When your photo shoot has been scheduled, walk through your home before the photographer arrives. You may even want to ask a friend to walk through it with you. Look at it with a fresh set of eyes and ask yourself, "Do I want potentially thousands of people to see my home looking like this?" These images will not only be on the MLS, but also on listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com--you want them to look as good as possible. You may want to look through home decorating magazines for ideas on how to make your bed look beautiful, your bathroom spa like, and your patio one to envy.
The photo shoot will typically take an hour or two and will cover the entire interior and exterior of your property, except the inside of the garage (unless it has an amazing workbench or other upgrades) and the basement if it is unfinished. Do not be surprised if furniture and/or accessories have been moved for the sake of a better picture; that said, do not expect the photographer to do all of the heavy lifting and rearranging for you!
Here's a checklist to help you prepare:
- Clean, vacuum, and dust every room. Remove soap scum, scuffs, scratches, and fingerprints from as many surfaces as possible. Clean air vents. Have carpets shampooed and wood floors buffed, if necessary.
- We love pets, but not in the pictures! Keep them on a leash, in your arms, in the garage, or otherwise out of sight.
- Clear off the counters in kitchen. Store sponges, dish towels, and soap under the sink. Minimize small appliances except for the coffee maker, where you may want to set out a pair of mugs. Fresh flowers always look pretty in photos, as does a nicely set table or a large bowl of fruit.
- Remove photos, notes, drawings, sports schedules, calendars, magnets, menus, and papers from the refrigerator. When was the last time you saw it this empty?
- Turn on all interior lights including under-cabinet lights, lamps, and recessed fixtures. Consider purchasing daylight bulbs if your light bulbs have a yellow cast to them.
- Simplify rooms like the study or playroom that may be heavily furnished. Conversely, rearrange furniture to better fill sparse rooms. Make sure each room has a specific purpose so as not to confuse potential buyers.
- Make all the beds and tidy bedrooms. Put clothes hampers in the closet and store toys in bins and baskets.
- Add fluffy towels to the bathrooms and remove all tub toys, shampoo bottles, bathroom wipes, hair dryers, toothbrushes, and other personal items from the vanity and shower/tub. Put the toilet brush in the garage or under the sink. Close the toilet lid.
- Open the curtains and blinds in all rooms.
- Be selective with your accessories and knick knacks. Remove the wall of wedding and family photos and replace it with a gallery that combines art, maybe a decorative clock, and a few photos.
- Minimize religious art and political messages.
- Put trash cans in a closet.
- Turn off your computer.
- Let us know if your home contains valuable art or family heirlooms. We can make sure it is not included or is edited to be unrecognizable.
- Put your garbage cans, recycling bins, and yard waste in the garage.
- Store all gardening tools.
- Mow and edge the yard. Remove all weeds, dead branches, and spent flowers. Add fresh mulch where necessary.
- Add color to empty spaces with potted annuals or container gardens. Keep seasonal displays minimal and tasteful.
- Sweep the walks, driveway, and front porch.
- Turn on any outdoor features such as fountains or waterfalls.
- Remove all vehicles from the driveway and do not park directly in front of the house. Close the garage doors.
- Wipe down the patio furniture and open the patio umbrella if you have one.
- View your home straight on from the street. Can you see the front door? Make sure hedges and tree branches are pruned to make the front door look inviting.