Preparing for the Shoot

  • Thoroughly clean the entire house (vacuum carpet, mop hard floors, clean countertops, clean windows and blinds, wipe down baseboards, clean and buff wooden floors, clean tile grout, clean lampshades).
  • Consider having a professional cleaning service do the entire house, to include carpet cleaners as necessary.
  • Consider having a chimney cleaning service clean the hearth and fireplace (if any).
  • Consider having your windows cleaned inside and outside professionally just prior to the photo shoot.
  • Turn all lights and lamps ON and replace all burned out light bulbs.
  • Be sure that all light bulbs are of the same color temperature, if possible (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent, or ALL LED).
  • Turn all ceiling fans OFF.
  • Turn all TVs and computer screens OFF.
  • Open the blinds and/or window coverings to let in natural, outside light.
  • Make sure all shades are parallel and blinds angled identically.
  • Remove personal photographs and declutter every room.
  • Remove area rugs to reveal actual flooring.
  • Place all shoes and items of clothing neatly in closets; close closet doors.
  • Remove worn and/or mismatched furniture.
  • Consider contracting with a staging company to rearrange existing furniture, declutter, or put in furniture that will enhance the perceived value of the home.
  • Consider moving out temporarily, taking any pets along (if there are any) while the house is being cleaned and prepped for the photo shoot.
  • Remember, potential buyers want to see themselves potentially living in the house you’re trying to sell, not see themselves as living in a house that reflects the current owner’s tastes and lifestyle.
  • If there are items in the home that you prefer to not be included in the photographs, please move them to a secure location prior to the shoot.
  • Please advise the photographer if there are special features in the home that you wish to be featured.
  • Close garage doors.
  • Remove any vehicles from driveway and front of home.
  • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves, edge planting beds, put down fresh mulch).
  • Remove empty planters and replace dead plants.
  • Clear cobwebs from eaves, window and door frames.
  • Remove visible water hoses.
  • Remove clutter – toys, sports equipment, yard implements, furniture, etc.
  • Have the siding, visible foundation, deck (if there is one) and driveway pressure-washed, if needed.
  • Consider having an asphalt driveway seal-coated one to two weeks before the planned photo shoot.
  • Be sure that all exterior lights are in working order.
  • Clean porch and/or deck, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions.
  • Remove kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, basketball nets, soccer goals, etc.
  • Clean pools, hot tubs. etc.
  • Turn on pool fountains and/or water features.
  • Remove visible water hoses.
  • Remove trash cans.
  • Clean up the garden (if there is one).
  • Fill bird feeders (if any).
  • Clean up pet waste (if any).
  • Repair fencing as needed.
  • Put away remote controls.
  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • Declutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art).
  • Clean the interior of the fireplace and repaint the mantel, as needed.
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows.
  • Remove kids’ toys.
  • Clear and clean countertops completely; no empty glasses, baking supplies, mail, etc.
  • Leave out no more than two small appliances (ex. coffee maker, toaster).
  • Clear the outside of the refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, stickers, etc.
  • Clean all black and stainless steel appliances to remove fingerprints, smears, streaks, tape residue, etc.
  • Hide trash cans in a pantry or closet.
  • Remove dishes from the sink, place in dishwasher, remove countertop dish racks.
  • Remove visible dish towels and area rugs.
  • Hide dish towels and any towel racks that hang outside cabinet doors.
  • Clear table, dust and polish the table top.
  • Use decorative place settings, if available.
  • Feature no more than one centerpiece such as a bouquet of flowers.
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly.
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs.
  • Declutter; reduce the amount of clothing on the racks, spacing hanging items evenly on the rod.
  • Fold and stack items neatly.
  • Line up shoes.
  • Make the bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available.
  • Clear nightstands of all personal items.
  • Put away phone/tablet chargers and charging cables.
  • Remove all clutter from top of dressers.
  • Remove family photos from walls (for security reasons).
  • Clean under the bed, removing personal items that may show in the photos.
  • Close closet doors.
  • Make the bed(s).
  • Remove personalized names and photos from walls so that they will not be visible on the Internet.
  • Remove wall stickers, posters and/or artwork that a potential buyer might find to be of questionable taste.
  • Remove diaper pails and cleaning supplies.
  • Clean under bed, removing any personal items that may show.
  • Put toys in a toy chest to reduce clutter and clear the floor.
  • Clear and clean countertops completely.
  • Put away all toiletries; soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, razors, medications, deodorant, etc.
  • Put toilet seats and lids down.
  • Be sure that you have a full roll of toilet paper with no more than one sheet hanging down.
  • Close closet doors.
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc., from showers and tubs.
  • Remove bathrobes and used towels – leave out only fresh, unused towels.
  • Remove floor mats.
  • Clean shower doors/frames, shower curtains.
  • Clean mirrors to remove spots, spatters, etc.
  • Replace old, moldy caulking with fresh caulking.
  • Clean all grout.
  • Replace all cracked and/or chipped tile.
  • Clean floors and all visible plumbing. Pay special attention to areas near toilets and under cabinets.
  • Place food and water bowls and litter boxes out of sight.
  • Place pet beds/toys out of sight.
  • Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair.
  • Contain pets in hidden crates or outside.
  • Clear yard of pet waste/toys.

Expensive and ineffective pressurized spray products are not necessary. Use Simple Green (environmentally friendly, available at most home centers) in a spray bottle to remove hand and fingerprints, and most greasy or sticky residues. Stubborn sticky residues are easily removed by environmentally friendly citrus-based cleaners such as Goo Gone and De-Solv-It followed by the use of Simple Green. Use a 50/50 mix of filtered water and denatured alcohol in a spray bottle as a final cleaning solution. Spray lightly, then wipe down immediately using microfiber cloths (not paper towels), wiping in the direction of the “grain” of the stainless steel.


Use a toothbrush to scrub the grout using hydrogen peroxide (available at most pharmacies). Pour a small quantity of hydrogen peroxide on the grout in a small area of tile. Let it sit for a few moments, then scrub with the toothbrush. When the grout has been fully cleaned, wash and rinse the tile carefully.


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