Selling? How to Make Your House Look Great in Photos

Improve your home’s shot at a sale by maximizing light, removing clutter and refreshing plants before the photo shoot

Laura GaskillApril 21, 2017
Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product picks, Houzz…More

A house hunter’s first view of your property is often online, and if the photos accompanying your home’s listing don’t impress, you probably won’t get a second chance to lure in that potential buyer — meaning your real estate photos are valuable assets when it comes to selling your home. The following tips can help your home put its best foot forward on picture day.

Beach Style Entry by Ethos Interiors
Ethos Interiors

Check out agents’ listings. Before diving into photo-day planning, it’s important to be sure your real estate agent is prepared to deliver quality listing photos. Study a potential agent’s listings to get a feel for the quality of the photography. Here are a few questions you may want to ask about how the agent handles photos:
  • Do you have a professional photographer on staff?
  • If you take the photos yourself, what equipment do you use — professional camera and tripod or just a cellphone?
  • Will the agent or photographer bring in additional lighting if needed?
  • How much time is typically allotted for the photo shoot?
  • What can I do to make my home look its best in photos?

Transitional Living Room by Steele Street Studios
Steele Street Studios

Clean the windows and open the shades. Ample light can go a long way toward making your home shine in photos, so get those windows sparkling clean, and open the shades and curtains wide.

Perk up houseplants. Fresh green plants add a feeling of life and vibrancy to interior photos. Ailing plants, not so much. Trim away dead leaves with a pair of sharp scissors. Dust large-leaved plants with a soft cloth.

Beach Style Kitchen by Emerald Coast Real Estate Photography
Emerald Coast Real Estate Photography

Remove counter clutter. Gleaming, clutter-free counters will make your kitchen look more spacious. Put away everything, then clean counters well. It’s fine to leave out one or two small appliances, such as the toaster and coffee maker, but stash anything extra, as well as small appliances that have seen better days.

Transitional Kitchen by Reagan Jobe Photography
Reagan Jobe Photography

Polish wood floors and shine up appliances. Wood floors can be a major selling point, so be sure they look their best in photos by treating them to a thorough cleaning, and finish with a product that is safe for your floors. The same goes for those stainless steel appliances — using a product designed for stainless steel, buff the surface until it gleams.


Hide toiletries and freshen bathrooms. Aside from a fresh bar of soap at the sink, the bathroom should be completely free of toiletries — too many products crowding the sink and shower suggest that there’s not enough storage space. Pull open the shower curtain, clean the mirror, put the toilet seats down and turn on the lights. Remove old towels and put out fresh, fluffy white towels if you have them. If not, just leave the towel racks bare.

Scandinavian Bedroom by Tribe Creative London
Tribe Creative London

Neatly tuck in bedcovers. Photographs seem to pick up every little imperfection, so spend an extra few minutes straightening up the beds on picture day. Fluff up the pillows, pull the bedcovers taut, and clear away clutter and personal items from the bedside tables.


Do a photo-ready walk-through.The aim on photo day should be to make your house look as spacious, clean and inviting as possible — so it’s in your interest to declutter as much as possible. Here are some under-the-radar items you may want to stash before the photographer arrives:
  • Shoes in the entryway
  • Piles of mail and paperwork
  • Remote controls
  • Magazines
  • Kids’ toys that can’t be put neatly away
  • Pet food bowls, beds and litter boxes (temporarily move these to an area that won’t be photographed)
  • Front-of-fridge clutter (magnets, photos, cards)

Modern Dining Room by PSW Real Estate
PSW Real Estate

Switch on all lights. Unless your home is flooded with natural light or you know that your real estate photographer will be using portable studio lighting, the general rule is to turn on all lights. Don’t assume that photographers will do this for you because they may miss some or may not find every switch. So take a moment before you go to turn on lights, and double-check that curtains and shades are pulled open as well.

Traditional Patio by JDS OUTDOOR DESIGNS

Highlight special features. Have a lovely working gas fireplace or an outdoor fire pit? Make sure it’s lit on photo day. Likewise, if you have a hot tub or a pool in the backyard, make sure it’s uncovered and clean for the photos.

Traditional Exterior by Anchor Builders
Anchor Builders

Focus on the first impression. This isn’t the time to worry about major landscape changes or reviving a dead lawn. Instead, focus on the quick fixes that will make a positive impression in a head-on photo of your home. Deadhead flowers, rake leaves, clear away porch and driveway clutter, and set out a few pots of blooming flowers. You may also want to leave your own car parked in front of the house until the photographer is ready to shoot the street view — otherwise you could wind up with your neighbor’s SUV blocking the shot!

Last but not least, check that all outside areas are neat and tidy, with outdoor furniture in place, tools put away and garbage cans tucked out of sight.