Getting the best real estate photography

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In a competitive real estate market it’s imperative that the photos your realtor uses to market your home are the best quality. These days, home buyers quickly scan through hundreds of listings online. If the pictures don’t catch their eye in the first few seconds, they’ll quickly move on. Stunning pictures help you get on the home buyer’s “short list” of homes to tour. Here are some quick steps to make sure your home photos look their very best.

Insist on a professional. In wide measure realtors are not photographers and don’t have the equipment or the expertise to do your home photos justice. They should hire a professional to get the best interior and exterior photos of your home. Before hiring a realtor, check out their other listings online to see how they look. Are they appealing? Do they make you want to see more of the home?

Check the lighting. Get the windows washed inside and out, pull back the blinds, and make sure each room has plenty of lighting. Dimly lit rooms are tough to photograph and tend to look depressing in photos.

Get an honest opinion. Ask your realtor and a trusted friend or family member for their honest advice on things you should do to make your home show its best. One of the most important things they’ll advise is to eliminate as much clutter as possible. We all naturally collect clutter such as excess mail, magazines, laundry, kid’s toys, and the like around our home.

My general rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t see those items in a Pottery Barn catalog, you shouldn’t see them in real estate photos. It may sound silly but decluttering helps to create a clean palette to help buyers envision themselves living there.

Be open to staging. Many realtors hire professional home stagers to not only help choose the right decor but ensure that the furniture placement is ideal for photos. For example, some family rooms may look quite nice with large pieces of furniture but that same furniture may make the room look too crowded in photos. Also, the best stagers have a knack for creating inviting “vignettes” that make photos particularly enticing. Note: If the home is vacant it’s especially helpful to have it staged, since rooms look much more inviting if they’re nicely furnished.

Take some test shots. One of the best ways to tell if your home is ready for photos is to take a few test pictures yourself. It’s so easy to overlook things we see every day but once they’re captured in a photo it helps us see anything we’ve overlooked.

Do some last-minute prep work. Here’s a quick checklist to make each room look its best for the photo shoot:

* Cut the lawn and trim shrubs.

* Stow away trash barrels, political/yard signs, etc.

* Move cars out of the driveway.

* Clear off kitchen counter of everything except one decorative item, such as fresh flowers or a pretty bowl of fruit.

* Clear bathroom counters and tubs of personal items. It’s nice to leave a decorative item or two such as candles and towels next to the Jacuzzi tub.

* Hide away pet’s dishes, dog crates, litter boxes, etc.

* Sweep deck/patio and stow away any items that aren’t in season (i.e., covered grills, etc.)

Taking these quick steps will help make your home show at its very best.

Do you have a real estate question? Contact our real estate writer Leslie Mann at 508-904-4967, or She’d be glad to answer your confidential questions.

Mann is a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Weston, MA.

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