When a home is properly staged, it should highlight the function and beauty of the property so that buyers can more easily imagine themselves living there. Staging is just as important for in-person home tours as it is for online property photos. More than 90% of home buyers search for homes online, and 85% of buyers say it’s the photos that are the most important factor in deciding which homes to view, according to research from the National Association of REALTORS®.
Here are some ways to prep a home for the photo shoot.
- Consider the background. Appropriately displayed art on walls or above a fireplace can add color to the background and enhance the property’s online photos. Also, be sure to tidy up those bookshelves! Overstuffed shelves with various books and decor can create a visual nightmare. Organize them by coordinating the books or magazines by colored sleeve or by height. To add visual interest, group nicely tiered stacks and display them upright with a few decor items between or on one end. But always remember: Less is best!
- Clean the light fixtures. Clean lamps, chandeliers, and light fixtures throughout the home. Change out lampshades that may be yellowing on the inside, and be sure to replace any burnt-out light bulbs as well. Lamps are an important source of light that helps to show off all the features of a room.
- Dust. Photographs can easily pick up tiny dust particles when light reflects from the camera flash. Make sure rooms are well-dusted and vacuumed after staging is completed and before photographing the property.
- Careful with the props. While the perfect accessory can enhance the feel of a room, props that are clichés—like wine bottles and glasses or candles around a bathtub—often distract home buyers and portray a photo that is "too staged.” The setting should be clean and simple and not overdone. Pretty white orchids, simple greenery, or even a fur throw are easy and inexpensive props and add just enough accent without overdoing it.
- Avoid common photo blunders. First impressions count the most when buyers are viewing hundreds of photos of homes online. Always make sure that the toilet seat lids are closed in your bathroom shots. Avoid taking photos with the TV running in the background, as it often distracts from real estate listing photographs overall. Move any vehicles in the front driveway out of the way prior to any photographs being taken. Carefully scrutinize each room to make sure it’s photo-ready.
- Brighten your listing photos. Watch the lighting in the room. When taking pictures, make sure the sun isn’t filtering in. It’s best to snap at dusk or on overcast days. This gives a living space more balanced light. Avoid the washed-out look that could come from too much sunlight or a camera flash. If rooms are dark and not well lit, then add a lamp or two. Use 60-watt "warm” or "bright white” light bulbs, which will brighten a room but still appear soft in photographs.
- Use wide angles fairly. Go easy on the wide-angle lens, especially when taking photos of smaller rooms. This will help avoid making a small room look like the size of a football field, causing distortion or unrealistic proportions. It could even possibly disappoint a buyer upon viewing the property in real life.
- Watch the composition. The best height to take photographs is often up for debate. In general, photographers will say it’s best to take photos from a chest height level or at a height that best suits the contents within that room. Essentially, the goal is to fill the photograph with just enough balance of floor and ceiling as well as with the contents of the room and to not have any dead space.