5 Steps to Prep Your Home for Photography: A Pro Real Estate Photographer Explains
Written by Jens Behrmann, Broker | REALTOR
It’s a new year and with spring approaching fast, now is a great time to prep your home to sell. Not only is spring one of the best, if not THE best, season to sell, nature’s awakening makes it an excellent opportunity to market your property. One of the most important things you can do to prepare your home to hit the market is to have photos taken by a professional real estate photographer. Professional photographers will showcase your property at its best to potential buyers, possibly help your listing sell quicker and for more money, and take the headache of producing great photos off of your shoulders into their capable hands. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across listings with poor photography that makes me cringe, which means potential buyers are cringing, too. Photographers know all of the best industry practices when shooting your home, but there are things you can do before they arrive to ensure the shooting process is smooth and produces the best results.
1. Walk Through Your Home with Fresh Eyes
First, walk through your house with the eyes of a buyer. Sometimes this can be difficult since you’ve lived in the space, so feel free to invite a friend or someone else you trust for this exercise. Pay attention to things that can be distracting like clutter, untidiness, and a drab appearance. Would you want to see personal items like fridge magnets or mail piling up? No. Are you interested in seeing the seller’s personal care products? No. Does dense foliage showcase the exterior of the home? No. These are just some of the details you’ll need to pay close attention to.
2. Decide on What Stays and What Goes
Keep in mind that you want to depersonalize your space as much as possible. I understand that can be a hard thing to do, but it’s the best way to help buyers visualize the space as theirs. While artwork can enhance a space, it’s also very personal and a buyer may not have the same aesthetic as you. Perhaps keep one or two showstopper pieces and then carefully pack and store the rest. Family photographs should be treated the same way. Home decor that is distracting or over the top should removed, too.
3. Spring Cleaning
You want to make sure your home is clean and tidy for the photo shoot. You’ve already streamlined your home, now it’s time to make it shine! You want your home to sparkle so the photographer can capture it at its best.
4. Small Improvements = Big Impact
Small home improvements can make a huge difference in how your home is perceived in photos and in person. One of the highest impact improvements you can make is painting. Consider this if you have especially bold, taste specific colors or it’s been awhile since you’ve painted your home and there’s evidence of wear. A fresh coat of neutral paint can breathe new life into spaces. A newly painted front door in a trendy color can make a huge difference, too!
Consider deeper cleaning in areas that are prone to build up. This can include your siding, gutters, bathtubs, couch, etc. Any obvious areas of improvement should be addressed as well, otherwise that will be the only thing potential buyers see when viewing your home online.
5. Cherry on Top
Remember to fluff the cushions, straighten bedding, and buy some fresh flowers or greenery – make the camera and observer feel welcomed!
Here’s a checklist that I send to my clients to help them best prepare for our shoot:
- Put pets in the garage or out of sight.
- Remove all vehicles from driveway and do not park in front of the house.
- Move trash cans so they can’t be seen from the street.
- Remove garden tools, hoses, sprinklers, and toys and store them in garage.
- Mow and rake the lawn. Put down mulch in flower beds. Trim bushes, shrubs, and trees.
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and all porches.
- Put out cushions on porch furniture (to add some color).
- Make sure grill (cover) looks clean.
- Remove piles of newspapers, magazines, or books.
- Clear off counters in kitchen and bathroom areas.
- Remove all toiletries from all bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers.
- Remove hanging towels, remove bathrobes, and anything else from doors.
- Put indoor trash containers out of sight.
- Open the drapes and blinds.
- Make sure all lighting/electricity outlets have covers.
- Dust ceiling fans, shelving, lampshades, etc.
- Clean all photos, drawings, calendars, magnets, etc. off the refrigerator.
- In general: “de-personalize“ your home as best as possible!
- Turn on all interior lights to make sure they’re working.
Now that your home is looking its best, it’s time to book your photographer. Plan on a morning or a late afternoon shoot as those times offer the best lighting. However, if you’re including twilight photography, then you’ll plan that with your photographer.
While professional interior and exterior photographs are important in showcasing your home, you may want to consider adding aerial or drone shots to your package, perhaps even a video if your property lies in an area with great views and/or is surrounded by nature. Another great feature for some high-end listings is a 3D virtual tour called Matterport. This allows an out of town or state buyer, who is unable to attend a showing in person, to “walk” from room to room, turn around, and look up and down by the click of the mouse pad.
Some final advice: Keep it real! Tell the photographer to “go natural” and NOT overdo vibrance, texture, saturation, or clarity in post-editing. You do not want your home to look like something that it’s not. Leaving buyers with a bad taste in their mouth because the home looks completely different in the photos in the online listing portals like Zillow or Realtor won’t do you any good. You’ll want to show your home at its best, but it should still look like your home.