20 Steps for Listing Photos that Bring Buyers

Real Estate Agent with Chinowth and Cohen REALTORS 172887

Listing Photo Front of HouseListing Photo Bedroom Listing Pic of Bedroom


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. 


  1. 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.  
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.   
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Remove pets and pet products. Place your dog and/or cat in a crate in the garage and remove all pet items. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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. 
  10. 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. 
  11. 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.
  12. Add big fluffy white towels. Replace bathroom towels with big fluffy white towels to give your home a clean, simple look. 
  13. Make beds and add throw pillows. Make sure all beds are made and the throw pillows are clean and arranged well. 
  14. 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. 
  15. 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. 
  16. 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. 
  17. 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. 
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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

10 Listing Photo Do's and Don'ts by Catherine Sherman Aug., 20th 2014

5 Prep STeps to Make Your Listing Photos Instantly Look Better First Team Real Estate Sept. 25th 2015




Comments (8)

Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Kelley, it is amazing what good photos can do to help sell a listing!  Our MLS board allows 35 photos so it is wise to take advantage of offering all the photos when the listing warrants it. 

We do like professional photographers but found it more practical to go out and buy a Nikon DSL 5200 for great photos.  As an example,  it really does take a couple of days to shoot good exterior pictures because what is good for one side of the house with the sun is too dark for the opposite side.  Also shooting a home in the winter with the front facing the north is impossible to take exterior pictures of the front on a sunny day, so you have to re-shoot on a CLOUDY day to get the best effect.  We found it is just so much more practical to take our own pictures with a very good camera.

Thanks for this great list, Kelley!

Jan 05, 2016 07:07 AM
Kelley Ward

Hi Bruce, You brought up an important point. Thank you. If you can't get a professional photographer, for whatever reason, it's good to have a nice camera and know basic information on how to get a good picture. Thank you for your comment! 

Jan 05, 2016 07:29 AM
Susan Laxson CRS
Palm Properties - La Quinta, CA
Local Knowledge & Global Network

Our company requires professional photography for all listings and I think it has made all the difference in the quality and quantity of our business.  Nice list for getting the home ready!

Jan 05, 2016 07:43 AM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Good photos and plenty of them sure do make a difference.

Jan 05, 2016 10:07 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kelley, photos will sell a property, and best when the homeowners are completely ready the day of the photo shoot.

Jan 05, 2016 11:40 AM
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Kelley Ward As a pro photographer of real estate and contracted to photograph hundreds of homes for other agents: ALL that is written here is important. The other thing to note is when I take photos, I will NOT touch blinds, etc. since the liability for any broken window dressings will not fall on me. I insist the listing agent, or seller be present ot open all the blinds.  Never have had a damage claim yet, and don't plan to!

Jan 05, 2016 07:58 PM
Kelley Ward

Good point! Thank you for adding that.

Jan 05, 2016 09:58 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Kelley, this is a really comprehensive list.  If a home is listed before it's ready for prime time, it could cost the seller a lot of time and money.

Jan 06, 2016 11:47 AM
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

    Great tips - not just for photos, but for getting houses in show-ready condition before putting them on the market!

Jan 15, 2016 11:18 AM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Another wonderful post filled with tips.  I also enjoyed Catherine Sherman's article!

Jan 21, 2016 10:27 AM

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