Category archive - listing photography

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

9 out of 10 home buyers search internet photo’s when looking for listings. They are doing their research online, gaining their information and comparing homes. So what are those pictures worth for a residential real estate listing? If the images are well done, they can result up to a 3.9% increase in the final sale.

What is a well done image? One that enhances the scene- a photo that tells more of a story. As a stager I review a lot of listings and it still amazes me to see images of rooms that do nothing for the home.

Here are some of my ‘cringes’ and simple suggestion to correct the problems to make your home attractive to buyers

  1. Dead body in the bed- Yes the covering pulled over the pillows. Add two pillows per person that can sleep in the bed. If it is a twin have two, if a King have six. Pillows lend a touch of luxury feeling that buyers love.
  2. Too much furniture, yes you can have too much and it makes the rooms feel like there is none. Open your spaces up, move furniture out and/or re-purpose it to other areas.  LR
  3. Not enough furniture, make the room have a purpose with personality. To add a chair and a vase with flowers in an empty room says what? If you do not have anything to put in the room leave it empty or better yet ask a professional stager to help you out to highlight the key areas in your house to their best ability.
  4. Your ‘stuff’ all over. If I am buying a house I want to see the house, not your papers, collectibles, kids toys, toothbrushes, etc. you get it. Start editing because you want to sell, and you do not want to have so much stuff to pack when the time comes. Clearing out the stuff makes the room appear spacious, neat and clean. clutter kitchen
  5. Controversially don’t go overboard though to be sterile. Similar to the room with not enough furniture you need to still give the spaces some personality but it does not need to be unnecessary clutter.
  6. Buyers feel pets are a turn off. Cute little Fido does not help your listing. Remove pet paraphernalia and evidence of your pets for the photos and when showing.
  7. Cell phone photo’s or photos posted at the wrong angle, that are blurry. As a seller you are paying your agent big bucks to market your home. Are they representing it in the best possible light by posting pictures as mentioned?
    sideways picture on MLS

    yup, this was a photo on the MLS of a house in the position as you see it. I did not rotate the image

  8. Not enough photos. Is your house that big of a mess to list yet? Wait, take care of what needs to be done, then list. Seriously, remember you are in competition with every other house out there. What is the rush? Unless you are being transferred to another state in two weeks. To list a house that is not ready to be marketed is a turn off to buyers, it just creates a listing that becomes old on the market that needs to be marked down $10,000 after three months.

Prepare your house first, if you are unsure where to start get a professional stager in to help you set your priorities. Remember to interview your agent too, to ensure you have one that will be marketing your property correctly.

Details – Speak Loud and Clear

A Picture is Worth- What?

Marketing a Home Well

Making sense of the 2015 NAR home staging study

Making sense of the 2015 NAR home staging study

NAR- the National Association of Realtors, sent a survey to over 49,000 Realtor’s to see if Home Staging is worth the investment, and to see how many agents actually have their properties staged prior to listing. The findings are interesting and reflect that professional staging does indeed have an impact on buyers decision to make an offer.

About 5% of Realtors® responded, the majority of agents that worked with buyers found that staging allowed 81% buyers to easily visualize the property as a future home. Allowing buyers to view a home as “theirs” instead of viewing the property as “this is how someone else lives” lead to higher offers. Agents representing buyers found staged houses their buyers are willing to offer an increase between 1-5% more than the asking price.

Agents that represented sellers found that staging did secure a higher offering price too.

37% offering 1-5% more

22% offering 6-11% more

The unfortunate statistic was that 66% of sellers agents DO NOT offer home staging services to all their clients. They do (34%) suggest to declutter and fix property faults but do not suggest professional home staging to the clients that they represent, unfortunately leaving the property as is. If staging increases the offering price, and shortens the time a property is on the market, it only seems logical that more sellers agents would have home staging a part of their listing offering.

The findings also discovered that staging positively effects buyers (46%) to be more willing to walk through a home that was staged that they viewed online. With more than 80% of buyers currently looking online for a property, a staged home that has great photos is essential today.bed b4 and after

The seven most important rooms to ensure presentation is essential, in order are:
Living Room
Master Bedroom
Dining Room
Children’s Bedroom
Guest Bedroom

Having a consultation with a professional stager can help identify ways to neutralize and modernize spaces to improve the presentation element of marketing a property.  The cost of staging a property can run from 1-3% of the listing price, it has been found that the investment can give the home seller a return close to 300%.  Considering a home is one of the largest investments you will probably make; when selling to ensure that the presentation is perfect and appealing to the largest range of buyers will only increase your chances of selling for top dollar. Include professional staging as part of your marketing when selling your property.


The Tale of a Property Long on the Market

The Tale of a Property Long on the Market

Recently a Real Estate agent called me in to do a consultation for a seller. The home had been on the market for over a year. The RE Agent let me know that she just convinced the seller to drop the price to comparable properties on the market.  The  property was in a desirable family development, on a corner lot. It needed a little bit of curb appeal improvement but overall the property was appealing from the outside.

As I met the home owner she informed me that “her” taste was “outstanding, everyone loves her home and is only letting me come in because the RE Agent told me that I should have you come and take a look.” We proceeded into the front door and this is what I encountered…

dark entrance way

“Smoked” mirrors, with a dusty wreath attached, faux rocks with black grout and a brass chandelier from the from the 1990’s. Not too bright, open and cheery feeling when entering into the home. When selling a house your goal is try to make it feel as bright and appealing when someone enters in, it is their first impression. Reducing specific taste preference as much as possible helps the buyer feel at home, not intimidated that they are entering into someone else’s home that could never be theirs.

dated living room

As we continued our tour of the house I felt as though I had been teleported to another year. Although the house appeared neat, the stain on the ceiling “isn’t really noticeable, my husband had fixed it” The chandelier that was hanging, was doing just that, it was not plugged into anything nor wired, but “a beautiful addition to the room” the seller told me.

We discussed the possibility of updating lighting, removing some of the lacy curtains to allow the light to come into the room, moving and removing some of the furniture, removing the dated wall paper and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. She felt the effort and expense would not be worth it because the “buyer can offer $1000 less and they can do the work. We are more than happy to negotiate a bit when an offer comes in”  Wishful thinking on her part, they eventually lost over $60,000 on the original listing, not to mention it took an additional 9 months to sell and the carrying costs that the seller incurred during that time.

As an Agent, bring in your stager at the beginning of the selling process, as a seller ask your Agent to have a professional consultation with a Stager. This Agent knew the importance of staging this property, but unfortunately was the third listing Agent to work with the seller because all the previous agents had not sold the property. Getting a seller on board with understanding the importance of being objective, what a buyer wants today, and how the marketing of selling properties has changed since 1990 is crucial.

  Believe in the importance of the staging consult and how it will help the seller understand how to improve a house to market it property. Make your Professional Stager your partner to ensure listings are presented in the bet possible light. It can help save everyone money in the long run.

Advantage of Hiring a Professional Stager

Advantage of Hiring a Professional Stager

The goal when selling a home is to sell quickly and of course, close to the asking price. But how does a seller gain the competitive edge over the market?  The seller has received advice from their agent but understanding what needs to be accomplished can get lost in translation. To gain the advantage to have a strong standing in the market, the presentation has to resonate with buyers. A professionally trained stager knows what the market demands, and the best way to present a home for buyers.

Can you prepare a home on your own? Sure. But there are advantages of hiring a professional stager verses someone that is not trained. If the objective is lost in translation it can cause some common mistakes that can cost a lot of money when selling.

Providing decorating advice verses a marketing strategy

Staging is NOT decorating; it is creating a marketing strategy for the property. A professional stager focuses on showcasing the best features of a property. A designer considers your personal likes and creates a look for you- not for buyers.  Our goal is to consider the camera’s eye and the best way to project spacious, useful rooms that buyers can connect to.


Free Consults

The saying “you get what you pay for” reins true here. The first step and critical step to assessing a property to become ready for market is reviewing the entire property through a consult. This is a value-rich assessment of a property giving the seller recommendations to motivate and prioritize what is essential to “package” their home.


Simple check list of assessments do not prioritize recommendations

Analyzing and prioritizing what needs to be done and completed in respect to market trends, buyer’s wish lists and budget issues have to be considered and discussed. The what and why need to be reviewed to help the seller make the best financial decisions that will benefit them. If a seller just has a list of things that should be done, it does not give them directive as to setting priorities and how to accomplish.


Not addressing sensitive topics

Many times Real Estate Agents and untrained stagers do not like to rock the boat by addressing sensitive topics about a property. Handling difficult conversation with home sellers is key skill for professional stagers. We understand how people hold their properties near and dear to themselves, but we also know one strong negative impression can override a list of positive factors and prevent a sale. Sensitive issues like odors, cleanliness, unattractive dated décor, religious items, clutter, provocative art etc. are all difficult to discuss but avoiding the issue is not an excuse and avoiding them can lead to costly mistakes when selling.


Fail to Motivate a Client with an Action Plan

A prepared property presents better and is easier to show to buyers. It is essential to motive the seller to follow through with the recommendations to prepare their home for market. These recommendations may feel overwhelming to accomplish, but a professional stager assists the seller by prioritizing what needs to be accomplished. A trained professional is a serious business owner and an expert in design planning and problem solving allowing the seller to succeed in selling faster and for top dollar.


A professional stager helps the seller understand the recommendations needed to create a solid presentation, seeing the importance and benefit from the direction given. An agent that recommends staging to a client emerges as the professional that sells properties quickly and for top dollar.

Additional Reading:

How to Make Your House Look Great for the MLS 


Marketing your Home In Today’s Market



How Do You Make a House Look Great For The MLS?

How Do You Make a House Look Great For The MLS?

Think about any décor magazine, do you see the counters, coffee tables, or bathroom counters covered with items? Most likely no, there are select items placed with a purpose. When you look at those rooms you think ‘wow, I like this look.’ When selling, your goal should be the same; .

Clean and De-clutter, start packing now:

Once edited pick and choose what you want to have displayed

Kitchen: Do you have a great La Creuset pot? Use it on the stove, and add some fruit or veggies in bowls that match that color on your counters.

Dining room: First get rid of the table cloth, the look does not speak to buyers unless the table is set like a décor magazine, and that is not the easiest to live with. Instead replace with a beautiful serving dish, group of candles, beautiful arrangement of flowers, possibly a simple table setting.dining

Shelves: Clients always ask how to make their shelf space more desirable. One rule of thumb I will suggest is make sure that you have the right amount of empty space, the items on the shelves should be interesting but not overwhelming.


Fireplace: If you have a fireplace, light it for the pictures in the fall/winter seasons it gives the room a warm serene feeling. In the summer make sure it is cleaned out and that the surrounding area is clean of soot. You can create a nice display with candles in the warmer months. For gas fireplaces make sure the glass screens sparkle.balance

 Bathrooms: Think twinkling clean. A fresh coat of paint here does wonders, make sure your counters are clean; put toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues and liquid soap bottle away. Get all the stuff out of your shower the shampoo, razors and other stuff. Items on counter can be flowers, rolled towels or a little touch that makes the bathroom feel more luxurious.

Bedrooms: Are special place of the house to get away from the craziness of the day’s activities. Fresh linens in relaxing colors, new fluffy pillows do wonders. These are items you can move with you so why not invest in something you really will enjoy!

Other Ideas:

Furniture; sometimes you need to play with the furniture and composition to make the room feel welcoming and charming. Don’t hesitate to move things around to convey a welcoming feel.

Flowers in any room always add color and some dramatic effect especially if the palette in the room is minimal.

Symmetry and balance relays calmness. When people see things that are symmetrical it makes the image easier on the eye and therefore calming.

If you cannot envision your house any differently, or cannot be objective realizing the positives and negatives that will distinguish your property as favorable to buyers contact us, we love to help sellers accomplish their goal of selling quickly and for top dollar. 

Check out:

How to Pick an Agent When Selling Your House

How to Pick an Agent When Selling Your House

Wow, this is a big decision but did you know that 66% of home sellers just hire the first Agent they talk to?  Your house is one of the biggest investments you’ve probably ever made, no one should judge you for being more than a little choosy about whom you hire to help sell, or buy a house. The most important thing to remember is that you will be working with this Agent for a few months and talking to them quite frequently so make sure you find an agent whose philosophy and methods align with your preferences.

So where do you begin?

First interview at least two or three agents and ask them questions that will help you determine if they are the right fit to accomplish your goals in selling your home.

Ask them for references of previous clients and call them to find out about their experiences with that agent. It always surprises me that sellers and buyers do not do this basic step. Get to know who your agent is and how they work. Ask past clients if they were pleased with the work he did? Was he easy to get in touch with? Did he keep them well informed? Would they recommend him to others?

What is their history of list price to selling price ratio? You will want an agent who has a number as close to 100% as possible. You are hoping that they are selling as close to listing price, and in a reasonable amount of time.

Next your agent should give you comparable of other homes that have sold in your area that are similar. They will give you a comparative market analysis (CMA).  This will give you a good starting point to know how your home measures up to others that are selling in the neighborhood and, most importantly, at what price you should list your house. You should also do your homework and see what is currently listed in the price range give too.

When they evaluate your house are they being honest giving you legitimate feedback as to what drawbacks that might hinder selling your property? Do they have a professional stager on their team to assist you in creating a home that will appeal to the broadest range of buyers? Being objective, evaluating the advice and following through will give you the advantage in the market place.

Does your agent work as a team or solo?

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The team approach you may not be always working with the individual you hired, but a team could mean you get more attention and personalized service.

If they work solo ask about their current workload, you want to make sure they are available when you need them.

How will they market your home beyond the MLS? Will the reach out to buyers that are not in the immediate area, how will they do this, what are their marketing goals? Will they be able to take professional photographs that make your home look beautiful and desirable to buyers?

How does their fee work? Do they get the typical 6% which the seller pays, are you willing to pay this or is this negotiable? Are if anything concerning their contract negotiable? If you find a home on your own without your agent do they still get their fee?

How do they plan on keeping you in the loop during the selling process? What will the update you and how frequently will they communicate this information to you? Will your listing agent let you know about every interested buyer, no matter how serious?

Although many times we get recommendations from friends and family which are an excellent source, make sure you feel comfortable with the agent you select. Insure you feel they are a good fit and are confident they have your best interest in their hands at all times. Your home was/is a huge investment; you do not want to lose on one of your biggest investments.

Other interesting articles


The Inventory is Exhausted | What’s Wrong?

The Inventory is Exhausted | What’s Wrong?

I was talking with a few Agents yesterday discussing the usual slump this time of year for selling and buying properties during the holidays. I mentioned that I am sure it will pick up once the New Year begins, and pointed out how well the last quarter was progressing and improving. One Agent said “yes, but all the inventory (of properties) that are available have been exhausted.”

“The inventory that is available has been exhausted;” that statement sat in my mind and I thought; if inventory is exhausted, but the properties are still sitting on the market, what’s wrong with this picture? Flipping through the MLS I have seen some properties that have been lingering and I know what is wrong with the picture…


The pictures themselves for one thing; the presentation of the properties are not the best representation. If I was a buyer I would be tired of seeing the same outdated, messy, overcrowded with furniture properties too. So what can a seller do?

1.      Be objective– if your home has been on the market beyond 90 days it is time to really reevaluate your original plan to sell
2.      Ask your Agent to be honest about what needs to be done to improve your listing. Be open to the suggestions and be willing to act upon them.  If the Agent feels they should not be in the position to evaluate your property, have them hire a professional stager to review your property.
3.      Consider your ROI- yes your return on investment. I hear it all the time; the seller refuses to invest any money in the house because they are selling. Well sometimes investing $45 in a can of paint might just be worth it. It does not have to cost a lot of money to create a fantastic space.
4.      Pricing are you properly positioned in the current market for the condition and location of your property?
5.      Photography- yes did the Agent post professional photographs of your home, have they been updated since you listed i.e. maybe have a nice shot taken at dusk with the snow on the ground now. Evaluate your home in buyers’ eyes.

So if you are selling, do not become the property that is in the “exhausted inventory” category, make sure it is in the “considered category”. One that stands out in the buyers mind as a possible next home.


Lighting Can Help Sell Your House

Lighting Can Help Sell Your House

Lighting in and for your interior photographs is important because it helps highlight the beauty of a room and tells a story to a buyer. Here are some examples taken right from the MLS of homes currently on the market in my area. They will help explain what a seller needs to pay attention to.

Making sure that the natural light is coming in through the windows makes the house feel more like a home to a buyer. Highlight architectural details, you have beautiful windows they should stand out and have natural light pouring through them. Don’t keep the natural sunlight hidden behind old drapes and curtains. Buyers like light and bright.

light coming in


Speaking of natural light try and get most of your interior shots when the sun is pouring in the windows. It makes the rooms look more open and inviting.




kitchen clutter

Remember though, just because it is sunny out when the photo’s are being taken of your home does not always mean the pictures will resonate with buyers. A seller has to make sure their house is clean, de-cluttered,  styled nicely, all those details help the rooms present well.


Even if the pictures are being taken on a cloudy day, hopefully the photographer will be able to adjust the lighting afterwards so that your images are not too dark and rooms do not look like you live in a cave. It helps if the photo is in focus also, not like this…too dark out of focus

If you are in a home that needs its light fixtures updated, do so before you list and have the photo taken for the MLS.  If you are crunched for time make sure the photographer does not include it in the photo.

This bathroom with its large tub might be just what someone is looking for but the light…


Details – Speak Loud and Clear

Details – Speak Loud and Clear

What details make up a great interior photo?

Today when you are selling you need to make sure your home speaks to a buyer – not to you. In today’s market to be effective to grab a buyer, there is more than just putting your house on the market. Your interior images of your home need to highlight your home, not your life. Being objectionable is one of the hardest things a seller has to become when listing their house. You have lived in this house for a few years; memories have been made who wouldn’t love what you love about the house?

Right? Wrong.

I have been blogging about bad photography this month and why it may not help you sell your home. The details in a room relay a lot to buyers, when they are looking at listings the images send a message which they will either take a second look or pass that house on by.

Here are some pointers to help your home speak to buyers and examples of what not to do.

Take some time to depersonalize, clear up some of the clutter. Seeing all the extra “stuff” in rooms is distracting and does not allow the buyer to concentrate on the details of the house.



Personal items like your religious beliefs should be packed away when selling. Animals should not be photos when listing your home because many people do not like them, and they may create a negative connotation .

regligious items

no pets







Take a picture yourself of a room, put it on your computer and look at it. Does the room look spacious or too cluttered? Updated and modern or tired like nothing has changed since you first moved in.


I know you or your child might love Barney purple, but do you think every buyer will love it too or just a few? If a few, then you better be changing those colors! Colors speak  volumes –silently no less; make sure they are all positive when selling. Neutral colors are your friend when selling, and neutral does not need to be white. Remember only 10% of the population can vision any change in a room. If you are not sure then consult with a professional for a color consultation. I always say paint is the biggest bang for your buck when selling.

unmade bed

Let me know of your success stories, what you did to improve the details of your rooms to make your home resonate with buyers?

Bad Listing Photographs- Such a Shame

Bad Listing Photographs- Such a Shame

If you are searching for a new home now, you are probably looking at the usual sites such as,,, just to name a few. Hours are spend looking a pictures of listed homes, currently for sale. As I mentioned in my last blog, typically a buyer will spend 8 seconds or less on a photograph of an online listing. And with 90% of buyers searching online, those pictures are important!

This blog is about bad photography. Sorry someone has to do it. It really does amaze me that a Realtor would post pictures as such, let alone their home seller allow it!! Like I said bad photographs are such a shame. Here are some examples from the area that I live in Orange County, NY.

too dark out of focus


This photo obviously is too dark, out of focus and really…too much clutter. Bad photo, such a shame. Kitchens make up 30% of a buyers decision– 1/3 of the decision based on one room, pretty big chunk of real estate weighing on one room. Why would you not want this room of all the rooms in the house to look the best it can in the buyers eyes?

Aside from too dark photographs it is nice to set a stage for the buyer, so they can see themselves in the room.

one purpose room

Is this suppose to be a master bedroom retreat where someone would like to go to relax, get away from the stress of everyday life? Or is it an exercise room? This image is telling me there is not enough space in the house and so it all ends up in the master. Not relaxing, not inviting, not what buyers are looking for in a new home. Bad photograph, such a shame.

The lighting is important in pictures, as by example of these two photographs. Also styling the photograph and paying attention to the little details can make such a difference. I wonder looking at these two photos what else has not been taken care of in the home. When was the last time anything was fixed or repaired that needed attention?? Just saying, bad photographs speak more to buyers than most sellers realize.

If on your house hunting you come across a bad photograph, please share with me!