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20-Step Checklist to Prepare Your Home for Listing Photos

Preparing your home for a photoshoot can be exhausting. The day the photographer arrives is one of the most anxious times of the entire home selling process.


Everything has to be completely ready by the appointment time. It's a lot of stress to sell your home.

"As a photographer, it's common to show up on the day of a photo shoot to find the sellers frantically trying to finish the last steps. If you've ever been in this position, you understand the stress." -MALEA G.

Realtors work hard to help our clients get to this point of the selling process without much chaos. They use checklists and coaching visits from stagers to make the home look outstanding before the photographer shows up.

Your home's marketing will dramatically impact your buyers' opinion of your house and your sales price. It would be best if you had the most professional photography and videography possible. This is why the real estate marketing has changed so drastically over the past few years.

One of the most important things to know about your professional real estate photographer/videographer is that they are indeed artists. They can make your home look amazing with their skill sets.

When your real estate photographer shows up, they will walk the house and spend some time searching out the most important aspects to highlight potential buyers. Seasoned professionals have developed a unique ability to identify the home's pros and cons. They know how to showcase the property's best attributes. Their experience and trade tools allow them to manipulate light and space to make your home look as big and bright as possible.

Since your photographer/videographer is an artist, you will get significantly more out of their services if your house is entirely ready when they arrive. Artists can get distracted if they have to rearrange and tidy rooms before a shoot. After all, that's not part of their job description.

You want their attention to be focused on a bright and clean home, not on the work it takes to get the house to that point. They're often on a tight schedule, and time spent doing your job is time they can't spend doing theirs.

To get the most out of your professional real estate photographer, follow the real estate photography pre-shoot checklist below. It will help ensure that your house is photo-ready and welcoming before you list your home for sale. Use these tips to prepare your home.



Your home's marketing is the most important piece of the selling puzzle. It begins with your preparation, paired with a great photographer/videographer. Having the items on this checklist completed will ensure that your home will be ready before the photographer arrives.  This move will enable you to get the most out of their time and talent.You've likely done a lot of work to get your home ready to sell. Don't fizzle out at the end when these details matter the most!


Remember, great marketing leads to great offers!

Here's a property photography checklist of the top 20 items to prepare your home.

Clear & Clean Kitchen Counters & Sink

When the kitchen counters are completely cleared off, it makes the kitchen look more prominent, and buyers can imagine how they might use the space. Coffee makers, mixers, and decorations only distract buyers and often make the kitchen feel cluttered.

Remove everything but perhaps a few decorative items from the countertops and clean all surface areas, including the appliances, kitchen sink, and backsplash.



  • Remove dirty dishes, food, etc.

  • Store food.

  • Clear counters of clutter and small appliances.

  • Remove refrigerator magnets, photos, etc.

  • Clean surfaces and appliances.

  • Hide soaps, towels, cleaning items, etc.

  • Store draining racks.

  • Organize open shelves.

  • Sweep and mop kitchen floor and rug.


Clear & Clean Bathroom Sinks, Tubs, and Showers

Place all of the shampoo bottles, soaps, shaving razors, and other items into a bin that can fit underneath the bathroom sink. This step will help your bathroom look bigger.

Take all items off of the bathroom counter. You want the bathrooms to appear vacant. Clean, neatly folded towels on towel racks are acceptable.


  • Close toilet lids.

  • Remove countertop items.

  • Remove bath and shower items.

  • Store toilet brushes, plungers, and wastebaskets.

  • Store towels.

  • Store soaps and candles.

Replace Burned Out Light Bulbs

This step is one of the most overlooked items on the list. Be sure to check all of the ceiling lights, as well as extra lamps and exterior lights, to make sure that they all work.

If there are dark areas in the homes, such as a basement, add a few extra lamps to brighten them up. Floor lamps that provide up-lighting are great! The more light, the better!


Turn On All Lights Throughout The Entire House

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. It's essential to have as much light as possible. Turn on all of the lights in the house, including lamps and exterior lights. Your photographer will be happy to find your home in its brightest light when they arrive.


Open All Window Treatments

Natural light from windows brings life and emotion into real estate photos. We recommend opening all of the window treatments throughout the entire house to let in as much light as possible. If it's too bright outside, your photographer will alter your shades and curtains to balance the shot. Don't forget to clean the windows!


Remove Unnecessary Furniture & Decorations

This is probably the most difficult request for sellers, but it's one of the most important items on the list. Removing and storing excess or large bulky furniture can be challenging, but it opens up the floor space and makes the home look much more extensive.

It's wise to consult a professional stager to determine which items should stay or go.

This is truly one of those situations where "less is more."


Remove Floor Mats and Runners

Floor mats and runners are great at protecting your floors, but they can make the overall floor space look smaller, making the room look smaller. We recommend getting rid of as many floor mats as possible. Photographers use a wide-angle lens that makes rooms look larger. Floor mats tend to get skewed with this effect.

Make sure to roll up and remove all of the floor mats in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry areas. If you have any rugs, consult a stager to determine whether or not they should stay.


Turn All Ceiling Fans, TVs, and Computer Screens Off

Most photographers use HDR photography, which takes multiple light exposures for each photo and combines them into one final shot. Any moving items like ceiling fans or active TV/Computer screens look very strange in HDR. For this reason, we recommend turning off anything that moves or causes motion blur.

This is a pro photography tip.


Clear Appliance Surfaces of Magnets and Clutter

It's common to keep magnets, notes, reminders, and other personal information on the refrigerator. This kind of clutter can be distracting for buyers, so de-clutter these areas.

We ask our sellers to remove all magnets, calendars, and personal items from the refrigerator. It will not only make your home appear tidier, but it also keeps your personal info safe from the general public.


Make All of the Beds

This is an obvious one that surprisingly gets overlooked often, especially in the secondary bedrooms. Be sure to make and decorate all the beds with matching sheets, blankets, and pillows. Use bedding that covers the entire bed and fits the mattress correctly.

Use decorative pillows to brighten up the bed, if possible. If a room is clean, and the bed isn't made right, it makes the whole room seem off.


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