Updated: Jan 27, 2021
Selling your home can be stressful enough as it is, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks on how to get your home ready for a real estate shoot that might alleviate some stress or questions! Some of these may seem obvious but definitely bear worth repeating.
DECLUTTER In Real Estate Photography, it's all about what you see, and less is more! Decluttering and clearing out spaces will go SO FAR in your listing photos. The most important places for decluttering are the kitchen and bathrooms. You'll want to clear and clean countertops from items like dish soaps, sponges, brushes, mail, toothbrushes, deodorants, etc. This will make your spaces look large and be more appealing to potential buyers. If your refrigerator is particularly busy or full of your kid's artwork, it's not a bad idea to remove some or all of the busyness. This same rule of declutteration goes for the remaining rooms in your home; living rooms should be cleaned and vacuumed, tv/computer screens turned OFF, and toys and/or pet beds moved from the scene. Beds should be made and bedrooms decluttered as much as possible. I realize this can be a challenge, especially since the majority of home sellers are still living in their home, but I promise the results will be worth the effort. A good rule of thumb is if you're questioning whether or not something should be in the shot, TAKE IT OUT! Remember, LESS IS MORE!
OPEN ALL WINDOW TREATMENTS Any photographer can tell you that natural light is KEY! Open curtains, shades, etc. to let more natural light in, especially on a cloudy day. If needed or if the light is too bright (not always a problem here in Vermont), we can always adjust curtains/shades later on. But having them open is the best place to start and will help move the process along more quickly.
REMOVE RUNNERS AND FLOOR MATS Runners and floors mats (mostly found in kitchen and bathrooms) can make your space look smaller. Remove these items to create the illusion of larger spaces!
TURN OFF ALL LIGHTS Okay, this may be a personal preference and there is much debate on lights on or lights off, but my personal preference as a real estate photographer is to start with the lights off. Now, I understand this may seem counterintuitive. You are shooting a space, so you want more light, right? Well, not always. Different light sources emit different colors based on their Kelvin temperature. Daylight temperature (natural light) is cooler than say your typical tungsten household bulb, which is warmer than a fluorescent track light. When I'm shooting a room with an interior light on and there is also natural light coming through the the windows, there are multiple color sources being seen by the camera. The colors mix and create unflattering hues and shades which can only be corrected so much in post. For me, I am able to create a much more striking and inviting image with one color of light present. Now, if you have an INCREDIBLE light fixture that needs to be highlighted, we will absolutely take a shot with the light on as well, which can them be "painted" in via Photoshop in post. Many times I use flashes or strobes and long shutter speeds, so I am able to get all the light I need! (Again, this is subjective and my personal preference. I know many photographers and realtors who prefer lights on). The opposite (all lights ON) is true for Twilight Photo Sessions.
TURN OFF ALL CEILING FANS/HIDE FANS IN SUMMER We all love some good clean circulated air, but those fans will get caught up in the long exposures and look kind of funky in the final images. Make sure to turn them off before your photoshoot!
SHOES AND JACKETS IN CLOSETS Along the same lines as decluttering, try the best you can to put jackets, shoes, and bags in closets (or the garage if needed). These bulkier items can really cramp the style of photos in your home, especially if you love shoes and coats (I know I do!).
FRESH FLOWERS It can be a nice pop of color and detail to put fresh flowers on kitchen and dining room tables, and even some small bud vases in your bathrooms. Plus, you'll get to enjoy fresh flowers in your house! It's all in the details!
TIDY UP THE YARD/LANDSCAPING Who doesn't love seeing a freshly mowed lawn or a newly mulched garden bed?! If you're able to, give your yard some TLC before your photoshoot. When people look on line at photos of your home, they are going to picture themselves sitting on your porch or enjoying the sunshine out in the garden. The feeling of the home, the idea of a lifestyle, is what is going to help sell your home. Some lawn maintenance will go such a long way with your potential buyers (especially since the exterior photograph is the first one they are going to see!).
HIDE TRASH CANS AND RECYCLING BINS Tuck these into your garage or pull them out to the curb in preparation for your shoot!
MOVE CARS FROM THE DRIVEWAY Even moving your cars to the end of the driveway if you don't have street parking can do the trick! Most real estate photographers (myself included) have very wide lenses which are able to capture the exterior of your home with one shot.
OPEN PATIO UMBRELLA This will help create the feeling of outdoor gatherings and hang out sessions! It will also help show the size of your outdoor living space, which everyone loves!
SWEEP PORCHES, PATIOS, & DECKS This is so important, especially in the fall. You don't want someone to look at the photos of your unswept patio and think "Oh no! Look at all the leaves I'm going to have to sweep! I don't want to do that!". If possible, try to stage these areas with fresh flowers, too!
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO KNOW
WEATHER AND RESCHEDULING Living in Vermont, cloudy and rainy days are a common occurrence. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but if your home has *stunning* light that you just want to showcase, it's good to have the flexibility to change the date of your shoot. Of course, that depends on weather and the schedules of both you and your photographer, so just have an open dialogue with them about this!
PHOTOSHOOT TIMELINE This is obviously dependent on the size of your home and how well you have prepared your home for the shoot, but most real estate shoots last about an hour. If your home is much larger, be prepared to have your photographer be there for a few hours, or even all day if your listing is showcasing a specific architecture or designer*.
*Photoshoots highlighting architects and designers will usually have additional walkthroughs and may be full-day shoots.
PUT YOURSELF IN THE BUYERS SHOES If you were looking for a home online, how would you want to see it presented? What are something that would turn you off from a listing? Go look at some listings and see what you like, what you don't like. Remember, it's all in the details!
The marketing and photographs of your home are the final pieces of the selling puzzle, and your preparation of your home will go a long way! Having these steps done and checked off your list when your photographer arrives at your home will enable you to get the most out of their talent and time. I know it seems like a lot, but it will go a long way with selling your home, I PROMISE!
So, are you selling your home? I'd love to help you photograph your home in a way that will help sell it fast and for your asking price! Contact me to set up an initial phone consultation!