Tips on How to Prepare Your House For Sale and Real Estate Photography
                                           by   Alan Goddard from omniimaging.com.au

Once the decision to sell has been made its time to “let go” and “move on” and be totally committed
to getting a fast sale .Its extremely important to sell very soon after listing or the property will get
“stale on the market”.
Potential buyers will become suspicious and stay away. Worse still they will
make ridiculously low offers well below the asking price because it’s not selling. The first listed date
 is always visible and often the first thing buyers look at.

To achieve a fast and higher priced sale you have to be prepared prior to listing and you have to
make sacrifices to your lifestyle by moving/storing a lot of much loved items. I know you love your
Che Guevara poster above your bed head and your travel souvenirs from Bali, but its time to pack
them away now so they won’t slow down your sale. You can always get them out again in a few
months in your new home. Look on it as getting an early start on the packing.

                        “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.

·       DECLUTTER

Remove everything you have accumulated over the years that is not absolutely necessary
to day to day living. I suggest you rent a small storage unit off site to put all the boxes in
after you have filled them up. Usually costs around $150 per month. Tea chest size boxes
 are easier to move than really big ones and cost around $4.00 each and are available from
storage unit providers (e.g. Storage King). It’s not enough to simply store them in a
cupboard as a potential buyer will open every door and think there is not enough room
 to store all his items then. Remember commitment now will achieve a higher selling
price and a faster sale.

 

*Incredibly all the photos I have used to demonstrate how not to do it are actually
taken from current listings on a popular real estate web site .  

 

         
 

 

The above photo could have been improved dramatically by removing the clutter.
Imagine how much bigger and cleaner it would look if the butter, breadboard
green lamp, tea towel, fridge magnets, kitchen scales, cutting boards ,knife set,
oven mitts plants , cookie jars etc were removed. Less is more in this case.
 

   

 

                      No clutter, bright and simple accessories.

 

 

·       DEPERSONALIZE
Take down and pack away all family photos, ornaments, posters, souvenirs, sporting
awards .No pet bowls, kitty litter or anything to do with pets. The goal here is to allow
the viewers to imagine their personalities in the home not yours. It needs to be free
from the owners “stuff”. Try and aim for the 4/5 star hotel clean open look.
 

                

 

The above photo shocked me when I saw it. I wondered if a rental tenant was attempting to
slow down or prevent the sale by failing to cooperate. If so get rid of them before listing or you
will lose serious money like this. On the other hand if this is just a lack of preparation in an
attempt to “wing it” you have to ask yourself if you are committed to selling at all.

 

·       ACCESSORIZE

Spending a few hundred dollars now sprucing up your home will get you thousands of
dollars more on the final selling price and expedite the sale to avoid the stale situation
 I mentioned earlier. Buy a few new doona covers, accent cushions for lounges, bed side
 lamps and fruit bowls Framed prints or paintings can be purchased from bargain shops
 or second hand stores but must look new and fresh.
 

    
 

    
 

·       ROOM by ROOM CHECK

           

 

         Go thru each room and remove anything unnecessary or old and tatty.    Clean
all glass till it sparkles especially in bathrooms and toilets. Again the look to aspire
to is the 4 or 5 star hotel or fastidious owner type. The potential owner will feel
more comfortable buying from such a person than otherwise. Often you need to enlist
a set of “fresh eyes” as you may be looking without seeing the necessary changes.

The above photo has too much clutter! Everything must be questioned and freshened
up or removed. Also LIGHT Levels need to be increased. Often changing bulbs to a
higher wattage will do the trick. Open blinds to get light in too to give the room
the light and airy look. Perhaps buy a bright new rug to brighten up the look of the room.
 

       

 

Again depersonalize, declutter and accessorize with a few new items like a bright new doona
cover, matching lamps and a framed print over the bed .Remove the chest of draws side
table books etc .Straight into storage for the few weeks it takes to sell.

         

                             

Now this photo is in need of serious TLC. Bathrooms are usually small but the same
basic rules apply. Declutter and depersonalise and brighten. Here I would remove
the hanging plants, the sheer curtains, the washers, toothbrushes, shampoos and
change the shower curtain to a brighter colour new one and use a wide angle lens.

 

·       USE WIDE ANGLE PHOTOS

This is a contentious issue at present, because they “make the place look bigger than
it really is”. But the truth is the industry standard is to do this and everybody knows
anyway. To not use a wide lens as shown in the above photos just disadvantages your
property compared to all the others on the
web. It makes your property look smaller and
many potential buyers will choose not to visit because of this. The idea is to get as many
buyers to visit from the web listing as possible so they will “fall in love with it “when they
get there. Most compact digital cameras have a 35mm lens (35mm film equivalent) on them
at widest setting nowhere near wide enough. The better compact digital cameras have a
28mm or 25mm (35mm film equivalent) on them, again although a little better still not wide
enough. It really requires a Single Lens Reflex camera (SLR) with a super wide angle lens
16mm-18mm
(35mm film equivalent) to be wide enough to compete with other listings and
show each room in one photo. This is especially important in bathrooms and bedrooms where
you have to show the room without the ability to look around as if you were actually there.

 

       
 

As these lenses are expensive ($1400 min) on top of a SLR its better to employ
a professional photographer for ($200 odd). In addition to having the super wide
angle lens and knowing how to use it properly he will simply do a better job with
angles, depth of field, colour correction, resizing for web and
post production tweaks
to give it a clean look. Most people wouldn’t dream of doing their own wedding photos
on a $20,000 event but want to have a go on a $500,000 + property sale.
 

The photo above just isn’t wide enough to tell the story of the room. The other
improvements necessary should be obvious to you by now.

·       HEATING

If it’s cold inside during the” open house inspection” it will deter the potential buyer.
So leave the heating on all morning before the inspection and don’t worry about the
bill just this once. Same goes for a little background music running to give it the home
not just a house feel.

·       ODOURS

Although they don’t show in the photos they can deter the buyers you have tried so
hard to come thru your property with the correct preparation and great photos .
Use plenty of room fresheners on day open and again enlist the help of fresh noses.
Open windows if it’s not cold to let fresh air in.

·       OUTSIDE

Clean up outside to portray the well cared for look .Mow lawns do the edges to give it
the picture frame look. Remove all rubbish and hide the hoses.

·       REPAINT

If you can do it yourself it can make a big difference to the look and feel of a
property for very little investment. Change your bright coloured feature walls in
your bedroom and quirky lounge and kitchen colours to fresh clean neutral paint
colours. Don’t go stark white but keep it light and neutral so it looks bigger and
people can imagine their furniture matching in without colour clashes.

·       EMPTY HOUSES
In a word forget it don’t even try it. As tempted as you may be to just get on
with the listing without worrying about the hassle of getting some furniture rethink it.
Photos of empty lounge rooms, dining rooms , kitchens and bedrooms look too bare
and uninviting to tempt visitors .You have to think of all the other listings on the
web with beautiful furniture that allow the potential buyer to imagine themselves in
a lovely warm home. Compare that to cold empty uninviting rooms that require
a stretch of the imagination to envisage what life would be like with some furniture.

My advice is to furnish at the very least the lounge room, dining room, kitchen and
master bedroom .The best way is to hire some really nice furniture from furniture retailers
for the 2 months or so it takes to sell. Alternately buy a package deal from a discount store
or borrow some furniture from friends. You can even employ property stylists to come
and lay it out as well as rent you the necessary high end furniture and accessorize it
for you. That really does look sensational. Either way it will cost you more than just
leaving it empty but you will certainly achieve a much higher selling price and achieve
 a much faster sale and ultimately be better off.
 

               

            The best I could do without any furniture. Too bare to be inviting.

      

                 With some simple rented furniture, so much better.

Presentation is everything. A little serious effort in this regard will yield tens of
thousands of dollars more on your final selling price .I hope this article helps
motivate you into preparing your home for real estate photography.