The single most important factor in selling a house, other than
price, is having good photos in your MLS listing and online. Most buyers
today search for homes online, and will rule out homes with bad photos
or no photos at all. Make taking and posting great photos a priority.
This guide was written to save you time. It takes 5 minutes to read
and understand how to get great photos, and your house will sell faster
as a result. You'll also save time by avoiding the need of taking photos
multiple times because they never seem to come out right.
Choosing a Digital Camera
If you don't already have a digital camera, you should buy one. You
can get a good one now for under $200. Don't waste your money on the
disposable cameras, and don't expect to get any decent pictures out of a
cell phone, or other mini-camera. Camcorders/Video Cameras also fall
short - the pictures are poor quality and tend to have a narrow angle.
To help you choose the right camera for you, see Consumer Reports on Digital Cameras
The 3 most common photo problems
1. Please don't send "vertical" photos (with camera tilted
sideways); the photos will become distorted. Width must be the bigger
2. Please don't send photos larger than 640x480.
That's the largest they will ever appear anywhere online. See below for
an easy way check size and how to reduce.
3. Please don't crop the photos, unless you retain the 4:3 ratio.
How to shoot the best pictures to sell your home
The best photos of home interiors are with window treatments open,
when the photo captures the room as well as the view outside the window.
The biggest problem with shooting a room with a window is that the
camera will automatically adjust for the lighting based on the brightest
spot in the photo, which is normally the light coming in the window.
The room is normally not as bright as the window, so the camera
compensates by adjusting for the brightest spot in the photo, making the
inside too dark.
To overcome this, the light between the outside and the inside needs
to be more equal. Take the photo when the outside is not so bright, at
either sundown/sunrise, or when it's overcast. In fact, the best time is
daytime in a thunderstorm, because the outside light is dim and
diffused. Nobody will notice the rain outside in the final photo,
especially since it will be small when viewed on the internet.
Normally, you will get the best photos with the flash on the camera
set to OFF, and all the inside lights on. Most cameras give you the
option to have the flash on, off, or set to automatic. Experiment and
try some shots with and without flash. Sometimes a flash can overcome
bright light coming in the windows, because the flash will brighten up
the inside without affecting the outside. Cameras, rooms, lighting, and
other factors vary, so it's best to experiment to see what gets you the
As for photos of the outside, a sunny day with a blue sky usually
gives you the best photo, providing there are no undesirable dark spots
due to shaded areas. You generally want the sun behind you. If the front
of the house faces North, it may be best to take that photo on a cloudy
day, especially if it's a brick house or has dark siding. The bright
areas of the sky versus the unlit dark front give you the same problem
as inside photos with overly bright windows.
Which rooms to photograph
Concentrate on the main living areas. Bedroom photos don't mean much
if they don't show much more than a bed. Unless there is something
interesting like a pair of French doors with a view of a pool or
something green, or a fireplace, or a nice sitting area, skip the
Bathrooms very difficult to photograph because they're too small and
you can't stand back far enough. Even a beautiful bath is tough to
capture because of mirrors and limited space, so it's usually best to
skip the bathrooms.
Most important areas to photograph:
1. The front view
2. Living room
4. Formal Dining
5. Breakfast area
6. 2nd living area or different angle of living room
If any of the above either don't exist, or can easily be captured in
the same photo (i.e., often a breakfast area can clearly be seen in the
kitchen photo), then consider:
7. Backyard/garden/patio area
8. Foyer/staircase/entry – if noteworthy
9. Master bedroom if there is something interesting there
10. Any others are a matter of judgment as to what else captures the essence of the home.
About picture sizes and "Pixels"
Think of every digital photo as being a mosaic of little tiny squares
of varying colors. These little tiny squares are called "pixels". The
more pixels, the clearer the photo. Digital photo size is measured by
how many pixels wide by how many pixels high. 640x480 is the absolute
largest that is will ever be displayed on any MLS related website. In
fact, most photos on the internet are no bigger than 320x240.
The problem is that high pixel cameras (5 megapixels and more) are
getting more common, and most people think they will get better photos
on the internet if they send us photos with the high megapixels. High
pixel photos are good for enlarging to 8x10 prints, or even to poster
size, with high clarity, but are pointless for the internet. All they do
is create emailing problems
For example, someone may try to send several photos in one email that
are over 3000 pixels wide by over 2000 pixels high, and wonder why it
doesn't go through. One photo of that size is same size as over 20
photos that are 640x480, or 80 photos that are 320x240.
If your photos are a little larger than 640x480, it may be ok. Large
photos (i.e. over 1280x960) are not likely to come through in your
email, and definitely won't with a dial up connection or AOL. Most email
services have size limits on what is allowed to pass through in an
There are 3 quick ways to find out what size your photo is: 1) If
you're using Windows XP, you can simply move the little mouse arrow over
the photo icon, and it should tell you the size (photo needs to be on
your desktop or in a folder on your desktop, and not a "shortcut"); or
2) Right click on the photo icon and choose "Properties", then select
the "Summary" tab; or 3) Double click on a photo to open it, then right
click on the photo, and left click on properties. It should tell you how
many pixels wide and high the photo is.
Don't take photos with the camera tilted sideways. A photo that is taller than wide will end up either distorted, squashed, or shrunk when posted on MLS and real estate websites.
DO NOT "crop" or trim down the picture after you take it,
unless you know exactly what you're doing and what pixel dimensions you
are ending up with. It's better to leave it alone and write us a note
of what you want, and let us do it. It's a lot less work for us that
way, because if you crop it, we will need to re-crop the photo to get
the ratio correct.
When emailing photos, it's best to send them
in jpg or gif format. If you don't understand what that means, don't
worry about it and simply email us the photos however they come out of
your camera, and we'll convert them if we have to.
Do not send
photos in a format that requires downloading special software to access
the photo. Kodak is a prime example. When their software is downloaded,
it also downloads additional undesirable items that can cause problems
such as slowing down one's computer, and making the computer more
vulnerable to spyware and viruses. We will not download anybody's
software to access a photo.
Remember that good photos posted in
MLS and Realtor.com is one of the most important factors in selling your
home and getting a good price for it. Don't be impatient or cut corners
when it comes to photos.
Last but not least, don't expect to
get great pictures out of a camcorder, palm pilot, cell phone, or
disposable camera, no matter what the advertisement or salesman tells