How to Stage a Home for Stellar Real Estate Photos

Pro tips to help you stage your property listing for maximum appeal

If you’re a realtor or a photographer who has ever worked for a realtor, I’m sure you’ve encountered a situation like the one I recently experienced. I was on my way to shoot a home and it was the first of a few other appointments I had scheduled that day. I walked in the door and it was my worst case scenario - the house was not even close to being photograph ready. The living room wasn’t tidy, there was laundry piled in the bedrooms, and there were two little dogs running around my feet. Not only did it irritate me as the hired photographer (because it was going to take so long that the rest of my day was blown), it almost guaranteed that the homeowner would be dissatisfied with the photos. Honestly how could they be anything but dissatisfied with that kind of backdrop?

Lucky for you, this doesn’t have to be your day. And if you’re a homeowner, we’ve got a few simple tips to help you make sure that your home is ready for its close-up.

Less is more

You may feel the need to showcase your home’s space by filling as much of it as you can with furniture or design elements. Fight that urge. If you have an ample living space, allow it to remain ample and let your prospective buyers to fill the space with their own belongings. That’s hard to do when all they can see are your things. This is especially true for any rooms with countertops. Less is definitely more. In fact, bathroom counters should be nearly bare to achieve a desirable look.

Pack Away the Holidays

Your Christmas decorations may be fit for Martha Stewart, but they have no place in your real estate photos. It’s important that you make sure your jack o’ lanterns, Easter eggs, Menorahs, or 4th of July décor be safely stowed before the photographer arrives. Not only does seasonal décor distract from the every day aesthetic of your home, it can be and unintentional indicator of how long your property has been on the market. Sure, that information can be found anyway, but you don’t want to throw it in a buyer’s face before they even get the chance to look at your home in person.

Corral Your Pets

While you should definitely keep Fido and Fluffy out of the picture so to speak, it’s also important to make sure their kennels, bones and beds remain behind the scenes as well. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having your loving companions in your home, it can be a turn off for some buyers who may have concerns about pet damage. Even if your little darlings are perfectly house trained, some buyers may skip your listing entirely if they see doggy bowls and kitty litter in the photos.

Do Some Photo Editing

No, I don’t mean on the computer, I mean on your walls. It’s time to remove your family photos, religious items, or other personal family décor. This can sometimes be the hardest pill for sellers to swallow because part of what makes our homes special are the memories we make and display in them. But try to think of it from a buyer’s prospective for a moment. Each time a buyer walks through a home, they’re trying to imagine their own family there. It can be especially hard for them if your family is staring them in the face at every turn. It may seem unfair to you, but it’s really about providing the best possible canvas upon which buyers can paint their own vision.

Hire a Staging Team

While this certainly isn’t for everyone (and in some cases may not even be necessary), there are times when a staging crew can really give a home a boost. Some homes just need more work than others to get “photo ready”. Sometimes, families simply don’t have the time to make all of the necessary changes by themselves. Whatever the reason, having professionals come in to assist is always an option. We’re all familiar with the HGTV house flipping stagers that haul in thousands of dollars of furniture, but in real life, that’s not always how that works. Many staging companies will be happy to work with your existing décor if it’s in reasonably good shape. Simply research what’s available in your area or talk to your realtor for suggestions.

Do you have any staging suggestions or stories to add? Let us know about it in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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