But, before that day arrives, where do you start in order to get your home looking its absolute best and ready for its close-up? We asked an expert in Danelle Wiseman from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Caloundra, to give us her professional tips on getting the most out of your marketing photos.
Q: Why are good photos so important?
Danelle: Most of the time, they are people’s first impression of the property. It’s also important to consider when people are looking at the photos. Everyone is busy, so buyers usually only have time to research out of business hours, or while they are on the fly (maybe on the train to work or while the baby is taking a nap). It’s also not always convenient to call the agent, and most people prefer not to call until they’re sure they want to view a home. We like to be as helpful as possible so as not to frustrate buyers with a lack of information, so giving people quality, detailed photos is an important first step.
Q: What should people expect to see in the photos?
It’s good to work towards 15 to 20 photos of your property that cover inside and out, and maybe some local points of interest.
Buyers like to be able to see living spaces and outdoor areas from at least two different perspectives so they can imagine the flow of a home and how it connects to other areas. I also believe you should provide a clear floor plan online that can be viewed together with the suite of photos taken.
A good kitchen photo is essential to show both the function (so a good straight-on shot) and the relationship with the living space. Bathroom shots are tricky with so many reflective surfaces – this is where having a professional take your photos is a must.
If your home has a good view, you need to take a photo that includes a reference point. For example, we sell a lot of property with an ocean view, so we try and ensure a handrail, or balcony roof, is also captured in the corner so buyers can see where the photo has been taken and not just a 'zoomed-in' photo that isn’t a true depiction of the actual view.
Q: What styling aesthetic should I be going for?
You should stay true to the style of your home or area so there is no disconnect. If there are any local display homes, visit them before purchasing any items so you can see how they have been styled. These developers already have invested heavily in stylists and, especially if you are on a tight budget, you can get some amazing ideas without spending a cent. Take photos of rooms or outdoor spaces that might be similar to your own. Always include some greenery by way of plants (live or not) or flowers to add some life. Currently, white rooms are very popular, but don’t photograph well without some contrast, and plants work really well here.
Q: What are the ‘dos’ when it comes to getting my home ready for its photoshoot?
Do declutter! Put as much away as you can to leave benchtops clear, including any personal items and photos. Put everything in the bathroom away, even the shampoo in the shower.
Do make sure your home is clean. Remove all rubbish, clean your windows and glass and make sure it is free of streaks.
Do put the dog’s bed away. We love our pets, but their beds, toys and food bowls should be removed for photos and open homes. Put away the pool cover and cleaning equipment, the barbecue cover and clothes pegs off the line.
Do check all your lights are working and turn them all on.
Do take the time to review each room before the photographer and agent show up, because little things such as a tea towel left on the oven door can appear huge in photos. They should help you if you miss something, but the more you can do to prepare will help ensure you end up with the best photos possible.
Q: And the ‘don’ts’?
Don’t leave any collections on display. They rarely photograph well and detract from your home. You have to start packing sometime. I always suggest packing these valued items away now to ensure they are safe.
Don’t repaint with strong colour palettes – any decisions such as this need to be very commercial and done with broad appeal. In fact, if you already have some strong colours in the house, it may be better to look at repainting a neutral colour now so as not to polarise your buyers. Unfortunately, some people cannot get past the colour.
Don’t leave any mats on the floors - they can make your rooms appear smaller.
Don’t leave any bins in sight – inside or out.
Q: Is there value in hiring a professional stylist? What about hiring furniture?
Absolutely! As part of our service, we provide a stylist for an initial consultation to any seller who would like it. They are invaluable and, in many cases, I believe they have added tens of thousands of dollars to the eventual sale price.
There are many around who offer different levels of service. Depending on your budget, hiring furniture can be an option. A partial hire of, say, the living room, dining room, outdoor area and to dress a bedroom would generally start at about $3000 for a four- to six-week hire.
A room with no furniture will feel smaller than one with furniture as there is no reference for space. Furnishing properly - not over furnishing - helps your buyer engage more with the home and, when your agent finds the emotional buyer, you will get a better result in your sale price.
Q: Will I get to choose the images for my marketing?
Not always. This will depend on the agent and photographer. Some photographers have systems where you can choose from the many images taken on the day. We generally work with the photographer and advise on the shots we want to have taken, but we also defer to their expertise, as sometimes, the view through the lens is different to how we see things.
It is important to ensure you are using a photographer who specialises in real estate photography. As the owner, I would be making sure you do get to approve the photos before they are loaded onto the online portals and to also proofread any ads you are paying for, to ensure they are accurate and not misleading.
Q: Is there a timeline or order of jobs I need to do in the lead up?
The recent lack of rain makes it very important to try and water lawns at least a month out from photos, but check first to see if there are water restrictions in your area. The final preparation and most of the cleaning should be done as close as possible to the time of getting the photos taken, so things such as the windows don’t get dirty and you have to start again.
Often, photos are the last thing that happens before you are ready to show the home. It is more important to make sure you have planned any maintenance that may not show up in the photos but will certainly be obvious when the buyers come through for a physical inspection. So, your timelines for these tasks may be dependent on trades.