Prepare Your Home for Photos and Visitors

By Steve Flanagan

Buyers want to see what they are getting with your house. Before you take photos that will attract buyers, you’ll need to stage your rooms. And before you stage your rooms, you’ll need to declutter your home. Decluttering clears out extraneous, distracting materials and furnishings so buyers can quickly see the features of the house.

Maybe you have a great collection of albums that you’ve been saving even though you bought your piece of vinyl around 1989. It looks great to you, but might look junky to buyers. Those records need to go, at least until you make your sale. Removing the clutter and extra furniture in your home may seem like a daunting process, but it’s well worth the effort. Be sure you build time into your selling timeline to declutter and stage before you take that first photo.



Decluttering Takes Time
Decluttering is about selectively pruning anything that distracts buyers from seeing what they are getting with your house. As you consider which parts of your home will show best in the photos you’ll add to your listing, take a critical look at how crowded those areas are. Diving into decluttering home doesn’t mean simply hiding items in closets and moving excess furniture to your garage. Consider storing excess items at a friend’s house or in a storage unit so your home looks its best in your photos and in person when you show it to potential buyers.

Start with this list of action items:

• Remove personal mementos such as family photos and pack them away.
• Cull collections, and consider packing fragile items and storing offsite.
• Remove and securely store valuables and important documents.
• Consider off-site storage for holiday decorations, sporting goods, tools, bulky memorabilia, off-season clothes and toys.
• Declutter the yard, porch and deck of tools, gardening equipment, extraneous furniture and accessories.
• To keep yourself organized and on track, review and implement our decluttering checklist.


Stage the Look
As you decide what stays and what goes, start planning your next task in the home preparation process: staging. The idea is to make the house inviting and welcoming so that buyers see past your furniture and momentos and envision themselves owning and enjoying the house. Simply put, staging is the art of helping the buyer envision living in your home.

If this seems like a daunting task, you may also want to consider hiring a professional stager, especially if you have already moved. An empty house typically shows better with furniture, and a hired stager can be counted on to fill the void in your home by arranging rented furniture. Stagers are likely to charge about $150 for a consultation and $300 or more to actually stage your house.


If you stage yourself, keep these hints in mind:

• Rearrange furniture, removing pieces if necessary, to make rooms appear larger. Store extraneous furniture off-site.
• Be sure no furniture or personal items stand in the way of easily walking from room to room.
• Reposition floor and table lamps to ensure that rooms are brightly lit at any time of day or night.
• Pack and store any unnecessary kitchen accessories, countertop appliances, toys and electronic items.
• Empty your closets as much as possible so the amount of storage space is evident.
• Remove or rearrange pictures and objects on walls for a clean look. Patch and paint all walls, if necessary.
• Clean carpets and window treatments.

Once you have downsized, organized, rearranged and staged your home, it’s time to do a practice showing. Walk from room to room in your house with one or two other people to replicate the experience of guiding potential buyers through your home. Which rooms seem crowded when three people are standing in them? What items take up too much space? Make notes of the ways you could make those rooms seem more spacious and remove those items.

You’re now ready to take those great photos that will help bring buyers to your home.

Check out our Stage then Shoot (Photos) Gallery in the Marketing phase to see examples of great looking rooms staged to sell.