Four Steps to Taking Great Real Estate Photos

home fireplaceOdds are if you’re reading this you have at least one camera within your vicinity. Whether it’s on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet cameras are built into many of our daily-use electronics. The temptation is there, for someone selling a home, to just take out their phone and snap some photos to easily upload to listings. However, there’s a lot more to taking great real estate photographs that will catch the eye of potential buyers and set you apart from the competition. Follow these tips to create professional looking photographs without spending hundreds on a professional photographer.

Step 1: Do your research

Photography is an art. Even an untrained eye can tell the difference between photos taken by a professional and those taken by the layperson. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take photos that will stand out–with a little practice. The first step is to hit the books, or better: the internet.

Find some real estate photos that look great to try and emulate. Notice the angles they’re taken from and the lighting they use. You’ll notice that many photos give a wide view of a room. That’s because they’re probably taken with a wide-angle or fixed lens. Notice the room setup as well. This will come in handy later when we talk about room staging.

a well-positioned, knowledgeable photographer with an iPhone can take a better shot than an amateur with all the equipment in the world.

Step 2: Know your equipment

Equipment for real estate photography often includes multiple cameras, lenses, lighting fixtures, a tripod, and so on. But a well-positioned, knowledgable photographer with an iPhone can take a better shot than an amateur with all the equipment in the world.

In fact, much of real estate photography includes combining images to get the perfect amount of highlights and shadows in the room (this is called HDR photography). If you own an iPhone 6, you’ll be happy to learn that it boasts a built-in HDR feature that takes great photos.

Step 3: Room staging matters

Have you ever moved something in a room, say a coffee table or couch, and noticed that the room looked entirely different afterward? The arrangement of objects in a room can make it look breathable and spacious or claustrophobic and stuffy.

Staging a room allows you to highlight the best features of the home. If there’s something you want buyers to notice first, such as a fireplace, make sure there are no objects in front of it and put it close to the center of the photo.

Another important tip for staging a room: remove personal items. You don’t want your photos to look like you just happened to walk through someone’s home with their children’s portraits on the wall and magnets on the refrigerator. These are distracting and can make buyers feel like they’re spying rather than envisioning themselves owning the home. Removing picture frames is also an easy way to make a room appear more spacious.

Step 4: Take many photos

Have you ever been to a wedding where it seems like the photographer is in several places at once, snapping what appears to be an endless amount of photos? This is something you should emulate with your real estate photography, especially as a beginner. The more photos you take, the more you learn. Plus you’ll have a better chance at having a few gems to show off if you take hundreds of pictures. Remember, you’re shooting digital, you don’t have to worry about wasting film. Just carry an extra SD card for your DSLR camera or upload your photos to a site like Flickr if you’re on a smartphone.

Taking hundreds of photos isn’t an excuse to take poor or unplanned photos. Every time you hold your camera up you should be thinking about framing, lighting, and what you want to show off with that photo.

Follow these steps to start taking great photos. And don’t forget to share them with us!

Must-Know Tips for First-Time and Experienced Home Sellers

The real estate market is fierce, particularly for home sellers of all experienced levels. Thus, it may take you weeks, months or years to sell your residence if you don’t prepare accordingly.

So what does it take to ensure your home will sell quickly? Here are three tips for first-time and experienced home sellers:

1. Conduct Plenty of Research Before You Price Your Home.

Your home may seem priceless, but ultimately, you’ll need to establish a fair market price for your residence to generate interest among homebuyers.

To determine the right price for your home, consider the pros and cons of your residence.

For instance, if you recently had new energy-efficient windows installed in your home or set up an above-ground pool in your backyard, these features may help boost the value of your residence.

Conversely, an old furnace or a defective central air conditioning system may lead you to lower your asking price, as these items may need to be replaced in the foreseeable future.

Before you price your home, don’t forget to look at what similar houses in your area have sold for over the past few months and years, too. And if you hire a professional appraiser to assess your home’s value, you’ll be able to set an initial asking price that could help your residence stand out in a competitive real estate market.

2. Clean Up Your Home’s Exterior and Interior.

Typically, you’ll want to enhance your home’s curb appeal before you add your residence to the real estate market. By doing so, you can improve your house’s chances of making a positive first impression on prospective homebuyers.

You also may want to commit significant time and resources to bolster your residence’s interior.

From de-cluttering your home to revamping the interior of your house’s kitchen and bathroom, there is a lot that you can do to give your residence a distinct look and feel. Therefore, if you spend some time cleaning up your home’s exterior and interior, you may be able to make it easier for homebuyers to fall in love with your residence instantly.

3. Partner with an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

Hiring an experienced real estate agent should be a top priority, regardless of whether you’re a first-time or experienced home seller. Because with an expert real estate professional at your side, you can simplify the process of adding your residence to the real estate market and ensure your house garners plenty of interest from prospective homebuyers.

A real estate agent will offer guidance and support throughout the home selling process, enabling you to optimize the appearance of your home. Plus, this professional will help you handle negotiations with homebuyers and empower you with the knowledge and insights needed to maximize the value of your house.

Employ an experienced real estate agent to assist you during the home selling process – you’ll be glad you did. This real estate professional will make it simple for you to promote your house to large groups of homebuyers and finalize a sale without delay.

Why You Can’t Sell Your Own Home

Did you know that home sellers that use a real estate professional on average get 16% more in the sale of their home? In rare instances, some people are able to sell their own homes without the services of a real estate agent but for most it is tricky business.

Here are a few reasons why you can’t sell your own home.

1. A home for sale needs to be in the MLS (multiple listing service). You need to be a licensed real estate broker or  agent to be able to put a home in the MLS. Not having your home in the MLS is problematic, it will be difficult to advertise your home on many home search engines and websites.

2. Many real estate agents won’t show homes that are for sale by owner. For a real estate agent it can be difficult to deal directly with a home seller. Agents are used to receiving a commission on the sale and without a written agreement there is no guarantee that the buyer’s agent will be compensated for his or her services. Not having the cooperation of local agents significantly limits the pool of potential buyers.

3. Many buyers do not want to deal directly with the seller. Potential buyers usually feel uncomfortable looking at a home if the owner is present.  They will also be less likely to make an offer if they have to negotiate directly with the seller. Real estate agents create a much needed buffer between the seller and the buyer.

4. A real estate transaction is not always easy. Many times there are potential liability issues. Sellers would need to be well schooled in the real estate laws especially surrounding escrow and disclosure requirements.

Fix the Small Things Before You List Your Home

You have made the decision to put your home up for sale. Before you stick the sign in the yard there are a few things you will want to do. Buyers can be picky and the competition can be stiff. So now is the time to do all the little repairs you’ve always meant to do but never had the time for.

Here are just a few of the basic repairs you will want to conquer before the first prospective buyer walks through the door:

1.Tackle the Entrance

This is the first thing people see when they come to your home. Paint the front door and trim surrounding the door. Repair sagging screen doors and replace any missing or corroded hinge screws and tighten the rest.

2. Spruce up the Perimeter

Walk the perimeter of your home, clear away dead plants, clip blossoms, and clear away leaves and other yard waste.

3. Recheck the roof

Any problem that has the word roof in it scares a buyer away immediately. Replace missing shingles and fix hanging gutters.  Remove any moss growing on the roof as this shows signs of neglect.

4. Clear and caulk gutters.

Clear all the debris out of the gutters and recaulk the gutter end caps.

5. Patch nail holes and repaint.

Patch up nail holes in the walls of your home. Use a lightweight putty to fill the holes and paint the repaired spots.

6. Clean the Grout

Deep clean tile grout with bleach.  Regrout tiles where needed and recaulk cracks between sinks, tubs, toilets, counters and floors. This will give your tile a whole new look.

7. Stop Dripping Faucets

Fix leaky faucets before the buyer notices them.  You may need to call in a plumber to do this task. Before you do that you can shut off the water supply and check for moisture on the wall around the valves and on the floor of the sink cabinet. Many hardware stores carry faucet rebuild kits that contain the 6 to 12 parts most likely to fail, including the metal ball, O rings, springs and gaskets.

 

 

Home Selling Tips: The Garage

Garages aren’t just for parking cars and storing all of your stuff. The garage could just be the key to selling your home. Homeowners don’t typically think of putting much effort in the garage when preparing a home for sale. Investing a little time and effort into staging your garage could just be the difference from for sale to sold.

Follow these quick and easy steps to a garage home buyers dream of.

1. Get organized.

Everyone loves storage. Show off your garage and make it a selling point. One of the best ways to showcase your garage is an organized place where buyers can picture their things. Shelves, bins and storage closets are available at any local hardware store. When your garage looks spacious and organized it is more appealing and may even result in the buyer feeling like they are gaining square footage.

2. Light it Up

Lighting can make all the difference. Replace dangling, plain bulbs with fixtures or strip lighting. Adding an eight-foot fluorescent light strip can turn your garage from dark and dreary to open and inviting.

3. Finishing Touches

Garages that have appealing floors and walls go a long way in the buyer’s eyes. Concrete garage floors can be coated with an epoxy resin-based paint or rubber mats and tiles. This hides spills and makes cleaning a lot easier. Don’t forget the walls. Adding sheet rock makes a very clean surface and makes the garage feel more like a finished space. The sheet rock can also be painted to create a warmer atmosphere.

4. Properly working doors

There is nothing worse than a garage door in disrepair. Garage door openers should be quiet and have safety mechanisms in place. Have the garage doors evaluated by the garage door company that installed it or sometimes all it needs is a good oil job to lubricate it.

What is My Home Actually Worth?

It is common question that real estate professional get; what is my home worth? Unfortunately, it is a question that does not have an exact answer. There are ways to determine about what your home is worth. You may find online estimates that say one thing but is that a true test of what the market will bear? So, how can you really determine what your property is worth?

1. Consider Solds-Look at other comparable homes in your area that have recently sold. This will give you a good idea what buyers are willing to pay.

2. Consider Under Agreements/Pendings-Although it is difficult to tell what a home has sold for before it closes you may be able to tell the demand in a price range. Look at the asking price of the home and how long it was on the market. If you see a trend of homes going under agreement quickly you may assume they are going closer to the asking price.

3. Consider Active Listings-Real estate is about competition just like any other commodity. It is important that your home be competitively positioned against other comparable listings. The asking price is a part of the marketing plan of the home.

4. Online Values-Be wary of online estimates. The very definition “online” takes the human factor out of determining the value.  A computer program cannot take into account the nuances of location, home style and home condition.

5. Sell It-The only way to know a home’s true market value is to sell it. At the end of the day a home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay.