The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. In real estate, a picture can be worth the sale of your home, or having someone book your vacation rental. Bad pictures are an immediate turn off and many buyers and renters browsing online will move right past your property and on to the next.
Before you start snapping pictures, preparing your home is a very important step. I’ll talk about the importance of staging in the future, but in general you’ll want to clean and tidy up your home as much as possible. Remove clutter! Remember that someone buying or renting your home wants the house, not your never opened boxed collection of Star Wars figurines. Someone renting your home for the week wants to feel like they’re staying in a clean hotel, not like they’re squatting in a foreclosure. Now would be a good time to finally hang those curtains and purge those items you’ve been meaning to donate.
Ideally you hire a professional real estate photographer. This is their job, and most do it well. Not only have they made the investment in expensive camera equipment, but they also have the experience in highlighting what’s important. If you’re selling your home ask your Realtor about how they handle photographs. If they show you their new iphone you should be concerned. If you’re listing your own short term rental and can’t hire a professional, at the very least use the best camera you can get your hands on. Without a wide angle lens, your bathroom picture is only going to show the toilet, and unless you splurged on a $6000 Kohler Numi you shouldn’t be highlighting the commode. (The toilet opens itself when you walk in the room!)
An interesting side note, if you are advertising a vacation rental Airbnb will send out a photographer for free. I’ve used this service once out of curiosity, and while the photos were decent they were nowhere as good as the regular professional real estate photographers that I use. In fact if you own your own higher end camera you can probably take pictures of the same or better quality. The photos Airbnb takes have an Airbnb watermark added which adds some credibility to your listing. If you’re planning on renting your home out frequently, hiring a professional can be well worth the investment. If you’re selling your home, great photos can get your home on a buyer’s “must see” list.