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1) 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.

2) 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.

3) Replace Burned Out / Mismatched 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 and are all the same color in one room. Having one yellow and one blue light in the same room will do crazy things to your photographs!

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!

4 )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.

5) 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!

6) Minimize Furniture & Clutter in Every Room

This is probably the most difficult request for sellers, but it's one of the most important items on the list. The less items in a room the larger it will look. Extra Decorations, large furniture pieces, stacks of magazines, almost anything on a counter or table will take away from the sale of your home. 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 is common for many sellers to stack belongings up inside their garage before moving, once the house is under contract and showings are completed you can always put back your favorite items until you move out!

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 ALWAYS more."

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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.

10) 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.

11) Remove All Personal Photos and Items

It's hard for buyers to visualize themselves in your house if your personal items are everywhere. Buyers want to believe that the home was made especially for them.

Since you want your buyers to focus on the house and not on you, you'll need to remove all private photos and articles from the entire home—including patios, porches, and garages.

12) Put All Shoes & Jackets in Closets

When buyers see shoes and jackets on coat racks and entryway floors, they subconsciously assume that the home lacks storage space. This perception is easily fixed by storing these items away.

It's best to remove all jackets and shoes from anywhere they be can see throughout the house. Store away any loose items to remove all distractions.

13) Clear All Night Stands and Dressers

Nightstands tend to accumulate items naturally. Half-read books, prescription bottles, tissues, and electronic devices will quickly clutter these areas.

Remove everything but a lamp and one decorative thing, such as a small floral arrangement or decorative book, to make the space look clean and presentable. Think of a freshly cleaned hotel room.

14) Remove ALL Pet Items

Not everyone has pets. In fact, some people are severely allergic to animals. It's essential to make sure that your house shows no signs of pets, especially pet smells. Please spend some time getting this part right. It is one of the most significant factors in price reductions and negative feedback from home buyers.

Consider that you could be "nose blind" to the smell, as you live in your home every day. Ask a neutral party for their honest opinion before listing.



15) Tidy Up the Yard & Landscaping

First impressions are crucial, so make sure that the front yard is cleaned up. All of the landscaping needs to be trimmed back and tidy. Remove all signs with text in the front yard.

The first picture that people will see of your home will be the outside front yard shot. This photo needs to be presented in its very best condition to grab the buyer's attention immediately.

16) Sweep up the Porch/Patio/Deck

This step is imperative in the Fall when leaves accumulate daily. Ensure that the entire front and back porches are swept clean, and remove any items you can live without.

If possible, stage these areas with flowers and decorative items to create a relaxing space that invites homebuyers in. Creating an inviting entrance conveys pride-of-ownership to homebuyers.

17) Clear All Cars from Road & Driveway

It's never good to have cars in the driveway during real estate photos. Always remove all cars, trucks, RVs, and trailers from the house's driveway and front.

Pro tip: Ask your neighbors to move their cars from the road to make the street look quiet and inviting in your photos. This is especially important for drone shots.

18) Hide All Garbage Cans & Lawn Equipment

Large garbage cans and unsightly lawn equipment can be very distracting in real estate photos. Put all of the trash cans in the garage, along with garden hoses, lawnmowers, and other yard maintenance tools.

Keep the lawn free and clear of any small toys and pet items as well. You don't want the photographer to have to do this step. It will distract them.

19) Remove Outdoor Cooker Covers

It's time to show off that fantastic bar-b-que grill, not hide it! Smoker and grill covers should be removed so that cookers are exposed and ready for use.

If it's an old grill that needs to be covered because it's rusty and unsightly, it's better to remove or throw it out completely.

20) Open Up Patio Umbrellas

If it's not too windy during your photoshoot, be sure to open up any patio umbrellas to stage the area. Dust off chairs and set up the site as though you will enjoy it with friends later.

Fresh outdoor pillows and flowers will create an inviting space for your photographer to highlight while they're in your backyard.

A Few Extra Things to Be Aware Of:

Be Prepared to Reschedule 

Most photographers work around the weather because it has such a substantial impact on the final marketing materials. It's impossible to fly drones and get footage if it's raining or too windy. Be prepared to have your real estate agent call and reschedule your photoshoot if the weather takes a dramatic turn for the worst. If a professional photographer determines he/she should wait, trust them that it's for the best.

Be Prepared to Leave for a Few Hours

We use 3D imaging technology to scan every part of the home, yard, and garage. If you have pets or kids running through the house during a photoshoot, they are likely to be in the 3D tour somewhere. This is a problem.

It's best to plan to leave your home and give the photographer a non-occupied space to work with. It also helps them not to get distracted. Even if you're shuffling from room to room to "stay out of the way," it's very distracting. You will get the most out of the process if the home is unoccupied.

Our Staff

The Team at Elevate Realty Group uses an in-house Professional Photographer / Videographer who is also a licensed Realtor! If you aren't home, you can be assured that your Relator / Our Team will lock up and turn the lights off along with any other instructions you may have left us. We do not outsource any of our work to strangers or contractors.


Your home's marketing is the most important piece of the selling puzzle. It begins with your preparation, paired with our teams 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!

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