When preparing your home for Real Estate photos there are some simple things you can do to make your photographers life easier. We do a great deal of Real Estate photography at Hstudios, I have photographed countless houses and moved and rearranged a lot of items over the years, so a simple guide on preparing your home for photos seems like a useful tool for homeowners.
Most vendors ask “What do I need to do?” when I arrive, the answer can be from “Nothing, it’s perfect” to “Where do we start?”. When you live in your home a lot of things can creep up on you, the pile of junk mail and newspapers on the coffee table, the magnets and menus on the fridge, appliances left on the bench for convenience sake, which is all fair enough! When we live somewhere you can’t expect it to look like a display home all the time, even if some people can do it, I surely can’t. So yes, there are some things that need doing before having your house photographed – and I hope this blog sheds some light on what you can do.
It’s more than just having a clean house, its about presentation, and what you see when you are viewing a house in person is different to what you will notice in a photograph. That tissue box on the bench, the shoes under the bed, the power cables tangled behind the tv, the pets food and water bowls, you don’t generally notice these things when you live in your home, or even attend open houses, but these things stand out in photos.
Something to consider is property styling, hiring a professional stager to add or change furniture, hang beautiful artwork, and place thoughtful pops of colour and soft furnishings throughout your home. There are many advantages to having your home staged such as a higher selling price, and generally homes that have been staged sell faster!
On a shoot I like to start outside first, before any photos are taken I take the time to walk through the property and check all the blinds are up, and the lights are on. It is best to have moved all vehicles out of view from the front of the house – even down the street a bit as you don’t want the view from inside to include your car or the old caravan. Plus for privacy reasons you might want to avoid having your number plates on the internet along with an address.
General gardening is necessary, if you can’t keep up with the grass while the house is on the market then at least have it mowed on the day of the shoot this way your property will be presented at it’s best! People can understand having your house ‘Inspection Ready’ all the time is difficult! Sweep up any leaves / stray bark from the garden and neaten paths, ensure the grass is neat and cut if needed. Remove any shoes or other bits and pieces from the front of the house and if you keep your bins out the front of the house for easy access; just for the day of the shoot hide them away either down the side of the house where they cannot be seen, or in a garage or shed.
The backyard is important for young families, to entice buyers you need to show space, security and safety. It’s best to remove garden tools, toys, hoses, even pegs off the clothes line (do I need to mention, please no clothes on the clothes line!), anything that gets in the way of showing what a great space you have. If you have an outdoor setting, staging it with wine glasses and a bottle of wine is nice – especially for a dusk shoot. Sometimes going all out and putting a full setting of crockery looks amazing, this depends on the space of course, there is no point putting out all your best china on a worn out table under a leaky verandah.
Working our way back inside, having all the lights on in the home is ideal, ensure they all work and are plugged in – too many times I have climbed under a bed to plug in the power cable for a lamp. It’s amazing how many people have lamps in their homes for decoration, either with no bulbs or power points nearby.
Using flowers throughout your home is a great idea, but needs to be executed correctly. Some flowers work in some situations, but not all. Tall flowers such as Lilies or Irises should be placed against a flat surface as they can be imposing and actually hide some of what you are trying to show. Placing them against a wall on a side table in an entry way, in the corner of the bench in the bathroom, or along the back wall of the kitchen bench are the best spots. Shorter stemmed flowers such as Tulips or Lilacs are great in a short vase in the centre of your coffee table or dining room table.
Any odd or temporarily stored items you have against the walls throughout the house can be a major distraction, such as the few boxes you never unpacked, suitcases, paintings that haven’t been hung yet, anything like that should be hidden as they are distracting. Finding a hiding spot for all these things is a good idea while your house is on the market.
If you have animals it is best to hide beds, toys and food bowls during the shoot, and most importantly make sure your animals don’t make a guest appearance in your photos!
Power cables look messy, but we need them – especially if you want lamps on for the shoot – so hiding them is ideal, but understandably this is not always possible, so making the cable neat and running along side a wall is best.
For Living areas you just want the essentials not the everyday items you usually need, such as the remotes for the TV, newspapers, bean bags, throw rugs etc. The surfaces should be either bare or staged with nice magazines, flowers, or decorative items. Neat cushions on couches are good as long as they match the decor and don’t distract. Throw blankets can work in some situations, but when in doubt, take it out!
Something as simple as having your lounge suite arranged in an inviting manner makes a massive difference, not all of the couches need to be facing the TV – consider how the space flows and try and create a homely environment that invites in the viewer.
Most dining areas these days are central to the living area and kitchen in an open plan styled home, so it should match the rest of the space by having minimal things on the table such as a small vase of flowers or bowl of decorative ornaments.
For most people the Kitchen is the heart of the home, and to show it at its best is key. Clear the bench tops of clutter as much as possible, reduce the amount of appliances you have out – the coffee machine is fine, and if you have a beautiful KitchenAid mixer by all means leave it out, but otherwise hide it away in the pantry. Add a bowl of fresh fruit to give a splash of colour and freshness.
Remove drying racks from the sink, tea towels, sponges, detergents, all of those bits and pieces. Remove all magnets and advertising from the fridge as it draws your eye to the least appealing part of the image. Again, hide your bins! This includes the ones in the bathroom.
Bathrooms are best when simplified, as in, nothing in it! Take out all the shower accessories, put all the products that linger too long on the bench under the sink, and close the toilet seat. Towels sometimes work, but not always, it’s not necessary to buy towels specifically for the shoot, especially if I’m just going to remove them. If you have some perfume or decorative items, they look nice on the bench for some colour, but remember to keep it minimal.
Finally the Bedrooms, some agents I have met really dislike photos of Bedrooms because they all generally look the same and it can turn away prospective buyers if the bedrooms look small in the photos. We need to show space and warmth in the bedroom shots, so a nice bedspread is helpful, lamps and maybe a book on the bedside tables, possibly a throw blanket on the bed arranged nicely, but really not much else! No slippers, tissues (again!), dressing gowns, phone chargers, floor fans, old CRT Televisions from the 90’s (trust me I still see them around!), and make sure to clear out anything from under the bed that can be seen.
This covers the main points and once you get the idea of minimalism it’s easy! For a laugh there are many websites out there that have really bad real estate photos, terriblerealestateagentphotos.com is one. It’s a mix of bad photographers or agents, bad houses/styling, and a few that aren’t really that bad – just funny. Thanks for reading my guide to preparing your home for real estate photos!