Have you ever browsed pictures of homes on Zillow, Realtor, or even MLS and thought, “Whoa, this place is mess!” or “What am I even looking at?” When a seller posts bad photos in their listing, often buyers will click away and move onto the next house. Bad pictures hurt the chances of selling those houses. After all, if the buyer can’t see the basics, they aren’t going to ask for a showing to see the house in person. Remember, the pictures need to lure them in (and can actually live online for years after you’ve moved), but you don’t have to live in a model home throughout the showing process. Make the place look inviting, even if only for the photoshoot itself, and you’re guaranteed to book showings. If you’re about to list your place, use these tips to take pictures that will sell your house.
- Clear the clutter and clean the house. If you’re relocating, you’ll need to downsize and pack anyway. If you’re not ready to commit to packing right now, at least clear away as much clutter as possible from each room as it is being photographed. (Not every room needs to be photographed, either.) This means everything off the floor, and everything cleared off surfaces (think serious minimalism). Please make the beds, too! While the cabinets, closets and garage might be bursting at the seams in order for you to snap these great pics, it’s important to clean what’s going to be visible. If the shower grout is black with mold, for example, a buyer might wonder if that’s a potential repair they’ll have to make or just a cosmetic fix. If you can take a day to use some bleach and elbow grease to get everything as clean as possible, it might mean the difference between getting an above-asking-price offer and watching your house sit unsold on the market.
- Depersonalize the place. If removing items from the walls would leave big holes behind, keep the family photos hanging, but hide away what you can. Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in the home, and not be weirded out by some other people staring back at them. Tuck away the pet dishes and litter boxes, too. Same goes for excessive toys and collections, or things like erotic art that might make a buyer say, “Nope!”
- Make any obvious cosmetic repairs possible. Patch visible holes in the walls, repair gaps in the baseboards, YouTube how to re-caulk your bathtub if need be because these tiny imperfections might make a buyer wonder what more serious things you might have been neglecting as a homeowner.
- Take pictures of the room, not your furniture. Nobody cares about your furniture, unless you’re clearly attempting to show the scale of the room. Anything you’re taking with you when you move should not be a focal point of the photo. Stand back and get as much of the room as possible into the picture.
- Light is your best friend. No dark dungeons, please! Turn the lights and ceiling fans on, and open the blinds and curtains before snapping those shots. This means you’ll need to clean the glass of any obvious smudges while you’re at it.
- Curb appeal matters. A fresh coat of paint will go a long way. Maybe you don’t have time or money to spruce up the exterior of the house, but you can certainly clean up the yard. Weed the flower beds, and rid the yard of toys, tools and garbage cans. Can you add a pop of color with an inexpensive pot of flowers? Don’t forget about the backyard because it matters, too!
- Showcase unique features and upgrades…only if they’ll appeal to the masses. Buyers might not care about a custom paint job or wallpaper feature, but they will care about new appliances, a new air handler, a new water heater, and any other equipment or features that will save them money and create energy efficiency. Built-ins would be good to showcase even if they decide to take them out, at least so they know what they’re working with.
- You don’t have to hire a professional photographer. You can do it yourself with a good camera. Many realtors either take their own photos or hire their own third party service to take them. Sometimes these photographers go as far as using drones to capture aerial views of the entire property.
Home buyers: what are your biggest turn-offs when browsing real estate photos? What are you actually looking for in the pictures?