20 Essential Steps to Prepare A Home for Stunning Listing Photos and a Quick Sale

Selling a home can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Not only do you have to find a perfect buyer, but you also have to prepare the home for listing photos and showings. Preparing the home for listing photos is crucial because it can make or break a potential buyer’s first impression. With the rise of online listings and virtual tours, it’s important to make a home look its best in photos. In this post, we’ll cover a 20-step checklist to prepare a home for listing photos.

Real Estate Photography
Real Estate Photography


The first step in preparing a home for listing photos is to declutter. You want to remove any unnecessary items or clutter from all rooms in the house. Clutter can make a room feel smaller and distract potential buyers. Start by going through each room and getting rid of anything that you don’t need. Home owners can donate, sell, or store items that are still in good condition but not needed in the home.

Deep clean

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to deep clean. Clean all surfaces, floors, and windows thoroughly. You want to make sure that the home looks spotless in photos. If you don’t have the time or energy to do a deep clean yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning service.

Remove personal items

When potential buyers are looking at your home online, they want to be able to picture themselves living there. Take down family photos, personal items, and anything else that may distract buyers. You want to create a neutral canvas that potential buyers can envision as their own.

Make repairs

Before you take any photos, you should fix any visible damage, such as cracked tiles or peeling paint. Buyers will notice any visible damage and may assume that there are other issues with the home. Take the time to make any necessary repairs before you list the home.

Paint walls

Touch up or repaint walls to give them a fresh look. Over time, walls can become scuffed and dirty, and a fresh coat of paint can make a big difference. If the walls are a bold color, consider repainting with a neutral color to make the room appear larger and more inviting or ask us about our image enhancement services for a more cost effective solution.

Organize closets

Potential buyers want to see storage space in the home, and the best way to showcase this is to organize your closets. Organize and declutter all closets and storage spaces. Consider installing closet organizers or shelves to maximize space and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Arrange furniture

Rearrange furniture to create a more spacious feel. You want to create an open and inviting space that potential buyers can imagine themselves living in. Create conversational areas by grouping furniture together, and remove any pieces that are not necessary.

Add plants

Plants can add a touch of life and freshness to any space. Add a few plants to bring some greenery into your home. Place a small potted plant on a windowsill or in the corner of a room to bring in some nature.

Make beds

Make all beds and ensure they are tidy. Use freshly washed linens and pillows to create a clean and welcoming look in the bedrooms. Buyers want to see a clean and inviting space that they can imagine themselves sleeping in.

Stage the living room

The living room is one of the most important rooms in your home, and it’s important to make it look its best in photos. Add decorative pillows, rugs, and artwork to create an inviting living space. Add a decorative throw blanket and a few coordinating pillows to the sofa, and place a rug underneath the coffee table to define the space. Is staging not in the marketing budget? Ask us about our cost effective and ROI friendly virtual staging services.

Clear the kitchen countertops

The kitchen is often the heart of the home and a major selling point for potential buyers. Make sure your kitchen looks clean and spacious by clearing off all countertops. Only leave out a few decorative items, such as a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit. Clearing the countertops will give buyers a better idea of the kitchen’s size and potential.

Clean the kitchen appliances

Take the time to clean all kitchen appliances, including the stove, oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Buyers will look closely at the appliances to ensure that they are in good working condition. Clean appliances will make a good impression and help to sell your home.

Add fresh towels

Add fresh towels to the bathrooms to create a spa-like feel. Roll up towels and place them on the edge of the bathtub or hang them on a towel rack. Use coordinating colors to create a cohesive look in the bathroom.

Clean the bathrooms

Clean all bathrooms thoroughly, including the sinks, toilets, and showers. Use a squeegee to remove any water spots from shower doors and tiles. Make sure that all surfaces are free from clutter and personal items.

Stage the dining room

The dining room is another important space in your home. Set the table with coordinating place settings and add a centerpiece, such as a vase of flowers or a decorative bowl. Use a table runner or placemats to add color and texture to the table.

Hide cords and cables

Cords and cables can be unsightly and distracting in listing photos. Take the time to hide all cords and cables, especially in the living room and bedroom. Use cable ties or cord clips to keep cords neat and tidy.

Enhance curb appeal

The exterior of a home is the first thing that potential buyers will see, so it’s important to make a good first impression. Enhance the home’s curb appeal by trimming hedges, mowing the lawn, and planting flowers. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door and replace any old or damaged hardware.

Clean the garage

If there is a garage, make sure it’s clean and organized. Remove any clutter and tidy up tools and equipment. Buyers will appreciate a clean and organized garage, and it may even help to sell your listiing faster.

Showcase outdoor living space

If you have outdoor living space, make sure to showcase it in listing photos. Add a few chairs and a table to create a cozy outdoor living area. Clean the grill and add some fresh plants to make the space feel inviting.

Turn on lights

Finally, make sure to turn on all lights and open curtains to let in natural light. Bright spaces are more inviting and will make your home look its best in photos. Replace any burned-out bulbs and use warm or soft white light bulbs to create a welcoming atmosphere.

A Few Extra Things to Be Aware Of:

Be Prepared to Reschedule

Most photographers work around the weather because it has such a substantial impact on the final marketing materials. It’s impossible to fly drones and get footage if it’s raining or too windy. Be prepared to reschedule your photoshoot if the weather takes a dramatic turn for the worst. If a professional photographer determines he/she should wait, trust them that it’s for the best.

Be Prepared to Leave for a Few Hours

We use 3D imaging technology to scan every part of the home, yard, and garage. If you have pets or kids running through the house during a photoshoot, they are likely to be in the 3D tour somewhere. This is a problem.

It’s best to plan to leave your listing and give the photographer a non-occupied space to work with. It also helps them not to get distracted. Even if you’re shuffling from room to room to “stay out of the way,” it’s very distracting. You will get the most out of the process if the home is unoccupied.

Leave Instructions for the Photographer to Lock Up

When your OTBxAir photographer/videographer is finished and if you aren’t at the home, leave a key and instructions to let the photographer know your preferred method of locking up when they leave.

Preparing your listings for photos can be a daunting task, but it’s essential to selling it quickly and for the best price. By following this 20-step checklist, you can create a clean, organized, and inviting space that will appeal to potential buyers. Remember to declutter, deep clean, and make repairs, and add decorative touches to create an inviting space that buyers will love.

Check out our ULTIMATE REAL ESTATE CHECKLIST for everything in this blog plus more to help you set your listing up for success! Want to check everything off the list but don’t have the time or the budget? Book a demo call with our team today and let’s see how we can help you get that listing SOLD with our cost effective image enhancement and virtual staging services!