As a St. Louis Real Estate Photographer, I've seen some doozies in my day. When trying to sell a house, it's vital to have it prepped for potential buyers. If sellers want potential buyers to even walk through their house, there is a bit of prep work involved. In the day and age we live in, people LOVE to see houses online before they physically walk through them. Having professional photos taken of your home in order to list your house is a great way to entice people to schedule an appointment to see your home. Read on for more about why you should have your home professionally photographed in order to list it.
If you or your agent have made the decision to have your house professionally photographed (smart decision!!), you may be wondering what you need to do to prepare for something like that. It can feel overwhelming and cumbersome if you're not sure what buyers may or may not be looking at when they see a house. I've compiled a list of 10 ways to prep your house for real estate photos which will not only help with making beautiful photos, it will help drive people to your house, and it will jump start you in the process of readying your home for the big move!
So, without further adieu, here are 10 Ways to Prep Your House for Real Estate Photos!
1. Declutter. Declutter. Declutter.
I cannot emphasize this one enough. When clients see clutter, they don’t see your beautiful home that lies beneath. They see your stuff, not your home. Buyers want to envision themselves in your space and if all they can see in photos is the clutter (read: cookbooks, blenders, napkin holders, salt and pepper shakers, knife blocks, coffee makers, paper towel holders, mail, toasters, cutting boards) in your home, they click away from your listing without another thought. If it can be cleared off the counter, off a surface, or off the floor, then go ahead and move it away. You can even just hide it away in cabinets for the photos.
2. Pretend like your home is no longer your home.
I know, I know. It technically IS your home still, but clients want to see themselves living in your space. For example, while YOU may really be in to war memorabilia (or DragonBall Z movies or any other hobby), the person looking at your space may be a peace loving hippie through and through. Don’t let your personal effects become a turn off to potential buyers. You don’t have to throw away your favorite hobby, but it’s best to keep that in storage or at a friend or relative’s house.
3. It’s never too early to start packing.
This goes with #1 and #2. If you’re not sure what to do with some of the items in your house, if it adds to the clutter, or if it’s a passion of yours but maybe not other people’s, don’t be afraid to start packing now. You’re selling your house, so your intent is to move all your things out anyway. Instead of doubling the work for yourself and hiding unnecessary items or decorations in closets, just put them in boxes and label them. Tuck the boxes away in a closet and voila – you’ve helped yourself by allowing your space to shine and you’ve started the packing process well in advance.
4. Paint if it’s appropriate.
I can’t tell you the number of houses I’ve walked in to that have had neon walls, rose wall paper from the 70s, or marks from shoes or furniture. So what color do you choose? When in doubt, neutrals are ALWAYS best. They make a space more inviting and generally feel lighter, more airy, and more spacious than darker tone colors. You want to avoid a buyer looking at your photos saying, “Wow…it’s...neon pink.” Instead, you want them to be saying something like, “I could see us spending a lot of family time in that living room.”
5. Clean the grime.
Never has a buyer ever walked in to a house and said, “Thank goodness they didn’t sweep, mop, clean the gunk off the kitchen sink, out of the shower, or around the toilet. I love other people’s filth.” No. Never. When a buyer sees a clean space, they see a seller who cares. Clean and then clean again. You could even hire a company to come clean for you if you hate to clean. Sweep, mop, vacuum, wipe down every surface in your kitchen and bathroom. Dust off the ½ inch of dust that has accumulated on your TVs, your dressers, window sills, and ceiling fans. Get the cob webs out of the corners of your hallways and rooms. Wipe down finger printed glass doors, doorways, and bedroom doors, and clean pet hair off anything you can. Cleanliness shows in photos and in person.
6. Put away your personal hygiene and toiletry products.
It’s no secret that every household has personal hygiene products, but put them away before your photographer gets there. This includes soaps, shampoos, perfumes, loofahs, razors, hair ties, hair spray, flat irons, q-tips, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. While you’re in the vicinity of those items, go ahead and close the toilet lids, close the shower curtains, and put away the towels (unless you have a perfectly stacked, perfectly matched, non-stained set of towels, go ahead and put them in the linen closet). This goes for the kitchen too. Sponges, washcloths, dish detergents, soaps, scrubbies, etc. Let your sinks, showers, and bathrooms speak for itself.
7. Make the exterior shine.
Curb appeal can make or break the sale of your house. If you’ve been meaning to cut the grass, weed eat, weed the garden, fix the broken mailbox, throw away the planter, etc., then now is your opportunity. If your house doesn’t look inviting from the outside, some buyers will just click right off of your listing or they may never even open it. I know because in our search for houses in the past, we’ve done just that. Don’t give someone a reason to click away from your listing. Give them a reason to click the listing or to come in to your house. Flowers, plants, and wreaths do wonders for helping a house look inviting. Cut your grass, sweep the walkway, and remove any hazardous conditions. You want the buyer’s eye to be drawn to the beauty of the house.
8. Hide your trash cans.
When taking photos, I always hide trash cans. We all have them, we all use them, but generally speaking, they aren’t pretty. Go ahead and tuck them in a closet, cabinet, or garage.
9. Let the natural light shine in.
People LOVE natural light. Show off as much of it as possible. If you have shades, draw them open. If you've rigged some sort of "black out" shades, open them up or take them down. If you have traditional blinds, typically they are pulled all the way down, but twisted open so buyers can see both inside and outside the house just by looking at the pictures.
10. Turn on all your lights and turn off your fans.
Yes, people want to see natural light pouring in, but they also want to see lights on. It shows people live there and helps provide a sense of warmth to photos. Fans in motion don’t photograph well for photography, so they can all be switched off.
By following these ten tips, I guarantee photographing your home will go smoothly and more efficiently! Your house will most certainly sell faster and buyers will be impressed at the pride of ownership that shines through!
If you are in St. Louis (or the surrounding areas) and need your home photographed to get ready to sell, let's talk!