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Let the photographer work
Some agents post dozens of photos while others are more selective, says Lee Manning, owner of Lee Manning Photography in Ventura, California.
Manning says he prefers to limit the number of views, letting buyers use their imagination and allowing more time to capture the best shots.
"There's always a danger that if you show too much, buyers will find out what's wrong with the house to them and eliminate the house instead of exploring it further," Manning says. "And at a certain point, you're taking 3 pictures of the laundry room. That just doesn't make sense."
If a room doesn't photograph well, Manning says it's fine to just leave it out. An example would be a room that's so small that the best angle features the doorway rather than the space.
Sellers unwittingly do plenty of things that annoy photographers: dictating when photos should be taken, hovering around while the photographer works and even trying to tell the photographer what to photograph or how.
Rather than micromanaging, Manning says, sellers should step back and "trust the person who takes photos for a living."
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Mind the paint hues
If you're painting the interior of your home for resale and want a look that's light and bright, don't use dark colors, which make rooms feel smaller and are a bit harder to photograph, Manning suggests.
It's fine to use white, other neutrals or even strong colors, if they complement the home's architecture.
If you're remodeling for resale, don't put in black marble countertops or black kitchen cabinets.
"It's really difficult to make that look good," Manning warns.
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Stage for visitors and photos
If you're staging your home, keep in mind that what looks best for open houses or showings isn't necessarily right for photography, says John F. Walsh Jr., a realty broker and owner of Hearthtone Video and Photo in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Walsh likes to remove or hide things like dish towels and electrical cords that can be distracting in photographs.
But he also likes to add things like a coloring book in a child's bedroom that show how the seller uses the space.
What gets changed is a matter of trusting the photographer's eye.
"Let's say somebody has a set of lipsticks all in a row," Walsh says. "If it looks visually interesting and adds an emotional response, it's a good addition. If it just looks like clutter, take it away."
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Let in the light
Like Realtors, photographers open drapes and turn on lights to make a home as bright as possible. Some photographers bring additional lights or even take down blinds if they block the natural light.
"The trick is balancing the outside light with the inside light so you see the detail outside, but you can see everything inside, too," Walsh explains.
One setting that's difficult to photograph is a combination of light and shade such as sunshine through a leafy tree in a backyard. Taking such pictures at high noon can help.
Bevis says if your photo shoot is scheduled for a day that turns cloudy, you should try to postpone.
"It's better for your house to wait a day or two to go on the market than to rush to get pictures done, but they're bad," he says.
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Sweat the details
Bevis, who has a sharp eye for what works and what doesn't, offers these other tips:
- Hire a professional house cleaner and landscape crew. A bit of dust doesn't show in pictures, but smudges on doors or countertops can reflect light oddly and dirty tile grout attracts the eye and creates a negative perception, Bevis says.
- Remove evidence of pets. Many people are allergic to animals or believe pets cause added wear and tear in a home.
"Dog bowls, cat bowls, play toys -- any of those kinds of things are going to turn off a large segment of buyers," Bevis warns.
- Take down seasonal decorations. What looks right in December will look very wrong if your home is still on the market in March.
"Some homes are more difficult (than others) to sell," Bevis says. "The market goes through fluctuations. Christmas tends to be the slowest time."
- Move cars out of the driveway so they don't block the front of the house or create a distraction through the windows.
- Turn off TVs. "Nothing distracts more from looking at a room than trying to figure out what's on a TV screen in a photo," Bevis says.
- Turn off ceiling fans. "You see tons of pictures with blurry ceiling fans," Bevis says. "Buyers won't assume a fan doesn't work if it's not moving in a photo."
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