How To Prepare Your House For Photography That Sells

A skilled photographer can transform an ordinary home into something spectacular. Here are some tips on how to prepare your home.

General Guidelines

We’ve seen homes stay on the market for 180+ days due to the lack of professionalism in presentation. Hiring a professional photographer is step one of ensuring that your listing never stays on the market this long. We have included a downloadable PDF checklist that you can take with you and access quickly.

The key here is to make your home look like a lovely hotel. You will need to declutter and remove all personal items before the photographer arrives. Remember, they get hired to take the photos; it’s your job to hire the right team to stage and clean the home prior.

If you are unable to hire a stager, we want to let you know the simple vital practices you can do for every home in every room and are guaranteed to make the house look spacious and at its best.

  • Turn on every light

(interior and exterior (including lamps, and furniture/appliance built-in lighting such as a stove, or bookcase, cabinet/counter strip lighting, etc. (replace all blown bulbs))

  • Open all blinds/shades
  • Clean windows
  • Open all doors
  • Close toilet bowl seats
  • Sweep/vacuum/mop
  • Dust and shine all furniture + appliances
  • Remove family photos from fridge, walls

First impressions matter

The first impression that a home buyer will see "whether they are walking through the house virtually or not" will be from the doorway. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your furniture’s arrangement is staged tastefully with decors that attract. Homes with more neutral and complementary decor have been sold faster in today’s modern age, but of course, you won’t always be able to achieve that look in such a short time. In addition, buyers want to see the natural light that comes into the room. For example, in a bedroom, be mindful that the bed or stand-alone bookcase/desk are not blocking the window from any light entering the room.

Naturally, a home will photograph better with consistent natural lighting throughout, so make sure you’ve coordinated the best time of day to set up your booking with your photographer. Typically, your photographer will photograph every room at least once at an angle from the entryway.

Exterior, front yard, backyard

  • Remove cars from the driveway (park in garage or away from the house)
  • Remove trash and recycling bins out of sight
  • Sweep porch and outdoor walkways
  • Rake leaves, pull weeds, Mow lawn, trim trees/overgrown hedges
  • Close garage doors
  • Store garden supplies and tools in the garage (including hoses, sprinklers, etc.)
  • Pick up loose children’s toys, bicycles, empty pots, dead plants and store them in the garage.
  • Uncover and wipe down external furniture, make sure pillows are neat.



  • Clear countertops including food, dish racks, cutting boards, and small appliances (you may leave one small machine, ex. coffee maker/toaster)
  • Remove dishes from the sink, leave clean in dishwasher or put away in cabinets.
  • Remove fridge magnets and other items.
  • Remove dish liquids, dish towels, and cleaning products, as well as garbage bins, brooms, and mops.
  • If possible, place a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of fresh flowers on the countertop.
  • Hide garbage bins

Dining room

  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs
  • Place a centerpiece such as a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruits

Family room/Living room

  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • Declutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than five items, including art)
  • Clean the interior of the fireplace and re-paint if needed
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
  • Remove all kid's toys
  • Put away TV/stereo remotes

Master Bedroom

  • Make the bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available
  • Press bed linens and bed skirts
  • Clear nightstands of all personal items
  • Store away phone/tablet charging cables
  • Remove all clutter from on top of dressers
  • Remove family photos from walls
  • Clean underneath the bed, removing items that may show in the photos

Kid/Guest Bedroom

  • Remove personalized names from walls
  • Remove wall stickers/posters
  • Remove diaper genies
  • Clean underneath the bed, removing items that may show in the photos


  • Clear countertops. (No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, hair dryers or personal belongings, etc.)
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Close closet doors
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
  • Remove dirty towels - leave out only new, unused towels
  • Remove floor mats

Final Touches

Now that your home is clean and ready, turn off ceiling fans on the day of the photoshoot and turn off all televisions. We love pets, but pets need to be attended to and removed when photos are taken if present.

Our photographer will show up and take high-resolution photos for your MLS and your online/print materials when the home is ready.

Learn more about Sudden Reels by visiting our website. We may have additional valuable tips and advice.