How to prepare my property for real estate photography/open house/showing?

Hiring a professional real estate photographer is one of the best things that you can do to make your real estate listing shine. But, before the photographer arrives, there are a few things that you should do to prepare your home. This article will provide you with all of the information that you need to know about preparing your home to have professional real estate photos taken.




The first view that a person will get from the room is when they are standing in the doorway, so keep that perspective in mind when you are arranging the furniture: Remove furniture from the doorway area; Avoid having the back of furniture facing the room entrance.

From a photo standpoint, the real estate photographer will take photos from the doorway area, and they will also make use of the windows and natural light in the room. So you want to consider the way the furniture is placed as it corresponds with both doorways and windows. Other than removing furniture from the doorway area, please try not to put furniture under the window.

If there are built-in features in the room, such as a fireplace or decorative pillars, the photographer will take the photos from an angle to include those features. So, you may arrange your furniture to be complimentary of the built-in decor.

Focal point is the first thing you can see upon entering the room, such as fireplace, bay window, patio door, TV, or large decor. Sofa and beds can act as focal points and whenever possible, should be placed on the longest wall of a room. Every room needs a focal point—it offers a place for the eye to rest. Larger rooms can have more than one focal point. In order to draw attention to the focal points, all items blocking a focal point should be removed.


Assign each room with a function by placing appropriate furniture. Make the most of an awkward space by giving it a function which adds value to the home. The simple addition of a comfortable armchair, a small table and a lamp in a stairwell nook will transform it into a cozy reading spot. Or drape fabric on the walls of your basement, lay inexpensive rubber padding or a carpet remnant on the floor and toss in a few cushy pillows. Voila - a new meditation room or yoga studio.


Get rid of anything that is cluttering the room. Decluttering involves more than just sorting out and throwing away old mail and newspapers. Furniture should be edited down to a few major pieces that show the function of a room. Remove knickknacks and dust collectors from shelves and display areas. What isn't thrown away should go into storage boxes and put into a rental space if necessary. Do not put them into closets or cabinets because they should be at least half emptied out to showcase their storage space.


A simple and relatively cheap method for enlarging a room is adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Trading out a dark tone for a light neutral color can transform a space. To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space.

If you want to create the illusion of more space, try choosing draperies in a similar color as your walls. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look. That is, you can choose window treatments in the same color, but in a slightly different shade (a bit lighter or darker). This is especially good for smaller rooms, because the curtains act as an extension of the room, making it appear larger.

Using wall decor that emphasizes the wall’s height draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. To accomplish this hang floor-length curtains close to the ceiling, use tall bookshelves to compel guests to look up or install crown molding.

Mirrors push walls away and reflect light, which makes the space look bigger. Use them in front of your most attractive decor, such as flowers or rich drapes or windows, to reflect beauty and please the eye. Avoid using a mirrored wall, which can look too retro and alter your aesthetic. Instead, rely on one large framed mirror propped on the floor, or group several smaller mirrors on a wall.

Avoid interrupting the eye with contrasting floor coverings. Use one flooring material and color, throughout your living room and adjoining rooms to visually expand the space.

Use sofas and cabinets with legs, so the floor fades under the furniture rather than stopping suddenly at a wall of wood or fabric.

Don't overcrowd a room with furniture that is too large for the space; it will only make the room appear small and cramped. However, don't leave a room too barren either. In a narrow space, shelves can add depth to make a room feel larger.

Furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls and leave plenty of open space for traffic flow. Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger.


Keep the furnishings and decor somewhat generic, not personal. The goal is to create a generic home in which the buyer can picture themselves living in. If you include too many personal effects, such as photos and knickknacks, then it makes it more difficult for the buyer to imagine their own things in the room. So, get rid of the distractions that may be present.


When arranging all the items in the room, keep the folowing design principles in mind:

Harmony: Arrange all the items in the room in a consistent, orderly, or pleasing way.

Balance: All the items in the room should be proportionate. You never want everything in a room to be a the same level or the same size. Accomplish this with different heights/sizes in your furnishings, art placement and window treatments. Some people put too many small things in a room, thereby cluttering the room and not giving the eye a place to land. While others put too many large, bulky items in one room, making it look stuffed and small. The secret to proper scale is a mixture of different shapes, heights and sizes.

Symmetry: Symmetry depends upon visual weights of the interior elements. Arrange all the elements around a center point and make sure one side does not seem heavier than the other.

Triads: Place small artworks or decor in group of three.

TMS (Tall/Medium/Short): Place a collection of items of varying heights for better effect.

Hang at least one wall decor in each room. Hanging pictures at standing eye level. For pictures that will be viewed from a standing position such as in hallways or an entryway, the best rule of thumb is to position your artwork so its center hangs at 60″ to 66″ from the floor. This never fail rule works for everyone. Please remember that in rooms where you spend the most time sitting; such as dining rooms, living rooms or offices, you should be hanging your art lower so that you can enjoy it without having to look up – way up.


Get rid of dark window treatments and replace them with more transparent materials. Some windows may even look fine if they're left bare. Be sure to fix broken light fixtures, replace burned-out bulbs and use high-wattage bulbs. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don't depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. You'd better have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall). Be generous with adding additional lamps in shadier corners to make your house brighter.

Before the photographer arrives, you should make sure that you are letting in as much light as possible. Open up the blinds and curtains, and turn on every light in your home. All lamps and surface lights should be on, including the lights that are part of furniture and appliances such as those on the stove or built into a bookshelf.


Every conceivable surface in the house should get a scrub down. A quick wipe down to "clean" the house isn't enough to get rid of the grime, and it is important that all areas are deep-cleaned in order to remove hard water buildup, dirt, or anything else that might be visible. To remove mold from grout, try a simple solution of bleach and water. If that doesn't work, try staining the grout. Make sure that the windows are spotless, they should be washed to get rid of fingerprints or marks. All window treatments also should be cleaned. Use a steam cleaner (can be purchased or rented from Home Depot) to deep clean the carpet and rugs.


If necessary, paint the wall, ceilling, door, window, kitchen cabinets, baseboard, trim, and more. It is always a smart way to spruce up your home.

Special attention must be made to assure good presentation of the flooring. Polishing the hardwood floor is a quick, inexpensive update. We recommend BONA Hardwood Floor Care System which can be purchased from Home Depot for about $40.

Consider repaire or replace the old carpet, rug, mat, lighting switch plates, doorknob, knocker, and anything else which makes a poor first impression. Oxidized hardware should be buffed to a shine or replaced.

Unfinished projects can scare off potential buyers, so finish them. Missing floorboards and large cracks in the sidewalk on the way to your door tend to be a red flag, for example, and they cost you less to fix than buyers might deduct from the asking price.


If you have any pets, it is best to have them out of the way during the photo shoot.



keep the countertops nice and clear. Get rid of extra small appliances that are sitting around, as well as stacks of paper or dishes that may be placed at the end of the counter. Cupboards should be free of clutter. If you have child-proof equipment that is visible on the outside of the cabinets or cupboards, it is better to remove that equipment for the photos. Clear the school notices, crayon drawings, and magnets off of the fridge. Clear away dish racks, cutting boards, tea towels, hand and dish soap bottles, cleaning products, mops, brooms and garbage cans. You can add a little decoration with a nice bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of flowers. Stainless steel looks great in the kitchen and will help sell your house, but not when it's covered in fingerprints. An easy and eco-friendly way to keep stainless steel clean is to mix one part vinegar with one part water and wipe with a clean cloth.


As the formal sitting room in the house, it is especially important to make sure that the furniture is arranged appropriately. If you have a nice coffee table book, set it out as decor on the table. Remove any magazines, because they often look trashy and cluttery. If bookshelves are in the room, take out half of the books and arrange the remaining books in a nice pattern. Keep the nice, hardback and colorful books on the shelf, and clear out the ratty, old books.


As with other areas in the house, you want to get rid of any clutter that is visible in the room. The goal of the room should be to create a beautiful and comfortable space, it should be an area where the potential buyer could imagine their family spending time. Collect the TV remotes, video game systems, DVDs, or any other cluttered electronic items. Also, it is a good idea to pay attention to the way the electronic cords are arranged, and try to move them to a place so that they are out of sight. Clear out any toys that may have been left in the room by the kids.


Make sure the dining table is scrubbed and the chairs are arranged neatly around the table. You might consider adding a nice centerpiece on the table, such as bowl of fresh fruit or a floral arrangement. Don't leave any leftover plates or dishes on the table, and make sure that the remnants of the previous meal have been cleared away. Wipe the table, sweep the floor, and mop the floor to remove any marks.


Create a relaxing bedroom setting with luxurious linens and neutral color that will make a potential home buyer want to hang out. Dress the bed up with neutral-patterned bedding. Use a nice bedspread and big, fluffy pillows that are neatly arranged at the head of the bed. Personal stuff, such as phone chargers, tissue boxes, lip balm, a glass of water, jewelry, and etc. should be removed off the nightstands.

It may be tempting to stuff everything under the bed in order to hide the clutter, but the items under the beds can often be viewed in the real estate photos. Instead of trying to hide clothing and toys under the bed, move everything out of the room so that the space is as open as possible.

With teenager bedrooms, sometimes there are unique or usual decorations to match the personality of the child. Those decorations may need to be adjusted in order to make the space appear more generic and neutral, instead of trendy or hipster. Remember, you want the buyer to imagine themselves as if they were in the room, and unusual themes in the bedrooms can be somewhat distracting.


In the bathroom, any personal beauty product should be moved off the counter, including makeup, razors, soap, toothbrushes, and so on. In the shower and tub, remove the shampoo, soaps, washcloths, and baby toys. The garbage cans, bathmats, laundry baskets, extra toilet paper, the toilet brush, and scales should also be moved out of the room. Finish it off by closing the toilet, and hang fresh towels on the towel rails.


Curb appeal matters, because buyers want their new home to look good on both the outside and inside.

Exterior tasks should include:
• Pull weeds
• Trim trees and overgrown shrubs
• Rake up the leaves
• Mow the lawn and use the right edging tools near cement
• Even if you don't have time to repair grass or grow a healthy garden, mulch and potted plants can serve as more attractive substitutes. Cover dirt with mulch to make it look nice.
• Sweep the porch and sidewalks
• Patios and decks should be cleaned and prepped as if you're throwing a neighborhood barbecue.
• If you have outdoor furniture, wipe it down and make sure that the cushions look clean and nice
• Pressure washing the house exterior, driveway and garage door also enhances curb appeal.
• Wrap up garden hoses and put them away in the garage or shed
• Pick up any items that may be laying around the yard, such as garden tools, garbage cans, toys, empty pots or pots with dead plants
• Move cars out of the driveway


Paying attention to these guidelines above will help to ensure that your photos turn out beautiful, increasing the possibility to sell your home more quickly at a higher price. If you are too busy to do it on your own, you might think about hiring a professional home stager to take care of the funiture arrangement, decoration, and so on. There will be a big difference in the final outcome of the photos when professional stagers is involved in the design of the room.

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