As more and more house transactions happen online, it is becoming ever more critical to use highest-quality exterior pictures to make the listing stand out on real estate search portals. Although it starts with high-quality photography, it doesn’t just end there. Sellers are increasingly employing image post-processing techniques to make the house look its best.

Most property search portals display a single image as the property cover photo on search results pages. On average, potential buyers look at a listing for only three seconds while browsing before deciding to click on it for details. This makes the cover picture of the listing the most valuable asset that the seller has to make those three seconds count and draw the buyers’ interest. Bright, crisp and clean exterior property pictures result in a higher click-thru rate, leading to more showings.

But you can’t always take your property photos on the best possible day when the weather is perfect, and landscaping is at its best, and that’s where image post-processing techniques come in. Here are some simple but powerful techniques that can benefit most listings. A Photoshop expert can perform all of these in a relatively short time.

1. Lighting enhancement

Because the goal is to present the property in the best possible light (no pun intended), the first thing you should look to do for daytime exterior shots is adjust the lighting and contrast of the picture to make it look bright and vibrant. This adjustment also involves changing the hue and saturation settings for the image to make the colors pop. Excessive shadows can also be removed in some cases, for instance, if the picture was taken during the time of the day when the shadow from surrounding buildings or trees is covering the house and making it look dark.



After Virtual Property Enhancement by

Virtual Property Enhancement by

2. Sky enhancement

One of the easiest and highest-impact enhancements you can make to an exterior image is to replace the sky with a sunny, blue, high-contrast sky. This adjustment instantly transforms the mood of the picture. This must be accompanied by the lighting enhancements mentioned above, otherwise the weather looks bright but the house does not.

3. Landscaping enhancement

Virtual landscaping is the most common type of enhancement performed for property exterior pictures. Curb appeal sells houses, and the best way to enhance curb appeal is by improving landscaping on the front of the house. However, not all sellers have the resources or the motivation to do it — that’s where virtual landscaping helps. You can easily do things like make the grass greener, make dry trees and plants green, trim haywire shrubs and more. However, this technique should be used sparingly so that you are not adding trees or plants where they don’t exist for the risk of misrepresenting the property. In most cases, virtual landscaping should only be limited to enhancing what’s already there so that the buyers can see how the house looks when fully maintained and manicured.



After  Virtual Property Enhancement by

Virtual Property Enhancement by

4. Seasonal enhancements

Houses get bought and sold throughout the year in all parts of the country. Image post-processing techniques can be used to ensure that the property looks its best on online search portals, whatever the season. It’s easy to do things such as snow removal, fall leaves cleanup, and to bring swimming pools and backyards to life — all using simple image enhancement techniques.



After  Virtual Property Enhancement by

Virtual Property Enhancement by

Industries including fashion and retail have been using image post-processing techniques for a long time as an essential part of the marketing process. Real estate is also starting to catch on as more listing agents look to leverage technology to help their listings stand out.

Companies offering these types of services often label them as virtual landscaping, virtual curb appeal or virtual exterior enhancement. The cost varies between $40 and $75 per picture. At that price point, if it gets your property more clicks and more showings, it is one of the best returns on investment you can make to market a property.

CJ Singh is the CEO and co-founder of, specializing in virtual furniture replacement, virtual home staging and virtual landscaping.

Email CJ Singh.

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