Putting Your Best Photo Forward

So, you've decided to sell your home, and you're doing it without an agent. You've talked to your friends, scoured the internet for tips, checked out your competition, and come up with an accurate appraisal of your home. In short, you were feeling confident. But, for some reason, your house just isn't selling.

The calls aren't coming in, and you can't figure out why. You live in a good area. Plenty of houses are selling around you, and they're even priced higher than yours. So what's the deal?

Well, it could be the photographs.

Amy, a friend of mine, had looked at hundreds of houses, but she kept going back to the one that had been on the market for 240 days. The pictures of the house were awful--everything looked dark and smudgy and drab.

But Amy has great taste, and even better instinct. So, after brushing off the idea for months, she finally decided to see the house in person. It was great. Just the place they were looking for.

The asking price was $950,000 -- but there had been no offers. No one else had even asked to see it. Amy offered $750,000 and she got the house for $775,000.

Now here's the punchline: Three years later, Amy and her husband decided they wanted to be closer to their kids' school, so they put their house on the market -- with great photographs. It sold for $1.3 million.

Long story short: great photos are absolutely crucial to selling your home.

Unsure of what makes a great photo? Worried you're forgetting something? Here's a few of tips to get your pictures in tip-top shape.

      1. Clean up all clutter. This is the most important thing you can do.
      2. Have good light. Turn on lamps, open your drapes, and make sure all bulbs are working.
      3. Turn off ceiling fans. They can bake distracting blurs in your photographs.
      4. Put away all personal items when you photograph your bathroom.
      5. Take everything off your counters, take the magnets off your fridge, and hide the pet bowls when you   photograph your kitchen. Hide your pets too!
      6. If you have workout equipment in the living room, remove it!
      7. If you have young children, their stuff is probably everywhere. Unfortunately, you have to remove all of this stuff (high chairs, baby gates) before you take photos.
      8. Before you photograph the exterior, trim your trees, mow your lawn, and blow away the fallen leaves. Put away your hoses, trashcans, and recycling, and hide the sign for your security company. Move your car if it's parked in front of the house.
      9. Clean up your pool if you have one. Make sure no toys are lying around.
      10. If you have anything overtly political or seasonal in plain view, put it away before anyone shoots the photos.