Property Preparation

Everyone wants the property to look its best. We want it to look good to have an easy and quick photo-shoot. The Realtor® and seller should want it to look good to sell fast, and buyers want to walk into a home that’s ready to be theirs.

So here are some general and specific suggestions for getting the property ready for photography. Some of these points relate to getting ready for showings, too. Branden Ellefson Prime Realty Visuals

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General Tips

Places to Hide Things

We generally don’t photograph the insides of closets, so that’s a great place to hide clutter, dog beds, etc. Consider coat closet, bedroom closets, utility closets, pantries. We also generally don’t photograph the garage, but check with your Realtor® whether or not they’ll be wanting us to photograph there because it is also a great place to hide things like pets. Deep sinks and bathtubs are also a great place to hide things from the camera, as we don’t photograph showers unless they are very special.

Temperature Controls

You want buyers to be comfortable. For showings, turn on the air conditioning or the heat, whichever is needed to make the house a comfortable temperature. You don’t want potential buyers to come in and want to run back to the car because it’s too hot or cold. Also, us photographers like it to be comfortable, too. We don’t want ceiling fans on for photography, but on at low or medium is great for showings – but not so fast that they wobble or make noise.

Big Things vs. Little Things

Remember: these pictures are for the Internet and brochures. As such, a window smudge or some dog hair on the carpet or some dust on the fans are going to be mere pixels in size — if that — while the pile of paperwork on the kitchen counter is going to be fairly large. Spend your time working on the big things to get ready for photography and showings.


Does the house have to look for showings like it did in the photographs? Exactly? No. You can probably leave the paper towels on the counter, for example. But another huge pile of paperwork should be stashed in the microwave.


Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

This one can’t be emphasized too much. Remove clutter. Magazines, mail, paperwork, kids’ homework, the kids’ artwork on the walls, refrigerator magnets — everything. Hide the remote controls. If there’s a bottle of water on your nightstand, hide it. A few books on nightstands and end-tables are okay, but not a stack that is ten books high. 

Everything that you don’t use on a regular basis should be stowed away in boxes in the garage and what you do use should have a place you put it away in come photo and showing time.


Check all lights. If there are bulbs burned out, replace them with the same colour. If the room has warm lights, get 2700K lights. If the room has cool blue lights get 6700K lights. It may not seem like much, but non-working lights tell potential buyers that even the simplest maintenance hasn’t been done and may make them wonder about bigger maintenance items. Under-cabinet lighting looks great but not if only half of them work. Lights you may not consider: range hood lights, bathroom vanity lights, ceiling fan lights you seldom use, that single light over the bathtub — pretty much if there can be a bulb in it there should be and it should be working.

Remove Anything Seasonal

We all want the property to sell fast. Just in case it doesn’t, let’s not advertise it. Having pumpkins in the pictures kinda advertises that we took them in October or November. Stockings hanging by the fireplace…well…you can figure it out.

Remove Anything Overly “Religious”

This may offend some folks — sorry. But I don’t think you care who buys your house. That being said, it may put off some buyers if they see a gigantic cross on the wall and they’re of a different faith. For some they may have a negative emotional response to a huge Dallas Cowboys banner in the bonus room. Same with political signs outside or in the window. “Neutral” is what you’re going for here.

Huge Family Pictures

Small family pictures aren’t usually a big deal; however, huge ones are. Do you really want that huge close-up of your daughter on the Internet? Stand back at the corner of the room and look: if you can identify people in the pictures, so can everyone else. Some agents will have the seller remove all personal pictures, and that’s fine, too.

“Questionable” Art

Story Time: Once there was an open house and there was a series of huge nude portraits on the master bedroom’s walls. Tasteful and artistic, mostly, but still obviously nude women. Then a woman with two young children arrived. Can you guess her reaction? Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant what she said to the showing agent after walking into the master bedroom with her kids.


If you’ve got pets, remove toys, beds, scratching posts, food and water bowls, litter boxes, etc and put them in the garage. Also, please put the pets in an area where they won’t be wandering around and getting into the pictures… Or biting photographers. Yes this has happened to one of us. If we had a nickel for every time some dog photo-bombed our shots, we wouldn’t need to take pictures anymore. Additionally, we don’t want them to escape as we are opening doors.


Remove as much as you can from countertops – things like toothbrushes, soap dispensers, and tissue boxes. At the very least move them to the very end of the counter by the door. If the bathroom has a separate water closet, put things where they can’t be seen from the main door such as atop the toilet tank or in the bathtub. Check with your Realtor® on whether or not they want your throw rugs in the pictures or if it’s time to buy new ones. Remove shower items that can be seen, too, or at least put them where they can’t be seen in the bathtub. If you’ve got a lot of shampoo and soap bottles in your shower, you may want to consider an easy-to-carry shower-caddy to remove shampoo and soaps and things from the shower quickly and easily for showings.


Kitchens sell homes. Remove anything from the counter that distracts such as rolls of paper towels, the dish drainer, dirty dishes, or a bottle of dish soap. Some color such as cookbooks and small decorations are okay. We can move those small things around to hide them as needed, but you can’t do that during a showing.

Remove any dish towels, dirty dishes, or other clutter. Make sure the hood lights all work. Your blender and mixer and toaster probably aren’t part of the home’s price, so those should be removed, too.

Dining Areas

Some people like place settings out, some don’t. I don’t particularly care so long as it’s simple and not distracting from the room or the house. A giant centerpiece is a huge no-no. Placemats can hide glare from an open window, but a giant wine or water glass can create even more. Check the lights in the china cabinet too.


If it’s like my office at home, you may be tempted to just close the door. However, that’s not an option so it is best get a box and put all paperwork and desk items in it to move out of sight and into the closet or garage. Try to cluster cables together neatly, a package of black zip ties from Walmart works wonders.


Make the beds. Fluff the pillows. Check the dust ruffle. If you stash things under the bed, push them back so they can’t be seen and close all closet doors.

Kids’ rooms are probably the toughest with toys and things but do the best you can.



Remove all vehicles from the outside of the property. This doesn’t just mean move them to the curb, but put them in such a place where they can’t be seen from inside either; don’t want to see your car outside the living room window. (You’ll notice I’ll park far away, too.)


Does the grass need to be watered? Mowed? Raked? Then water, mow, or rake. If you’ve got a pet, clean up after them in the yard. Probably won’t show up in the picture, but we’ve got to traipse around out there too, and nobody likes poo on the shoe. If your hedges look really uneven, consider hiring a landscaper or trimming them yourself. If you’ve got a security sign outside, I’ll move that and replace it 

Hoses and Equipment

Hoses should be coiled/rolled up or, better yet, put away and out of sight. Yard equipment should be stored out of sight. This includes garbage cans.


If you have patio furniture, remove the covers and stash the covers out of sight. If you’ve got an outdoor dining area, wipe the table off and consider simple yet colorful placemats and dishes. Be sure to get stuff that’s not breakable.


Barbecues are great, but they should be clean; if it’s stainless, give it a good wipe down. Tools should be out of sight — throw them into the barbecue if you can’t come up with anyplace else. Bags of charcoal and bottles of lighter fluid should be removed, too. If the grill isn’t very attractive, consider a cover.

Seasonal Items

Remove anything seasonal such as holiday lights, a blow-up Santa, pumpkins, Canada Day decorations, a big banner welcoming spring, or that posable life-size skeleton with the cigar and Martini glass (now you know what my house looks like at Halloween).


If we’re doing a twilight/evening shots, make sure all outside lights are working. This includes any landscape lights, walkway lights, and pool lights.


Stand outside and look at the house. Are all the blinds open? In the same position? If you have plantation shutters position them “flat” with all the slats horizontal to the ground. If you have some plantation and some blinds, make them all flat for consistency. Cleaning the windows may help, but a small smudge isn’t really going to be seen.