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When do I need to start thinking about property photography and home styling?

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Zoe Pointon is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of OpenAgent. Over the years, she's had the privilege of collaborating with some of the brightest minds in real estate, amassing over a decade of invaluable experience and a treasure trove of insights around the property buying and selling process.

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Make no mistake selling a property can be stressful, and there is a lot to think about. The trick is to get the right advice, ideally from an experienced local real estate agent, so you are across the process and the timing of everything. This will help you get your property ready for listing so you can realise the highest possible sale price. One important aspect of showing your property is having it styled and getting it professionally photographed.

The importance of styling and professional photographs

You are essentially selling the dream to buyers, so it needs to appeal to the widest range of buyers. You want people to fall in love with it when they walk through the front door. That is unlikely to happen if your home is dirty, cluttered and full of outdated furnishings. You also need professional photographs so it appeals to buyers browsing online. So, when should all this happen?

The key is to make your home as widely appealing as possible - and depersonalisation is a key part of this process.

When should I style and photograph my property?

Hold up... Before you even think about styling and photography, you should give your house a good declutter and spring clean. It's important to do this so that you can present your home in the best possible light - depersonalisation is also a key part of the process.

When it comes to selling a home, it's about selling a lifestyle, and it's hard for potential home buyers to see themselves living in your home if the walls are covered in photographs of yourself and your family. The key is to make the home as widely appealing as possible.

living room of home

How will I know if my property should be styled?

A good real estate agents will tell you if styling is worth the money, time and effort. For some properties, professional styling is just not worth the money spent as it will not dramatically increase the selling price of the home. In these cases, it's often easier for home owners to simply tidy and de-personalise their homes to make it presentable for market.

The other reason why styling might not be needed for your property is if its already furnished and designed in a way that will be appealing to buyers. Take a look at other properties in your area that are listed for sale and take note of the homes that look impeccably styled - from here, you should be able to ascertain whether your property looks up to scratch. At the very least, ask your real estate agent for their opinion before enlisting the help of a stylist.

home stylist choosing new curtains

When should you organise a stylist?

If you decide to pay for professional styling services, you'll want the styling of your home to be completed after you've chosen an agent and signed an agreement and before a photographer arrives to take photos of your home. Keep in mind that the process isn't always fast, because you'll also need to declutter and clean. If you are hiring furniture as part of your styling package, you will also need to find storage for existing furniture in the property.

When should you organise a photographer?

Professional photography will generally be included as part of your package with your nominated real estate agent. Make sure you ask for samples of the photographer's previous work to ensure that the visual marketing of your property meets your expectations. '

If you are styling your home, a photographer shouldn't take photographs until the styling is completed. If you're not styling, then photographs can be taken after you've cleaned, decluttered and depersonalised. The next step is getting your home listed and marketed for sale by your agent.

real estate photographer

Why should you declutter?

What is all the fuss about decluttering I hear you ask? Don’t underestimate the power of a clutter-free home. Not only do you want prospective buyers to see your home at its best, but you also want to emphasise clean lines and show how spacious it is. You want everyone who walks through that front door to visualise themselves living in your home. That means clearing all your surfaces of all your personal ‘stuff’, preferably into your garage or into off-site storage. People are also likely to check out your drawers, cupboards and any other storage on an open house inspection - so these spaces also need to be presentable. Don’t underestimate the power of a clutter-free home to impress prospective buyers

The benefits of a deep clean

Giving your property a deep clean is a low cost refresh that is an essential step in getting your home ready for your sale. If you are not up to the job you will be relieved to know that there are dedicated pre-sale cleaning services. They can focus on all the essential rooms, surfaces, windows and all those hard to reach places that you should expect buyers to notice.

Don’t forget about kerb appeal

Property presentation isn't just about the way your home looks inside. They don’t call it kerb appeal for nothing. This starts at your entranceway which should be clean and inviting. Prune back shrubs, have dead leaves cleared away and get that lawn on the verge mowed. If your driveway needs some TLC be sure to get it pressure cleaned, and while you are about it get your pavers and external walls done too.

What exactly is home staging and home styling?

Styling your home for sale, also known as home staging, is designed to maximise the appeal of a property while driving up the sale price. Hiring a professional service may seem like an extravagant expense, but it could add as much as 10% to the value of your sale price. Do the sums and see if it makes sense for your situation. Hiring a professional home styling service could add as much as 10% to the value of your sale price

How does home styling work?

Professional home stylists will use a mix of new furniture, artwork, homewares and accessories to give your property a more appealing feel. They will replace your personal furnishings and effects, rearrange furniture to maximise space and even de-clutter. This is typically done on a rental basis for the duration of a sale, when your home is open for inspection. And if you are selling an investment property that has been vacated by your tenants, then you need to furnish it, because an empty property isn’t very likely to appeal to buyers. Most styling or staging is focused on two or three main rooms or a package deal could be customised for the whole property including your outdoor areas. Main areas of focus would your living and dining areas, master bedroom, main bathroom and the outdoors/balcony These are the key spaces a real estate photographer will focus on, and the images your agent will use for your online marketing campaign. Stylists will replace your personal furnishings and effects, rearrange furniture and even de-clutter

How much does home styling cost?

Home stylists generally charge based on the size of your home, level of service and the number of days you hire their furnishings and accessories for. Expect to be charged anywhere from $3,500 for a one bedroom property to $6,000+ for larger properties. Your property is now ready to be photographed professionally.

Is a professional real estate photographer worth it?

Tempted to DIY and photograph your own property? If you have the equipment and eye for it, you can certainly give it a go. Chances are the results are not going to be as good as a dedicated real estate photographer. Most buyers browse the internet for properties before they attend an open house, which makes having quality photos really important. It is the your first chance to make an impression. Not only is a pro going to have all the right lenses to make your interiors look spacious, but they also know how to light dingy spaces and avoid showing things like the backs of sofas and chairs. They will focus on the key rooms - kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living rooms, outdoor areas - so prospective buyers browsing online can put your property on their viewing shortlist. Having quality photos of your property is really important, as it is your first chance to make an impression with people browsing online.

real estate photographer

How much does a real estate photographer cost?

Real estate photographers charge based on the number of photos/rooms. For example, you could pay from $95 for eight photos of a smaller property, and $120 for 12 photos of a larger home. If you want evocative, moody twilight shots expect to pay more. A photographer can also use their Photoshop skills to digitally declutter your property, without you lifting a finger. Expect to pay from $15 per image.

They can also stage an empty property with virtual furniture from $45 per image. You can also incorporate video into your marketing strategy, starting from $225 for 30 seconds, with the length, voiceover and other editing services determining the final price.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are another option for showing people the setting of your home in its surrounds, for an additional $300 to $500. Your property is now ready to be listed and marketed for sale by your agent.