I’m a real estate photographer in south Texas on the Gulf Coast and I venture into hundreds of homes every year. I have been in $15k teardowns and $4.5MM dream homes and shot everything in between. After looking in thousands of homes over the past 9 years, I’ve compiled a great list of things sellers need to take care of before photos happen. Time and time again, these are the top 3 things that I see sellers forget to do.
#1: Trash Cans.
First of all, trash cans are dirty (whether physically or metaphorically) and buyers don’t want to see them. I’m talking about inside trash cans as well as your outdoor refuse collection trash cans. Very rarely have I seen an indoor trash can that is beautiful enough that it should be left visible in photos. The stainless steel is smudged, they get dented, there is a trash bag hanging over the edges. Never have I seen an outdoor trash can that added to your home’s curb appeal. Most of the time they a
re some godawful ugly color and are just begging to be hidden.
Since garages are almost never photographed, it is the best place to put all of your trashcans. The little ones with plastic shopping bags in them from your bathrooms; the “nice” one from the kitchen; the ugly smelly ones that your city picks up. HIDE. THEM. NOW. Here is the thing, I don’t want to touch your trash or trash cans, and most agents don’t want to either. If I can’t easily move it with my foot around a corner, it’s likely going to remain in the shot.
#2: Sink Paraphernalia.
We get it, you’re proud of your sponges and scrubbies, dish soap, and old drain stoppers. I’m proud of mine, and always like to have mine within reach when it comes time to do the dishes. But, the sink area is usually a crowded place anyways – and leaving a half dozen or so items hanging out makes it hard to appear uncluttered. Most of the time you can get away with laying the items down in the sink (if the sink bowls are deep) but it’s just as easy to tuck them under the counter.
Just like with trash cans, I don’t come prepared to begin moving around your moist sponges & scrubbies, sticky dish soap bottles, or grimy drain stoppers. At best I may just knock them into the sink quickly, or they may be left sitting around. When your real estate photographer shows it, the home should be 100% ready – just like if you were having a real estate showing.
On that same note, bathroom sinks suffer much the same fate as kitchen sinks. When it comes to the countertop: CLEAN. IT. OFF. If it’s something that you use on, in, or around your body, it should be GONE. If you have some (tasteful) decor left on the countertop, it can stay (as long as it takes up less area than the sink bowl takes up.) Remove your toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, Kleenex, hand soap, bar soap, shaving cream, razor blades, nail polish, jewelry, toothpicks, chewed gum, etc.
#3: Shower & Bath Goodies
So, we get it. Everyone has about 46 bottles stacked up in their shower and/or bath that have been half-used. Oh, and 3-1/3 bars of soap, 4 loofahs, some old razors, and a squeegee. This is probably going to be one of the biggest headaches to make acceptable in your home, but it can really make the difference between having a decent looking shower and everyone knowing what kind of shampoo you use. Every time you have a showing you’ll need to do this, so take the time now to whittle down your accouterments to the necessities, and keep a bucket/box/pail/container handy that all of your stuff can go into each morning in case there is a showing.
Soap scum can make your bathroom glass super ugly in photos (and definitely in person.) I had a house that I shot with HORRIBLE scum and the owner didn’t like the results at all. They looked up a method for removing the scum and came across a simple recipe for dealing with the nightmare. I was called to go retake photos of the bathroom and the glass was practically spotless. All it took was some Dawn and vinegar and several progressive soakings and light scrubbing. Click to visit the Soap Scum Melter recipe.
Jason Page has been a freelance photographer since 2010 and has been photographing real estate almost as long. He has seen the inside of over 4,100 homes (some more than once) and does his best to make them look their best. He is based in Corpus Christi, Texas. You can view more of his work at jasondavidpage.com