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How to Take Pictures of Your House to Sell

How to Take Pictures of Your House to Sell

Five years ago, 93% of home buyers used online resources to aid their home search. Of course, 93% of anything is impressive. Not quite a statistical certainty, but close enough that, seemingly overnight, online home listings transformed from dull and disorganized to considerably more polished bastions of helpful information.

Three years later, after the pandemic hit, online listing took on even greater importance. On-site open houses and physical home tours took a back seat to guided virtual walkthroughs and agent-client meetings over Zoom. At the end of 2022, the percentage of buyers using online tools to aid in a home search hovered at 97%.

For those taking notes, near certainty starts at 99.7%. In other words, if a would-be home buyer has begun a search for a new residence, there's little doubt they're utilizing online sources to find the perfect home.

The importance of visuals

When looking online for homes, the most critical source of information is a property's online listing. The best online listings include a wealth of essential data points—detailed descriptions, location maps, square footage, number of rooms, year built, lot size, and estimated taxes and fees. Not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. Despite the detailed information, the single most feature on any online listing is the pictures, videos, and virtual tours.

Dump all of that other information into the virtual recycle bin, and buyers would still find a listing helpful if only the pictures remained.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2023 Profile of Home Staging reinforces the importance of visuals. The report reflects buyers' agents stating that 77% of their clients considered property photos the most critical element for a listing, even outpacing videos and virtual tours.

It is not just any photos that buyers are looking for. They want detailed, high-quality pictures optimized for mobile viewing that accurately depict a home's rooms, layout and features. Considering the luxury you're trying to sell with a Centennial or Cherry Hills Village home, the goal is to ensure the photos do justice online to how the home shows in person.

Below we explore how to fulfill one of the most vital elements of your online listing and how to take pictures of your house to sell.

Hire a professional photographer

Tempting as it may be to photograph the home yourself, hiring a professional photographer is highly recommended. For a relatively nominal fee—anywhere from $250 to $500 based on the complexity of the shoot—you'll get high-resolution, market-ready pictures that you can use for online listings, social media, or digital marketing purposes.

In most cases, the photographer will also provide digital editing and touch-up services as part of their package.

To get the search started, consider initial recommendations from real estate agents. Their network of service providers should include at least a few reputable photographers specializing in real estate photos.

When considering candidates, look for top professionals with a lengthy portfolio and an even lengthier list of satisfied clients. Many photography businesses survive off referrals and repeat business. Those with an excellent reputation will have plenty of both.

Though not a prerequisite, seeking a professional well-versed in residential photography is advantageous. They'll better understand what needs capturing, making the shoot considerably less stressful. Also, while it may seem obvious to have a photography business, verify your photographer uses professional-grade camera equipment.

Prep your house for its photoshoot

Not unlike prepping your home prior to listing, the same principles apply here. You want to ensure the property reflects a warm, welcoming aesthetic, inside and out. Photos present the opportunity to make every room a showcase space, which is achievable with the following tips:

Thoroughly clean your home

More than a cursory cleaning, your home requires a deep cleansing of every floor, countertop, wall, window, ceiling, light fixture, appliance, and piece of furniture set to show up in your photo set. You're never sure what minor blemish could reflect in the camera's lens, so it's better to clean too much versus too little.

Declutter and depersonalize

Homes with oversized furniture, crowded counters, packed shelves, loose, visible electrical cords and overstuffed closets are claustrophobic in person but appear unlivable when captured in photos.

Even the nicest properties cannot overcome rooms and storage bloated with stuff. Purge what you can and nearly store everything else out of sight. If you have pets, remove any traces that currently occupy the home.

Similarly, depersonalize the home by removing pictures, excessive accessories or wall art, and places where daily life has overtaken photo-worthy areas (i.e., a stainless steel refrigerator overrun with magnets and school art projects). Your home should appear as a blank canvas when on film, allowing a buyer to envision themselves filling the void.

Stage throughout the home

Not to be confused with a professional stager transforming several rooms before your listing goes live, photo staging occupies a smaller but equally important space in the sales process. Pay attention to small details in each room for your property photos and address what you can.

For example, make beds and clear off nightstands. Pack up spare blankets and pillows. Replace burnt-out light bulbs. Tidy up office areas or playrooms. Leave only the most essential or decorative items for display, and keep them to a minimum (i.e., mantel displays and kitchen coffee makers).

Promote natural light wherever you can

Finally, you want your home filled with natural light when taking photos. The easiest way to achieve this is to remove your home's light deterrents—exterior window screens and interior blinds and rearrange any furniture blocking windows and incoming light. If you have heavy window treatments, replace those with lighter sheer materials to allow light to pass through.

Photographing your home

Buyers searching for homes online have come to expect a specific set of photos that provide a clear picture of the aesthetics of a home. They don't require dramatic shots or want to see close-ups of a $10,000 leather recliner. They want to know the size and depth of rooms, how furniture fits within each space, and critical details that set a home apart or add to its allure.

Overall, you need about 25 photos of the home for any online listing. Stick close to that number unless your property includes unique features that warrant extra shots. Even then, keep those additional photos to a minimum. Don't shortchange that number, as too few images will see buyers pass over your listing in favor of those with more detail. Too many pictures, and it's assumed the home is overpriced.

Photos you must have

Whoever is photographing your home should take as many shots as possible. While you only need to post 25, you'll want plenty to choose from. And again, unless you're utilizing a few hyper-specific shots for additional marketing purposes, any photos beyond those showing the home's most important rooms and features are overkill.

Must have photos include:

  • Kitchen
  • Living room
  • Primary bedroom and bathroom
  • Secondary bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Rooms with specific purposes, such as the dining room, family room, home office, home theater, or recreation room
  • Front Exterior
  • Back exterior
  • Basement, if it's finished; if unfinished, only include pictures that reflect its potential to convert into livable space

Photos worth including

Shots of the surrounding community, its amenities, or nearby attractions are vital to selling the lifestyle surrounding your home. You'll want to keep these photos to a minimum, but they should count against your 25 property pictures.

Below are additional shots you should include in your online listing:

  • Outdoor living spaces, such as a patio with a built-in kitchen
  • Outdoor amenities including pool or hot tub
  • Close-ups of a home's unique architectural features
  • Close-ups of high-end features such as oversized soaking tubs or steam or full body showers in bathrooms or professional-grade appliances in the kitchen
  • Upgraded or add-on features such as solar panels, full-size workshop, garage with finish outs such epoxy flooring and built-in storage
  • Any spectacular views the home might possess

Photos to avoid

Much of what to avoid when photographing your home constitutes common sense—exposed damage, reflections in a mirror, pets roaming freely, distorted angles, and rooms that haven't been cleaned or organized.

Pay attention to small details that can detract from a photo or even a complete picture set. A list of common mistakes to avoid includes:

  • Extreme close-ups of furniture or anything else unrelated to your listing
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Spinning ceiling fans
  • Televisions that are on (one exception is a dedicated home theater with a built-in screen and static movie studio logo to showcase the screen's size)
  • Exposed damage
  • Reflections in mirrors
  • Pets roaming freely
  • Distorted angles, fish-eye shots, or stretched images that misrepresent depth
  • Unsightly rooms that haven't been cleaned or organized
And finally, unless you or your photographer are experts at filtering and editing, and are using the correct models, avoid using a cell phone to take your listing photos. Although smartphone cameras offer some incredible technology, only specific models (in the hands of a genuine expert) can produce the high-resolution shots necessary to showcase your home properly.

Smartphone photography is ideal for "quick hit" marketing through social media. You can utilize these more candid shots of the home to quickly stir interest in a new listing or upcoming open house or tout a sought-after feature.

If you're looking for additional marketing tips or a realtor to help you sell a home in Centennial, Cherry Hills or surrounding communities, contact Realtor® Lisa Snyder today and allow her passion and expertise to help you navigate Denver's luxury real estate market.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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