When it comes to selling your home the old adage that first impressions are the most important still holds perfectly true in almost every case, but how that first impression is made on potential buyers has changed.
It used to be that often the first time a home shopper would encounter a home for sale is when their Realtor added to the day’s list of homes to see, so their first impressions would be formed as they drove up to the property. These days 90% of buyers actually begin their home search online, and so it is the photographs that accompany an online listing that offer that first impression now.
No matter who it is that actually takes the photographs it is up to you, as the homeowner, to ensure that your home is ready and properly staged for its close up. And while you may have put some serious effort into staging it for a physical showing staging for a photo shoot is slightly different. Here then is a room by room, step by step guide to ensuring that your home stands out online (in a good way)
General Whole House Photo Staging
Even in the daytime, turn all overhead lights and lamps ON and replace burned out bulbs before the photographer arrives.
Use bulbs that are all the same temperature. That means all incandescent or all CFL.
Turn TVs, computer screens and ceiling fans off to avoid strange shadowing in the final shots.
Open blinds/drapes to let in outside light.
Ensure that there is no clutter anywhere.
The Front Exterior of Your Home
Close your garage doors
Remove any cars or trucks from driveway and front of the home (unless you own a Porsche. That can maybe stay)
Remove visible water hoses, kids toys, outdoor sports equipment etc.
The Rear Exterior of Your Home
Clean up the porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions. If you have an outdoor dining set accessorize it with a place setting or two.
Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded. If yours have seen better days replace them before the photo shoot.
If you have one, clean your pool and remove all pool toys etc.
If you have a garden water feature (fountain etc) turn it on.
Hide all of the garbage cans!
Clear your countertops completely. That means no knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc. You can leave out one appliance to add interest, a good looking coffee maker perhaps.
Remove everything from the refrigerator door, including any old stickers.
Make sure there are no dishes in the sink.
Hide kitchen garbage cans.
Straighten all of the chairs around your dining table and remove any high chairs or booster seats.
Stage a couple of place settings, based around a nice centrepiece (seasonal FRESH flowers are always a great touch.)
Make sure that everything, especially the dining table is dusted and polished.
Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail and other ‘clutter’.
Hide as many wires as you can (TV wires, game system wires etc.)
De-clutter your fireplace mantel and hearth and make sure the visible fireplace interior is clean.
Only leave out throws and pillows if they are clean and fluffed.
Make bed, and ‘dress’ it in the best linens you have.
Clear nightstands of all personal items
Remove all clutter from top of dressers
Don’t forget to clean under the bed, you never know what might show up in a photo.
Clean off the walls. That means posters, wall stickers and especially personalized name items (which is more about safety than anything else)
Make everything as tidy as possible. Toy boxes look better in photos than toys scattered all over the floor and can even be good staging tools.
Again, don’t forget to clean under the bed (just be prepared for what you might find if it’s been a while. This is a kid’s room after all.)
Clean and clear all countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc. One single flower vase? Maybe, if it seems to fit.
Make sure toilet seats are down and cleaning tools are hidden out of sight.
Close all closet doors
Remove all of the shampoos, soap, loofahs, etc. from the shower or tub.
Towels are OK to leave out, but invest in some new ones (they only have to look good, so they can be small)
Change themed shower curtains and rugs for something a little more neutral.
We know this all seems like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it. A bad photo can lose you a possible sale that you never even knew was a possibility, and you would never want to risk that.