There’s a lot to do when you prepare a home for real estate photography or video. You want to make sure the home is looking its best so the media we capture can reflect the true beauty and potential of the home. We’ve assembled a guide to help you and your clients achieve maximum potential value from your listing, outlining common things to consider when you are getting things camera-ready. Refer to this guide if you ever want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases!
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Before we get into home preparation, there are a few common items we prefer to avoid whenever possible. Getting these out of the way helps us avoid potential catastrophe on site during the photo or video session.
Remember, We Are Not A Cleaning Crew
Unfortunately this happens more often than not, and usually it’s because the listing agent has failed to refer a home stager or provide a list of work items for the homeowner to accomplish before the photography/videography session.
Our team is not there to:
- Move or re-arrange furniture
- Make beds, clean, dust or de-clutter
- Pick up toys or yard items
- Touch personal bathroom supplies (shampoo, toothbrushes, deodorant, towels)
The best way to avoid these scenarios is to visually inspect the property BEFORE your photography or videography appointment.
Photoshop Is Not Included
Commonly people might ask us to “photoshop” away unsightly items like vehicles, oil stains, damaged walls, power lines etc. however this service is NOT included in our regular fees. We do not use Adobe Photoshop to edit our real estate images. Our editing software is designed to be quick and efficient and helps us manage the hundreds of images we need to deliver each day. As such bringing ANY individual image into Photoshop will incur an additional charge.
This is also not suggested practice according to RECO. Remember there are “rules” regarding advertising and marketing best practices in accordance with RECO. Misleading and/or false information is strictly prohibited (included modifying images). Failure to comply with the guidelines means registrants can be brought before a RECO disciplinary panel for breaking the Code of Ethics; they can be brought to court for breaching the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act 2002 (REBBA); or RECO can revoke or refuse to renew their registration. In other words, if those power lines are actually there, is it worth trying to have them removed to make an image “look better”?
In order to avoid any such issues we recommend that you always make sure any unsightly items are dealt with before the photographer’s arrival. The best policy to ensure a house looks its best is to assume that unwanted items will not be able to be edited out.
Timing Is Everything
Our regular pricing includes up to a maximum of one hour on site. This typically allows the team to accomplish everything they need to in 90% of all homes (providing the home is properly prepared as per the guidelines on this page). Unless it’s a $1,000,000 plus listing, our team has been trained to create quality media within these time lines.
If your listing is larger than 3000 sq/ft or worth more than $1,000,000 or you for some reason believe we will need longer on site, please book extra time using the booking form found on this website. Due to the busy nature of the industry we may not be able to accommodate additional time unless it was booked and scheduled prior to the session date.
This also means that punctuality is incredibly important. If for some reason something comes up and you are not able to make the appointment on time, please let us know as soon as possible!
Prepping The Home
Now that we’ve covered the “don’ts” lets start looking at the “do’s”. We want your listing to sell for as much as possible. Use the following tips to ensure your marketing material leaves a lasting impression!
Home Staging Is Where It's At
While the tips and advice below can definitely get your and your clients on the right track, please note that ultimately there is no substitute for professional home staging. There are a number of reasons that leading real estate agents use professional home staging as a key component of their home marketing program.
1) Home staging is proven to sell homes faster and at a premium price
Real estate agents who use professional staging are at a great advantage over those realtors that skip this vital presentation step. Staging a home to showcase its full potential, accentuate its strengths, minimize the impact of its weaknesses and optimize the space’s flow enables a broad range of potential buyers to connect with the property and more easily see themselves living in it.
2) Home staging helps your listing stand out from competitive listings
Staged houses and condos show to their full potential. When sellers combine home staging with professional photography and videography, the result is high impact listing presentation that can be used very effectively to showcase the property and draw more showings.
3) Home staging provides real estate agents with a more comprehensive and differentiated marketing program
Real estate agents face immense competition when trying to secure a new listing. Leading realtors continually optimize their marketing programs to increase its effectiveness, and ultimate success for their clients. Home staging is one element that more and more agents recognize helps them realize better return on investment for their marketing spend, because the home shows to its full potential, and as a result the marketing material that they prepare and utilize is all that more impactful.
The days of basic template feature sheets and agent-taken photos being used for the MLS listing are long gone, and replaced with professional home staging, professional photography, motion video, and a variety of on-line promotional methods, including a heavy emphasis on social media channels such as FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube.
Numerous realtors provide a staging consultation as part of their listing package.
4) Stagers are adept at helping sellers deal with sensitive issues that can be an obstacle to a successful sale
Generally speaking, realtors do not want to start off a relationship with a new client by reciting a laundry list of what needs to be done by the client to improve the home’s presentation and ready the property for the first open house.
Agents would prefer to help their clients by bringing in a professional stager to advise on what edits should be done to prepare the property, and when appropriate, stage the property, whether this be blending the clients existing furnishings with the stager’s inventory, or placing rental furnishings (as is typically the case for vacant properties).
Stagers are adept at very tactfully helping sellers understand what modifications need to be made, why they are required, and the benefits they will deliver. This helps both the seller and the agent achieve a win-win outcome.
5) Home stagers allows the agent to focus on selling the property
When agents can focus on developing and executing their property marketing plan and finding buyers for their listings, instead of worrying about the condition of the seller’s home, they can put all their efforts into doing the job they excel at, and deliver superior results for their client.
As a general rule of thumb, here are some common items to add to the pre-listing checklist:
Thoroughly clean whole house (vacuum carpet, mop hard floors, clean countertops, clean windows)
Turn all overhead lights and lamps ON
Replace all burned out light bulbs
Use bulbs of the same temperature (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent)
Turn all ceiling fans OFF
Turn all TVs OFF
Turn all computer screens OFF
Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light
Remove personal photographs (or replace with general landscape/object photographs)
Make all beds
Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
Place all shoes/jackets in closets
The exterior of the home is typically the first thing a potential buyer will see, whether online or in person. A good first impression is the key to creating interest.
- Online “curb appeal” – the front exterior is usually the first photo buyers see
- Close garage doors
- Remove cars from driveway and front of home
- Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
- Remove empty planters
- Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames
- Remove visible water hoses
- Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
- Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions
- Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded
- Clear out kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, etc.
- Clean pool
- Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose
- Hide pool cleaning supplies
- Turn on pool fountains/water features
- Remove visible water hoses
- Remove trash cans
- Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc.
- Leave out max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker)
- Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc.
- Wipe down all stainless steel appliances
- Clean the window/door of oven (Streaks are often visible!)
- Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
- Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher
- Remove dish towels
Living / Family Room
- Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
- De-clutter fireplace mantle/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)
- Clean interior of fireplace and re-paint if needed
- Fluff and arrange pillows on furniture
- Remove kids’ toys
- Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc.
- Clean splash marks and fingerprints off of all mirrors
- Put toilet seats down
- Close closet doors
- Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
- Remove dirty towels – leave out only new, unused towels
- Remove floor mats
- Make bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available
- Press bed linens and bed skirts
- Remove personalized names from walls
- Remove family photos from walls
- Remove wall stickers/posters
- Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
- Clear nightstands of all personal items
- Store away phone/tablet charging cables
- Remove all clutter from top of dressers
- Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet
- Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet
- Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair
- Put pets outside or in a crate
- Clear backyard of pet waste and pet toys