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This is a topic that I’ve had on the back burner for awhile now. When we were looking for our house, I just kept coming across bad listings for FSBOs (For Sale By Owner).
If you are thinking you want to sell your home yourself because you are in a hot market, please read on.
There are so many things you need to do if you choose to list your house yourself. There is a lot of great advice online. But I just wanted to touch on two of them. The photos and the staging.
You still need to put the effort in to marketing your home, even in a market that is on fire! I’ve seen it over and over. The homeowner who thinks, “I live in a very desirable location so I don’t need a realtor, and I can even take the photos with my iPhone for the listing”.
STOP right there!
If you truly are house proud, you need to show it by using quality images.
I have seen some crazy photos of houses that are for sale by the owner. I’ve seen photos that are blurry, upside down, upside down AND blurry. I’ve seen photos that make no sense and shouldn’t be in a real estate listing. (For the record, I’ve seen terrible photos posted on listings that are NOT FSBOs)
Here are a couple I just found. I have not cropped these images. They are exactly as I found them on Trulia. They are from various listings. I think the homeowners must have had a reason for taking each shot, but that reason doesn’t translate to a buyer visually. When you are only putting up a couple of pictures….make them count! You should try to get the whole room in your photo, the whole front/back of the house, and honestly…nobody wants to see a closeup of Grandma’s rocking chair, unless it’s fantastic and being sold with the house. (for some strange reason).
Pay attention to other listings that catch your eye and see what it is about those photos that make you look at the house.
A great location will only sell if you can get someone to see the property. Consider it an investment and have your home professionally shot by a professional photographer. If you cannot hire someone, here are some simple tips from Tiffany Ringwald, a professional photographer and someone I am happy to call a friend. She has taken countless fantastic real estate photos as well as having her work featured in national and local shelter magazines.
-Great light quality
You want to shoot your rooms at the brightest part of the day, but not direct sunlight. Bright overcast days are be best so take advantage of having mother natures very own soft box light! Shoot with the lights off! Unless your space is extremely dark no matter what part of the day. You can use an LED Panel light or two to light up a dark space easily and inexpensively without having to buy fancy professional camera equipment.
-Get your vertical lines straight!
Always keep your camera as straight and level as possible. It is highly recommended that your vertical lines are straight to make your images as professional as possible. DO NOT point your camera downward or upwards into the space or you skew your lines and have a fun house effect. Exception to the rules are close detail shots that don’t show many lines in the composition.
Higher camera positions from chest to head, roughly between 4ft-5 1/2ft high. This height is best for kitchens so that you don’t seen under the upper cabinets and you see more counter/island surface.
Lower camera positions from lower chest to waist, 3ft-4ft high. Thigh height is best for living spaces and low sitting areas so that you get more floor and a better view of the furniture.
Learn to edit your images using Lightroom or a great photo app. Whether it is a camera or from your phone you almost always need to edit your images. Do not get heavy handed or over do the editing. Subtle adjustments keep the quality high and more realistic for your viewers. Basic editing: Exposure, highlights, shadows, color balance, contrast and sharpen are the main settings to adjust. As you get more comfortable and fine tuned to editing you can dive into more of the advanced adjustments.
Recommended apps for photo editing: Lightroom, Photoshop, ColorStory, SnapSeeed, and Enlight
Check out Tiffany’s website here to see what great Real Estate photos look like!
Before you take those pictures make sure you LOOK at what you are photographing.
- Shut the garage doors
- Clean off the kitchen counters
- Put the toilet seats down
- Pick up the dirty laundry off the floor
- And if you are listing your home anytime outside of December, take down the holiday decorations! Listing your home in May, with a Christmas wreath hanging outside only translates to “I don’t take care of my house”
A Home Stager is another great suggestion. You may need someone to come in and help edit your space before you even have it photographed. No need to throw it all away, but you may find that taking some things to be donated or put into storage is very cathartic, and you may decide you don’t want it all back. You want your home to feel spacious, and to paint an image in buyers’ minds that they want to live “this lifestyle”.
I also realize that people list their house as a FSBO in order to save money and not have to pay a commission. Every realtor I know has always said that commission is negotiable. It doesn’t hurt to have a conversation with an agent. They will also give you a market analysis on your home. Maybe it is worth more than you even thought.
We offer staging advice before you list your home for sale. If you need our help, reach out to us. We are also happy to recommend photographers if you choose to use a pro.
Special thanks to Tiffany Ringwald for sharing her tips with us to get better shots of our interiors–whether it’s for a Real Estate listing, or not.