7 Steps to prep, stage and photograph your home to get it sold fast

Feb 13, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Image: Wikimedia Commons

My home hit the market one week before Christmas, which any real estate agent will tell you is far from ideal. But with these preparation, staging and photography tips, I was able to attract more buyers and sell my home in just 18 days!

1. Ditch the beige

Every homeowner has had that debate over what color they should or shouldn't paint a wall. You might like blue, but buyers like beige — that's what we're told, but that's a lie. Using alternative colors, like soft blues and grays, will help your home to stand out from the crowd.

2. Break away from the cookie-cutter mold

Comparing your home to other properties is an essential step, but doing things exactly as they've done is a mistake. Use comparable properties as a reference point to determine which investments in your property will have the largest impact. Every other home in my neighborhood had carpet or tile, so I went with dark laminate to set my home apart.

3. Clear out the crap

Just because you own something doesn't mean it needs to appear in your listing photos. Potential buyers don't need to see your favorite fuzzy blanket, that hideous sofa you never got around to recovering or the caddy where you store your soap. Removing these things from your shots will let buyers see more of your space (which is what you want). So push them back, put them down, or tuck them out of the way. It takes only a few minutes and makes a world of difference in your photos.

4. Give a purpose to every room (even those you don't use)

In my listing photos, this was a bedroom. In real life, it was a room of junk that happened to have a bed. And while it was tempting to just shoot the room in all of its borderline-hoarder-trap glory, it was just as easy to move things out and stage a scene that looked both functional and orderly.

4. Shift, repurpose and reuse

If you think I own two Donna Karan metalic gold pillows, Besta Burs tables and matching fuzzy side chairs, well, you're wrong. To make your home look full, lovely and functional, just move things around from room to room and fill in the gaps as you shoot.

5. Swap your towels out for white

I love this tip, because fresh towels make bathrooms look instantly cleaner, and it's the easiest thing to do. Personally, I like to keep a set of pretty white towels ready for display at all times.

6. Show your space, not your stuff

Nothing is more annoying than a property listing that shows 20 photos of a renovated kitchen or nicely decorated living room but none of the rest of the house. Plus, refusing to share photos of your home might actually scare away potential buyers by making them wonder what you're hiding. Think about the listings you like to browse through. How many and what kind of photos do they have?

7. Include a floor plan if you can

It can be difficult to get the idea of a home's layout from a few photos, so if at all possible, include a floor plan. If you live in a community that was constructed by a developer, contact the builder, or visit their website to see if they've listed a copy of your home's floor plan in their promotional materials. If your home is older, you can use free rendering software like Google SketchUp to enter your home's measurements. There are several YouTube tutorials to show you how.

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