home estate agents

GUIDE TO PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR SALE

When putting your property on the market, you want to give yourself the best chance of selling quickly and/or for the highest price possible. This guide is designed help you get your home ready for your professional photo shoot and for property viewings so that your home gives off a good impression and you maximise your chance of getting viewings and offers.

Why property photographer matters.

When marketing your home for sale, the main goal of property photography is to grab the attention of as many potential buyers as possible and encourage them to contact your agent for a viewing.

Most buyers these days look for houses by searching online (and often on their phone). As they browse the listings, you must catch their attention instantly with a strong “hero image” (usually the front exterior). Once they click on your listing, we want to wow them quickly with the most important photos and get them to call your agent and book a viewing. We want to show just enough to get them interested, but not so much that they see everything.

What will get people to view my home?

People buy on emotion first, and then look to justify their decision with logic later. Therefore, successful property photography should address both factors. We don’t want to simply to show practical things like space, natural light, facilities and location, but also (and more importantly) make your home look desirable, cosy, stylish etc. We want people to get a good feeling about the place and understand what it might feel like to live there. Therefore, it’s good to show the setting, the uniqueness of the property, architectural details, what it’s like to sit out in the garden drinking a glass of wine and reading a good book etc. The aim is to sell a desirable lifestyle (engaging them emotionally).

Getting ready

Family home or show home?

Many homeowners feel strongly that their home is a “family home” and they don’t want it to look like a show home. While we don’t want it to look sterile and devoid of personality, remember that once you put your home on the market, it really IS a show home and will need to be presented well so it stands out and attracts the biggest pool of buyers possible. Also bear in mind who your target market is and what they are looking for in a new home that they could see themselves living in.

What gets photographed?

I usually take shots of:

  • Front & back externals of the property and the back garden
  • Main reception rooms
  • Kitchen, main bathroom/s, larger en-suites
  • Master bedroom and a few additional bedrooms. (I usually don’t do all the bedrooms for larger houses)
  • Studies, playrooms and workshops (only if large and tidy)

I don’t take photos of:

  • Inside of garages, sheds and greenhouses
  • Small toilets, utility rooms or studies (especially if cluttered)
  • Lofts (unless converted), cupboards or unattractive storage spaces/rooms
  • I only do hallways and landings if they are quite large and have good natural light

Photos are usually taken from doorways looking towards windows and the main features of a room (e.g. fireplaces, beds, stoves, baths etc.). Most rooms only require one photo, however in larger rooms I may do 2 or 3 from different angles. Usually the area around the door or walls with no windows aren’t in shot.

Where should I put my stuff?

Most people will need to do some level of de-cluttering. Here are some do’s and don’ts for where to put unwanted personal belongings:

Do:

  • Designate a room that won’t look good in photos (e.g. small bedroom, utility room or study)
  • Use hallways/landings unless they are large and might be a selling feature
  • If you have a lot of things, consider a short-term rental of a small storage facility

Don’t:

  • Cover over cluttered areas with sheets, towels or duvets (this rarely looks convincing and viewers may wonder what’s hiding underneath)
  • Stuff things under beds (unless you can push them right to the back or cover with a valance)

Hide things on chairs under tables or on top of cabinets/wardrobes (the camera will generally see all these locations)

 

6 Top tips

Here are some top tips for presenting your home for sale and for a photo shoot.

Curb appeal and first impressions

First impressions are everything, so make the front of your home look ship shape. Tidy the garden, put away clutter and maybe give the front door a lick of paint if it’s looking tired.

Give each room a purpose

Each room should have a defined purpose. Try to make it obvious what each room is for. E.g. bedrooms should have beds in, dining rooms should have a dining table and chairs etc.

Declutter the space

Home buyers can find it hard to “see” what they’re buying if a home is full of belongings, furniture and knickknacks. So, clear away the general clutter, keep some nice objects and ornaments out to help make a home look cosy and “lived in”.

Depersonalise the space

To help homebuyers imagine themselves living in your home, remove or reduce the number of family photos, signs with names on, mementos and trophies to help the buyer.

Neutralise the colours

The human eye gets distracted by bright colours, so remove any bright objects that you don’t want people to focus on. Also, neutral colours are more universally acceptable, so if you have any strongly coloured rooms, it may help to tone them down a bit with a coat of neutral coloured paint, throws, rugs or curtains so that you don’t put people off who can’t see past the colour scheme.

Add styling elements

To create that “lifestyle” feel, it can be helpful to “dress” the house a little bit with some basic styling elements. Look at interior design magazines and new development show homes for inspiration.

For example, you could add:

  • Vases of fresh flowers
  • Bowls of fresh fruit
  • Nice throws on sofas
  • Fancy soaps (Molton Brown, Aesop are good)
  • Candles in the bathroom
  • A bottle of wine and glasses in the kitchen
  • Put out fresh bread, cakes, cookies etc.

Checklist – Before photo shoot day

Here is a checklist of things to do in the week leading up to your photo shoot. I recommend doing as much as you can in advance so that on the day itself, you only need to do a few last-minute things.

Inside – All rooms

  • Sort/file or throw away piles of papers, magazines, boxes and general clutter
  • Clear away family photos on windowsills, mantelpieces and any other surfaces (you may want to leave out a few small B&W or neutrally coloured ones to fill gaps)
  • Remove/hide anything showing the date or people’s names (especially kids)
  • Vacuum/sweep the floors, dust/wipe/clean surfaces and clean windows inside and out
  • Replace any broken light bulbs

 

Inside – Bedrooms

  • Clean and iron bed sheets and pillows

 

Inside – Bathrooms

  • Do a deep clean of all surfaces and clean mirrors and shower screens/curtains
  • Tidy away bottles, hair products etc (especially brightly coloured ones) and kids bath toys
  • Keep or buy nice branded accessories like nice soaps, reed diffusers and perfume bottles

 

Inside – Living/family rooms

  • Find one attractive item to put on the coffee table (large shallow bowl, vase of flowers etc.)
  • Add a small number of lifestyle magazines or coffee table books
  • Ensure there are enough (but not too many) cushions on sofas and chairs
  • Add one or two nice throws to sofas if needed
  • If you have a working fireplace or a wood burning stove, fill it with nice logs and have some old newspaper and a lighter ready so it can be lit for a detail photo.

 

Inside – Dining rooms

  • Make sure you have all your dining room chairs around the table
  • Find one nice item to put on the dining table (large bowl, vase of flowers, candelabra etc.)

 

Inside – Kitchens

  • Remove magnets, stickers and anything else stuck to fridges
  • Clear away ugly appliances but leave out attractive ones
  • Leave out attractive accessories like coffee/tea/sugar pots, salt/pepper grinders, knife blocks, nice chopping boards, butter dishes, utensil pots etc.

 

Outside – Front & Back

  • Get any maintenance done before the day of the shoot
  • If you have a swimming pool, make sure it’s clean
  • If paving is dirty, give it a jet wash or hose down
  • Cut the grass and tidy up flower beds
  • Take piles of rubbish to the dump or hide them away into a shed or garage
  • Do a general clear up of toys, balls, bikes, gardening equipment/supplies/debris, watering cans, hoses and anything brightly coloured that might distract
  • Put out some potted plants or hanging baskets to add a bit of colour
  • Find garden cushions, hammocks etc. and give them a clean if dirty

 

Checklist – Last minute items

Here is a checklist of last-minute things to do on the day of your photo shoot or possibly the day before if it’s a morning appointment time.

Inside – All rooms

  • Clear away any last-minute piles of clutter, laundry, dishes etc.
  • Clear away pet equipment and children’s toys (except in playrooms and kid’s bedrooms)
  • Hide away or tidy phone chargers and collections of cables or ugly tech bits and bobs

 

Inside – Bedrooms

  • Ensure beds are made and pillows/cushions are presented nicely
  • Ensure make up/hair tables are tidy (put away hair dryers etc.)
  • Tidy up toys in kids’ bedrooms

 

Inside – Bathrooms

  • Remove all toothbrushes, shavers and personal care items
  • Remove bins, toilet brushes, weighing scales, potties and other kiddy items, spare toilet rolls and free-standing toilet roll holders
  • Put a full toilet roll into fixed holders if visible to the camera
  • Towels can be left in if they are nice fluffy ones that match the decor

 

Inside – Living/family rooms

  • Hide remote controls, magazines and large piles of DVDs
  • Plump up/straighten cushions

 

Inside – Dining rooms or breakfast rooms/areas in kitchens

  • Clear dining/breakfast table of personal items
  • Remove or add a tablecloth (depending on the state of the table)
  • Consider laying the table (try not to make it too busy though)

 

Inside – Kitchens

  • Put away food/drink packets and bottles and any ugly plastics
  • Clean and put away dishes
  • Clear surfaces of washing up equipment/dish racks, kitchen roll etc.
  • Consider buying fresh fruit to put in a nice bowl and/or fresh flowers

 

Outside – Front & Back

  • Do a last-minute tidy up of any bright coloured objects, toys or gardening equipment
  • Take covers off BBQs, patio heaters, tables/chairs
  • Put away clothes lines (if removable)
  • Put out garden table and chairs (and dry off if wet)
  • Put out cushions, hammocks etc. (if you have them and it’s dry/bright out)
  • Put up parasol if you have one (or at least have it ready)
  • If there is a pool, please remove the cover and pump/heater if possible
  • Hide wheelie bins away (or we can move them onto the street for the front shot)
  • Move cars off the driveway (if applicable) or put cones or your vehicle in front of your house to stop other people parking there