Listing photos are the buyers' first impression of your home. The National Association of Realtors found that homebuyers rated photos as the feature they use most when searching for a home online. With the majority of buyers searching online at some point in their home shopping experience you have about 20 seconds to grab their attention. Pictures can either prompt the buyer to take a closer look at your home or quickly send them to another home.
Photographers have a minimal amount of time to take listing photos so it's important to have your home ready prior to the shoot. In Owasso, Oklahoma, where I'm from, there are professional photographers that offer many tips to help real estate agents and home sellers prepare homes for listing pics. Here are 20 steps to great listing photos that grab the attention of buyers.
- Hire a professional photographer. You might be tempted to save a little money by taking your own pictures. However, it's important to know that homes listed with professional photos sell faster and closer to list price. Or find an agent, like me, that include professional photography at no cost to the seller.
- Check for burned out bulbs. Turn on all interior and exterior lights, lamps, and under cabinetry lighting to check for bulbs that are burned out. Replace all burned out bulbs.
- Open all window treatments. Natural light is the best way to get your pictures to show the special features, paint colors, and other important details of your home. Open all blinds, shutters, and curtains.
- Deep clean. This may be an obvious step but it has to be mentioned because it's extremely important. Clean the windows, window seals, floors, celing fans, counter tops, bathtubs, toilets (and shut the lid), curtains, doors, glass, mirrors, wipe off the baseboards, polish the wooden cabinets, and dust everywhere 2-3 hours prior to the shoot. Your goal is to make your home look like a showcase home.
- Declutter. Hide remotes, papers, bills, toasters, blenders, refrigerator magnets, dish towels, kitchen and bath rugs, magazines, items from dresser tops and furniture, toys, trash cans, cords, unnessary furniture that breaks up the flow of the home. Aim to make the room appear bigger.
- Make it impersonal. Remove all family photos. You can leave the photo frames out if they are nice and add to the decor otherwise just put the photos and frames in storage. If you painted your daughter's room pink it might be a good idea to paint it a neutral color. Some buyers are so distracted by brightly colored paint that they move on to the next property. Store all collector items.
- Remove pets and pet products. Place your dog and/or cat in a crate in the garage and remove all pet items.
- Clean up the yard. Curve appeal is very important to buyers so sweep and power wash the sidewalks and driveway a day before the shoot. If you have patio furniture outside then make sure it is clean and has clean cushions. Remove all backyard toys, dead flowers, and personal decor.
- Stage the house. Prior to the shoot hire a professional stager to stage your home. Want to save money by avoiding this step? Staged homes on average sell faster and for more money than homes that aren't staged. Find an agent, like me, who offer this service at no cost to the seller.
- Place a vase of flowers in the kitchen. Use or buy a nice clear vase and fill it with brightly colored flowers to freshen the space and add a pop of color.
- Keep pictures up-to-date with the season. If it's winter make sure the pictures you feature have a warm and inviting feel. A decorated mantel with a fire in the winter or a sunny picture of the green backyard in the summer is key to keeping the potential buyer interested.
- Add big fluffy white towels. Replace bathroom towels with big fluffy white towels to give your home a clean, simple look.
- Make beds and add throw pillows. Make sure all beds are made and the throw pillows are clean and arranged well.
- Reduce items on shelves. If you have open shelving reduce the items so that no more than 3 decorative items are located on each shelf.
- Remove outdoor eyesores. No one wants to see trash cans, lawn mowers, signs, equipment, or your vehicle in the pictures so make sure they are hidden.
- Take an evening photo. To make the listing photos stand out from others add one picture with a view of the home in the evening with the interior lights on.
- Unique features. If your home has any unique features such as bamboo flooring, unique tiles, or an interesting sink be sure to feature this in your photos.
- Front home picture. Make sure the picture of the front of your home is taken during the right time of the day. Your photographer should ask you which direction your home faces and plan pictures accordingly.
- Take bedroom pictures from the corners of the room. Taking pictures of the bedroom from the corner of the room helps show the dimensions of the room.
- Never use your smart phone for listing pics. If you decide to take pictures yourself use a camera and not your smart phone. Remember you have one chance to make a first impression.
Photos can have a great impact on how many showings your home will have, how fast your home will sell, and essentially how well your home will do on the market.
Photos are copywrite protected by Jill White permission to use for this post.
Checklist for Photo Day Photography by Leslie LLC