Selling? How to Make Your House Look Great in Photos

* Written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz

A house hunter’s first view of your property is often online, and if the photos accompanying your home’s listing don’t impress, you may not get a second chance to entice that potential buyer — meaning your real estate photos are valuable assets when it comes to selling your home. The following tips can help your home put its best foot forward on picture day.
Check out agents’ listings. Before diving into photo-day planning, it’s important to be sure your real estate agent is prepared to deliver quality listing photos. Study a potential agent’s listings to get a feel for the quality of the photography. Here are a few questions you may want to ask about how the agent handles photos:
* Do you use a professional photographer?
* If you take the photos yourself, what equipment do you use — professional camera and tripod or a cellphone?
* Will the agent or photographer bring in additional lighting if needed?
* How much time is typically allotted for the photo shoot?
* What can I do to make my home look its best in photos?


Clean the windows and open the shades. Ample light can go a long way toward making your home shine in photos, so get those windows sparkling clean, and open the shades and curtains wide.


Perk up houseplants. Fresh green plants add a feeling of life and vibrancy to interior photos. Ailing plants, not so much. Trim away dead leaves with a pair of sharp scissors. Dust large-leaved plants with a soft cloth.

Remove counter clutter. Gleaming, clutter-free counters will make your kitchen look more spacious. Put away everything, then clean counters well. It’s fine to leave out one or two small appliances, such as the toaster and coffee maker, but stash anything extra, as well as small appliances that have seen better days.


Polish wood floors and shine appliances. Wood floors can be a major selling point, so be sure they look their best in photos by treating them to a thorough cleaning, and finish with a product that is safe for your floors. The same goes for those stainless-steel appliances — using a product designed for stainless-steel, buff the surface until it gleams.

Hide toiletries and freshen bathrooms.
Aside from a fresh bar of soap at the sink, the bathroom should be completely free of toiletries — too many products crowding the sink and shower suggest that there’s not enough storage space. Pull open the shower curtain, clean the mirror, put the toilet seats down and turn on the lights. Remove old towels and put out fresh, fluffy white towels if you have them. If not, just leave the towel racks bare.

Neatly tuck in bedcovers. Photographs seem to pick up every little imperfection, so spend an extra few minutes straightening up the beds on picture day. Fluff the pillows, pull the bedcovers taut, and clear away clutter and personal items from bedside tables.

Do a photo-ready walk-through. The aim on photo day should be to make your house look as spacious, clean and inviting as possible — so it’s in your interest to declutter as much as possible. Here are some under-the-radar items you may want to stash before the photographer arrives:

* Shoes in the entryway
* Piles of mail and paperwork
* Remote controls
* Magazines
* Kids’ toys that can’t be put neatly away
* Pet food bowls, beds and litter boxes (temporarily move these to an area that won’t be photographed)
* Front-of-fridge clutter (magnets, photos, cards)


Switch on all lights. Unless your home is flooded with natural light or you know that your real estate photographer will be using portable studio lighting, the general rule is to turn on all lights. Don’t assume that photographers will do this for you because they may miss some or may not find every switch. So take a moment before you go to turn on lights, and double-check that curtains and shades are pulled open as well.


Highlight special features. Have a lovely working gas fireplace or an outdoor fire pit? Make sure it’s lit on photo day. Likewise, if you have a hot tub or a pool in the backyard, make sure it’s uncovered and clean for the photos.

Focus on the first impression. This isn’t the time to worry about major landscape changes or reviving a dead lawn. Instead, focus on the quick fixes that will make a positive impression in a head-on photo of your home. Deadhead flowers, rake leaves, clear away porch and driveway clutter, and set out a few pots of blooming flowers. You may also want to leave your own car parked in front of the house until the photographer is ready to shoot the street view — otherwise you could wind up with your neighbor’s SUV blocking the shot!

Last but not least, check that all outside areas are neat and tidy, with outdoor furniture in place, tools put away and garbage cans tucked out of sight.

For more tips on organizing or selling your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

How-To: Pick the Perfect Paint Color

How To: Pick the Perfect Paint Color

If you’ve ever had to pick a paint color you know this major truth, the options are endless. Choosing the right paint color can be an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these 10 tips and you’ll have a new sense of confidence next time you’re in the paint isle.


1. Bring in Inspiration: Take along an existing pillow, piece of fabric, or photo of your space. This will help you make more informed decisions.


2. The Right Light: Make sure to view your paint or paint chips in natural light to assure you’re seeing the color correctly. Paint looks different under artificial light, so try holding the chip near a window or painting a sample on your wall first.


3. Take Home Testers: All the major paint retailers now sell paint in small, tester sizes. These are perfect to take home and try out before committing to a full gallon of paint. The small amount will provide you with enough paint to give you an idea of what it would really be like to live with the color.


4. Try Multiple Shades: If you’re having trouble choosing, buy multiple testers and paint side-by-side squares on your walls. Live with them for a few days so you get the chance to see how the colors look morning, noon, and night. Make sure to mark them with identifiers so you’ll remember which one you liked best.


5. Choose Your Drama: Take a look at the color wheel for inspiration. Colors close together will make a room calm while those farther apart add drama.


6. Do What You Love: Start with a color you love, even if it’s not popular at the moment. Doing this will assure you’ll love the color for years to come. Just remember, your favorite color comes in a range of hues.


7. Lighten Up: If you’re afraid a hue may be too dark, ask the mixer to do a 50% tint of the color to lighten it up. Custom colors can also give a room a designer look, but make sure to jot down the specifics of your color for future touch ups.


8. Room to Room: If you have rooms that are open to one another, avoid choosing radically different colors, which will make the spaces feel chopped up and small.


9. Go Bold: Small rooms that are visited more rarely, like a library or half-bath, can be done in stronger colors that make a statement.


10. Spraying vs. Rolling: Rolling may be the most popular choice, but it’s also the most time consuming and requires touch ups more often. On the other hand, spraying results in a more high-end, professional look that also cuts painting time in half. You can rent high volume, low pressure sprayers at most home improvement stores. With both options make sure you properly cover the areas you don’t want painted.

How-To: Keep Your Outdoor Furniture Looking New

How-To: Keep Your Outdoor Furniture Looking New

Though outdoor furniture is meant to be just that, outdoor, it’s still susceptible to aging because of all the elements to which it gets exposed. Since it’s the time of year get outside and enjoy the weather, it’s also time you get your outdoor furniture back to a presentable state.


Here are some tips on how to get your pieces in shape before all the pool parties, backyard barbecues, and warm weather festivities begin:


Cushion Care: If your dirty cushions are removable, simple throw them in the wash to brighten them back up. If they’re not, start by dusting off the surface, then use a sponge or brush to apply a cleaning solution (1/4 cup mild detergent diluted in 1 gallon of water). After, rinse thoroughly and let air dry.


Washing Wicker: Use the same cleaning solution mentioned above to wipe down your wicker with a cloth. You can get the more stubborn grime off with a bristle brush and a little more elbow grease. If your wicker is drying out and starting to show splits, wait for a windy day, sprits the affected areas with a garden hose, and allow to dry in a shady area.


Touching Up Teak: Ramp up the above cleaning solution to a one-to-one ratio for cleaning teak, since it’s even more susceptible to mildew. A good scrub down once a year with a bristle brush should do the trick.


Mending Metal: Most metal furniture will be extremely durable thanks to the protecting coating that it’s typically covered in. If you see the varnish bubbling, rusting, or wearing away, though, use sandpaper to remove the damaged area and then apply new paint or varnish to it. To keep metal furnishings tip-top, give them a wipe down whenever you notice bird droppings or thick spills.


Photo: 8545 Midway Road, Dallas

How-To: Choose A Real Estate Agent

How to choose a real estate agent

Spring will be here before we know it, and with that comes the annual peak of the residential real estate market. There’s something about the warmer weather and sunnier days that really gets the market buzzing. If you want to join in on the fun as a buyer or a seller, now might be a good time to start looking for a Realtor.


This process is different for everyone, but here are some things to keep in mind:


Experience: Look to agents who have put time into their career and the neighborhoods in which they work. This can mean different things, like trusting someone who has spent years in the business or someone who grew up in the area.


Personality and Interests: Try to do some background work on a potential agent. Many have bio pages, LinkedIn accounts, social media pages, and online reviews. All of these can be helpful, but do remember that not having one or the other doesn’t have a direct correlation to how “good” a Realtor is. If you can find out some background, you can play matchmaker for yourself.


Career type: Is being a Realtor the person’s full-time career? If you’re on a time schedule, you’ll want to pick someone who’s in the industry full-time.


The numbers: If you’re a buyer, don’t choose an agent just because their commission is lower. If you’re a seller, don’t choose them just because they agree with you on how much your home should be listed for. We’ll say two things to justify these points – you get what you pay for, and, in real estate, there’s no telling how much your home will really and truly sell for at the end of the day.


Age: Don’t dismiss an agent based on their age, young or old. What makes an agent the right fit for you is not often their age, but their love of their profession, dedication to you, and the other points listed above.


Need a good place to start looking? Check out our office locations and search all of our wonderful Realtors.