While your home might speak for itself in person, knowing these professional real estate photography tips can help put your house in its best light. William Ganz, a Maryland-based broker and real estate agent, says, “The key thing to remember is the fact that an overwhelmingly high percentage of buyers start their home search online and are looking for homes that get their attention immediately.” According to the 2019 Profile of Home Staging, over 60 percent of real estate agents recommended professional photography when preparing to list a house for sale. Even if you decide to skip out on a photographer, taking high-quality photos is essential. One study found that homes that included professional real estate photos sold an average of 32% faster. In this article, we’ll review how to put your best foot forward when it comes to taking real estate photos and how to avoid common photography mistakes.
First Impressions Matter: Stage Your Home To Attract Buyers
One way to help make your pictures stand out is by staging your home. Staging can be a significant investment, with an average cost of $400, according to the National Association for Realtors. But it has been proven to have an equally significant return. In a survey conducted by NAR, 83% of buyer’s agents said that staging made it considerably easier for buyers to imagine the property as a potential home. “Even if you don’t have a budget to have your home staged, it is still worth at least paying $100-$200 for a home staging consultation to give you direction on what to remove, rearrange or add to your home,” according to Ganz. Staging your home before you take photos will make it appear bigger, brighter, and more appealing to buyers searching for homes online.
Photography Do’s And Don’ts
Once you’re sure your home is in tip-top shape, you can start prepping to take photos. But before you start cultivating your Instagram feed, make sure to review these approved tips by these real estate experts.
Don’t Take Photos In Poor Lighting
The tricky thing about shooting the inside of a home is competing with very bright light coming in through the windows while the interior is dark. Our eyes have no problem adjusting to this situation, but a camera can’t keep up. Dark photos limit a buyer’s ability to see the most attractive features of a home. Poor lighting can mean all the difference when making your house a top choice or a buyer moving on to a brighter, more alluring competitor on the market. According to Adam Olsen, a Southeast Texas-based broker, “One of the most important aspects to a home [is] light.” Olsen continues by saying that it’s best to avoid rainy or overcast weather, which can significantly affect the quality of the lighting during a photography session.
Do Make Use Of Natural Lighting
Sunshine can be a powerful tool that can highlight and sell the best features within a home. “Make sure it is a bright sunny day,” Olsen says. “Natural light is utterly important in setting the mood within a house.”
Let The Sunshine In
Open your blinds and curtains to let natural light inside. Don’t be afraid of using interior lights as a secondary source to brighten up dark areas.
Though it may seem weird to use a flash during the day, using flash will help the room appear brighter when the light is streaming in through the windows.
Timing Is Everything
Some of the best times to take photos, including the early morning hours, is about 30 minutes after sunrise, or about an hour before sunset.
Don’t Leave Out Your Dirty Laundry
Laundry, toys, and shoe piles all contribute to a cluttered, messy photo. Instead of seeing your spacious dining room, buyers might be distracted by the stacks of mail and magazines on the table, and all the coats hung up on the backs of the chairs. According to Melissa Kol, a Southeast Florida-based REALTOR®, things like cleaning supplies and even seasonal decor should be removed before taking any photos. “You need to clean up the space,” Kol says. She points out another commonly cluttered space: the fridge. “Don’t forget to remove magnets or photos on the refrigerator.” Kol advocates that sellers present a home in a way that people from all different walks of life will find appealing, and that often means removing personalized decorations from a space.
Do Declutter And Stage Your Home
Decluttering a home was recommended by 95% of agents when it comes to preparing it for sale, according to the NAR, followed closely by an entire home cleaning listed at 85%. Olsen says, “When taking photos, it’s important to declutter, put away large family portraits … and clean off surface tops to show space and size. This allows the buyer to look at the home with no distractions.” Once you’ve completed decluttering, you can create an appealing space for interested buyers by staging your home.
Stage Large Living Spaces
Make the most out of your staging by decorating key living spaces. The NAR indicated that selling agents found a predominant staging focus on areas such as the living room at 93%, the kitchen at 84%, the master bedroom at 78% and the dining room at 72%.
Get Family’s Opinions
Maybe you don’t always agree with Mom’s decorating choices, but having a fresh perspective from a family member can provide you with valuable feedback. In fact, 25% of participants in NAR’s survey indicated that buyers often brought family members who were not involved in the buying process to view a home.
Don’t Take A Selfie
Your listing isn’t the best place for a bathroom selfie. Dave Henderson, a Southeast Michigan-based REALTOR®, states, “Having your image in a mirror makes people focus on the mistakes rather than the room they are trying to get a feel for.” Try to avoid catching your reflection when you’re photographing any room with reflective surfaces. Paying close attention to details is an essential aspect of marketing your home.
Do Use Angles
If you’re in a room with a mirror, play around with angles. Find a spot to stand that’ll keep you out of the frame. Benjamin Ross, a Southwest Texas-based investor, landlord, REALTOR® and photographer, says, “Use a camera wall mount for interior images, especially in smaller homes. Your body takes up space. By using a suction-cup mount, you can capture more area for the image.” If you’d rather skip the wall mount, try to capture a more extensive view of the area by backing into a corner and photographing on your knees.
Don’t Take Blurry Photos
When snapping photos, it’s important to focus, focus, focus. Although your latest Instagram post may have gotten a plethora of likes, using your phone to take photos for your listing is an absolute don’t. If you have a tough time keeping your hands steady, use a tripod. A blurry photo might make buyers wonder about your professionalism, so it’s essential to make sure all your shots are sharp. Blurry, dark, and unfocused images could detract from a home’s charm. Manhattan-based broker and real estate agent Michael Shapot says, “A good agent, or a savvy seller, must be certain that the photos capture the essential and most saleable features of a home.”
Do Use A Quality Camera
Clear shots are worth their weight in gold. According to a study, listings shot with a DSLR camera sell for more money than those shot with a lower-quality camera, so believe us when we say, skip the smartphone pics. One professional real estate photography tip is to use a DSLR camera to add the feeling of depth to final photos, making small spaces look bigger. Olsen recommends using a camera with a special wide-angle lens. “When taking photos of a home it’s important to use a professional wide-angle lens camera to ensure the photo shows the majority of the room and space the home has to offer.” If you don’t have a quality camera, try borrowing one from a friend or renting one.
Don’t Let Pets Photobomb
We all know how adorable Jimmy Jr., Fido, and Miss Kitty are, but that doesn’t mean they should appear in your home’s listing. Potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves in a home easily, and if they see your kids or pets, that’s not going to help. Let your home be the star of the shoot! Kol indicated that photographing pets can seem endearing to you, but could lead to some unintended consequences. Photos with pets can cause people with allergies to think twice about placing an offer on a home. “You don’t want to create any doubt in a person’s mind,” Kol says.
Do Photograph With Intention
Felicia Mares, a California-based REALTOR®, shares that creating a logical flow of photography can help buyers envision themselves living in a home. “Organize the photos in order of a natural walkthrough, starting with the entrance and flowing throughout the house the same way a buyer would, likely ending in the backyard,” Mares says. Recently listed by REALTOR® Magazine as one of 2019’s 30 under 30, Mares has used drone footage, 3D walkthroughs, and professional photography to help maximize her client’s listings. She continues by saying it’s not always necessary to photograph nonessentials (such as close-ups of flowers) since they don’t add value. Instead, curate photos that provide additional relevance for interested buyers. Kol suggests taking extra photos of nearby amenities such as local restaurants, shopping spots, and parks.
Don’t Go Overboard With Photoshop
Pictures that are so obviously retouched can set a wrong impression, especially those that look unreal or odd. “Making a photo too light is a mistake,” according to Henderson. So, avoid adding extra Instagram filters or over-editing your photos before you list your home for sale. Real estate photography should enhance the marketability of a home for sale instead of being overshadowed by poor editing choices.
Do Make Simple Photo Adjustments
While it’s crucial not to overedit, a little retouching is OK. In fact, it’s a good idea to adjust white balance and contrast in your photos before posting them. Henderson advocates for making simple changes with editing software. “I typically use the photo editor on my laptop to do basic auto adjustments,” he says. “The iPhone also lets you [select] the darkest area of the screen, and it will auto adjust the lighting in the picture.” If you’re the creative type, you can work with apps like VSCO to make changes to white balance, brightness and contrast. But make sure you consult with a family member or professional real estate expert before you post to make sure the photos look professional.
Do Hire A Professional
The experts agree that when it comes to marketing, a professional real estate photographer can make all the difference. Shapot validates this sentiment by saying, “The most obvious way to avoid amateur mistakes when photographing a home is to not use amateur photos; hire a professional! A professional should ensure that the lighting is correct and everything is in focus, that the picture is balanced and has just the right amount of color to pop in all the right places … A professional photographer is worth every penny paid.”
Do Have A Home Listing Strategy
Once you’ve chosen the photos you want to feature, it’s essential to create a listing that’s as high quality as your photos. Make sure your listing is clear, descriptive and engaging. HGTV recommends using catchy descriptions with your photos to paint an appealing picture of each room. For example, if you have a well-maintained, spacious backyard, you may want to call it a “backyard paradise.” This way, buyers can picture themselves relaxing in your outdoor oasis.
Knowing how to take real estate photos is a necessity when selling a home on your own. Alex Kotovskov, a professional real estate photographer, explains, “Quality photos help people imagine their future life in a new place. This emotional trigger makes them send applications. What’s more, the majority of tenants scan photos first and read property descriptions only in case they find pictures good enough. In other words, adding quality photos is the best way to make listings stand out in the highly competitive market.”
Do Consult The Experts
No matter where you are on your home selling journey, consulting with experts can help prepare you to sell your home faster. For more information on how to sell your house, check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Sell a House For Sale By Owner. You’ll find out valuable information on pricing your home to sell, home showing tips and marketing tactics. Listing your home for sale and going back and forth on negotiations with buyers can be time-consuming and confusing. So, we’ve compiled a list of tools and resources, including expert real estate agents, professional photographers, and all of the necessary legal forms to get you through on top. You can find out more by browsing through our tools to sell your home.