Preparing Your Home For Real Estate Photography

November 20, 2015

The following is designed to help you understand the process of photographing your home for sale:

  • The photo shoot should take between 30-60 mins (longer if video is required or interactive floor plans are being done and we do not have existing floor plans or if the home is exceptionally large, even in the case of twilight shoots where we are waiting for the right light, it could be up to 2 hours).
  • If you have special requests as to certain shots (In or out) please let me know in advance.
  • I do like the seller to be home if at all possible as we may need to move things around slightly, but it isn’t essential if you can’t manage to be there.

 

GENERAL OVERVIEW :

The following are some easy to follow practical steps to help you and ensure we get you the highest price by appealing to the best buyers.

WHY THE NEED TO PREPARE FOR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS?

Buyers are time poor and these days everything real estate is about the visual medium of the internet. Presentation and its effects (good or bad) is massive on the outcome.
We have about 8 seconds to catch a buyer’s attention in what is a competitive real estate market.
You get one chance to make a great first impression. A great photographer and agent still needs some assistance so that we can as a team can help make your property shine and stand out from the crowd.
Well-presented homes should sell for more and generally a lot faster. Whilst it is impossible to quantify this, it is generally accepted in the industry by real estate professionals, great presentation can easily affect sales price by as much as 10% or more.
We all know anecdotally that poorly presented homes will affect buyer’s emotions far less and this logically means more procrastination by buyers (longer on market) and lower offers.
We are not allowed to “Photoshop” images if it means there is any form of misrepresentation. Photographers can “enhance” images slightly for maximum appeal, as long as we don’t fundamentally change what is there.
Image enhancement doesn’t and won’t:

  • Stretch rooms to make them look bigger
  • Make pools look clean
  • Make windows or carpets clean
  • Make lawns green
  • Block neighbour homes or power lines etc.
  • Zoom in to views to an extent they are not representative of what the buyer actually sees (With the naked eye)
  • I hope you get the message. The best photos accurately reflect what is there in a positive and maximum potential way. Buyer always dislike inaccurate photos, and worse sellers (and agents) could be sued if it was intentionally deceiving.

So in a nutshell, it pays you handsomely to do this well, in time and money.

WHAT WILL WE PHOTOGRAPH?

I need a minimum of 4-5 photos even for a land value property or block of land simply as that is how many photos appear on a web page. The rule of thumb that I follow is that if the photo doesn’t add value, I won’t use it. (The old saying “Less is more”).
For larger homes, typically I usually want 12-20 photos.

We will normally shoot the following;
1) Front elevation (but not always), maybe 2 angles if appropriate
2) Kitchen, possibly 2 angles if photogenic
3) Living spaces as for kitchen
4) Master bedroom and usually some other bedrooms if appropriate
5) Outdoor living
6) Pool if applicable
7) Aerial photo if applicable or views as appropriate
8) Location lifestyle photos if applicable (used sparingly)
9) Laundry only if exceptionally well equipped
10) Entry voids/grand entries
11) Ensuite if applicable
12) Other features/rooms as required
13) I don’t usually shoot garages or sheds

THREE HEALTHY PRAGMATIC MINDSETS / AFFIRMATIONS FOR THE SELLER:

A pragmatic mindset to help you accept the reality of what can be a lot of preparation and work, will help get to where you want to go.

EXAMPLES:

1) “I want to sell and move, the quicker I get this over with the less work overall and therefore less stress. It is a predictable process.”
2) “This is no longer going to be my home, it is the future buyer’s home soon.”
3) “I need to think in terms of the difference between “showing-condition” from “living-condition”. Short term inconvenience means a faster outcome and a higher price.”

THE A, B, C, THREE BIG TICKET ITEMS:

These items are only going to be touched on very briefly, feel free to discuss personally in detail. All three however do in my opinion provide “good bang for your buck”.
A) Carpet- there are good arguments for replacing worn or tired carpets not only for photos but for selling.
B) Paint- as above. Feature walls could be painted out or worn paint patched and entire rooms painted if required.
C) Hire furniture- I believe in almost all occasions (unless a land value property) excellent justifications and advantages in furnishing empty houses before photographing or showing. I have sold homes that had over 100 inspections “empty” and once nice rented furniture was placed in them sold to the next buyer who asked if they could buy the furniture, and paid the full price for the home.

THE TWELVE TOP GENERAL POINTS TO MAXIMISE BUYER VISUAL APPEAL:

1) De-clutter
What we are selling is the spaces, the usability of that space and the future lifestyle of your home to the future buyer. The most important thing we can do to improve the presentation and leave a favourable impression in your buyers minds, is to de-clutter.

Take a step back and look at each room individually through a critical set of eyes, try to see what a buyer sees.
De-clutter rooms which may be excessively furnished. They do not photograph well. Most rooms accumulate over the years more stuff than is necessary. The saying is “less is more”. Busy rooms look smaller, and less appealing.
Less clutter enables purchasers to envisage how their furniture and belongings will fit into your property. Ultimately we want buyers to see themselves in your home, as their new home.
It is even worth considering renting some storage space if you do not have sufficient room in your garage.
We will not photograph inside the garage, so that can be a good place to put excess items for the photo shoot. (Buyers will look in here though when the home is open so the storage unit not a bad option as a more general strategy for de-cluttering, or store items at a friend or family member house or even consider a garage sale in advance if time permits).

2) Detail / Clean

Clean always photographs best. If in doubt, best that it is immaculate, it will appeal to the buyers that view anyway. Clean never goes out of style.

Cobwebs are a big no
Everything in its place
Electric cables and extensions hidden
Dust should be wiped clear
Wet areas should always look spotless
Driveways degreased and immaculate

3) External General

Remove all vehicles from driveways and do not park directly in front of the house
Sulo bins/ garden bags out of site
Remove door mats, floor mats, shoes and pet bowls
Clean windows, dust free surfaces, vacuum or mop floors
Open curtains and blinds and turn off ceiling fans
Make sure all light bulbs are working
Put away garden hoses, tools, toys and bikes
If necessary consider high pressure hosing paving and drives, make sure pavers are free from weeds and ants.

4) Windows

Consider professional cleaners. Windows should be cleaned and sills clean

5) Lawns / Gardens

Freshly mulched gardens always look best
Weeds all gone
Edges neat and trimmed
Freshly mowed in last few days before shoot (not too short, green is best). As to lawns generally, green always photographs best. Consider a “shock” or lawn boost a couple of weeks before, lots of water (Within legal watering requirements).
Consider repairing patches in lawns. If you have a dog, make sure all mess removed from paths and lawns
Make sure all weeds absent for drives (Roundup sprayed on 10-14 days before hand should kill all weeds).
Hedges and shrubs trimmed

6) Kitchen

Remove photos, magnets, notes and papers from the refrigerator
Clear bench tops of food, dish racks and cutting boards
Sink empty, if necessary stack all in dishwasher
Remove dish liquids, tea towels, soaps and plugs
Put away garbage bins, brooms, mops and cleaning products
Add a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of fresh flowers
Excess kitchen appliances on the bench tops could indicate a lack of storage and bench space. Clear them, ideally nothing other than a nice kettle should be on display, maybe a nice cookbook as well
Remove electrical cables, particularly extension cables or risk the appearance of a lack of electrical power points

7) Bathrooms / Laundry

Clear bench tops of toothbrushes, soaps, razors and plugs
Remove shampoos, soaps and cleaning products from showers
Remove rubbish bins, scales, bathmats and laundry baskets
Close toilet lids, remove toilet brush and spare toilet rolls
Put out fresh towels, folded and hung neatly on rails
Make sure glass and mirrors are spotless remove all non-matching towels
Remove any cat litter trays

8) The Study / Office

Tidy up study desks
Invoices/statements placed neatly away in drawers
Book shelves neat and organised

9) Bedrooms

Make your beds with your best bed linen and thickest pillows
Remove books, tissue boxes and jewellery from bedside tables
Remove portable fans, heaters and rubbish bins

10) Pets

Contain pets in the garage or out of sight
Pet beds and food bowls out of site

11) Carpets
Professional cleaners will give the carpets a great freshen up, and will make carpets smell clean too. (A side benefit)

12) Swimming Pool

Remove pool toys, skimmers, pool blanket and Kreepy Krauly pool cleaners
Pool clean/ skimmed, water sparkling
Pool bottom cleaned

CHECKLIST FOR THE DAY OF THE PHOTO SHOOT:

1) Please have pets “managed” or absent for the photo shoot
2) Have floor plans available if we have them and if not already sent to agent in advance
3) Sweep and mop floors
4) Turn on all interior lights
5) Kreepy Krauly out of pool and site a few hours before shoot (we don’t want water marks in photos).
6) Please remove pool cover if the pool is to be a feature
7) Have water blade and water features running
8) Pool fence if glass is clean
9) All cars hidden/out of front shot
10) No Sulo rubbish bins/kids toys in front of house shot
11) No garden hoses visible
12) All kitchen and bathroom benches cleared
13) Fridge magnets and all fridge paraphernalia gone
14) All light bulbs working (warm colour preferred)
15) Turn off TV and put remotes away
16) Remove all toys, portable fans, game consoles
17) Make all beds. Solid colour bed spreads photograph better than patterns
18) Tidy/hide all power leads/cables. All newspapers and most magazines hidden
19) Hide the portable gas heater if it is movable
20) Remove exercise bikes/treadmill and exercise gym equipment unless a purpose gym room
21) Lawns mowed Leaves raked up
22) Curtains open, let the home breathe
23) Decks or pavers cleaned/mopped/scrubbed
24) De-clutter books, games, tissue boxes
25) Remove all personal items. (Excessive photo collages or mantle pieces covered in personal photos)
26) Ensure bedside lamps are working
27) Remove posters/stickers from walls
28) Clear away all clothes
29) Remove washing from clothes line
30) Bikes hidden away
31) Kid’s bedrooms everything away as it should be
32) Kitchen sinks and benches cleared

Thank you.
I hope the above has been helpful and useful. I look forward to helping you get sold in the minimum possible reasonable timeframe with the best possible outcome.

Ian Barnes