Real Estate Home Preparation Guide

Preparing your home for photography and showings is the single most important thing you can do as an active participant in marketing your home.

Remember, it’s not the job of the Realtor to “Sell” your home it’s their job to “Market” it.  Qualified buyers who are impressed with both the images and the actual presentation of your home will be willing to pay more for your home.  Your home’s first impression on the internet, as well as in person, is lasting and can make or break the sale.

A well prepared home will be perceived as:

  • Being well maintained
  • One that others will be viewing and willing to pay a higher price
  • One that agents will be eager to show to prospective buyers
  • Worth more than other comparable homes
  • Your willingness to act as a partner in the marketing of your home is vital and will result in rewarding you even more than the Realtor representing you.

General Items

Now is the time for a deep clean of the whole house.  Hire a pro or do it yourself but do it.  Ask your Realtor their recommendation for a pro deep clean.

  • Clean all windows inside and out
  • Remove all screens for the photography (hide in the garage)
  • Open all blinds and shades in every room all at the same time prior to arrival of photographer
  • Trim those trees and bushes
  • Clean that deck and cement (pressure wash)
  • If needed paint the entrance exterior trim and door
  • Remove those old Christmas lights
  •  Yes it’s OK to designate that small bedroom or half the lower level / game room for filled moving boxes
  • No the photographer will not move things from room to room.  Put them in the garage or that designated storage space.
  • Get rid of any extra furniture
  • Get all of the toys and kids things and stuff into the closets.


  • Clean and spotless!
  • All cleaning supplies stowed and not visible from any angle
  • All Garbage cans removed and placed in garage
  • No pet materials of any kind present
  • All counter tops cleared of anything except staging items and a few appliances like Coffee maker and toaster
  • Fresh flowers and fruit are nice
  • Refrigerator exterior cleared of everything
  • Minimize the chairs at counter, place settings are OK
  • Remove all throw rugs


The objective here is fresh sparkling deep clean look.  Be sure to open any shades or drapes that might be present and close any toilet lids and place a fresh FULL roll of toilet paper in the holder.  CLEAN any glass shower windows and any shower tile.

  • REMOVE all items of personal use… tooth brushes, hair driers, soaps, shampoos, scrubbers, body washes, razors, combs, brushes, nail files, clippers etc.  Anything used for personal hygiene must be put away.
  • REMOVE all medicines over the counter as well as prescriptions
  • REMOVE all used towels as well as robes, floor mats etc.
  • REMOVE waste cans and scales
  • REMOVE anything with Manufacturer’s Label
  • REMOVE all cleaning supplies and implements including the toilet brushes and any PLUNGER
  • KEEP and display fresh sets of matching towels
  • KEEP and display appropriate accents (flowers, vases, ribbon wrapped specialty soaps, small topiary, plants, art etc)
  • KEEP and display small setting (vanity) stool

Exterior Prep

  • All cars removed from driveway and not parked in front of property
  • Garage doors closed
  • Garbage cans inside garage
  • All tools lawn equipment etc in garage
  • Exterior lawn furniture staged per season
  • Pool open and all equipment inside (not visible) per season
  • All exterior light turned on and in working order except for flood lights
  • All pets caged and under control and all animal waste cleaned and removed

Lighting Prep

  • Prior to (not after) the arrival of the photographer turn on every light in every room all at the same time and leave them on.
  • “Every light in every room” is any fixture that lights, can lights, chandeliers, desk lamps, bedside lamps, floor lamps, under counter lamps, sconces, wall fixtures, ceiling fixtures.
  • It is best to walk around the home in a pattern from room to room taking note of any bulb that is out and replacing them with the proper size, wattage, type and temperature.
  • Never mix different types or different temp bulbs in the same fixture like a bath fixture with fluorescent and incandescent mixed.
  • If a lamp is broken or purely decorative then fix it or put it in the garage.

Notes On Pets

  • Put anything your pet uses in the garage.  (dishes, beds, toys, auto feeders etc.)
  • Put your pets in the garage or off site.
  • Clean up the yard of all animal waste prior to the arrival of the photographer or any potential buyer.
  • Put any of those cat climbing fixtures in the garage.
  • Put any litter boxes in the garage.
  • You home should look like no pets live there.  Sure everyone likes pets but no one wants your pets mess.
  • NO AQUARIUM EVER in any eating or formal spaces or for that matter on the main level.  These are best left to children’s rooms or lower level.


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