Real Estate Photographers Say to Hide These 6 Things If You Plan to Sell Your House

published Jun 3, 2021
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Living room with Eero Aarnio hanging bubble chair and vintage brown armchair
Credit: Andreas von Einsiedel | Getty Images

The messy kitchen counter. The overflowing garbage can in plain view. The toilet seat that’s left up. These are all-too-common photo faux pas that find their way into many a real estate listing. Nearly 97 percent of homebuyers conduct their property search online, so it’s important for sellers to make their homes as attractive as they can be for photos.

This isn’t about elaborate staging, either. This is more about preparing a space so that it can be seen in its best light, so to speak. Here are six things to remove or remedy in your space ahead of listing your home, according to the people who capture them digitally: real estate photographers.

Tall Vases

Robert Moreno, a Boston-based real estate photographer, points out that big floral arrangements might look impressive in person, but they can be distracting in a two-dimensional photograph. “In real estate photography, we’re trying to show the space,” he says, noting that a huge vase can actually hide the depth of a home. “We want to try and maximize that viewpoint and the whole layout.” Instead, he recommends low-profile arrangements.

Small Rugs

Zoe Wetherall, a freelance photographer in New York City, says there’s nothing wrong with keeping larger area rugs out, but floor mats and runners tend to make a space look smaller. “You want to be able to see the original flooring, and if you move tiny rugs and floor mats, it makes the space look bigger,” she says, especially if you’ve got hardwood floors or tiles.

Credit: Hinterhaus Productions | Getty Images

Too Many Appliances

No, you don’t have to make your refrigerator or oven pull a disappearing act. But smaller appliances should be stored away to keep counters clean and open as much as possible. Wetherall says while it all depends on the size of the kitchen, your aim should be to declutter countertops, keeping just a coffee maker or perhaps a knife block tucked away into each corner. 

Mismatched Light Bulbs

You can have eclectic taste in lamps and lighting fixtures, just not the bulbs. Both Moreno and Wetherall agree that “warm” and “cool” lightbulbs can clash in a picture. Wetherall says the best way to avoid it is to simply buy all the same type of bulb for a room.

Messy Bedding

No one’s judging you if you don’t make your bed everyday, but you must make an exception for the day of a photo shoot. In addition to tucking in those corners and making throw pillows stand at attention, Wetherall says to flip around bed pillows so that the opening of the pillow case isn’t visible to the camera. “It looks just terrible in pictures,” she says.

Active TV Screens and Ceiling Fans

Professional photographers take multiple exposures of a room, which means images on a screen and fan blades in motion can turn up as a blur. Make sure they’re all switched off when it’s time to snap some photos.

Getting Your Own Space Ready for Its Close Up

Moreno gives agents and their clients a checklist on how to prep a home for its photoshoot. “You rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression,” he says. The list helps sellers get their space what he calls “wedding day ready.” Here are some of the things on that list you can easily do in your own space:

  • Put in a fresh roll of toilet paper in each bathroom
  • Unplug or conceal power cords
  • Remove all pet toys and dishes
  • Hide calendars (they can date a listing)
  • Straighten photo frames
  • Clear the refrigerator of all magnets and papers or photos
  • Pack away family photos or any other personal items that you don’t want strangers seeing

When in doubt, Moreno recommends removing it. “I’m seeing the whole philosophy of less is more and depersonalizing and decluttering,” he says.