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11 Tips to Prepare a Home For Professional Real Estate Photography

Normally I like to write about things from a business perspective, but today we’re going to talk real estate photography from a stylistic standpoint. Namely, the problem that plagues many photographers visiting homes: how well the home was prepared prior to the photography session.

You see, while professional real estate photography can go a long way to make a listing look fantastic, great photos alone cannot hide sloppiness. And for that reason, if you want the real estate photos you’ve purchased to really shine, the house should be well prepared ahead of time. While I have a page already set up with a comprehensive list of tips to prepare a house for real estate photography, here are a few great tips and resources to share with your seller prior to the shoot.

  1. Declutter Your Home. It doesn’t get any more important than this. A cluttered home will not photograph well. After all, how will a buyer get a clear view of a home when the current owner’s stuff is strewn about? A cluttered home can also make the rooms in a house appear much smaller and less attractive to buyers. Need help decluttering your home prior to a photography session? Check out some of the tips at Becoming Minimalist.
  2. Depersonalize Your Home. You may love your family photos and you may feel they really help make your house a home, but will potential buyers feel the same way? Probably not. If you have any family photos, personal art, sports team memorabilia, or other items around the house that serve more as mementos than for a decorative purpose, you should put them away in a closet or otherwise out of sight. Check out some of these tips at Stage My Own Home.
  3. Dust & Vacuum. To be totally honest, potential buyers will probably not notice if you haven’t dusted your home in the last week (provided you dust on a regular basis), but if you have not dusted in years then now is the time to do so. The camera captures more than you might think and a dirty home is a home nobody wants to buy—let alone visit. And it goes without saying that fresh vacuum lines make a home look like it was just professionally cleaned.
  4. Hide the Towels. Unless you own amazing towels—gilded, made of the finest of cottons, and otherwise fit for a king—the towels you use all the time should be put away and replaced with your guest towels. You know, those decorative towels you only bring out when company comes.
  5. Open Your Blinds and Clean Your Windows. Open all of the shades, blinds and curtains in your home prior to the photographer arriving. Light is good and you want to be able to show off the wonderful views from your home, so make sure your windows are clean. Even if the view from your windows isn’t particularly amazing, let the real estate photographer deal with that.
  6. Hide the Trash Cans. Have visible trash cans inside or outside of your home? Hide them. If you don’t have something fancy to hide your trash cans behind, just stuff them in the garage. Unless they are those fancy Simplehuman trash cans. Then you can probably keep them out if they fit with your decor.
  7. Declutter Your Refrigerator. Don’t worry, you don’t have to clean the inside. But you should remove all magnets and decorations from the outside of your fridge. You want buyers to be able to see how your kitchen is structured, not necessarily the “save the date” card you have posted on your refrigerator for your cousin’s upcoming wedding.
  8. Spruce Up the Kitchen. Clear out soap dispensers, cutting boards, toasters, coffee makers, and knife blocks. Basically, you want to get rid of anything that makes counter space in your kitchen seem limited since buyers love a nice large kitchen (even if yours isn’t fit for a professional chef).
  9. Mow Your Lawn and Prune Your Plants. Much like vacuuming your carpet, a nicely trimmed and manicured lawn looks better than a lawn that’s overgrown and messy.The same applies to any plants you have inside and outside. Trim away those dead leaves if you can (or just have your gardener do it).
  10. Park Your Cars in the Garage. This is a tough one for a lot of people. The garage is for storage these days, after all, especially if you’re in the process of moving out. Can’t fit your car in the garage? Park it down the street. Just please keep it away from the front of the house since the picture of the front of the home is one of, it not the most important of the shoot.
  11. Hide Your Pets. I love animals and animals usually love me, but just in case they don’t, please hide them away or take them out of the house with you. Beyond just me getting injured by your dog or your cat knocking over my camera, buyers don’t want to picture your animals in their future home. “Staging” a home with your pets may have been a fad five years ago, but those days are long gone as sellers realized homes with pets in the photos generally did not sell as quickly or for as much money.

And that should do it. Above all else, don’t feel like the house should be in totally perfect condition when a real estate photographer (hopefully me) arrives, but it should be kept up. If you and the seller need to clean a few things in the 2-3 hours I’m there, don’t sweat it. And if you or the seller have any features of the home that you feel really stand out and make the house unique, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m there to help you make the home look as good as it possibly can.

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