 760 WIllow Oak living room
    • The great room/living room/family room is such an important selling point of anyone’s home, we want to get great pictures to showcase its space.  Floor space, furniture space, wall space.  Clean, organized, Neutral.  Just as in the bedrooms take down removable family pictures and personal decorations to make the space depersonalized.  The less clutter the better. Remove pictures, remote controls, books, magazines and newspapers that might normally be on the shelves or end tables.  Like the bedroom dresser, a couple small decorations give the room a little life and character.  Just not too much personal character.
    • Less clutter means furniture too.  Any extra or non-fundamental furniture shouldn’t be around for photos.    It’s not necessary to completely clear out or rearrange every room of the house, but extra chairs, children’s chairs, playhouses, tables, bookshelves or that love seat you can’t seem to get rid of don’t need to be in the pictures.  Simply pushing them to the sides or corners doesn’t help, as that actually takes away some of the room’s space.  Open space is a good thing.  If they can be moved to the garage or storage just for the photos, it will make a difference.
    • 4000  Real Quiet Ln
    • Putting out place settings at the table can make a dining room look great for photos.  There’s no need for formal china and glass-wares, but simple place settings help make the entire room look casual and inviting.  If not place-settings, small decorations or a centerpiece on the table can accomplish the same thing.  Flowers, candles or a bowl of fruit are great ideas to make the space look cozy.
  • Open curtains to frame windows and let in natural light.  Generally speaking, for any room the more light the better.
  • Keywords to remember when preparing the home for photos:
    • Clean
    • Neutral
    • Open
    • Inviting
    • Welcoming
    • Spacious
    • Simple
    • Bright
    • FOR SALE
  • Aren’t these what you would look for if you were the one shopping for a new house?
  • Many of the points mentioned might seem like common sense.  Some might seem a bit of a stretch.  In my experience of taking some great pictures and some not so great pictures, sometimes the difference in the two was simply the staging and preparation of the home.  “Great pictures” of cluttered spaces aren’t really great pictures.
  • This was put together to try and help.  Keeping in mind the the big picture, how big of a deal is it really to get the home looking great for photos that are going to HELP SELL YOUR HOME.  Awesome photos of the home are the first step to getting potential buyers in the door.  The more you prepare the home for pictures, the better they’re going to be.