Way back in my early days in the 'Rain, I wrote a post called "Faux Staging." It was partly inspired by my love for playing with images, and partly because of my fixation with the HGTV show Hidden Potential. It turned out to be one of my first ever featured posts! I was so excited - I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars.
ANYWAY, the other day I was taking pictures of the master bedroom for the new listing I share with my colleague Libby Petch. Usually I spend the afternoon making sure everything is perfect before hand. This day, however, was fraught with deadlines, appointments, and errands, and I had to take a lot less time in getting the pictures.
This was the result.
In my initial haste, I did not notice the cap on the bedpost, nor did I notice one of the slats on the headboard was missing.
No problem! Spending about 10 minutes with the image in Paint Shop Pro (v. 9) gave me this result:
Now, I could have goen a step further and made the bed look neater - but my skill level isn't quite there yet. But wouldn't you agree this is an important improvement? The first picture looks shabby, this one looks much better.
I have also added flames to fireplaces with Paint Shop Pro:
Now, let me set the record straight - in no way am I advocating altering pictures to hide a fatal flaw with the property, such as covering a neighboring house with trees to make the home look more private than it is, erasing power lines, etc.
If the BED were going to be included in the sale of the property, I would not have "fixed" the missing slat. If the fireplace was inoperable, I would not have added flames to the picture. There is a difference between enhancing a photo to show a home in its best light, and being deliberately deceitful.
As professional REALTORS, we are required to be truthful in advertising, while at the same time, showcase our client's property in the best possible light. An interesting discussion about this can be found here. A buyer was extremely frustrated because he drove out of his way to see a particular listing because of the way it was presented in the picture. Unfortunately, when the buyer got there, he was surprised to find a neighborhing house practically on top of the home for sale! It was VERY different from the listing photo.
Many agents don't even bother to color correct or lighten dark/cold photos, or straighten crooked ones before uploading them to the MLS. As part of my obligation to my seller, I believe in making the photographs as attractive as possible. After all - photo appeal is the "curb appeal" of the Internet Real Estate community!
This does not take a special talent; it is a learned skill. I did not know how to do ANYTHING on a computer except type until about 10 years ago. Then I somehow got sucked in and became a web designer! Imagine that! A friend gave me a copy of Paint Shop Pro (Version 7) and taught me how to do basic graphic work. I found tutorials online and soon knew how to perform basic tasks.
In most cases, agents can have stunning photos if they just take a few minutes editing them in Picasa, a free photo editing program by Google. It is very user friendly and excellent for most basic tasks and even more artsy ones. The techniques described above, however, are beyond the scope of Picasa and require something more sophisitcated. I love Paint Shop Pro V. 9. I purchased it new off eBay relatively cheap, since it was an older version (the new version is not as good since PSP was swallowed up by Corel!).
Shhh! Don't tell my competition about my tricks!
Tomorrow, I'm going to write about some easy/inexpensive home staging tips I picked up from today's Realtor.org webinar. Stay tuned!