Prepare Your Home For a Photo Shoot!

First impressions matter…a great deal as it turns out, in this age of just about everyone under the age of, well, a certain age, photoshopping and filtering every picture they post on Instagram.  The average attention span of a human is 8 seconds; down from 12 seconds in 2000. Goldfish beat us, with their average span at 9 seconds. But, goldfish are not your buyer demographic so let’s focus on how to engage with your prospective buyer and to keep them captivated long enough to click ‘favorite’ on your home’s online listing.

The advice is simple and the execution anything but.  Yet following these simple suggestions will produce a big yield, generally in shorter market time and higher sale price.  No guarantees here, but the macro data is out there to back up the personal war stories of many a good agent. Yes, price matters and yes, location matters perhaps even more.  But first, you have to get someone in the door. And that means cutting through the online noise and there is plenty of it. So how do you stand out? By having your home looking the very best version of itself and having an agent with a good eye for space; proportion; and detail, along with one fantastic, ’go-to’ photographer.

Less Is More

0011Clear countertops, closets, floor surfaces of anything that does not make the counter, closet, table, or floor shine through. I love the 50+ framed photos I have artfully arrayed on my side tables and bookshelves, including several family holiday photos…my favorite is circa 1967.  If I were to sell my house I would box up 40 of the photos, along with 100 books and ⅓ of my wardrobe.

Let’s be honest here, I would move out if I were to sell my house because there is no way I could live the way I advise my clients they must live in order to get top dollar. And my first call would be to my friends at BinSwap!

Post Purging comes Artfully Array

After the painful purge you can have some fun by artfully arraying the remaining books, vases, framed photos, and not so much fun organizing the slimmed-down closets, garage, office niche. My amazing managing broker always says start the day with your most difficult call or task then it’s all uphill.  He’s a smart guy. Start with organizing the closets. That means color coordinating clothes while you hang them facing the same direction on color-coordinated hangers (59 cents each at Bed Bath Beyond without that 20% off coupon).  Your bedroom and coat closets should like this beauty – a gorgeous closet that we all dream of having. Your pantry should look a bit like this – an organized and well-stocked pantry. Your closet can be 3 by 5 – size does not matter – it’s all about the elbow room and first impression when the closet door is opened.

Furniture Arranging

0018Your furniture layout should invite people to walk into the room without zigzagging through the room;  better to have one less chair or side table… less is more is your mantra! Beds should fit the room. Do not try to squeeze that queen bed into a room that is made for a full.  Or have the queen but lose the desk. Your bedroom should look like this, not this.  I am a firm believer in the power of some selective, or full on the whole house, staging. And again, the data backs up the concept.  I stage, either bits and pieces as needed, or the whole enchilada, at about 40% of my listings. There is incredible data to back up the power of a well-staged room or home.

Let There Be Light

Bring in every drop of light possible, which means starting with squeaky clean windows, inside and out.  Next is to assess the artificial light; it’s best to have all light bulbs match in color temperature and my recommendation is 3000 Kelvin to have a soft white (not yellow or pink!) light in each room. And be sure to replace all burned out light bulbs.




  • Meticulously clean all areas (vacuum rugs & carpets, mop hard surfaces, clean countertops, clean windows)
  • Turn ON all overhead lights and lamps
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs
  • Use bulbs of the same temperature (Daylight, Warm, Cool, 5500K – LED 3000 Kelvin is the temp of the year)
  • Straighten all lamp shades
  • Turn OFF all ceiling fans
  • Turn OFF all TVs
  • Turn OFF all computer screens
  • Clean blinds/window treatments  and open to let in natural light
  • Remove all but a few personal pictures 
  • Stage all beds | Remove comforters if they appear lumpy | white bedding is best | add decorative pillows
  • Remove all clutter | Less is More
  • Gather all shoes/clothing/jackets and place in closets


  • Remove all clutter | old newspapers | packages – pay particular attention to balconies, porches, yard, utility closet, mud-room and common areas if in a condo
  • Close all garage doors
  • Remove cars from the front of the home if possible to allow for ideal facade photo
  • Spruce up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, remove leaves, plant pots to show lush flowers/green)
  • Have landscaper do a clean-up if a big or messy outdoor space | make sure grass, if any, reads green
  • Remove dead foliage and empty planters
  • Remove trash cans
  • Remove spider webs from eaves and door frames
  • Remove visible water hoses
  • Remove toys, playground supplies, balls,
  • Remove any seasonal decor


  • Clear countertops, less is more! No mail, clutter, knife blocks, or cooking supplies
  • Clean countertops, remove any stains
  • Stage Kitchen counter with one small appliance, fresh fruit, a small vase of fresh flowers or greens, and maybe a cookbook
  • Remove any personal effects from the area including pictures, clothing, shoes, notes, etc
  • Hide all dishes, move dirty dishes to the dishwasher
  • Hide all garbage cans


  • Clear the table and remove all clutter
  • Dust and polish the tabletop
  • Feature one centerpiece such as a bouquet of flowers
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove children’s chairs or high-chair seats


  • Remove magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • Remove clutter from fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 3-4 items, including art)
  • If the fireplace box is dingy paint inside of the box black
  • In the winter, the photographer will add a fire via photoshop
  • For spring through fall listings, consider birch logs, candles or nothing in the firebox
  • Fluff and arrange furniture and pillows
  • Remove toys, personal effects, and random clutter
  • Hide TV cords


  • Bedding should be immaculate (matching colors – white is preferred, no wrinkles, no discoloring or faded bedding)
  • Edges of bedding and sheets when visible should either be tucked neatly or hung straight
  • Side tables should be clutter-free and include a small vase of flowers or greens
  • Pillows should be wrinkle-free, fluffed, matching and arranged neatly
  • Carpet and Flooring should be freshly cleaned
  • Remove all personal belongings (Pictures, clothing, electronics, clutter)
  • Remove trashcans

(download this to-do list as a printable PDF)