10 Ways Sellers Can Prepare Their Homes for Real Estate Photos

Updated on February 16th, 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ready to list your home? From opening the blinds to putting away photos, Redfin Photography Manager Drew Larrigan reveals small steps that make a big difference when it comes to preparing a home to sell.

Ready to list and sell your home? Congrats! But before preparing your home to be photographed, there are 10 important steps to consider, said Redfin’s national photography manager, Drew Larrigan.

“There are specific things you can do to visually make your space really attractive in photos,” he said. “By following these guidelines, you’re setting up both your photographer and listing to have the highest success rate. If you’re not properly preparing the home to list, you’ll face risks of delaying the listing, needing reshoots, and many other hurdles.”

Drew, who manages Redfin’s in-house staff of photographers, as well as a network of photographers nationwide, would certainly know. He said the key to successfully listing and selling your home, is the photos.

“Humans are incredibly visual, especially in an age where everything is viewed on mobile devices,” he said. “You are more likely to be drawn in by beautiful imagery than any other subject. Having high quality images is they key to getting clicks.”

He’s referring to clicks on listings, for which his team specializes. Professional photography is included in the listing fee of all homes listed with Redfin. “Unlike most brokerages which outsource photography, Redfin invests in it with a full in-house professional team. The key to real estate photography is to use a full frame camera with a flexible display so you can get around really tough corners. And you don’t need the most expensive camera. The Canon 6D Mark II is the perfect camera for the real estate market.”

Of course, research shows hiring a pro to do it not only helps your home sell faster, but for more money.

Ready to give your house its close-up? Before anyone snaps any images, make sure you’ve completed Drew’s top 10 checklist.

1. Clear the driveway

“One of the first things you need to identify before beginning photography should be asking yourself, are the all cars removed from the driveway? Is the pod storage unit sitting in the yard blocking the front of the house? Have you completed all your contractor work? This all ensures we can present the newly updated home properly.”

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2. Use a garage for storage

“Use your garage as a storage unit. We typically don’t photograph garages as they are not viewed as a desirable space by most buyers. As such, it’s the best place for storage. Use it to hide garbage cans, trash, or large items, and of course you can pull your car in it as well.”

3. Clear outside clutter

“Remove all outside clutter and put away simple things like rakes, and roll up your lawn hoses. If you have outdoor furniture, set it up nicely and prepare it to serve dinner. The curbside appeal really matters.”

4. Refresh landscaping

“Mow your lawn and refresh your landscaping. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and different buyers might have different preferences, but refreshed landscaping ahead of a photographer’s arrival will yield better photos and results.”

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5. Clear surfaces of personal items

“Inside the home, clear all surfaces. If your countertops are where you charge your phones, store messages and notes, that should all be organized and out of the way before we arrive. If not, there can be privacy issues with high-resolution photos. Leave your address book out and it will likely be legible, which is not something you want. The same is true with the refrigerator; make sure magnets with images of faces, friends and children are removed. This saves time and allows the photographer to focus on showcasing your house, rather than pulling down magnets, or photoshopping out faces.”

6. Tidy the bathroom

“Make sure toilet seat covers in the bathroom are positioned down. This can be an unsightly area, and again, we want to be cautious of privacy issues and stowing personal items like medication, as well as toothbrushes and loofahs. Organizing these areas prevents the photographer from having to clear up people’s personal bathroom items, which is not a fun process.”

7. Prepare windows and lights

“Our window images are really beautiful when we have all the windows sparkling clean, and the window shades and blinds opened. The same goes for lighting. It’s easy to have bulbs looked at or replaced before we are there, as we take all our photos with the lights on, which makes for beautiful ambient lighting.”

8. Make a plan for pets

“We’ve had birds land on our shoulders, we’ve seen all sorts of rodents, and we always remind clients to be cautious of pets and their belongings. Make a plan for your pets on the day of photography. Don’t just lock them in a room and expect the photographer to work around a dog.”

9. Clean the whole house

Complete a normal home refresh before photography such as making your bed, clearing the countertop as discussed, and taking the time to make that final pass before the photographer arrives. This gives your home an opportunity to really be ready for photos.”

10. Alert your neighbors

Make sure your neighbors are aware if you are listing your home and a photographer will be visiting, especially if drones will be utilized. Drones can cause tension and privacy issues, which we want to be cautious of. We’ve run into cases where neighbors didn’t know what was happening and called the cops. Communication and awareness are key to a smooth shoot.”


If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
Emily Hochberg

Emily Hochberg

Emily Hochberg is Redfin’s Lifestyle Editor, covering topics related to culture, trends, personal finance, decor, style and more. When not busy typing away, find her daydreaming over Redfin listings (seriously, should she buy and fix up a beach house in Hawaii?) or obsessively planning where to travel next.

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