How to Stage Your Home for Real Estate Photos (Checklist)

tips for house listing photos

Tips for Preparing Home for Real Estate Photos

Did you know that in today’s market, over ninety percent (97%) of homebuyers search online for properties during the home-buying process? With more and more homebuyers searching online to find properties for sale, top-quality real estate photos are more important than ever to make your listing stand out and attract potential buyers. In fact, eighty-seven percent (87%) of prospective homebuyers on the internet found images to be among the most useful features of listing websites when looking for new homes according to a report by the National Association of Realtors©.

Here are some additional statistics that show just how important professional real estate photography is in today’s market.

  • Homes with high-quality photography sell 32 percent faster
  • Homes with more photos sell faster. A home with one photo spends an average of 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market
  • Homes with high-quality photographs sell for $3,000-$11,000 more.

Given the importance of high-quality photographs in selling your home, it is critical your home is photo-ready when the photographer arrives. But how do you go about doing that? Don’t worry - we’re here to help!

Our Tampa real estate professionals here on The Kendall Bonner Team have outlined the process and put together a convenient list of pro tips to help you get your home ready for photography. This way you can ensure the process is as smooth as possible with the best results possible. Read below to learn more!

Get Your Home Photo Ready:

The first step in getting your home photo-ready is to complete any repairs and/or improvements to the property that you discussed and agreed to make with your real estate agent prior to marketing your home.

Next, you’ll want to complete the following steps in the different areas of the home:

Main Living Area(s)

  1. Remove any unnecessary, bulky furniture
  2. Remove all visible clutter and knick-knacks
  3. Remove all personal items/photos
  4. Put away any shoes and jackets on coat racks or in the entryway
  5. Vacuum carpets and sweep the floors
  6. Check all ceiling lights and replace any burned-out light bulbs
  7. Clean the windows
  8. Remove any signs of pets (food/water bowls, litter box, pet beds, and pet toys)


  1. Declutter all countertops, except a few decorative items
  2. Stow away all small appliances such as coffee makers, toaster ovens, mixers, etc…
  3. Hide soaps, cleaning items
  4. Clear sink of dishes
  5. Remove all magnets, calendars, and personal items from the refrigerator
  6. Clean all surface areas, including the appliances, kitchen sink, and backsplash
  7. Organize items on any open shelves
  8. Empty the wastebasket
  9. Remove all floor mats and area rugs
  10. Place a bowl of fruit on the counter

Dining Room

  • Clear the table
  • Straighten/push in chairs
  • Add centerpiece- candle or vase of flowers
  • Set the table for dinner
  • Add a bottle of wine, glasses


  • Tidy up the rooms
  • Put away all clothes and shoes
  • Clean up / vacuum the floors
  • Make the beds
  • Decorate all the beds with matching sheets, blankets, and pillows
  • Clear all nightstands and dressers, except a lamp and/or a decorative item


  • Clean the shower/tub and stow away all shampoo bottles, soaps, etc...
  • Clear and wipe down the countertops
  • Clean the sinks, faucets, and mirrors
  • Remove all floor mats
  • Close the toilet lids
  • Hang fresh, decorative towels

real estate photography pre-shoot checklistExterior

  • Make sure the grass is cut and trimmed
  • Remove unsightly weeds and vegetation
  • Keep the lawn free and clear of any bicycles, small toys, or pet items
  • Store in the garage all of the trash cans, garden hoses, lawnmowers, and other yard maintenance tools
  • Sweep or spray off the driveway and sidewalk
  • Add flowers and decorative items to the entryway
  • De-Clutter and sweep clean the front and back porches
  • Clean pool and pool deck area
  • Straighten and arrange deck furniture
  • Open any umbrellas on patio sets
  • Uncover grill(s) or remove if it's old and in disrepair

When the Photographer Arrives

  • Turn on all the interior lights, including any lamps
  • Turn off all the ceiling fans
  • Turn off all the televisions and computer monitors
  • Light fireplace and candles
  • Open all the blinds, shades, or curtains
  • Remove all cars, trucks, RVs, and trailers from the driveway and street front

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, and typically the sunnier it is, the better the photos will turn out. 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 you should wait, trust them that it's for the best.

Be Prepared to Leave for a Few Hours

Your photography may 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 photo shoot, they are likely to be in the 3D tour somewhere. This is not ideal. It's best to plan to leave your home and give the photographer a non-occupied space to work with, and it also helps them to not 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 photography process if the home is unoccupied the photographer can work freely.

Leave Instructions for the Photographer to Lock Up

When your professional photographer/videographer is finished, they will usually message your real estate agent to let them know that they are done. If you aren't home, leave a key and instructions to let the photographer know your preferred method of locking up when they leave.

Do Not Cancel Your Homeowners Insurance

Tampa personal injury lawyer Erik Abrahamson recommends that if you are selling a house, be sure that you do not cancel your homeowners insurance, even if you have moved out of the house. Continuing to maintain liability, insurance (and medical payments coverage) is particularly important while the house is for sale. While the house is for sale, there is likely to be a large number of visitors to the house, many of which will be distracted and looking at house aesthetic details, not potential hazards. The homeowner should also do an objective walk-around the entire property and should make every effort to repair any potentially dangerous conditions. This makes sense to enhance the house value and also to reduce a risk of injury to visitors.


And that’s it! If you follow the above steps, you will be sure to have a seamless photography session that will yield excellent photos of your home in its best light. If you need an expert real estate agent to talk to about listing your own home or want more information on the power of the right marketing to sell your Tampa Bay house, we'd be happy to help!

Contact us today!

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