I’ve had the pleasure of photographing hundreds of homes over the past few years and have discovered what works for me in order to get a great image, but there’s a considerable amount that a seller can do to aid in the process of preparing a home for pictures and for showings.  Here are my pointers for getting the most perceived value out of your home without doing major damage on your wallet.

Download our free checklist on preparing your home to sell here:

Declutter your visible spaces

The goal here is to create an atmosphere that allows a buyer to imagine themselves in your home.  This is tough because it’s different for every home, but a good rule of thumb is to remove anything that doesn’t make the space feel more expensive.  Mail, remotes, reading glasses, phone cords, fans can all be easily stowed away and without clutter, furniture feels larger which also helps the room feel more expansive.  Remove unnecessary furniture that clutters or cheapens the space.  Lawn furniture or folding furniture should not be set up indoors (I surprisingly run into this a lot) and severely damaged couches, chairs, etc. are better removed than left in the space.  Bathroom toiletries should be removed from all counters, vanities, showers, and tubs and animal bedding, toys, and food items should be hidden away.  Fill up your cupboards, drawers, extra closets, and garage if you have to–those areas are rarely photographed.  Kids’ rooms are often the most cluttered and therefore come across as tiny spaces in photographs.  Any toys or clothing items that can be removed or put away will create the illusion of a much larger space.

Basic cleaning

Now that your rooms are decluttered, focus on some basic cleaning to get your spaces sparkling.  Knock down spider webs, wipe windows on the inside as well as the outside, clean up scuffs and dust from walls and baseboards, rake leaves, trim bushes, wrap outdoor hoses, etc.  Get a second opinion from someone more OCD than you if cleaning isn’t your strong suit.  If you’ve got a pool, make sure it’s clean and blue!  Carpets should be neatly vacuumed and if your carpet is stained, consider having it cleaned professionally.  If you’ve got a walk-in closet, make sure it’s organized.  If you have extra clutter on the floor of your walk-in or your clothing rods seem extra full, it might be a good time to go through your clothing and donate what you don’t use.

Let the natural light in

Open up blinds and curtains to let as much natural light in as possible.  Natural lighting is always best for photographs and creates a sense of a clean, open space.  If blinds are broken or not functioning properly, it may be best to remove them altogether.

Lights, lamps, and fans

The first thing I tell people the moment I walk into their home is that all lights and lamps need to be turned on and all fans turned off.  That’s when sellers start to notice all their burned out bulbs.  Replacing lightbulbs before a photo shoot or showing just gives your home that extra touch that tells buyers that you make time to take care of your home; down to the smallest detail.  Don’t forget to pay attention to how the color of your lightbulbs affects the look of the room.  Flourescent bulbs make a room appear more green while halogen ones have a more yellow tone.  To the eye it may not seem like a big deal but through a camera, colors are amplified and can make an otherwise beautiful space look sallow.  Pick the right bulb for the space and your photos will have beautiful color tones.  In case you missed the point about turning off fans–this is just so a buyer doesn’t get distracted by a circular blur in the photograph and can instead focus on the details that matter.

Final touches

Relax, the hard part is over.  These few final touches will allow your home to stand out from the crowd.

Always, always, always put your toilet lids down.  Turn off all TV’s and computer screens.  If kids and animals can have a play date away from your home, it makes a photographer’s job a hundred times easier.  Last but not least, leave an item in your home that fits in the space but also makes an impact to a buyer.  Flowers are great for this.  Leave a beautiful arrangement in the kitchen and/or living room to add a touch of class and warmth.  Studies have shown that buyers remember homes because of their unique detail.  The house with the blue door, the home with the roses on the counter.  Whatever you and your agent find beautiful and uncommon about your space, highlight it.  And if you can’t think of an element you love, add one!

Click the checklist below to begin an automatic download.  Good luck, and happy home selling!

A Southern Oregon real estate photographer’s guide // Medford Oregon Real Estate Photography