Pro Real Estate Photo Tips for Selling or Renting Your Home
A continued seller’s market is off and running and isn’t expected to wane anytime soon. The National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reported that home price growth is up 48% from 2011 to 2017 and is on track to increase at an additional 4% in 2018.
Selling and renting prospects are colliding with the summer PCS moving season to create prime opportunities for military homeowners to achieve financial or business goals. But, homeowners must take advantage of every opportunity to market their property properly. First things first: successful online advertising strategies require the best photographs your budget can afford!
To help homeowners achieve their best marketing campaign, real estate agent and professional RE photographer, Brad Davidson, offers fresh advice on how to truly capture the magic that is needed to sell or rent your home quickly and at asking price or better.
Beyond Clean, Clear Clutter, and Depersonalize
Take basic cleaning techniques to the next level. Once you’ve inspected and cleaned every inch of the house, don’t forget to take pictures of examples of the spruced up good stuff buyers are looking for: spacious and organized closets and pantries, ample playrooms or flex spaces, and custom cabinetry or bookshelves.
You already know to: schedule storage, neutralize paint colors, clean top to bottom, deodorize fabrics and rugs.
Now, go back and execute the finer details to make the photos and open house memorable.
If you didn’t the first time, return to each room with a new appreciation for clean at different heights. Shorter people miss areas like door moldings and the tops of refrigerators, while the tall folks don’t think to scrub baseboards and floor registers.
Reevaluate the presence of any plugs and extension cords. They are the sore thumbs of real estate photography. Long lengths of cord indicate the plugs aren’t in a convenient location, or worse, the outlets (and potentially the electrical system) is outdated and can’t handle an abundance of appliances working at the same time.
Granite counter tops probably grace your bathroom and/or kitchens. Bring the finishes sparkle back to life with a cleaning and finishing product. The shine portrayed the in picture is worth the work it will take to capture just the right angle to avoid a glare.
Here’s a pro tip from Brad to make the kitchen or bathroom photograph larger: Lower the tripod 6 inches to approximately 1 foot higher than the countertop and use that as your reference point. This direction makes the room feel larger.
Any storage capacity should be organized and thinned out, if not emptied, because it will be inspected. Human beings are naturally curious, especially those who are throwing down significant cash to buy your house. They’ll want to see every inch of the tucked away nooks and crannies.
Although you’ve taken down the majority of your personal pictures, are there items left behind in personal space that could be a turn off to potential buyers? It might be something as silly as a rival college team flag in your master closet or piles of military memorabilia in the garage. Stacks of anything indicates a lack of storage to home shoppers. Clearly, another reason for renting an outside storage unit.
A photo of a beloved pet who has passed on takes on another meaning when trying to sell or rent your home. Allergic buyers will doubt they can ever clean the house to meet their needs. Don’t let a personal memory for you turn away a pool of buyers.
Flex, hobby, bonus: these are all words that mean the same thing—extra space to create a personalized environment. Even though the room was perfect for your home office, let buyers envision other options. A home gym, a craft room, play space, or media room are all possibilities. Make your sure to capture the best photography angle to maximize the room’s open space. This is likely from the doorway or corner at about chest to eye level, with as much natural light pouring in as possible.
Grey paint is as popular as ever. You probably have a few shades of it in your home for sale. Concentrate on the best time of day to showcase the color at its best through the lens of the camera. Natural light plays with paint colors throughout the day. The same qualities for color change are true for a variety of other neutral colors recommended for advertising your home.
There’s no way around it. Home staging is going to sell your home faster and for more money. Time and time again, the numbers don’t lie. This year, the Home Staging Resource gathered stats from 4,200 staged homes. More than 85% sold for 6 to 25% more than their neighborhood competitors on the market who did not use staging techniques.
Depending on your local market and your abilities to capture the home’s potential in person and in pictures, you might not need professional staging. But, take a moment to consider the possibility for a maximized home sale.
You already know to: leave people out of the pictures, put the toilet seat down, draw a buyer’s eye to selling features.
Choose a few furniture items to put in storage. Buyers want to see the abundance of space. Not just in the living spaces but in the bedrooms and basement areas as well.
Focus your attention on kitchens and bathrooms. You’re striving to achieve the experience of fresh, clean, and bright. New linens and scrubbed shiny surfaces look great in person and in photos.
Consider the placement of your throw rugs. Are they there simply for comfort from the hard kitchen floor? If so, remove them to take pictures. The space appears larger. The same concept works for any room. Subtract the comfort factor and evaluate if the room looks better or bigger by removing rugs.
Tuck away the entertainment accessories and their mounds of cords. Remove remotes, gaming systems, multiple electronic boxes, anything that looks unsightly before taking pictures.
Extra Curb Appeal
Just like home staging, curb appeal is going to draw buyers to the house. It’s likely their first interest will be piqued by an amazing front view picture of the house, but their buying interest will be solidified by walking up to the door and being wowed immediately.
Professional real estate photography is really at its best when the photographer captures the intimate details of a home for sale. This is particularly true for exterior photos. Brad urges homeowners to consider the direction of the sun and where light hits the property throughout the day. The sun shadows or highlights different architectural features as the day moves along. Use this an opportunity to showcase the best features and downplay the less pleasing attributes.
You already know to: manicure the lawn and shrubs, update the entry way, power wash the house.
Think of your front entry and yard space as a store front window. Retailers spend tons of money hiring pros to showcase the exact items in a precise way to draw customers in. The same is true for your home’s curb appeal, but pristine photos are the best way to draw buyers in.
Coordinating accessories from chair pillows to outdoor rugs photograph so much better than a hodge podge of patterns and colors. This doesn’t mean each chair has to match exactly, but they do have to be related enough as to not distract the eye either by viewing online or in person.
A little color interest can be added by layering a small door mat on top of larger one, producing a picture frame effect. Don’t use your family’s last name or initials on the mat though. Depersonalize those photos!
Take the curb appeal up a notch by using coordinating mulch to the colors of the existing porch items. When in doubt, black mulch usually pops against most exterior colors of houses.
Fix any broken windows or screens immediately in view.
Find storage space for unsightly yard items, such as pool and lawn equipment, trash, and recycling cans. Remember, your carefully cropped pictures are selling a dream, not advertising the upkeep and maintenance the house requires.
Take Your Best Photos
Advice for taking home selling photos is prolific and easy to find online. Everyone has a few basic tricks up their sleeves to share. But, what you need are next level details for your pictures to entice renters and buyers.
You already know to: let natural light in, use high resolution, take advantage of your smart phone’s editing feature.
You can never go wrong updating or adding more lighting to a room. Renters especially get used to or accept living with the dim lighting they have in place, but the buyers and renters you want will demand more. Plus, the better lighting available, the higher quality pictures you’ll get.
Brad is adamant about the importance of accurate lighting and how it affects home photography.
“Lighting is by far the most substantial component to photography in general, and in real estate, it is no different. Times of day will vary, weather will vary, and the home itself will vary so much so that the same settings, at the same time of day, in the same weather conditions will still result in drastically different photos.”
Browse online and make note of other’s photography mistakes. Make a list of things that you can correct or implement better. Sometimes it’s easier to see the errors rather than read about them.
Make effort to capture in your advertising photos the features that make your house stand out. Soaking tubs, fireplaces, and high-end hardwood flooring all need to be showcased.
No pet areas in photos. No bowls, beds, or funny toys. Flaunt your yard’s desirability without featuring dog runs and kennels. It’s tempting to go Norman Rockwell and plop your pooch in the front yard for a charming picture, but don’t do this. Animals don’t translate well in home selling advertising.
The small details matter for perfect pictures. Before you point and shoot the camera, take a hard look. Are the pillows and curtains straight? Are picture frames askew? Online viewers will pick apart every tiny detail.
If you are leaving it up to your real estate agent to either take your pictures or hire their go-to real estate photography company, dive in and investigate their previous ads. It’s important their vision matches yours. While you are interviewing potential real estate agents to represent you, ask about how they conduct the photography aspect of your home selling/renting marketing. While you’re at it, also ask about their thoughts on home staging. The two go hand in hand.
More Tips from Brad Davidson for Better Pictures
As a professional RE photographer, Brad recommends any pictures be taken with a DSLR camera. Mobile devices have come far in their technology and convenience, but for high stakes real estate transactions professional equipment is always best.
To translate the openness of a room through pictures, chose from two locations to present the best perspective. A corner shot allows for versatility, as each house is laid out differently and not necessarily symmetrical. Taking pictures from the middle of the wall offers the most amount of space to enter the frame. You’ll have to be the judge as to which way sends the best message to buyers.
Horizontal alignment should be gospel by now, but home photos in advertising too often still include vertical alignment. This does not represent the room in a sellable fashion.
Take your pictures as someone who is viewing the room straight ahead. Never try to gain height by lifting the camera and pointing downward. This does not translate into a wider, more open area. Potential buyers and renters want to view the space as they are standing in it.
MilitaryByOwner Home Selling and Renting Resources
Advertising your home for sale or rent abides by the old adage, do it right the first time. Time and money are wasted if multiple rounds of cleaning, updating, and photography sessions are required. Although flexibility to meet your customer’s needs is necessary, a solid foundation of advertising anchors your efforts.
If you're just beginning to explore the necessary steps for selling or renting your home or want more in depth advice, MilitaryByOwner has much to offer. Ebooks, blogs, and resource articles are available to capture the best techniques for advertising your home successfully.