The best shot: A photography lesson for home sellers
Most homebuyers start their search online, yet most listing photos are terrible. Here are some tips on how to best showcase your home.
Since I'm house-hunting, I've spent many hours over the past few months surfing through dozens of slide shows of home listings on real-estate Web sites.
Many of them are just awful. For instance, one listing showed a series of rooms with unmade beds and clothes scattered about, and dirty dishes piled in the sink — all bathed in bluish fluorescent light. Another displayed a façade that had been shot with a wide-angle lens so that the walls looked as if they bowed outward, as if the house were about to explode. Still another showed a close-up of two birds feeding each other on a deck railing — but didn't show the deck itself.
Since nine out of 10 home shoppers begin their search on the Web, according to the National Association of Realtors, I'm appalled that some sellers don't make much of an effort to make their houses presentable and visually appealing. After all, listing pictures are your main mode of advertising. If the pictures are poor quality, or don't show every room of your house, as well as front and back views both of and from the house, many buyers won't bother to visit.
Of course, in these tight times, many sellers don't want to spend more than $1,000 a day to hire a good architectural photographer (unless the house is worth millions). Instead, they rely on their agents to take the photos, which are usually taken hastily with a handheld digital camera. And since agents aren't required to take photography courses to get a real-estate license, it's not surprising that the results are often poorly framed and lit, grainy and washed-out.
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But you don't have to accept poorly done photography; if you're handy with a camera, you can take your own photos. I asked a number of architectural photographers to tell me what homeowners should and shouldn't do to get the most flattering pictures.
Surprisingly, some of their answers ran counter to what real-estate agents generally recommend. For instance, agents often suggest that you paint rooms a light, neutral color, but several of the photographers noted that darker shades make details such as molding stand out, and brighter colors make a room pop. (Perhaps the best compromise here is to paint rooms a medium, neutral hue and introduce spots of color in pillows, paintings and throws.)
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Similarly, agents usually suggest that owners depersonalize their homes by removing family photos, clearing off tables and countertops, and removing evidence of hobbies and trophies, so buyers can better visualize themselves in the space. But while clutter is never good, a few personal items in a room make a photo livelier, says Minneapolis photographer Jerry Swanson (and the items can always be put away before a showing). "You want the home to look as if someone lives there," he says.
One of the first questions and agent should ask a seller is "Why did YOU buy this home?", even before asking why you are selling it. Chances are, your buyer will want it for the same reasons you did.
We have bought and sold thirteen homes over a period of nearly thirty years and have sold every house to the first time lookers. Everything was freshly painted, and the closets were cleared of junk, but I think the selling point was the price, and how the house was decorated. I think a finely decorated house will sell without removing any family photos or accessories.
I can't help but shake my head in dis-belief when I hear comments like, "You need to de-personalize your home so someone can see themselves here..." or "I don't like this house, the owner has suck an ugly couch..." Good grief people!!! If all you can see is yourself moving into someones home exactly the way it is, with their furniture and their pictures on the wall, then you have a big problem. It's your mind/imagination that is at fault, not their bad decorating sense. I agree, if the toilet hasn't been flushed that is one thing, but if you can't imagine the fridge without their four year olds art-work on it... the buyer has the problem, not the seller
I sometimes take a stepladder into a home when appropriate. Shooting kitchens from a high angle sometimes gives a better perspective of the kitchen counter surface area.
Capturing "Architectural Elements" is important. Columns, beams, arches, nichos, fireplaces, high end appliances, etc. I've seen some agents take photos of bedrooms where once you mentally remove the furniture, you only have two walls coming together at the corner. Kind of pointless in my opinion.
Outside photos are best shot on cloudy days to give a contrast in the sky. "cottonball clouds" look best.
If you are shooting towards a window on a sunny day, it's a good idea to zoom in on something dark while holding the shutter button down to fake-out the light meter, then zooming back out and fully depressing the shutter button to take the picture.
Real Estate photos drive me crazy! I can't believe some of the pictures they post!!! I could care less about someone's furniture (I've seen it all from their bedroom set to their sofa to their toilet!). Seriously - clean you home, empty it of all the clutter, un-needed furniture, etc. You are trying to sell your home - and I don't care about your "stuff" - I want to SEE the home. I want a photo of the front and back of the house - photos of each room of the house and that's it. I want to picture my own stuff in the home to see if it will work for me.
I've passed on a lot of homes over the years simply because their homes were cluttered with so much junk - I wouldn't want to walk through it - yet alone buy the darn place.
Someone else said it - common sense!
All this information is about having common sense. Anyone with it trying to sell a house should know this. The problem is that no one in America uses common senses anymore. They have to hire someone to tell them what to do (a so called expert)
Get with the program and pull your heads out of the dark.........