Pre-Shoot Home Sale Preparation


Why prep for photos? It’s where Buyers start!

The vast majority of Buyers start their search online, so it is important to make the first impression count! Following these tips to prepare your home prior to the arrival of the photographer makes the process go fast and smooth and will result in the best property photos possible.

What to Expect

The house should be shoot-ready

Hi, I’m Tim Hanson, Owner and Photographer of Tim Hanson Productions, and I specialize in real estate photography in the Sioux Falls and surround areas (like Tea, Harrisburg, and Brandon). I want the shoot of your home to be the best it can be. This requires teamwork and cooperation that will result in an outstanding online presence when your home goes LIVE on the market. Although I would love to help you with home staging, I unfortunately do not have the skill set required to do so. Please ask your agent for staging advice or a referral to a certified staging professional. When I arrive for the shoot of your property, I ask that all home sale preparation & cleaning be done prior to my arrival. To efficiently maintain my schedule and deliver the level of service my clients expect, I can not spend unnecessary time at the home waiting for it to be cleaned, dusted, de-cluttered, etc. 

Please note that I am not responsible for and cannot partake in any of the following duties during the shoot of your home:

  • Move or re-arrange furniture
  • Make beds, clean, dust or de-clutter
  • Pick up toys or yard items
  • "Photoshop" vehicles, walls, damaged walls, power lines, wall pictures, cords, etc.
  • Touch personal bathroom supplies (shampoo, toothbrushes, deodorant, towels)

All major rooms of the home will be photographed, including all bathrooms. No unfinished areas or closets will be photographed unless otherwise requested by your agent.

Selling your home is like selling a product

The property must be marketed correctly to reach a specific Buyer. Although your furnishings and decor are great for your lifestyle, it’s important to optimize your home for the future buyer.

Please keep this in mind as you read the following preparation tips.

Please review the following sections for tips on preparing your home for photography!

General - Tips for all areas in the home

  • Thoroughly clean whole house (vacuum carpet, mop hard floors, clean countertops, clean windows)
  • Turn all overhead lights and lamps ON
  • Replace all burned out light bulbs
  • Use bulbs of the same temperature (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent)
  • Turn all ceiling fans OFF
  • Turn all TVs OFF
  • Turn all computer screens OFF
  • Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light
  • Remove personal photographs (or replace with general landscape/object photographs)
  • Make all beds
  • Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
  • Place all shoes/jackets in closets


  • Front
    • Close garage doors
    • Remove cars from driveway and front of home (either park in garage or down the street)
    • Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
    • Remove empty planters
    • Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames
    • Remove visible water hoses
    • Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
  • Backyard
    • Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions
    • Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded
    • Clear out kid's toys, balls, frisbees, etc.
    • Clean pool
    • Remove pool vacuum/cleaner hose
    • Hide pool cleaning supplies
    • Turn on pool fountains/water features
    • Remove visible water hoses
    • Remove trash cans


  • Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc.
  • Leave out max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker)
  • Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc.
  • Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
  • Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher

Dining room/table

  • Clear table, dust and polish the table top
  • Use decorative place setting if available
  • Feature one center piece such as a bouquet of flowers
  • Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
  • Remove child seats/booster chairs

Living/Family Room

  • Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
  • De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)
  • Clean interior of fireplace and re-paint if needed
  • Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
  • Remove kid's toys
  • Hide all remote controls


  • Master Bedroom
    • Make bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available
    • Press bed linens and bed skirts
    • Clear nightstands of all personal items
    • Store away phone/tablet charging cables
    • Remove all clutter from top of dressers
    • Remove family photos from walls
    • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
  • Kid/Guest Bedroom
    • Remove personalized names from walls
    • Remove wall stickers/posters
    • Remove diaper genies
    • Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
    • Safety Tip: Remove children’s names from their bedroom. The images will be posted on the MLS and distributed publicly online.

Bathrooms - Must be clear of all personal items

  • Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc.
  • Put toilet seats down
  • Close closet doors
  • Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
  • Remove dirty towels - leave out only new, unused towels arranged neatly
  • Remove floor mats

Pets - Pets are loved, but their presence should be minimized

  • Be sure any pets are comfortably contained in an area of the house that will not be photographed.
  • Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet
  • Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet
  • Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair
  • Clear back yard of pet waste/toys