When the kitchen counters are completely cleared off, it makes the kitchen look bigger, and buyers can imagine how they might use the space. Coffee makers, mixers, and decorations only distract buyers, and often make the kitchen feel cluttered. Remove everything but perhaps a few decorative items from the countertops and clean all surface areas, including the appliances, kitchen sink and back splash.
Clear and Clean Bathroom Sinks, Tubs and Showers
Place all of the shampoo bottles, soaps, shaving razors, and other items into a bin that can fit underneath the bathroom sink. Take everyhing off of the bathroom counter as well. You want the bathrooms to appear vacant. Clean, neatly folded towels on towel racks are fine.
Replace Burned Out Light Bulbs
This is one of the most overlooked items on the list. Be sure to check all of the ceiling lights, as well as extra lamps and exterior lights to make sure that they all work. If there are dark areas in the homes, such as a basement, add a few extra lamps to brighten them up. Floor lamps that provide up-lighting are great! The more light, the better!
Turn on All Lights Throughout the Entire House
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. It's important to have as much light at possible. Turn on all of the lights in the house, including lamps and exterior lights. Your photographer will be happy to find your home in its brightest light when they arrive.
Open All Window Treatments
Natural light from windows brings life and emotion into real estate photos. We recommend opening all of the window treatments throughout the entire house to let in as much light as possible. If it's too bright outside, your photographer will alter your shades and curtains to balance the shot. Don't forget to clean the windows!
Remove Unnecessary Furnature and Decorations
This is probably the most difficult request for sellers, but it's one of the most important items on the list. Removing and storing excess or large bulky furniture can be challenging, but it opens up the floor space and makes the home look much larger. It's wise to consult a professional stager to determine which items should stay or go. This is truly one of those situations where "less is more".
Remove Floor Mats and Runners
Floor mats and runners are great at protecting your floors, but they can make the overall floor space look smaller, which in turn makes the room look smaller. Make sure to roll up and remove all of the floor mats in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry areas. If you have any rugs, consult a stager to determine whether or not they should stay.
Turn All Ceiling Fans, TVs, and Computer Screens Off
Most photographers use HDR photography, which takes multiple light exposures for each photo and combines them into one final shot. Any moving items like ceiling fans or active TV/Computer screens look very strange in HDR. For this reason, we recommend turning off anything that moves or causes motion blur.
Clear Appliance Surfaces of Magnets and Clutter
It's common to keep magnets, notes, reminders, and other personal information on the refrigerator. We ask our sellers to remove all magnets, calendars, and personal items from the refrigerator and any other place where they place notes. It will not only make your home appear tidier, it keeps your personal info safe from the general public.
Make All Beds
This is an obvious one that surprisingly gets overlooked often, especially in the secondary bedrooms. Be sure to make and decorate all the beds with matching sheets, blankets, and pillows. Use bedding that covers the entire bed and fits the mattress correctly. Use decorative pillows to brighten up the bed, if possible. If a room is clean, and the bed isn't made right, it makes the whole room seem off.
Remove All Personal Photos and Items
It's hard for buyers to visualize themselves in your house if your personal items are everywhere. Since you want your buyers to focus on the house and not on you, you'll need to remove all personal photos and items from the entire house; including patios, porches, and garages.
Put All Shoes and Jackets in Closets
When buyers see shoes and jackets on coat racks and entryway floors, they subconsciously assume that the home lacks storage space. It's best to remove all jackets and shoes from anywhere that they can be seen throughout the entire house. Store away any loose items to remove all distractions.
Clear All Night Stands and Dressers
Night stands tend to accumulate items naturally. Half-read books, prescription bottles, tissues, and electronic devices will quickly clutter these areas. Remove everything but a lamp and one decorative item, such as a small floral arrangement or decorative book to make the area look clean and presentable. Think of a freshly cleaned hotel room.
Remove All Pet Items
Not everyone has pets. In fact, some people are severely allergic to animals. It's extremely important to make sure that your house shows no signs of pets; especially pet smells. Spend some time getting this part right, as it is one of the biggest factors in home price reductions and negative feedback from home buyers. Consider that you could be "nose blind" to the smell, as you live in it every day. Ask a neutral party for their honest opinion before listing.
Exterior - Tidy Up The Yard and Landscaping
First impressions are very important, so make sure that the front yard is cleaned up and all of the landscaping is trimmed back and tidy. The first picture that people will see of your home will be the outside front yard shot, so it really needs to be presented in it's very best condition.
Sweep Up Porch, Patio and Deck
This step is imperative in the Fall when leaves accumulate daily. Make sure that the entire front and back porches are swept clean, and remove any items that you can live without. If possible, stage these areas with flowers and decorative items to create a relaxing space that invites home buyers in.
Clear All Cars From Street and Driveway
It's never good to have cars in the driveway during real estate photos. Always remove all cars, trucks, RV's, and trailers from the driveway and front of the house. If you are friends with your neighbors and feel comfortable doing so, you could even ask them to move their cars from the road to make the street look quiet and inviting in your photos.
Hide All Garbage Cans and Lawn Equipment
Large garbage cans and unsightly lawn equipment can be very distracting in real estate photos. Put all of the trash cans in the garage, along with garden hoses, lawn mowers, and other yard maintenance tools. Keep the lawn free and clear of any small toys and pet items as well.
Remove Outdoor Cooker Covers
It's time to show off that awesome bar-b-que grill, not hide it! Smoker and grill covers should be removed so that cookers are exposed and ready for use. If it's an old grill that needs to be covered because it's rusty and unsightly, its better to just remove or throw it out completely.
Open Up Patio Umbrellas
If it's not too windy during your photo shoot, be sure to open up any patio umbrellas to stage the area. Dust off chairs and set up the area as though you are going to enjoy it with friends later. Fresh outdoor pillows and flowers will create an inviting space for your photographer to highlight while they're in your backyard.