10 Surefire Ways to Boost Curb Appeal, According to Real Estate Photographers

published May 3, 2022
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Blossoming wisteria tree covering up a facade of a house in Notting Hill, London on a bright sunny day
Credit: Getty Images/ Alena Kravchenko

First impressions are important. When it comes to listing a home for sale, though, they’re everything. That’s why it’s so disheartening for a real estate photographer to show up at a home and find out that it’s less than ready for its close-up.

Now, not every home deserves to grace the cover of a magazine. But buyers want to be wowed in some way when they arrive at the curb — it’s why it’s called curb appeal, after all. If you’re thinking of selling your home, here’s what real estate photographers have to say about what to do — and what not to do — when getting it ready for listing photos.

1. Add color to the yard.

Rob Moreno, a Boston-based real estate photographer, is a fan of adding some flowering plants in the front and the back of the home. As a real estate photographer, he encourages his clients — the real estate agents selling the homes — to make the home “wedding day ready” for photo shoots. 

2. Power wash the exterior.

You can rent a power washer for the day, but your local handyperson or landscaper likely can do it for you quickly and reasonably, depending on the size of your home. “A dingy-looking house may come sparkling clean and make the color of the house pop with a proper power wash,” says Moreno. 

Be sure to include garage doors, as well as other hard surfaces like decks and patios. Now’s also the time to touch up the exterior if there’s any evidence of peeling, and that includes the front door, says Moreno, who is always sure to snap a photo of the front door for listings.

3. Clear the roof and gutters.

OK, maybe you shouldn’t clear the roof and gutters, but you can hire someone skilled enough to do it. Moreno says that moss and mold likes to settle into the shingles, and the gutter can trap all sorts of icky stuff. It’s a problem for sure if you’re considering doing a virtual video tour for your listing. “Drone footage may expose the [house’s] sins,” says Moreno.

4. Pretty up the pool and patio.

“If [the homeowners] have a pool, it’s best that they have removed leaves and debris and have the water balanced properly so it’s clear and beautiful,” says Jon Jeffress, strategic creative advisor at Real Estate Bees and the founder of Deep South Focus Photography

For outdoor spaces like decks and patios, Moreno says to give all furniture and surfaces a good cleaning or power wash. If any cushions or patio umbrellas look worn or faded even after washing, it’s a good time to replace them. 

5. Clean up after your fur babies.

It’s your curb, but you should still curb your dog, advises Jeffress. “Some homeowners don’t take the initiative to clean up their pet waste from the yard, which is not a great thing if we photograph the outside of the home before the inside of the home,” he says.

And here’s another thing to consider: While animal-loving homebuyers might appreciate a cameo from a four-legged creature in listing photos, non-pet owners might think your home is one giant furball and move on to the next house for sale.

6. Take care of the lawn.

There’s no denying that a manicured lawn scores major points in curb appeal. But you should also do something to address weeds and brown patches of grass. If you can’t turn your lawn around by the time of the photo shoot, “Pine straw is a really inexpensive way to freshen up a yard where nothing is growing,” says Matt Harmon, a real estate photographer and a strategic real estate advisor at Real Estate Bees.

7. Prune trees and bushes.

If there are any trees or bushes blocking the front of your home, give them a trim. “Typically trimming those back to reveal more of the house is more desirable, but this varies based on the quality of the home and landscaping,” says Harmon.

Credit: Anki Hoglund/Shutterstock.com

8. Conceal tools and gadgets.

Kudos to you if you’re planning to tackle most of this list by yourself. But don’t leave around any of the DIY evidence — hide all your lawn maintenance equipment, ladders, and rakes in a shed or garage. “However neat and tidy you might think you left these items, the photograph will still capture the whereabouts of these items,” Moreno says, noting that they will most certainly detract from curb appeal.

9. Move your vehicle.

Harmon says having a car or boat in the driveway also contributes to yard clutter. Whether you have to park it in the garage, park it down the block, or move it to the marina, do it before the photo shoot.

10. When in doubt, do something.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the things you can do for curb appeal, here’s some advice: Pick one thing and do it.

“I think my biggest pet peeve is the homeowners that choose to do nothing,” says Matthew Digati, a professional real estate and architectural photographer with Pro Photo Business. “In just a day’s work, you can add so much curb appeal for a small amount of money.” Digati notes that you don’t need to go through the trouble and expense of hiring a landscaper to add a shrub or even a small tree to your yard, and you certainly don’t have to add anything that’s too hard to maintain, either. 

“Some of my favorite and best photos are of exteriors with well thought out landscaping, but literally anything besides an empty, flat lawn will look better,” Digati says.