The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” may be a cliché, but it’s true, and it’s essential advice for a home listing. No matter how vivid and compelling your description, it’s the photos that seal the deal. But that there are photos, and then there are photos. Poor photos can actually discourage potential guests, while great photos can make your home seem inviting and help people visualize themselves staying there.
Tips for Taking Great Photos
- Shine a light on your home! Dark, fuzzy photos are not only difficult or impossible to see, they make your home seem gloomy. Take the photos during the day –on a sunny day if you can. Open the curtains. Add lighting if necessary to make sure that the photos are clear and sharp. If you have access to photo editing software, play with the brightness and contrast settings. (Don’t go overboard though, make sure any changes you make are subtle.)
- Clear away the clutter. We don’t mind living with a certain amount of clutter, but we want our temporary homes to be neat, well cared for, and relatively clutter-free. Before taking a single picture, put away clothes, shoes, toys, and personal items. Get the dirty dishes out of the sink. Make the beds. Straighten up the shelves. Brighten up the place with flowers. And remove any photos, such as pictures of your children, that you don’t want the whole world to see
- Use a normal lens. The “fisheye” lens typically used for real estate listings exaggerates and distorts the space, giving a false impression of the home. Use a normal lens that shows things as they really are.
- Take photos of the inside and the outside of the home. A complete set of photos gives guests a tour of your home. If possible, order the photos so that they resemble a walkthrough of the home. Show them the living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and outdoor areas. Include shots of the street so they can see what the neighborhood is like.
- Emphasize features that make your home stand out from the competition – the updated kitchen and bath? The spacious master bedroom with its king-size bed? The 54” TV and lounge chairs? The huge fireplace, the comfortable sofas, the pool, or the view of the boat harbor from the living room? The 18th century buildings across the street?
- Show the home as it is, not as it was. Take new photos if you’ve divided the living room in two, swapped the bunk beds for a single, or turned the dining room into an office. Don’t use a photo showing a view that’s been blocked by another building. And don’t ignore all the less-than-desirable features, such as the bathroom that needs updating or the brick wall outside the bedroom room window. If you choose not to show them, at least mention them during discussions with prospective guests so they won’t come as a surprise.
- Weed out duplicates. More photos are better than fewer photos – unless too many are only slightly different angles of the same thing. For your photos to have the greatest impact, every single one should tell guests something interesting or important (or both) about your home.
- Include people? For an exchange, you might include some shots of you and your family enjoying your home. But prospective tenants are interested in the home, not in you, and photos without people may make it easier to imagine themselves living there.
What’s Next: How to respond to inquiries