What To Do Prior To Photographing A Home
Have you ever been looking through the MLS or online "Homes For Sale" listings and wonder why some of the homes you see listed there look so horrible? Well let's take a look at what is the needed to make your clients, or your home stand out from the crowd.
As a photographer, upon arrival at a home for a shoot, the very first thing after unpacking and bringing the equipment you're going to use inside the home, is to do a thorough walk through of the home with the seller or real estate agent if possible. In some cases, however, neither the real estate agent nor the seller will be available to accompany you on this walk through. What you are looking for are things which are out of place, things which need to be properly arranged or removed, toilet seats which are up and need to be put down, shower curtains which need to be either closed or straightened, throw rugs which need to be properly arranged or removed, nick knacks which may clutter the shot, bathroom and kitchen towels which need to be straightened or removed, and/or anything else which may hinder the photography of the home. Each and every home you photograph should be treated as if you are trying to make this the best home on the market.
Secondly, while doing this initial walk through, began looking at each room as to how you're going to shoot it. Each room needs to be shot from angles which will give it the best look and make them pleasing and attractive to the eye of the prospective buyer. Another thing you're doing while making the walk thru is to see if there are any architectural additions to the home which need to be shown, such as unique wrought iron staircases, chandeliers, recessed light fixtures, moldings, stainless steel appliances, or any other unique item around the house which should be catalogued. Most common built homes might have unique master closets and not much else, but those custom built homes generally will have several of the items listed above and these need to be photographed to give the real estate agent several different photos to choose from.
And don't forget to do a visual inspection of the exterior of the home, both front and back yards. Does the home have a pool? Is this pool unique in anyway? What about the wood fencing around the home, as most subdivision homes now have. If the home is on acreage, do a visual inspection of this as well. Look for creeks, lakes, barns, or working pens, if any. All of these will need to be photographed. Would this home show well with an aerial view or an elevated view? All of these aspects need to be taken into consideration before you take your first photograph.
This process should take no longer than 5 to 10 minutes in a typical subdivision home, but as you get into the more exclusive neighborhoods and rural areas, this process could take longer. Probably one of the most forgotten part of shooting all homes are the amenities offered by the neighborhoods/subdivisions. Are there tennis courts, neighborhood pools, parks, or playgrounds, ect. Many of the newer subdivisions offer these. Some even have golf courses so you'll have to get shots of this as well.
Remember, doing these walk throughs and asking questions of the sellers or real estate agents will help you produce fantastic photographs of each and every home you shoot. So many times I have walked through a home which may look great on the outside, but the inside lacks desire, or is dirty/messy and simply not ready to shoot. In some of the remodels I have been asked to shoot have not been completed and still need cleaning. If you have time to wait, then maybe wait to avoid a reschedule and those unwanted rescheduling fees that we as photographers unfortunately have to charge. Make sure the home/business/commercial property is ready to go before you schedule it. This saves from a possible reschedule fee for the agent/seller and make sure they know you have this fee. Every time I have come upon a home which is not ready to go, I have done almost all I can to avoid charging this fee, from waiting to returning later in the day after I have finished my other homes I have had scheduled for that day. This keeps your clients happy and generally will mean repeat business from them.
One final point or personal experience happened when I had a subdivision home to shoot and was told it might be in rough shape. When I looked over the outside, it appeared to be in "ok" condition. However, when I went inside, the home was in total disrepair, and I mean DISREPAIR. The carpets were ripped up, bathrooms were filthy, kitchen was definitely not cleaned, bedrooms were dirty, with beds unmade, and was told by the seller that he was in bankruptcy, a divorce had been filed, and the home was in foreclosure. And his almost exact words were "I don't give a damn and I'm not gonna clean it. It's your business to make the house look good". Well the first thing I did was to call the agent and tell her what I found and what I was told by the seller. Her answer was the home was low-balled and to do the best I could. Low-balled basically means, "rock bottom price" in the real estate world. This was and still is the worst home I ever had to shoot and one that had the least amount of photos as I was trying to shoot around the filth to get the best shots I could.
So, again as was stated above, doing a complete walk through, and getting a feel for how you want to shoot the home will give you and your client the best possible photos and will possibly make the homes you photograph stand out from the crowd and be noticed by the buying public. This is the goal of all real estate photographers to make each and every home pleasing and appealing those prospective buyers. A real estate agent's listing photos can make or break how long a home will sit on the market before an offer is made.