Updated: Nov 12, 2022
Having good quality pictures of a clean space is vital to the sale of real estate. Most home-shoppers search online before they ever contact a buyer's agent. Pictures are often the first things that are seen in a listing, and they can catch a shopper's attention, sometimes even tell a story about the property. If the photographs for your listing are sub-par, expect the buyers to blow right past it. One of the main questions we get asked by homeowners and agents alike is, "What do I need to do to get ready for the photography session?" We have compiled a helpful list in our FAQ section of the website (www.ZapJaxPhotography.com/FAQ) and we go into a little more detail in this post.
1.) Clean and de-clutter the home as much as possible. Remove items from counter-tops and magnets from the refrigerator. A clean home is easier to photograph and/or video, looks better, and gives a better first impression of the property to buyers. Removing knick-knacks from the counters and magnets from the fridge will give you more of the "HGTV" look that buyers want to see.
2.) Turn on all lights, replace dead bulbs, open all shades and blinds and turn off ceiling fans and televisions. Having all of the lights on not only makes the pictures look better, it showcases some of the home's built-in features to buyers. It also allows the current owner to find dead bulbs in fixtures that they may not use on a regular basis and change them out before showing the home. Opening all the shades and blinds allows the natural light to come in, making for softer pictures and highlighting views from each of the rooms. Ceiling fans should be turned off to avoid a whirling blur in the middle of the ceiling in a picture, and tv's should also be left off. We will typically place an image of the home over the TV screen when we're editing the photos.
3.) Remove/store valuables (ie - artwork, jewelry, firearms, etc.) This is mainly to protect the homeowner. These pictures and videos will be on the internet and everyone will be able to see the address and the home's contents. You never want to showcase anything that might invite criminals to target the home. Having pictures which show gun safes, expensive artwork, jewelry cases, etc. along with the address where those things are located is not a great idea, not to mention that often homes for sale are left vacant for longer periods of time than a typical residence.
4.) Remove all personal identifying objects (pictures, names, etc.) to protect the identity and privacy of the home owners and their families. As stated in the previous item, the property's address is already going to be made public, so you'll want to keep any personally identifiable information out of the photographs. If any pictures are left up by mistake, we will normally try to blur the faces in the photos so people aren't recognizable, but just in case we miss something it's better if the client/agent removes them before we get there.
5.) Remove all children's toys, pets dishes, pet beds, pet toys etc. from areas that will be shot. As much as you love your children and pets, not every home buyer feels the same way about your little bundles of joy. Some people will pass on a home if they know the previous owner had pets. Children's toys, while cute, can be distracting in a picture and often make a room look cluttered. We have two little ones ourselves and two dogs, so we know how much stuff they accumulate! Your best bet is to minimize the kid stuff before the shoot and to remove all signs that a pet lives in the home, at least for the photos and probably for any showing.
6.) Place trash cans and recycle bins in the garage and remove the signage from the front yard. We photograph interiors and exteriors. You may think that your trash cans and recycle bins are neatly stored behind your fence or on the side of the house, but they will be eyesores in exterior photos. We do not typically photograph/video the garage unless specifically requested, so this is a great place to store garbage cans, recycling bins, etc. while the home is being shot.
7.) Mow and weed the lawn (and clean the pool if there is one) no more than two days prior to the shoot. We service Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia where it rains almost daily for about 6 months out of the year. That means our grass grows constantly! If you mow and weed the lawn or hire a service to do it a week prior to our session, it will look like a jungle by the time we get there. During the winter months this is less critical, but to be safe, stick to the two-day-rule. There is more flexibility on the time frame with a pool, just make sure that it is clean and inviting when we get there and that if there is a deck that it is also clean.
8.) Remove all cars from driveways and from in front of the home. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to take that all important exterior shot that really grabs the attention of a potential buyer, all while the owner's car is in the driveway. Just remember, you are selling the property, not the vehicle! If the driveway is a bit grimy, feel free to pressure wash it once you get that car out of there. If the cars are going to be parked in the road in front of the home, try to move them far enough away so that they won't be seen through the windows while we're shooting the interior.
9.) All toilet paper holders should be filled and toilet lids closed. This may seem more of a nit-picky thing, but home buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the property that they are viewing online via our photos. Having the toilet seat up or an empty toilet paper roll can easily side-track them from picturing themselves relaxing in that garden tub.
We hope these tips will help you get ready for your photo session. We always say, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. If you're going to hire a professional photographer for your listing (which you should) you may as well do everything you can to ensure your pictures are the best they can be. At the end of the day, we can only photograph what is there. Go through our nine-step process, get that property "photo-ready," and let us help you get that listing sold!