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Common Listing Photo Mistakes that can prevent your home from selling

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Common Listing Photo Mistakes

Paul Kaplan

I'm Paul Kaplan and I formed the Paul Kaplan Group to offer specialized services to those clients that are interested in buying or selling an architec...

I'm Paul Kaplan and I formed the Paul Kaplan Group to offer specialized services to those clients that are interested in buying or selling an architec...

Feb 23 11 minutes read

HPreparing your home to be put on the market takes a lot of work. From pre-listing inspections to staging, to appraising it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the whole process. But if there’s one thing that you shouldn’t underestimate it’s the power of a strong online listing presence. Having an unappealing online presence can not only cause your home to sit on the market for longer but it can even cause your home to sell for less. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the photos you use to show your home in its best light are doing just that. So we’ve reached out to the experts in real estate photography from Miami to Portland to help you position your home to sell as quickly as possible by highlighting some of the most common listing photo mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Think composition

Professional photography is absolutely essential when marketing any property for sale. Through light, color and composition, well-crafted photographs tell a story and evoke emotion - both critical in breaking through the clutter, creating a great first impression and grabbing a potential buyer’s initial interest. In combination with the key “money” shot, small focused vignettes, such as a favorite reading nook or relaxing outdoor area - further create an emotional connection. - Deasy Penner Podley RE 

When photographing the space think about the height of the items in the room when composing your shot.  Typically people photograph at eye level, but usually, the camera should be much lower to optimize the scene.  For kitchens, you want to have the camera just high enough to show the top of the counters, and in the bedroom and living room, the camera should be placed at a height where you are showcasing the space and not the ceiling or the floor. - Jayme Burrows Photography 


Remember, less is more

With real estate photography, it’s important to remember that the point is to showcase the home in the best light possible to drive maximum interest and traffic.  When it comes to choosing photos, less is more.  Far too often we see listings with 35 to 40 photos and many of them are redundant or showcase features that may not showcase the home in the best light.  We found that 15-25 photos (depending on the size of the home) is more than enough to be selective and showcase the best features of the home without being draining on the buyer. - Jose Rosales, Listing Spark

Showcase natural light

When highlighting your home, think about the natural light it provides. Many younger first-time homebuyers are drawn to beautifully 'natural light' spaces rather than high contrast, oversaturated, HDR photos. The best time to take natural lit photos is when there are not 'hot spots' coming in through the windows, or strong shadows from outside such as tree branches.  Also, it can go a long way to not only show large spaces, but also some closeup details of the really unique parts of your home, such as vintage hardware, or a fun tile design. - Rachel Konsella Photography


Know when to bring out the tripod

While it helps to have a tripod for home shoots, I recommend you always start by photographing the space without one. Tripods are great for photographing with slow shutters, height consistency, and artificial lighting, but they also tend to limit creativity in composition. Try beginning your photo session by walking around with your eye against the viewfinder, moving from corner to corner, and getting high and low. Embrace your inner yogi ninja!  After taking enough test shots and identifying what angles are most flattering, set up the tripod, and click away. - Catie Bergman Photography

Use wide-angle lenses

I'll often see listings have photos from their camera phone, which often have 24mm focal lengths (full-frame equivalent), this can make rooms look a little smaller. I personally use the Panasonic-Leica 8-18mm (16-36mm full-frame equivalent), starting wide and adjusting as necessary. - Jay Soriano Photography

Bright doesn’t always mean sunny

Make sure the room is nice and bright, but avoid direct sunlight by either taking pictures during times when the sun is not in the window or by closing the blinds. This is even more important when doing HDR photography. - GasparianFoto

Don’t shoot in suboptimal weather conditions

A listing mistake I often see in our resort market in Palm Springs, are photos taken on overcast days.  We are known for sunshine.  Buyers browsing the internet for homes from out of the area that are dealing with cold, snow and rain, want to see the sun to help to entice them to buy a home in the desert. Paul Kaplan Group

Clean, declutter, organize

One of the most common mistakes that I see, and the most visually prominent in every photo, is not enough effort being put into decluttering.  The home being photographed is being modeled to all potential buyers and therefore needs to look like a model home, meaning the less personalized objects in view, the better.  Hide things in closets, unfinished basements and garages, those are areas not normally photographed.  When you are done preparing for the photo shoot, if you feel uncomfortable in your own home and can't find your shoes, you did the perfect job. - Bayer Creative Imaging

I would say one of the most common listing photo mistakes is junk everywhere. Clean the place up first. No dishes in the sink, groceries on the kitchen counters, unmade beds, clothing all over the furniture, trash cans overflowing. Put the toilet seats down, straighten the towels. Buyers want to see themselves living in the house and they want to see that the sellers of the home take pride in it. 

They also want to actually see the floors and countertops. I also think it's important to open the drapes and/or blinds and balance the light. Blown-out windows are no help. Buyers want to see what the view through the windows looks like. - Hayesville Home Sales

Scope the competition

My best tip for homeowners looking to list their properties is to stalk your neighbors! What that means isn't to literally follow their neighbors physically, but to look at online listings around their region and take note of how people in their area are listing their properties. Better yet, finding out which vendors (photographers, videographers, interior decorators, stylists, etc) their neighbors are using to create welcoming and flattering images of their homes. Having good photos of your home is a pivotal part of listing a home, but making sure that it matches the area is just as important! - Winston Zhou Photo

Make the feed work for you

Real estate photography is how you attract your buyers:  Today’s house buying starts in a 100% digital environment: the Redfin feed. Once filters for price, location and #of rooms are in, what’s going to make the buyer tap on your home? 

Make the feed work for you: start with your Hero shot. A Hero shot is a photo that shows what is unique about your property. A lot of times the order or the photos are similar to a virtual tour and the buyer may not scroll through 36 photos. Start with what’s best about your house and this way you’ll attract exactly your buyers and increase the chances of scheduling viewings and ultimately sell fast and for the price you want. - Dallas Property Photos

Consult with the pros

Two of the most common listing photos mistakes made by Seller and their brokers is to choose not to use professional photography and staging. It is critical to place your home in the best possible light. Staging can take a home from appearing tired or dreary to a modern-day delight which in this current market may equate to multiple offers that are well over list price. For each and every listing, Metropolitan Park provides professional photography and staging for both vacant and occupied homes. It is just one of the reasons they have been awarded by Seattle Magazine: Best in Client Satisfaction for 13 years. - Metropolitan Park LLC

Hire a professional with the right equipment; please do not take the photos yourself, and for the love of God, do NOT use your phone. If you "can't'' hire a professional and you have a nice DSLR (with a wide-angle 10-20mm lens) and are adept at using it, here are my top 3 hints: shoot in horizontal always and make sure to include the at least 3 walls and some of the floor and ceiling in each capture, bracket each shot (and HDR stitch them all together in photo editing software), and make sure there is plenty of light (if there isn't enough natural light, use an external Speedlight on your camera's hot shoe. - Jinnifer Douglass Photography


Hire a photographer that specializes in Real Estate photography

Always use a photographer that specializes in photographing real estate, no matter what the cost. Photographers that don't specialize in taking real estate photos will do your sellers no justice.    Photographs are the most important part of any listing.   If sunset photos will give you a great sky, it's worth the extra money to have photos taken at sunset as well. - Real Estate with Mary

Take advantage of free editing programs

With all of the available photo apps out there now, anyone can make a normal photo an extraordinary one. Living in the midwest, during the winter months it's sometimes difficult to get a day with blue skies and the sun shining. With apps such as Lightleap, you can easily change up the sky background with a few clicks of the mouse as well as add color to the otherwise ordinary photos. For posting on social media, you can use their companion Montionleap and add moving clouds and scenery to make it come alive. We utilize drone photography on just about all of our listings, as well as using 3D/360 cameras for virtual tours. We also have done some time warp type of videos showing homes empty vs staged, summer vs winter. - Monge Home Team

Originally published on Redfin

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