by Myra Jensen
We have all seen them – the awful real estate listing photos that are so prevalent that there are even websites dedicated to them. Next to pricing your home correctly when selling your home, listing photos are the most important tool to encourage potential buyers to visit your home. We have about 10 seconds to grab the buyer while they are looking online. While we never want to lie or misrepresent the qualities of any home, careful planning and small tweaks will ensure your home looks great in the exterior real estate listing photos. In Minnesota, where we often have extremely cold temperatures an feet of snow, or leafless trees in spring and fall, taking great exterior photos can be very challenging. Here are some tips to make your exterior photos look great.
I should note that I am not a professional photographer by any means. I use a Canon Rebel (usually on Auto mode) with a wide angle lens or sometimes my iPhone for exterior photos. I don’t use my iPhone for interior. I typically use the online software picmonkey.com to enhance my photos.
How To Take Great Listing Photos any Time of Year
Snow Covered Home!
This one level townhouse was one of the most difficult homes to shoot. The snow was piled up about 3 feet in front of the entrance patio, and there was a lot of snow on the roof. There was no way for me to get a great shot of this home during the day. So I came back at dusk and was lucky that the sky had a decent purple and pink glow to it. I turned on all of the interior lights, and took the photo from the back of the unit, to avoid the snow pile. While not perfect, it turned out pretty well!
Selling a Lake Home in December?
This lake home was located on over a half acre, with beautiful trees, and over 90′ feet of sandy lake shore. Originally this home sold in the late summer, but the sale unfortunately fell through, so we had to re list in December. I walked around the lake side of the house trying to find the best shot, and I think this one portrayed pretty well the size of the lot and the lake side of the house.
While the middle of winter may not be ideal, in Minnesota you need to enjoy your yard all year round, so a great photo of the yard any time of the year will be helpful to the buyer. Remember, you are selling a life style, so anything you can do to help the buyer use their imagination in a positive way will help them love your home!
Here are some more lake shots I have taken for listings at different times of the year.
This is a photo of Lake Mille Lacs in Aitkin MN taken in Spring that turned out great. It takes a while for the ice to go out on this lake, but I got really lucky with the way the sun looked while setting. Anytime you can get a great sunset shot it is a bonus. Anything to make a buyer stop and look! This photo was not of a yard in particular, but could be used for any home we list around Mille Lacs.
What does the yard look like?
Even though there was snow on the ground, the simple task of clearing the snow off the patio was helpful in showing the buyer what to expect in the warmer months!
This one was taken on a very foggy day, but you can clearly see where the fire pit is, and a little extra color boost makes the colors pop!
This is not so much weather related – but no grass, no siding would not make a very good listing photo. The sky though! Clouds are your friend! They add instant interest to the photo.
If the yard is not looking that great, drive around and find some great shots of the neighborhood! This is a trail at the Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove. I like it because the yellow sign gives some interest, as does the path curving away. I like to show the buyers what they can expect to experience in the neighborhood, all year round.
What about the Garden?
So you can’t see the garden in the middle of winter, and it may not look that great in the fall either. But if you have great photos of your gorgeous summer gardens, no matter what time of year give them to your agent to use!
Buyers love deer. Every time I have shown a home to buyers and we see deer in the yard, they have purchased that home. It’s like magic. If you have photos of deer or other wildlife in your yard, give them to your agent to use for marketing.
Use color and features to your advantage.
Unfortunately you could not see the clay tile roof of this 1920’s home in Minneapolis because it was covered with snow. But the colors of the house still made it look beautiful. I probably could have cropped out some of the tree in the background, but I liked the way it looked.
Easy Tips for Great Exterior Photos
- Pay attention to the sky – sunset and sunny days with clouds are the best time to take exterior photos.
- Make sure you level the photo so the house does not look like it’s sliding down a hill. You can do this in PicMonkey.com
- My favorite tools on picmonkey.com are sharpen and saturation. Don’t overdo it though, try to keep the photo looking natural.
- Agents – upload the photos to Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com manually, don’t keep the MLS photos as the quality will not be as good.
- The minute the snow is gone, your agent should be changing out the snow photos to new spring or summer photos. If your listing photos show snow in June, your agent is not doing their job.
- Make sure the colors pop in the photos. Photo editing software will help with this.
- Clear off the stairs and driveway and any patio and other features that you want the buyer to see.
- Give your agent any great pictures that you have taken
- Do not let your agent put poor quality photos, exterior or interior, online. It will hurt your chances of selling. If you are not happy with your photos, ask your agent to re take them, or offer to help pay for a professional if your agent does not offer that service. Make sure you hire an agent that understands the value of great listing photos.