The most important part of home staging before you sell your home, is taking the photos and videos that potential buyers will be looking at. Today’s home buyers are more media-savvy than ever before.
They are searching houses all over the internet so if your home’s real estate photos aren’t catching their eye, they’re going to pass over your house like it never even existed. How many potential buyers are you willing to lose over a simple thing as photos?
To get your house ready for marketing, you have to put in a little bit of effort when it comes to the photos and videos you use for home staging. If you hire a real estate agent, they will arrange for a professional photographer to come in and take pictures before your home is listed.
That way you’ll have plenty of time to get your home in order and looking great—not only for the photos, but for all the showings you hope to get!
THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your house is thoroughly cleaned by vacuuming all carpet, mopping all the floors and cleaning all countertops, baseboards and windows. It is also important to make sure all your appliances and bathroom areas are clean as well. This gives the appearance that your home has been well maintained.
Clear off your dining room and kitchen tables and give them a good polish. Don’t add too many distracting place-settings or decorations. Keep it simple and make sure the chairs are all straight and spaced evenly around the table.
I’ve seen many houses and their pictures over the years—things like groceries on counters, unmade beds, garbage and other things that should not be in real estate photos or videos. Getting the best photos possible is an integral part of an effective marketing plan for selling homes. Your home needs to look as incredible as it actually is.
START CLEARING OUT THE CLUTTER
Not sure where to begin? Start by clearing off all surfaces: countertops, shelves, tables and other areas where things are collected.
The idea is to let the potential buyer see how much space there is for their belongings.
You may have an amazing collection of knick-knacks, but now is a great time to start packing those for your eventual move. Random papers, magazines, excessive picture frames on the mantle should all be packed away with only minimal decor left on display.
We do this to minimize the amount of distraction in the room so that buyers can focus more on the size of the space rather than the amount of all the stuff that may be crammed in there.
In the kitchen, it’s important to completely clear all countertops and remove all magnets, papers, photos or anything else you may have on the outside of your refrigerator.
Hide any garbage or recycle cans you may have out in your pantry or closet. Make sure your sink and dishwasher are clear of any dishes.
You should also remove the pile of random containers and packages on top of the refrigerator.
If possible, remove as many small appliances from the kitchen counters too. The idea is to show off how much counter space you’ve got.
There’s a bonus too. The more stuff you pack away now, the less you’ll have to pack later. Packing away unnecessary kitchen appliances and other things from your counters, will definitely make your home look amazing in pictures and ready to sell.
PUT AWAY PERSONAL BELONGINGS
Potential buyers are going to be looking through your home—both in website marketing pictures and in person! Consider what you would and wouldn’t want them to see.
Bathroom countertops need to be cleared of all personal items, especially medications, razors, toothbrushes and soaps. The less you have on your countertops, the larger they seem to buyers!
Put away multiple shampoo bottles and accessories in the shower and bathtub as well. These don’t need to be in the photos of your home.
Bathrooms are notorious spots for collecting personal things like medications, bottles and personal accessories that you may not want the general public to see.
This also includes hair styling tools like curling irons and hair dryers, and even filled-up waste baskets.
As convenient as it is to leave these out for the next time you use them, we want these tucked away for marketing photos & showings.
If your home office has confidential paperwork hung on bulletin boards or on your computer screen, it’s time to find another place to store these.
Desks should be free and clear of all clutter including mail, paperwork or anything you wouldn’t want strangers to read.
You don’t want your home office to look all used up but instead, you want it to look warm and inviting—a place for the work-at-home person to want to spend a lot of their time in.
NIGHT TABLES & DRESSERS
Your photos shouldn’t showcase all the lotions, perfumes and creams you have displayed on your nightstands or dressers. Clear off these surfaces so only the bare minimum is left: alarm clock, and a lamp.
If you’re uncomfortable with your display of family photos being shown in your home’s marketing, now is a great time to depersonalize these walls. We want buyers to envision their family in the home, so if you have a large amount of personal photos it’s a good time to start packing these up.
MAKE YOUR HOME LOOK LIKE A LUXURY HOTEL
When it comes to marketing your home for sale, think about the photos you’ve seen of luxury hotel rooms. The spaces are clear, tidy and completely open. If your home doesn’t look like that, what can you do to get it there?
In the bedrooms, all clothes, shoes, jackets and toys should be put away in the closets or dressers. Remove all personal items from the nightstands and dressers, including lotions, perfume bottles or other accessories.
Try making your bed with nice smooth sheets & comforters. Remember to pull up at the top, and down at the sides of the blankets to ensure everything is smoothed out.
Fluff up the pillows and display them evenly at the top of the bed. If you have a cozy throw pillow for the foot of your bed, lay it out neatly.
There should be no laundry scattered in the room, and closets should be very tidy to showcase all the available space. This would be a good time to start sorting out your clothes for donating.
If you’re hiding items under the bed, they may be visible in photos, so try to find another space for these. One of the best easiest things to do is to get a few moving boxes, place all the unnecessary items in there, and move the box to the basement.
In the living room remove any stacks of magazines, books, papers or mail that may be around. If you have a fireplace, de-clutter the mantle and make sure the area is free of your personal items.
Remove excessive throw blankets from the couch and give those cushions a good fluff.
It’s also a great time to pare down the pets’ and kids’ toys that may be left out. Nice baskets are a good storage solution for these items, and if they can be neatly stacked somewhere that is less distracting, that’s even better.
MAKE IT LIGHT AND BRIGHT!
On the day of we start taking the marketing photos and videos, turn on all your lights and lamps. If any bulbs have burned out, now is the time to replace them.
Open all blinds, curtains and any window treatments you may have to allow in tons of natural sunlight in. We want your home to look bright and cheerful, not dark and dreary.
The photographer will want the television and computer screens turned off for pictures too so they are not a major distraction.
THINK ABOUT THE EXTERIOR
Make sure your outdoor space is equally as attractive by cleaning up your landscaping and making sure your eavestroughs and doors are clean.
Store away any water hoses, toys and outdoor equipment like lawnmowers, rakes, buckets or pool cleaning supplies. Turn on any outdoor fountains or water features that add some sparkle to your yard.
Make sure garage doors are closed and cars are removed from the driveway and from the front of home.
WHAT ABOUT SELLING DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Whenever possible, try not to decorate your home for the holidays until marketing photos and videos are done. By having jack-o-lanterns on your front porch, or a Christmas tree in your living room you are essentially dating your house and indicating when it was listed for sale.
If the pictures indicate the date they were taken, buyers might wonder why your home has been sitting on the market for so long after the holidays and they may worry that something is wrong with it.
Once your marketing photos are done you can certainly set up your holiday displays but keep them minimal and tasteful. Remember the idea is to get buyers to feel a sense of what your home looks like year-round and to let them use their imagination.
If you’re the type of person that likes to leave their Holiday lights up all year long, it’s time to take them down. Dangling lights strung up outside in July actually is unnerving to some buyers—it indicates that you don’t do much home maintenance. So grab the ladder and pack those lights up for your next home.
REQUEST PHOTOS TO BE TAKEN IN ADVANCE
Some houses have really beautiful exterior features. Your home may have a pool or lavish gardens. Maybe there’s a stunning deck or patio space that families would love.
If you’re anticipating listing your home during the winter months, we would be happy to come out and take your marketing photos during the summer months when these features are really in bloom.
Speak to your real estate agent about planning for this, so it can be set up in advance.
GIVE IT ALL A GOOD CLEANING
The bottom line is that you should make sure your home is clean and tidy—not only for the marketing photos videos, but also for the buyers that will be booking showings to see your home in person.
Make sure the following is covered:
- Wipe down all surfaces and clean the mirrors so they’re streak free.
- Vacuum and mop the floors of every room.
- Take out any garbage or recycling in the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms.
- Put away any dishes in the sink, dishwasher or counters.
- Clean toilets, showers and tubs so they’re shiny and fresh.
Read one of our previous articles titled Staging Tips For Selling Your Home During Spring & Autumn for specific tips on staging your home during the Autumn and Spring months.
Following these tips will help buyers see all the beauty and amazing features your home has to offer. You want them to see your home, not your belongings. So go ahead and start packing. Following the advice laid out above will make your home’s first impression a lasting impression.