Most home sellers know that their home must be properly prepared to be put on the market, but did you realize that you must prepare your home to be photographed? Many sellers think these two things are the same, but they’re not, and my camera can only do so much to make your home seem appealing. I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic that more than 95% of buyers search online before visiting a potential new home. This makes quality photos very important.
I could easily show you “what not to do” from photos on the MLS. Instead, keep reading to learn how to make your photos stand out from the competition!
Buyers are looking for a house with the potential to become their home… one where they can imagine themselves living. You cannot assume that they will be able to mentally remove clutter from photos, so they can picture themselves and their families using the space. This must be done before the photos are taken.
The camera can only photograph what it see, so I encourage my clients to follow these suggestions for a photo-ready home.
- Remove all vehicles from driveways, the street in front of your home, and your yard.
- Close all exterior doors, including garage doors.
- Remove all garbage and recycling containers from sight.
- Turn on exterior lights to make the home look more inviting.
- Remove bicycles and seasonal decorations.
- Edge and mulch your beds.
- Mow the lawn, remove or trim overgrown shrubs, and plant flowers (in season).
- Remove old or broken outdoor furniture.
- “Dress” the front door area with a wreath, flag, or potted flowers.
In Every Room
- Open all shades and blinds unless there is something unsightly in view or the window needs repair.
- Turn on all overhead lights and decorative lamps.
- Minimize items on flat surfaces and shelves, leaving plenty of open space.
- Use this 3-item rule that professional stagers use: on all flat surfaces such as countertops, tables, dressers, etc. place one tall, medium, and small object.
- Store valuables such as cameras, laptops, guns, coin collections and jewelry boxes out of sight in a secure place.
- Hide loose items like toys, tissue boxes, piles of paper, magazines, laundry, etc.
- Remove all overgrown, dead, or dying plants.
- For privacy and security, remove family photos, collections, and personal/professional memorabilia. (Repair walls, if necessary).
- Put all trash cans out of sight.
- Remove all pet equipment, including bowls, beds, litter boxes, crates etc.
- Remove all items from the refrigerator surface and the top of the refrigerator.
- Clear as much as possible off the kitchen counters, including toaster ovens, coffee makers, microwaves, and cutlery blocks (even if you return some of them to the counter for daily use while your home is on the market).
- Put the cleaning sponges, detergent, and garbage can out of sight.
- Set your dining table for company – an oversize centerpiece, place mats, napkins, utensils, and glasses.
- Remove high chairs and booster seats.
- Dress your breakfast bar – perhaps a place mat and simple table setting or a tray with a wine bottle and 2 glasses.
- Put excess chairs out of sight.
- Remove items from the top of china cabinet
Living Room/Family Room:
- Remove excess furniture.
- Turn off the TV. If TV is in a cabinet, close the door.
- Make sure your room has one focal point which is visible from the entry point into the room.
- Make your beds and confirm that nothing shows under the bed.
- Remove any rugs, toilet tank covers, and seat covers.
- Neatly fold your best towels on towel bars.
- Make sure your tub area is sparkling clean and leave the shower curtain open.
- Remove robes hanging on doors.
- Remove all items from top of the toilet tank.
- Clean bathroom mirrors (toothpaste splashes show in photos).
- Close the toilet lid.
Besides pricing, online pictures of your home will get potential buyers in the door. Keeping your home photo-ready throughout the time your home is on the market is crucial. There’s no bigger turn off for buyers than to walk through the door and see a home that looks nothing like the MLS pictures.