Put Your Best House Forward
Most homebuyers start their search for a home online, so beautiful photos are key to making sure your listing gets noticed. Follow these tips to make your home picture-perfect on-screen and ready to sell.
Remember that less is more when prepping your home for photos. You want your home to look clean and spacious. Try to reduce the number of furnishings you have in your home since cluttered rooms tend to look smaller. For instance, you can show off a spacious bedroom by only leaving the bed, a dresser, and a nightstand or two in the room and highlighting a modern vanity by making the countertop gleam and putting away personal items. If your home is filled with a lot of furniture and decor, consider renting a storage space to store your extra items.
Think “model home” when preparing your home for photos. You don’t want it to look lived in; you want it to look like a place buyers could live in. Put away photos and anything else personal—just be careful not to fill up your closets as you want to keep those tidy for home showings. If there is a collection of souvenirs on your dresser, for instance, replace it with something universally appealing, such as a potted plant or an arrangement of flowers.
While some spaces might need decluttering to look their best, others may need additional items to be photo ready. For instance, if your living room is empty except for your sofa and coffee table, you might want to bring in some decor, such as a neat stack of hardcover books for the coffee table. You could also consider hanging peel-and-stick wallpaper behind the sofa to create an eye-catching feature wall.
Adding a fresh coat of paint is an easy way to make your home look fresher. When choosing paint for your walls, opt for neutral colors, such as whites, grays, and beiges, that coordinate with your floors and any furniture you’re keeping as you stage your home. Use bright colors minimally, using only one to two in a room to avoid making it look busy or chaotic. If a space has a large, vibrant piece of furniture, such as a big red sofa, make it the main splash of color and remove other brightly hued objects that could clash with it.
Vacuum or sweep your floors, and wipe off light fixtures and other surfaces. Also be sure to make windows and other reflective surfaces shine. And don’t forget to make your outdoor space look its best. Before outdoor photos are taken, consider power washing your home’s exterior, sweeping your patio, pulling any weeds, and trimming your bushes and trees.
Let in the light
Include as much natural light in your home as possible by opening blinds and curtains. It’s also a good idea to observe the spaces in your home to determine when they get the best light. Turn off lamps and light fixtures, but not if the lighting is a feature that could help sell your home, such as recessed ceiling lights. Sunrise and sunset are optimal times for exterior photos; however, midday will create more shadows.
Curate your shots
Eliminate anything that will mar your photos. For example, make sure the toilet seat is down in the bathroom and replace mismatched towels with neatly folded ones in a neutral color. In the living room, turn your television is off, hide extension cords and remotes, and limit the number of pillows and other decorative elements. Clear kitchen counters of extra appliances, and add a simple bowl of lemons or other fruit.
Rely on a professional
As tempting as it may be to take your own photos, you will get much better shots with a professional photographer, who will have the experience and equipment that will help make your home look its best. Ask your real estate agent about vetting this option, or hire a photographer yourself.
Another option is to have your home staged virtually by a design company or through a virtual-staging app. When Nathalie Armand-Bradley of Mod Punch Designs, an interior design firm in Macon, Georgia, virtually stages a home, she digitally removes or adds furniture and decor. “Virtually staging a space allows a buyer to get an idea of how the space could work,” she explains. If you virtually stage your photos, be sure to disclose in your MLS listing that they have been edited; you might also want to post the before shots with your after photos. And don’t mislead buyers by using virtual staging to change or fix the physical characteristics of your home.