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Almost all house searches now begin online, so the quality of real estate photographs is critical when it comes to selling. Yet many home sellers make mistakes when it comes to photographing and staging their own homes that can cause buyers to skip over them. Real estate expert and consumer advocate Rhonda Duffy, who has sold more than 17,000 homes, has pointers for better photos and staging.

Don’t Let Bad Photos Sabotage Selling Your Home

Buyers searching for homes online spend exactly two seconds looking at photos before they move on. As a result they often rule out great homes due to bad photos or staging.

Pic Pitfall 1: Photos that are blurry, small or dark
 – Ensure the quality of the photos. If you have ever tried to view a picture of a beautiful seascape or mountain range and found that it was difficult to appreciate the scene because the photo was blurry or too small, then you’ll understand exactly how buyers feel when they view blurry or strangely sized pictures of your home. Don’t take blurry photos or photos that are taken vertically, as they will crop incorrectly for the MLS, where the third-party websites pull your photos from. Also make sure to have enough light in a room that you are photographing. If the room doesn’t have enough natural light, strategically place lamps to add light to really show the dimensions and size of the room.

Pic Pitfall 2: Photos that Show Your Stuff –
 Take pictures of your home, not your things. Photos of your home should be just that ­­– pictures of the home! Don’t focus the photos on a couch that will end up leaving the home and going with you to your new home. Angle the furniture that is in your home around the features of your home, such as a fireplace or window, or arrange it so that it shows just how big the room is. Try to remove especially personal items like pictures of your family or trinkets on the mantel or shelves, as these are all things that could distract buyers from viewing the room as a whole. Tidy up your home before taking pictures so toys or papers aren’t littered around the floor and counters, and vacuum and dust to really make sure your home shines!

Pic Pitfall 3. DIY Photos When a Professional Can Do a Better Job –
 When getting photos of your home to attach to your listing, your first instinct may be to take the photos yourself. Before you do this, there are some things you should think about before whipping out your smartphone to fulfill your dreams of becoming a photographer. For example, lighting and editing can change everything. If you take photos with your phone or with a digital camera, the lighting might not be the most flattering for the colors of your home.

Buyers might not be sure whether the walls and carpet are white and off-white, or even worse, blue and gray. Professional photographers have expensive and high-quality equipment to get the photos of your home just right, including editing tools and lighting equipment. So if you’d rather not spend your time staging and editing your photos to perfection, hire a professional photographer to really capture what your home looks like. The benefit of having a professional photographer come in is twofold. First, they have never been in your home before, so they have a fresh perspective on what will make your home stand out. Second, they’re professionals. They have an eye for what will look best in a photo.

Finally, since most buyers start their home search online you should consider photos of your home its first showing and make sure the photos really shine.

“Walk through your home in a natural progression to order the photos as if the buyer is walking through your home,” Rhonda recommends. “Start with the exterior of your home, and be sure to include the curb appeal of the home in that picture, then walk up to the front door, open it, and take a picture of the entrance or foyer as if they are entering your home for the first time. Then continue through your home, room by room, and imagine what a buyer’s point of view would be if they were walking through with you. Your photos really can tell your home’s story, and can either draw in a buyer to see it in person, or force them to simply pass.”

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