Here’s How to Prepare for your Real Estate Photography Shoot

We’ve been asked by a few of our long-time realtor clients in to create this guide to help them and their sellers get ready for a photo shoot. The suggestions here should apply to anyone getting ready to sell their home and prepare, either for real estate photography in Colorado, or elsewhere. Experienced real estate agents know that the difference between an OK shoot and a GREAT one really can mean the difference between a mediocre contract and an exceptional one. With so much on the line, it makes sense to put forth a little effort to prepare for a shoot — preparation that could have a substantial ($$$) affect on the results of a sale. Invest a little time now and reap the rewards later.

Right!? Your place should be ready for showings, ready for people to see it in person, if not a little better condition for photos. Today’s high-resolution images show everything, and although photographers can remove certain hard-t0-clean imperfections like minor carpet spots, or nails in the wall — dirty windows, dirty counters, dirty floors and dirty bathrooms (especially) will be visible. You want to communicate to the world that your home has been taken care of and is worth top dollar as a result.

Put it away! Get things off the kitchen & bathroom counters. Think “zen-like.” Clean and simple, free of extra items that are visually distracting. The goal with “staging” your home for a sale, is to present it in the most attractive way possible while also making it somewhat of a “blank slate” — allowing potential buyers to picture THEIR stuff along the walls and on the counters. And it should go without saying … but no one needs to know your preferred brand of personal hygiene products!

Pets aren’t allowed in real estate pictures posted through some MLS organizations. And again, they’re visually distracting. You might also be communicating something unintended to potential buyers when they see your 95lb Rottweiler peering through the sliding glass door in a picture — “I wonder what kind of damage THAT beast has caused over the years …” Also, any dog beds, litter boxes, cages or crates should be put away for the same reason.

A lot of sellers and realtors aren’t aware of this one. Just “touching up” paint might seem like a good idea to cover up the spot where your kid tried out her new crayons, or where a picture was hanging years ago, but even if the colors seem to match to your eyes, a color variation will inevitably be picked up by a good digital camera and walls will look streaked. Either don’t paint at all (photographers can remove spots up to the size of a dinner-plate pretty easily), or paint the entire wall at least a few days before your shoot.

Just like a dirty or cluttered house will communicate to potential buyers that the home may not have been cared-for, dead light bulbs speak to potential maintenance issues that buyers aren’t going to want to deal with. And be consistent with your bulbs: they should either be all daylight-balanced (like CFL’s producing a cool white or “blue” light) or tungsten-balanced (warmer, yellow, traditional lights).

Lamp cords or the cords hanging from a mounted flat-panel TV are visually distracting. Try and get them out of the way. Use zip-ties if you have to to get any extra cord hidden away.

This one is the same as the previous. Cords/chargers/wires are visually distracting … minor imperfections that will be noticed by potential buyers subconsciously as they’re scrolling through hundreds of listings online. You want your pictures to be as close to perfect as possible — and to stand out from the crowd.

Yes. Do it! This one can be hard for some people. You might be emotionally attached to your decorating prowess, but those green velvet curtains are both visually distracting and they’re blocking some percentage of the natural light that could be flooding your space with visual goodness. Curtains and drapes, in most cases, also may not be modern, and might communicate that your home is dated and needs costly updating.

Tell your realtor. Sometimes it’s about accommodating everyone’s schedule, but if there’s flexibility there, you know your home best and certain places look different and better depending upon the lighting. Real estate photography in Colorado, for instance, can look great at dusk right when the sun goes down behind the mountains.

COMMUNICATE this to your realtor, and to your photographer. Again, you know your place best and this kind of thing may not be immediately apparent to even an experienced photographer who’s never seen your home before. Certain corners, certain angles, where you might be drawn to with a cup of coffee in the mornings … chances are other people will be drawn to these areas as well.

A lot of people will note that many of these suggestions are basically good “staging” suggestions. This is true, for a reason, and for further info on staging a house properly see this guide by Zillow. But really the whole goal here is to separate YOUR place and pictures from the hundreds of others (and thousands of real estate photos) that potential buyers will be reviewing as they scroll through the listing sites online looking for homes. But by keeping all of these things in mind and by working toward (an obtainable) perfection, your real estate photos WILL stand out. Most people, when they’re selling, are looking at a new place too. What stands out to you as you look at new places online? That one that catches your eye … that place that’s sharp and obviously well-put-together … YES … do that with your own listing! Good luck!