How to present your home for a photo shoot

If you’re hiring a real estate photographer to do a photo shoot of your home then make sure the presentation of the home is perfect for the day of the shoot.

How to stage your home like a pro:

Here's a short video presented by a real estate agent in California, and they offer a few more great tips for preparing your home the right way so that you make the most of your real estate photo shoot:

Why does the presentation of a home matter?

These days nearly everyone looking to buy a home is using the internet as their first step. The first thing they see are the photos, so those first impressions need to be right because if the photos aren’t good enough then the buyers aren’t visiting. They skip onto the next house in their search results, and you’re left wondering if perhaps you set your price too high … when in reality maybe it wasn’t the price that was the problem, but the images that are being used to justify the price.

As one real estate agent in Virginia put it:

“A great photographer is critical to our marketing plan. They can make every property, no matter what the price range, stand out … and this makes our phones ring!”

What should you be doing to make sure you’re attracting a crowd of buyers to your real estate listing? Here are some simple things you need to do to make those real estate photos work hard for you:

Make it light and bright:

Make sure all of your lights are working inside, and also open your blinds and curtains to let the light in for the photo shoot. A great photographer will have no trouble balancing out the light and dark areas, and it’s better to show a little outside rather than to close all the blinds and make it look like you’re hiding something.

Remove the clutter:

I’ve looked at thousands of homes in my time, and there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a great home that looks smaller than it really is because there are toys across the floor, and too much stuff in the kitchen, and way too many things in the living room.

I don’t think the owners or the selling agent would arrive at their own wedding with untidy hair and anything less than the most carefully selected dress or suit, and I think it would be helpful if they applied the same standards to the marketing of a home. Get rid of the things that don’t need to be there, leave the things that do, and make it immaculate.

As an example, one space that gets a lot of clutter is a bathroom, but it's important to have your bathroom looking amazing. Buyers want to imagine their perfect future, and to have a bathroom that looks like a spa at a luxurious resort is a dream situation for most people, so here's a video to show you how to style your bathroom when selling a home:

Arrange the furniture:

There’s a fine balance between having too little furniture, with bare open spaces that look decidedly uninviting, and having too much furniture. You may also need to arrange the furniture so that a living room, for example, looks conversational and the kind of place a buyer would want to sit with friends. As Realtor Magazine put it:

“Spotlight the flow of your space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.”

Clean the home:

Showing a home in a photo is different to having buyers walk through an open home, but it’s still important that you present a clean and tidy space. For example, you would want to:

  • Pick everything up off the floor that shouldn’t be there and clean all floors.
  • Remove all signs of pets living in the home as some buyers can be turned off by the site of a dog bed or a cat pole.
  • Show that you have room in the kitchen by hiding away any small appliances on display.
  • In your bathrooms make sure all items are in storage, and just leave out a small number of decorative pieces.
  • Carefully clean all windows and mirrors, and make sure there aren’t any streaks because they will show up in the photos (especially in the bathroom).

Prepare the outside:

Don’t neglect the exterior of your home, and be sure that all trees and brushes are neatly cut, the grass is short, and edges trimmed. If you have some patchy areas try and have those repaired by starting to work on them a month or two before the house goes on the market, and if you aren’t successful bring in a professional to treat it. A great front lawn makes a strong first impression, so take the time to make it look amazing.

You will also want to remove anything stored around the yard such as garden tools, toys, empty plant pots and anything else that shouldn’t be there.

Don’t show seasonal items:

We’re approaching the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you want to show that in your photos. When I’m photographing a home I almost always request that any holiday décor be removed from a space before I shoot it, and the reason why is that if the property doesn’t sell, say, before Christmas, then we don’t want to have a tree and decorations in the images that obviously date the photo. As put it:

“Instead, consider ways to decorate for the season as a whole and take photos of rooms without themed decor.”