Preparing A Home For A Real Estate Shoot – What Can a Photographer Do?

August 13th, 2010

Getting a home owner to prepare their home for a photography session is essential to getting good results but it’s more difficult to get through to some homeowners and agents than others. In my experience about 2 out of 10 homeowners require some special help in this area and some agents are prepared to help them but some aren’t. There’s nothing worse than showing up for a shoot and the home is a total mess. You’d think that straightening up the house before a shoot would be a no-brain-er for everyone involved but it’s not.

Getting a home “parade ready” is a important part of marketing a home for more than just getting good marketing images, it’s also for getting the home ready for buyer showings.

Some agents are going to do a good job making sure a homeowner has their home “parade ready” without the photographer telling them but others need something to remind them to handle this issue. I suggest that until you get to know your agent clients you have a explicit discussions with them about whether or not the home they are wanting you to shoot is photo ready. Having a check list to communicate to agent clients about what you expect is a good way to guide this discussion with the agent. The following are some items for this preparation check list:

  1. Contain pets in the garage or out of sight.
  2. Remove all vehicles from driveways and do not part in front of the house.
  3. Move garbage cans so they can’t be seen from the street.
  4. Remove garden tools, hoses and sprinklers.
  5. Mow and rake the yard.
  6. Sweep driveways and sidewalks.
  7. Remove piles of magazines and newspapers.
  8. Clear off counters in kitchen and bathroom areas.
  9. Put indoor trash cans out of sight.
  10. Clean all the photos and kids drawings off the refrigerator.

In the long run it’s MUCH easier to handle this before you get to the home and it’s a mess. Once you get there and the home isn’t ready there aren’t any good options. Depending on the level of the mess, probably the least of all evils is to just reschedule the shoot but the driving time and costs and your scheduled shoot spot is a loss.

Beware of renters: they are the worse case because they frequently could careless about the process of getting the home sold or rented. Also, a large percentage of tenants will be to the point of being uncooperative at the end of their lease or being faced with the prospect of moving. Some of my worst nightmares in home preparation have occurred when we listed homes that are occupied  by renters.

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11 Responses to “Preparing A Home For A Real Estate Shoot – What Can a Photographer Do?”

  • He he .. I’ve had renters who purposely try to get in every shot .. the solution? Tell them straight out they they are being a wanker & you won’t get paid because of it, they usually come onside then.

  • I have a checklist I email to the agent to give to their sellers to help them prepare for the photo shoot. As a p.s. to the agent that the house will be shot ‘as is’ or there will be an $50 travel/time attached to the invoice. It sure has help with trashy houses.

  • With the help of your ebooks + agents feedback I created my 21 Tips To Prepare Your Home PDF that I email to Agents to share with Sellers. Have had very good feedback. Agents appreciate my suggestions onsite as well. Sellers need every advantage in this market. A stager can be invaluable also.

  • Aggh! Renters! I don’t think I’ve ever had a good experience with them.

  • I agree with Judy bringing a stager onboard is the BEST solution. Getting an agent/seller to pay for a stager in this economy can be challenging. My going in argument is to ask them how fast do you want to sell the house? And do you want to avoid having to reduce the price of the house after n number of weeks/months. Staging will answer both questions. The net benefit for us as fotogs is we get to shoot perfectly “staged” homes if they decide to agree to the logic/need for a stager. A staged home is a vastly better portfolio candidate than an empty home.

  • Renters can be difficult. Not only do they not want you in their house, but sometimes if the house sells it means that they have to move so there can be some motivation to hinder your work.

  • From experience we have found with renters is that, With their kind consideration , this will mean exemplary references for the next landlord. As a rules with a couple of reminders of the importance of a tidy house, and the flexibly of photographer/agent to enter the property to suite all . This, then normally works. Common sense rules, as essentially it is extremely inconvenient for the tenant/renter , as you could be asking the renter to skip work or reschedule prior arrangements. Could be a good idea to have this possible request as mandatory in the original contract, so everything is perfectly clear upfront.

  • Thank you for this post. I am one of the photographers that ends up moving stuff out of the way all the time. I know that gives me an edge in my market, but I am getting tired of how some homes are really not ready. So, I am going to ask Judy for her list. I also like Sherry’s travel/time charge solution.
    And Rick you make great arguments for a stager. I love going into a job that has just been staged, it’s so easy and quick to shoot.

  • Does anyone have a checklist template that I could use? Thanks.

  • @Danny- There’s a more recent version of this post:

    where one of the commenters (John Durant) offers his version of his check list.

  • Great! Thanks Larry!

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