Fred Light recently posted a video in the PFRE flickr forum that he did last December about the work that listing agents do cleaning up listings getting them ready for market.
Helping home sellers get their property parade-ready for going on the market is one of the toughest but most important jobs that a listing agent has. All sellers need some amount of help and some need a lot more than others.
As a photographer you need to take steps to make sure you don't end up in the middle of this problem. That is, good listing agents take care if this issue and work closely with home sellers to make sure homes are ready for photos before a photo shoot is even scheduled. On the other hand, some don't or don't do it as well. As a photographer working for the listing agent make sure you are clear about where your limits for clean-up and decluttering are. Here are some suggestions:
- It's not the photographers job to clean up and declutter a home or to stand around and wait while it's done.
- At the same time, little things you do during the shoot like moving a stack of magazines or taking a towel off the refrigerator handle can make big visual differences.
- Have a statement in your terms of service about this issue.
- Provide a home preparation list of recommended things that the home owner and agent should do to prepare for a shoot. Again, good listing agents don't need this but others need to know what you expect.
- Once you've shot for an agent a few shoots it will be obvious how diligent they are at preparing for a shoot so you'll know who to remind about this issue.
- With a new client, a short conversation about home preparation up front will tip you off on what to expect.
- Beware of homes being sold while renters are still in the home. Many of these renters have no incentive to cooperate and frequently listing agents have no control over getting them to cooperate. Expect the worst!
I suggest that you think through how you feel about this and know where your limits are before your first disaster occurs that way you won't have to make it up on the fly. Sooner or later you will arrive at for a shoot at a home that it a total mess. It's just a matter of time.