This post by , a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Virginia, was originally published on ActiveRain.

You already know that a listing with pictures attracts a lot more attention than one without, but do you know how to take great pictures of a home? Whether you’re an agent or a person trying to sell his own home, it’s vital that you make a big first impression, and pictures are the best (and maybe only) opportunity that you will have to do just that.

The truth is that more homebuyers than ever before begin their home search online, and homes without pictures are often passed up immediately. Why? Well, imagine that you are looking for a new home and you are online checking out what’s available in your desired area. Would you bother to click on a listing with no pictures? Your first thought might be, “Why are there no pictures? What’s wrong with this house?” — and that’s exactly what might happen to you if you are the seller or listing agent.

First things first

One of the most common mistakes I notice when I look at pictures of a house for sale is poor picture quality. Top-of-the-line equipment is not necessary to take good pictures of a house, but the average cellphone camera won’t cut it either. It’s worth the investment to buy decent equipment or at least follow some fundamental DIY photography tips.

I would recommend no less than a 5-megapixel camera to get some clear and acceptable pictures. As you know, these types of cameras are very inexpensive today and can be purchased at any electronics retailer for a very low cost. Of course, you can spend whatever you like, but if you’re buying the camera for a one-time use then I would keep it to the bare minimum. You’ll get good pictures and you might even find other uses for your new camera. A tripod will help to keep you from ending up with blurry pictures due to a shaky hand, but it’s not an absolute necessity.

Take pictures of what really counts

Keep in mind that people want to see the home that is being advertised, NOT what is in it. The house should be free of clutter and reasonably clean. Allow the person who’s seeing the pictures to imagine his things in the home instead of seeing too much of someone else’s. Try to include colorful items in the photos that attract attention such as brightly colored artwork, flowers, etc. It’s amazing what a dash of color can add to a neutral-colored atmosphere.

The brighter the better

Any professional photographer will tell you that nothing is better than natural sunlight. Try to schedule picture-taking day on a sunny day if possible, and be sure to open curtains to allow as much natural light in as possible. A dark, cloudy day produces very dull and gloomy pictures that just aren’t very appealing to look at.

Some hints to remember

When photographing a room it almost always looks better if the shot is taken from the doorway looking into the room.

Exterior pictures of single-family homes look better if shot from an angle instead of directly from the front. This allows viewers to see the depth of the home instead of a “flat” two-dimensional view of the front.

Try not to include obstructions on the outside if possible. Items such as telephone poles, electrical wires and dumpsters do nothing to make a home look appealing and actually detract from what should be the center of attention — the house itself.

Be sure to take a LOT of photos. That way you can pick and choose which pictures look the best. That’s one of the advantages of today’s digital cameras: Pictures are disposable and of course there are no printing costs involved, so click away!

Make improvements if needed

If you have a home computer then you have free software to enhance any pictures that might need a little improvement. I’m not familiar with Macs, but I know that Windows-based PCs have basic editing software already installed that allows you to easily make simple changes to pictures to improve their appearance. It’s worth your time to do a little quick editing if needed to make the pictures look as good as possible.

There you have it! Now that you have some very impressive pictures to show home seekers, you are ready to sell that home in record time!
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