Fort Meade - USNA - Andrews AFB: April 2013

How to Prepare your Home for MLS Photos

You've already prepared your home to sell, but do you know how to prepare it for MLS photos? 

Photographer ( photos of any listing are extremely important to its sale because most of today's buyers will first see the home online.  Buyers are looking for a house with the potential to become their home... one where they can easily imagine living.  We can't count on them to mentally remove clutter from photos so they can picture themselves and their families using the space. This must be done before the photos are taken. 

Just spend 10 minutes looking at random MLS photos online, and it's not hard to find examples of "what not to do."

The camera can only photograph what it sees, so I encourage my clients in the Crofton MD area to follow these suggestions for a photo-ready home.


  • Davidsonville HomeRemove all vehicles from driveways, the street in front of your home, and your yard. (cars, trucks, RV's, and boats on trailers).
  • Close all exterior doors, including garage doors.
  • Remove all garbage and recycling containers from sight.
  • Turn on exterior lights to make the home look more inviting.
  • Remove bicycles and seasonal decorations.
  • Edge and mulch your beds.
  • Mow the lawn, remove or trim overgrown shrubs, and plant flowers (in season).
  • Remove old or broken outdoor furniture.
  • "Dress" the front door area with a wreath, flag, or potted flowers.



  • Bedroom - Child ( electric and phone cords by temporarily unplugging them and putting them out of sight.
  • Open all shades and blinds unless there is something unsightly in view or the window needs repair. (Heavy wood blinds can be left down, but open.) Make sure that open shades and blinds are parallel with the top of the window, and not hanging at weird levels.
  • Turn on all overhead lights and decorative lamps.
  • Minimize items on flat surfaces. Professional stagers often suggest this 3-items rule: one tall, medium, and small (Example: a lamp, plant, and a small dish or book on a bedside table.)
  • Minimize the contents on shelves, leaving plenty of open space.
  • Remove toys from sight or organize them neatly in containers, confined to one room only.
  • Store valuables securely out of sight, including cameras, laptops, guns, coin collections and jewelry boxes.
  • Hide tissue boxes and piles of papers, magazines, laundry, etc.
  • Remove family photos, collections, and personal/professional memorabilia. (Repair walls, if necessary).
  • Put all trash cans, electronic air filters, and humidifiers out of sight.
  • Remove all pet equipment, including bowls, beds, litter boxes, crates etc.


  • Remove magnets and all other items on the refrigerator surface and items stored on top of the refrigerator.
  • Clear as much as possible off the kitchen counters, including  toaster ovens, coffee makers, microwaves, and cutlery blocks (even if you return some of them to the counter for daily use while your home is on the market).
  • Follow the 3-items rule for counter tops.
  • Put the cleaning sponges, detergent, and garbage can out of sight.

Dining Area: 

  • Set your dining table for company - an oversize centerpiece, place mats, napkins, utensils, and glasses.
  • Remove high chairs and booster seats.
  • Dress your breakfast bar - perhaps a place mat and simple table setting or a tray with a wine bottle and 2 glasses.
  • Put excess chairs out of sight.
  • Remove items from the top of china cabinet.
  • Follow the 3-items rule for buffet or sideboard.

Living Room/Family Room:

  • Living Room ( excess furniture.
  • Put photos, memorabilia, and collections out of sight.
  • Remove all toys, dog beds, etc. 
  • Turn off the TV.  If TV is located in a cabinet, close the door.
  • Remove overgrown or dying plants.
  • Make sure your room has one focal point which is visible from the entry point into the room. (A focal point on every wall is simply overwhelming!) For example, it could be the view out the window, the fireplace, the seating area, or an armoire with a mirror above.


  • Make your beds and confirm that nothing shows under the bed (such as under bed storage containers or electric cords for bedside lamps).
  • Remove stuffed animals.
  • Remove your children's names from walls and other visible locations. (It's a matter of safety and security).
  • Follow the 3-items rule for bedside tables and dresser tops.


  • Remove all "fluff" - i.e., rugs, toilet tank covers, and seat covers.
  • Neatly fold your best towels on towel bars.
  • Make sure your tub area is sparkling clean and leave the shower curtain open.
  • Remove robes hanging on doors.
  • Follow the 3-items rule for vanity top.
  • Clean bathroom mirrors (toothpaste splashes show in photos).
  • Remove shampoo, conditioners, lotions, soap dispensers and other personal grooming products.
  • Close the toilet lid and remove all items from top of the toilet tank.

Yes, preparing your home for sale and photos can be time-consuming, but there's probably nothing more important to a home sale except pricing.

Three of my last four Crofton area listings sold to buyers who saw the homes online within 24 hours of listing. I don't believe it's a coincidence that the sellers of these homes did everything I asked to make their homes photo-ready for these buyers.


This infoMargaret Wodarmation was provided to you by Margaret Woda, an Associate Broker with Long & Foster Real Estate in Crofton Maryland. Contact Margaret today for general real estate information or to learn how she can help you buy or sell a home in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, Davidsonville, Gambrills, and Odenton. 

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Comment balloon 92 commentsMargaret Woda • April 19 2013 08:09AM
How to Prepare your Home for MLS Photos
You've already prepared your home to sell, but do you know how to prepare it for MLS photos? The photos of any listing are extremely important to its sale because most of today's buyers will first see the home online. Buyers are looking… more