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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Listing Photo Dos and Donts: Taxidermy, Dead Bodies, and Phallic Windows, Oh My!

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Thursday, 26 March 2015 10:55

A toilet seat left up in a filthy bathroom. A room that looks like it belongs in the sequel to Deliverance. Poor angles that accentuate phallic window shapes (yes, really!) They're just a few of the bizarre, poorly executed, and possibly illegal listing photos out there. Cause nothing sells your house like making people think it's a murder scene.

"In a survey by the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers rated photos as the feature they use most when searching for a home on the web," said FrontDoor. "Online listings with bad pictures--or worse, no pictures at all--can cause buyers to overlook your home from the get-go.

Yes, listing photos are the great equalizer when it comes to selling a home. And they're more important than ever, but that doesn't mean everyone's doing them right.

Here are a few tips for taking great listing photography (some are more obvious than others):

Clean up! Dirty clothes on the floor, bathrooms that look like they need to be drenched in Clorox, and dishes in the sink are big no-nos. Standard stuff, yes, but given some of the listing photos out there, it bears repeating.

Do a secondary tidying. "Clear out distracting items like toys, refrigerator magnets and the like before taking photos," said FrontDoor.

Show all the home's best attributes. Don't leave out a well-designed powder bath because you think it's irrelevant. When it comes to pictures of the home, more is better—as long as the spaces you're showing are worth showing.

Natural light is your friend. Actually, any light is your friend. You want the space to show light and bright, so open the windows and flip all the switches. Whether you're shooting inside or out, do it without a flash. "Even basic point-and-shoot cameras are getting better at low-light situations, and your camera's flash will never be able to light a room well," said Houzz.

"Consider the angles. "The best way to show off a room is to shoot from a corner or doorway to include as much of the room as possible," said FrontDoor. This provides context and makes the room look more spacious than a tight shot does. When photographing your home's exterior, stand at an angle to the home rather than straight-on, allowing buyers to see the home's depth."

Consider the height. "One really important compositional consideration is how high the camera is off the ground," said Houzz. They like to shoot with the camera about 40 inches off the floor to get impactful low shots. "When your camera sits lower than eye level, your photos will look more like those you see in magazines."

Get out of the photo. A surprising number of individuals show up in listing photos, either purposely or accidentally as the result of a reflection in a bathroom mirror. Either way, it's best to avoid distracting potential homebuyers who will inevitably focus on the person, and not the space.

Use a professional. We all have a smart phone and the quality of the photos they take is better than ever. But photos taken by a professional photographer with a professional camera are still preferable, especially for high-end listings.

And here are a few things NOT to do:

If you have so many plants you can't see the actual room, time to pare down. And maybe consider moving to the Amazon.

Perhaps consider window shape at the construction stage? And when listing the house, be smart about potential buyers. Marketed to a porn company, this angle works perfectly.

Multi-purpose rooms are great, but...

OMG! …is that an outline of a dead body in the photo from Curbed?

Maybe cover up evidence of a murder scene before you take your listing photos? "One reader questioned why there appears to be a trail of bloody footprints across the floor in an otherwise perfectly normal-looking house in Minnesota, said Hooked on Houses.

Great for Extreme Taxidermy magazine. As a listing photo, not so much...

Live animals aren't always better. At least this was an equestrian listing, reports Hooked On Houses.

Peekaboo, we shouldn't see you in this listing photos featured on Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.

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