You know that in real estate, including pictures in your home for sale is an absolute must. And in the COVID-19 era, home sellers and buyers alike are rightly limiting their contact with other people and locations. This makes these pictures even more important, as many buyers are being more selective with pictures over in-person tours. It also means that sellers are limiting exposure by taking those pictures themselves.
But as with many other facets of real estate, the professionals exist for a reason! There is skill and nuance to real estate photography that can set your home above the rest. The fact of the matter is, there is no substitute for professional photographers. And I always use experts when selling your home to make sure staging, lighting, and composition are a step above the rest in your listing! Getting those gorgeous views through your windows, making sure your lake view is featured, and staging your home in a way that’s extra appealing to prospective buyers is a skill that takes training and practice, and can be difficult to perfect for amateurs.
But don’t worry, if it’s time for your photos and you’re still not ready to bring a pro into your house, I’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you make the most of the situation and help your home sale attract serious buyers and move quickly!
Clean Your Clutter
Remember that you want prospective buyers to be able to imagine your house as their own. Your personal clutter, whether that’s mail, laundry, shoe racks, or dishes should be tucked away out of sight. Make sure drawers and cabinets are closed firmly and nightstands and end tables are cleared. In your kitchen, hide small appliances like your microwave and toaster. Spice jars, cooking oils, dish towels, etc. should all be put into cabinets or drawers unless they’re decorative.
Take coats off of coat racks, get your keys off the coffee table, hide pet beds and dog crates. Look for the little things and make your home neutral, but stylized.
Vacuum, sweep, and mop. Then dust and wipe down every surface. That extra shine will call attention to eyes that have been browsing home pictures all day long.
Stage and Stylize
Your home should look as close to a model home as possible – stylized, but impersonal; clean, but not sterile. You want each room to tell a story, but one that allows buyers to see that story as their own.
Use color and lighting to set the mood. Show off the bright, natural light pouring in from the windows in your living room. Deep tones and subtle lamplight give a studious mood to office and other work spaces. Soft lighting and decorative pillows make your bedroom seem cozy and comfortable.
Forbes says the two rooms that can make or break your home sale are the kitchen and master bathroom. So be sure to make these areas beautiful and extravagant. Use towels with colors that compliment your decor without pulling focus. A vase of flowers is a lovely contrast to chrome or brass finishings.
A DSLR camera with a wide angle lens is highly recommended. Rent, borrow, or purchase one of these if you’re able. The lens is more important than the camera itself, so focus your splurging accordingly. Make sure you have a tripod to keep your shot level and steady. When looking for a lens, the lower the milimeters, the wider the angle. So look for something in the 10-20mm range. Wide angle lenses will capture the whole room in one shot, and also enhance space within the photos to make your rooms feel more open.
There are some great wide angle lens accessories for phones, too! So if a DSLR isn’t an option and you trust your phone camera, you could look for these. Though a tripod is still essential.
Try to keep your ISO settings at 400 or below. This keeps your image sharp and clean. The Aperture is how wide your lens is open, allowing more or less light in to strike the camera’s sensor. Try to keep this between F8 and F11. For shutter speed, which is how long your camera spends taking the picture, aim for 1/60 of a second or faster. Shutter speed is probably the first setting your should adjust to allow for more light if you need it, but keep in mind that the slower the speed, the more likely that parts of your picture may be blurry. Look closely at every shot!
Light It Up
Natural light is your best friend! Bright, shiny days are ideal for indoor shots. Use your windows and let the light in. Ideally, you want the sun coming in from the windows behind the camera, so line up your shots and plan the time of day you take those shots accordingly. Make sure all your colors pop and the details are clear without your windows being totally blown out (bright white).
Try to avoid needing artificial light to light a room. But in home theaters or other naturally dark rooms, just make sure that all your lightbulbs are the same color.
Outdoor shots are great at dusk, or what’s known as “the magic hour”, but daytime shots can be perfect for showing off your pool and patio. Avoid cloudy, overcast days, as they can mute colors and give bad lighting.
Take The Shot
Set up in room corners whenever possible. This will show off the length of your room from corner to corner and give a sense of depth as well. Watch out for reflections in mirrors, glass cabinets and table tops, or other shiny surfaces. You should be an invisible observer.
Pay attention to the lines in your picture. Interior columns, cabinet doors, and room corners should be perfectly vertical. You can use these lines to contrast with hardwood flooring, furniture, and decor to create bold geometric patterns that make your shots seem artistic and professional. Many of these lines were considered when your home was built or designed, so use this pleasing geometry to your advantage.
When you’ve considered all of this, take a few pictures and move on! There’s a lot to think about, and plenty that needs your attention, but it’s easy to get sucked into perfection and waste half your day in the corner of one room. The longer you look at it, the more you’ll second guess yourself, so keep an eye out for crossing that line between perfection and obsession!
Of course I’m always happy to discuss these techniques further with you, and the many other important aspects of getting your home ready to sell. And if this seems overwhelming, we can discuss safe ways for you to bring a professional photographer into your home to take pictures while minimizing your risk of exposure. You can check out my blog with 11 Steps For Selling Your Lake Home here for more tips! Now is a great time to begin your home selling process, so call me today and let’s discuss the next steps!