Picture Your Property Selling: Two Ways to Use a Camera to Sell Your Home
Making a Picture Perfect First Impression
Smart sellers know that presenting a home for sale means putting it in the best shape ever. Of course, all that work deserves to be shown to the best advantage - both in "real life" and in each and every view of your home. Often, this first impression comes from photographs.
Putting your home on the market without a photo is essentially not putting your home on the market at all. People want to peek before taking the time to view. Newspaper advertising, online listings, take-sheets - each contain photographs designed to draw potential buyers to come walk through the home and to experience your property with a view towards ownership. Often photographs are what people keep with them as they are making decisions and considering what to bid.
As many as 10-12 photographs may be placed in listings online, but every property should have at least 3-5 shots that tell a story. The goal: to enable the viewer to imagine themselves living in the home. Squander your photographs by offering the wrong ones, and you are missing out on one of your greatest tools to pique the interest and imagination of buyers.
Must-have photos include front of home, kitchen, living room, master bedroom, master bathroom, dining areas, significant features, such as out-buildings, exceptional garages, mother-in-law quarters, and other perks. Include photos that contain elements that set your home apart. If you garden, keep horses, have a game-room, pool, patio, deck or some other feature that photographs well, use it. In listings powerful copy can play a feature up, but a single, considerate photograph really is worth a thousand words. And about those photos. who should take them? Some agents photograph homes themselves, some hire professional real-estate photographers, some request photographs from home owners. Which way is best? If the agent takes the photographs or hires the photographer, the "ownership" of the photographs might be in question. Change agents, and you will need to start with fresh photographs.
Depending on your property and the market, consider hiring a professional real-estate photographer. Capturing the details of a home or property is only one facet of what a professional achieves. In addition to a "professional eye" a real-estate photographer will often bring specific camera equipment, lighting and digital photographic software. Professional portrait or landscape photographers also can do the job, but may have varied experience in getting the shots that compare with the real-estate photography that you will be up against, so check the results carefully before paying money to a photographer who might not be as experienced in the areas that you require.
The goal is to enable your home to show in photographs with a realism that draws people in and makes them want to view it in person. Getting the details of the front of the home, the darks and lights in the landscaping and eaves as well as the brights of the lawn and siding can be a tricky thing, and depicting the light and feel of the inside of the home is often beyond the scope of photographers who lack training.
There are ethics involved in real-estate photography. Representing your home in photographs is a balance of revealing the beauty and details, along with a realism that shows the property in a true light. Photographs that misrepresent the home lead to disappointment in the viewing stage, and ultimately can undermine the trust needed to work through the sales transaction. Be sure that the photographs truly show your home, and not some fantasy version with lighting or sense of scope that is vastly different than what will be seen in a walk-through.
There are some photos that you should leave out, as well. For example, is a half-bath worth bumping the picture of the delightful, custom garden shed or the view from the amazing deck? Leave the lesser bathrooms for the walkthrough and spend the valuable shot on something that is unique to your property. Not every bedroom requires a photograph, and basements, garages and storage areas are good bonus features for a walk-through. If appliances, art, or other elements are not being sold with the home, avoid putting them in photographs, or minimize their focus.
Ask your real-estate agent about professional real-estate photographers in your area and about their experience with using professional photography in listings. Many report higher sales prices and quicker sales, offsetting the cost of the investment. And, for those who want, you will have these professional photographs as memories you can keep for future generations.
Viewing your Property Through a Camera's Eye
And photographs have other uses, too. While photographs themselves are placed front and center in advertising to sell your home, any photos, even amateur ones, have a deeper purpose - they can help you see what others are seeing. With the ease of digital photography, you can use your camera to help you hone your eye for the great and not-so-great aspects of the home and property you are seeking to sell.
This second use of photography is designed to help you see your property in multiple ways: as someone who loves it, and as someone who is seeing it for the first time, and as someone who is critical of it. For you, seeing it "new" might be a hard thing to do, but this is exactly the view that the prospective buyer has, and so it is in your best interest to walk into and through your home with this experience in mind. Using photographs in the early stages of readying your home to sell can be as way to prioritize your "to do" list.
The viewfinder or small screen of your camera is a tool that can help you gain that necessary fresh perspective. Looking through a viewfinder, or framing a photograph in the small screen of a camera is key - what details to keep, what to focus on, what to throw away? Photographers constantly ask themselves these questions as they look through the lens, and all three elements are helpful in re-seeing the home and property that you are selling.
Try going through the list of must-have photographs. Take your camera and walk through your home and around your property. Then go and take every photo you can imagine. Take every room in the house, take a photo looking out every window, and take a photo of the walkway up to the front door, another of the garage doors, and look at details through the eyes of the camera.
Try taking photos at different times of day, in different seasons, if possible, and in different weather conditions. Note the light at different times of days and seasons, how the landscaping flatters or detracts from the house, and if there are elements of the home or property that might be out of proportion or place - especially if they might be easily fixed.
Get very close up: Outside the home get details of walkways and steps, foundation, decks and windows. Take photographs that show the condition, the materials, improvements, flaws, potential hazards or issues with lighting, style or architectural or landscaping details. Inside the home look at banisters, window details, fireplaces, hearths, cabinets, molding and door details, light fixtures, heating vents, walls, paint or wallpaper condition, flooring, stairs and landings, and other details.
Get mid-range photos: Back up a bit and get the bigger picture. Outside the home you are seeking to get photos from the driveway and from the curb, as well as standing at the edges of the property from all sides. Inside the home, try standing in the far corners of the room and down the hall, to feel the approach to a room and the feeling of leaving one room to go to the next. Note if you are challenged with long hallways or other architectural issues and consider ways to improve how they show or even use them to your advantage. Pay attention to the paint, windows, screens, shutters, roof and look for any improvements or issues that a potential buyer might raise.
Get the first glimpse photo: That's the photo where you can first see the house from a distance. This will be your least useful photo, but it is the first thing that might be seen, so you should know what that feels like. If you have a lot of foliage blocking that view, ask yourself is this in keeping with the neighborhood or the image you are crafting for your home.
Consider printing these photographs out and making an album or putting them on a large board. Additionally, online tools such as Pinterest, Facebook, Flickr or others can enable you to organize, share, track them and to get feedback. Note how they make you and others feel, and immediately create a list of items that are positive, negative, and possible to change easily.
This simple exercise of using your own camera, if done in the early stages of readying your home and property to sell, can give you an edge as a seller. An ability to gain a distance and dispassionate view of the home will enable you to be more aware of and in control regarding the property that you are selling. And with that aim, using photography to your advantage is definitely an art to learn.