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Pictures Can Make a Sale

August 2, 2011


From Eddie Kirby

With so many homes on the market all competing for a relatively small pool of buyers, how do you make your listing stand out? When buyers are making snap decisions about which homes to pursue based solely on internet listings, how can you be sure your properties are appealing enough to generate interest?

It may come down to the photos! Most home sellers don’t hire a professional photographer – they rely on their real estate agent, so here are key things you should know about how to take great photos:

  1. Quality vs. quantity: Some properties feature 20 photos, but not one of them is attractive.  Often, they’re dark, out of focus, or neglect to show key areas of interest to buyers. Error on the side of fewer photos done well vs. lots of photos that are shot poorly.
  2. Prioritize exterior shot: This photo is all about curb appeal. This is the main photo that appears in MLS and it’s what determines if a buyer looks deeper into the listing. To take the best possible exterior shot, take it from 10-20 feet above the street level and with the sun behind you, illuminating the front of the home. If it contains a porch or entryway that’s always in the shadows, consider shooting the photo on a hazy or cloudy day so the contrast is minimal.
  3. Seasons matter:  It’s August, but your listing still shows snow piled up on the roof? That’s a big no-no. It immediately lets the buyer know that the home has been listed for a long time, and plants the seed that something is wrong with it.  Consider taking new photos in the spring and fall, to keep it fresh and current and to show the landscaping at its best.
  4. Stage the rooms: You’ve been told to remove all clutter and personal items when showing a home. That’s true, but when photographing a room, a few personal items make the photo livelier and more interesting. Just remove them again when you hold your open houses or bring clients through the home.
  5. Angles and lighting:  You don’t have to be an architectural photographer to take decent photos if you do two main things.  Work with your lighting and use angles appropriately. Inside, turn on as many lights as possible when taking a photo, and fill in darker rooms with additional lights. Draw curtains or blinds, making sure they are level if sunlight causes problems with the photos. Shoot rooms from an angle to make them appear more spacious.
  6. Pets don’t sell homes: Your sellers may think their pets are cute, but buyers usually do not. Be sure dogs and cats, and their food dishes or litter boxes are hidden.

Sources: Wall Street Journal,

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