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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hawley

Preparing Your Orange County Listing For Professional Photos

For a real estate photographer to capture the best possible images of your listing, you should make sure that the house is in perfect condition on the day of the shoot.

Tips To Stage Your Listing Like A Pro:

  • Start by decluttering. You want to create blank slates out of surfaces and closets so prospective buyers can envision themselves in the home.

  • Paint. Use neutral colors or warm tones. If you are going for a modern look, use a subtle gray. It is best to accent everything with a bright, white trim.

  • Tell a story. Imagine what story each space tells, then tell it. Use decor to evoke feelings and emotions of what it will feel like when a buyer moves in.

  • Outdoor Space. Don't forget to add furniture and accessories to show the outdoor space is an extension of the house.

  • Less is more.

Presentation is everything in the world of real estate.

Today, nearly everyone looking to buy a home uses the internet as the first step in their home search. The first thing they see are photos, so those first impressions need to be good enough to draw potential buyers into making an appointment for a tour of the property. If potential buyers aren’t sold by the images, they skip on to another house in their search results, and you’re left wondering if perhaps you set your asking price too high … when in reality maybe it wasn’t the price that was the problem, but rather that your images weren’t good enough to justify that 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 can you do to make sure your listing is attracting a crowd of buyers? Make those real estate photos work hard for you with these six simple steps.

Make it Light and Bright:

Replace all burned out bulbs and, if possible, replace all the bulbs throughout the listing with bulbs that are the same temperature. Open all the curtains and if there are views, make sure the blinds are pulled up and out of the way. If you do not have a particularly good view, angle blinds so that light bounces off the ceiling. A great photographer will be able to produce evenly balanced images with any available light but typically speaking, more light makes for a better photo shoot.

Remove the Clutter:

During my 12+ years in real estate I have looked at thousands of homes. I can say that there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a great home getting no attention from buyers because it looks smaller than it really is. Typically this is due to toys on the floor, too much stuff in the kitchen, and way too many things in the living room.

Think of the day the photographer shows up to you listing as its wedding day. No bride would show up to their wedding with untidy hair and anything except a carefully selected dress. These same standards should be applied to the marketing of a home. Your clients are moving anyway. Have them pack up and remove anything they are not using daily.

Proper Arrangement of Furniture:

It is a fine balance between having too little and too much furniture. Too little and a space looks bare and uninviting. Too much and that same space looks too small to live in comfortably. The goal is to make every room look like the kind of place a potential buyer would want to sit and talk 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:

Having a spotless house isn't as important when other agents are showing the listing because buyers understand that people are living in the house. But buyers are not as forgiving when it comes to the listing photos. Make sure to:

  • Remove everything from the floors that shouldn't be there. Make sure the floors are clean.

  • If possible, remove signs of pets. Some potential buyers might be turned off by pet beds or toys.

  • Highlight the counter space in the kitchen by hiding any small appliances.

  • Limit the number of decorative pieces in the bathroom.

  • Clean all windows and mirrors. Cameras have a way of highlighting even the slightest smudges on reflective surfaces.

Prepare the Outside:

This is the most overlooked aspect of preparing a listing for photography. It is often best to have a gardening crew come by a couple of days prior to the photography appointment to make sure trees and brushes are neatly cut, the grass is short, and the edges are trimmed. Great curb appeal makes a strong first impression. This is one of the best places to spend money preparing the house to be sold.

Don't forget garden tools, toys, hoses, empty plant pots, and anything else that shows the yard is work should be removed. Give the impression that yard work is simple.

Don't show seasonal items:

Nothing ages a listing faster than seasonal items. If buyers are scrolling online through photos and see Christmas decorations in February they will automatically feel like something is wrong with the listing since it has obviously been on the market for several months. The goal is to make the listing look timeless. As put it:

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

Harber Media is an Orange County based real estate media company which was build on the foundation that all agents should have access to affordable, high-quality media for their listings.

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