color-potsIf you want to sell your Silicon Valley home, you need a good amount of qualified traffic coming through your doors. That is, you want people who really do want to buy a home and who are capable of doing so to have a look at your condo, townhome or house inside as well as out.  Should the photos in the MLS and online be non-existent, scarce, or poor, those buyers may reject your home without ever seeing it.  It is imperative that your home’s photos nicely showcase your property so that buyers want to come and see more in person.

In this post I’ll share a few tips on how to make the front of  your home show well for the photos (and for in-person visits of real estate agents and home buyers), a few things to do or not to do.  This will help you even if someone else is in charge of taking the photos – you can properly set the stage before the photographer ever gets there.

For our purposes, let’s assume your home is in good condition, with fresh paint and decent landscaping and is not in need of a major overhaul. It needs to have “curb appeal” before we ever get the camera out.  If not, that needs to happen first!   So some of these tips are really “staging tips”.

In general, you want to think about what you want the viewer to see when looking at  your home.   Look at your house or condo and ask yourself what should matter to a buyer?  Usually it will be the front door, the windows, the roof, and the landscaping.  Make the view of these things unobstructed and uncomplicated.

In general, a major goal in preparing for home photos is to remove any distractions from the scene if they don’t enhance it.   For instance:

  • No cars or bikes in the driveway or anywhere in the picture
  • No garbage cans, gardening tools, toys
  • No obstacles on the walkway, porch or sidewalk (the hose should be hidden, for instance)
  • If bushes obscure the door, path or windows, trim them back to allow a clear view of these
  • Garage doors need to be closed (if it’s open, that’s where the eyes will focus!)

What other things should you do, if possible?  Here’s a short list:

  • Have the sun shining on the home so that the photo appears inviting (not in darkness or with harsh shadows) – if there are problems with large trees and big shadows, sometimes a slightly overcast day will be better to soften the contrast
  • Usually mid morning or mid afternoon is better than high noon
  • If you are taking the photos, allow for several attempts on different days/times  – sometimes the lighting is better at other times of day, or weather conditions may be better/worse
  • Have curtains open on the inside of the home
  • The front door should be visible (if at all possible) in the photo
  • Photograph the home so that the lawn area, if there is one,  is more prominent than the driveway, if at all possible
  • If your driveway and walkways are “super white”, they will dominate the photos if you don’t work to negate their brightness. You can do that by watering down the driveway and walkways just before the photos are taken. They won’t reflect as much and will be significantly less bright in the pics.
  • make sure that you have color by the front door, even if you need to add “color pots”

These are the basics – but in some cases, a little more “prep work” may be required.

Painting may be advisable as a pre-requisite to getting an inviting pic:  Sometimes the driveway and garage door are so prominent that whether you view the home in person or in photos, it’s hard to not have your eye drawn there.  It’s worse if the whole house is one color (say, tan) and the garage door is white – your eye will naturally focus on that huge white garage door.  Better to have only the garage trim be a different color from the rest of the home and make the door match the house.

begoniasA little color does a lot to draw buyers in:
If your home is nicely landscaped but the yard is really “all green”, adding a splash of color, especially close to the front door, can make a home more appealing both in person and in photos.   If your home is a townhouse or condominium, consider adding a pot or two of colorful annuals near the walkway or door, if possible.