James Bruce Photography understands that getting a home ready to sell is…well difficult. No one looks forward to it, but sometimes you just have to get it done. Readying the home for the photo shoot might be the most important thing you will do in preparation to sell. The good news is that if you do this part well, you will be ready for your first showing and for moving day. Here are some tips to help you make the shoot day a good one.
If you have questions in advance of the shoot please contact us
1. Obviously, clean is super important. Cameras see what is there. If it’s not there the camera and your potential buyer won’t see it. We won’t usually see dust or baseboard dirt or carpet dirt in photos, but here are some areas that stick out.
Windows, light fixtures, and hardwood floors. Paying someone to clean windows just pays off big time, in fact clean windows can make it easier to photograph a home, and it can make a house much brighter inside. Hardwood floors show dust especially in areas where sun shines through onto the floor. One tip to help keep your hardwood looking great is to change your air filters so that they trap more dust. Clean light fixtures are important because they emit better light, again bright is good.
2. Less is more. Staging a home for sale is not a time for decoration, but as one of the best stagers I work with says, it is about de-decorating and de-personalizing.
Be careful to take as much off of counter-tops as possible. In the kitchen remove everything for the most part off of the counters. If you have a nice appliance or two, say a stainless coffee maker or toaster, you can leave those out, but in general this is a time to clear it off. Paper towel holders that sit on the counter, drain-boards, knife sets, soap dispensers, and most nick-knacks can be put away. The reason is that they are taking up valuable space that you want to show off. Remove cup towels from the front of cabinets, and ovens, and for the most part take pans off of the stove top (sometimes a nice teapot can be a nice touch). In the bathroom, everything should go out of sight. Take product out of the shower, tub, and off of the vanities, and put away tooth brushes. A flower or some candles around the tub can be great or between the sinks, but no need to overdo it.
Avoid placing anything on dining tables or coffee tables that would inhibit seeing through the room at a seated height. At least for us, we are placing our cameras at a height just above the dominant horizontal surfaces. Large flower arrangements are beautiful but they can block the shot. Putting out a great table-scape is great, but use a centerpiece that does not block the view through the dining room. This helps create a feeling of space, and opens up the view.
Take up bath mats and most area rugs. One realtor calls these “holes in the floor.” You are not selling the bath mat, you are selling the floor, so give the rugs a break for the day. If you are using area rugs to protect a floor, this is why, so that you can get value for it now, so show it off. Area rugs are often essential on hardwood floors, we understand that, but rugs that cover up carpet make people wonder, what are they hiding under there?
Take most personal photographs off of walls. Leaving a few items is fine, but you are not selling your family, you are selling the walls.
Take out one more piece of furniture. I have seldom seen a home that had too little furniture in it. If I could choose one item that should go, it is a large TV cabinet in a master bedroom. That TV cabinet is tough to shoot around, and no matter how large the master bedroom, it can make it look smaller. Imagine the space without the cabinet. If moving that cabinet or getting rid of it altogether makes the room seem a lot bigger, take it out. If you must have TV, this might be a good time for a wall hung flat screen that you take with you to the new house.
3. Painting is great but touch-up painting can be terrible. So you have some areas that need paint, but just some touch ups. Two tips, make sure that the new paint actually matches the old paint, and paint a larger area than you think you need. If the paint does not match exactly, the touch up will stick out in pictures like a sore thumb, and look worse than what was being covered up. The same is true with touching up a small area. I recently shot a house that had been touched up, with some kind of roller. The touch-ups were pretty small and in the photos they looked like acne. Having a home with pizza face is not the goal. To see if you can tell if your walls have pizza face, just shine a flashlight on them. If you have a problem you will see it.
4. Have your lawn mowed a couple of days before the shoot if possible. A freshly mowed lawn can show tire tracks and make some parts of the lawn look sparse. If it is allowable, water the morning of the shoot. If you are going to put compost on the yard try to do it a week or so ahead of time, and fresh mulch in flower beds is always a good idea.
5. Make sure that your lights are all working. Check every lamp and fixture especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Be careful to use bulbs that have a similar light color. Popular CFL bulbs put out all sorts of light colors This can look rather odd in photographs, especially the ones that glow a sort of blue color. I am working on a guide to light bulbs, but for now just try to get them to be all the same.
6. Hide all trash cans, inside and outside.
7. Remove animal feeding bowls and scratching posts.
8. Make an appointment with the pool guy if you have one. Have the pool serviced, lights checked and inspect the pool to verify that all parts are in working order. This is really important for night shoots where the pool lights are a major star.
9. Get rid of items that are in disrepair, like broken yard toys or grills that do not work.
11. Most importantly…TRUST YOUR STAGER AND AGENT. They are professionals who are working to help you earn more money on the sale of your home.