6 Ways to Get Your Listing Ready for Photos

By Julie Legge, professional real estate photographer

DSC_3893_ePicture this: You’ve worked with your new seller for days to get her home ready for sale. She’s repainted, cleaned the carpets, and even worked with your favorite stager to rearrange and add some furniture. It’s nearly ready to hit the market, but first you need to take pictures.

Here are six tips to get your listing ready for its close-up.

1. Motivate the seller to be ready for the photography session. Explain why the house should look it’s best for its close-up: listing photos are often a buyer’s first experience with listings. Today, over 92 percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for homes, and 50 percent used a mobile device to search for homes. Buyers rank home photos as the No. 1 valuable web site feature — even more valuable than the home description, according to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS®’ 2014 Home Buyers and Sellers Profile. Other research indicates that great looking photos translate to more showings, fewer days on the market, and even a higher sales price.

2. Give the seller a “to do” list. Preparing a home for photos is not something your seller does every day, and a simple task list can help her feel prepared and make the photo session go more smoothly. Items on the list should include tasks for the inside as well as the outside of the home (see tips #3 and 4). Ask your professional photographer for a checklist to help sellers get ready for photos, or you can develop your own. Bonus: your seller can use the list to get the home ready for showings.

3. Remind the seller to prepare the inside of the home. Be sure to remind the seller about the basics, such as putting toilet seats down, throwing used towels in a hamper, making the beds, and hiding personal toiletries such as toothbrushes, prescription medications, and shampoo bottles. Coordinate the photo session to occur shortly after any housecleaners have cleaned the home.

DSC_5063_e4. Remind the seller to prepare the outside of the home. Sellers should park cars in the garage or on the street away from the front of the home, pick up any yard toys and games, dispense of dead plants, sweep walkways and hide trash cans. If possible, schedule the pictures a day or two after the lawn is mowed and the bushes trimmed.

5. Communicate the home’s best features to the photographer. What are the qualities of the home that will attract buyers – a large yard, upgraded kitchen with under cabinet lighting, or vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom? Talking to your photographer in advance of the photo session can help her deliver photos that will show off these desirable features.

6. Partner with a professional photographer. Find a professional photographer that understands your business and what you want in your listing photos. Give the photographer time to get to know you as a client. The longer a photographer works with you, the more she will become familiar with your photography needs, becoming a key part of your marketing team.

Some listings may require more work getting them “photo ready” than others, but the effort put forth can help drive prospective buyers to your listing, resulting in a successful sale – and a happy client.

How do you get your listing ready for photos? 

phpH8TcVJAMABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Legge is a professional real estate photographer in Charlotte, N.C. She’s photographed 1,000 homes for real estate brokers, builders, home stagers, and interior designers, and she coaches beginning photographers. Visit her web site: www.charlotterealestatephotos.com.


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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. Great tips! I would add that calling a professional home stager should be an integral part of the marketing process for listing a home. A real estate photographer should not be expected to stage or offer advice while on site to photograph the home. A tips sheet is great but a seller needs to be motivated and feel empowered to do the work necessary to get their home market and photo ready. It often takes a lot more time than they think. I could have the best camera ever & even with an instructions sheet unless I took the time or training necessary I still likely wouldn’t take great photos. The right professional should be hired for the right job. I have an amazing relationship with the real estate photographer I always recommend to my clients and together we are making our client’s listings stand apart from the competition.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’m in Property Managment but do want our photos to be great. In the past, I have not given the property owner a list of items that would make the photos look better.

    Authority Property Management

  3. OH soooo important tips, Julie! As a professional home stager and design consultant, I partner with local Realtors to assist homeowners in getting the house “photo ready” for market.

  4. It’s really important to keep it simple. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on features potential buyers may shy away from. You also have to remember that not all investments will pay off when it comes to selling your home. While you may LOVE your $10,000 custom range, a potential buyer may not see the excitement. One thing we recommend is changing out old cabinets. They are an eyesore, even (especially) when paint and countertops are beautiful and new. If the cabinets themselves are functional, but have a shabby appearance, consider having them refaced or refinished.

  5. I would also take advantage of the new panoramic apps availabe for wider views on the home exterior and livingroom, kitchen, and family room. . I have been real estate for 48 years. Staging was always something I encourage home sellers to do!
    I found many of the tips you offered as new to me.