If you’re going to sell your home, don’t overlook the digital crowd.

Ninety-nine percent of millennials mentioned looking on a website when shopping for a home, according to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors. Among all internet users, 89 percent said photos of homes were very useful, per the report.

“With so many people using the Internet as the first step in their home searches, photos are your home’s first showing to buyers,” says Rae Dolan, a real estate agent at Champions Real Estate Group in Katy, Texas. “You want to impress them.”

Whether you take the photos yourself or bring in a photographer, you’ll need to get the place picture-ready.

Follow these tips to create portraits that draw in online shoppers.

1. Use the Exterior as an Introduction.

Before
After

Since the exterior is usually the first picture in a photo gallery, look for ways to spruce it up:

  • Clear out any large lawn decor and take cars out of the driveway.
  • Make sure the grass is freshly cut and trim any overgrown trees or shrubs.
  • Pressure wash the sidewalk, driveway, back patio and even the home itself for a fresh look.

“The difference it can make is astounding,” says Dolan.

Take outdoor pictures at the time of day when natural light best hits your place, such as early morning or at sunset.

2. Find Your Best Light.

A brightly lit room will look warmer than an area with dark shadows or poor lighting.

“Turn on every light, every lamp, and open all your window blinds and curtains to let natural light in,” says Sissy Lappin, founder of ListingDoor.

Take pictures in the early morning or early evening, when the light tends to be soft.

3. Scrub Out Flaws.

Smudges on the floors or streaks on a counter top could distract shoppers from key features.

“Do a deep clean of your home,” says Dolan. If you’re short on time, hire a professional cleaning service. Pay attention to ceiling fans, baseboards, windows, floors, blinds and curtains.

4. Minimize Furniture.

“Remove as much furniture from each room as possible,” says Julie Finch-Scally, a cleaning expert and founder of The Duster Dollies. Think of the area as a hotel: only the basics are needed. This strategy will make every room appear to be larger.

As you take out furniture, think about what you want to do with it after the move. You may find you’ll want some pieces at your next place but are ready to part with others.

“Either sell them online, give them away to a charity, or place them in storage until you move into your new property,” suggests Finch-Scally.

5. Remove Clutter.

“Once you know you’re going to list your home, start packing up whatever you won’t need in the next six months,” says Dolan. “Store it by neatly stacking the boxes in your garage, at a friend’s place, or by renting a small storage unit.”

Clear out closets, counter tops, and dresser tops. Take down magnet collections, photos, and papers from your fridge front.

Also put away distractions such as long electrical cords, toys, scattered towels, out-of-place pillows, and stacks of books.

6. Depersonalize.

“Remove all personal items,” says Dustin Heiner, founder of MasterPassiveIncome.com, a real estate investing site. Take down family pictures and children’s artwork.

Also remove pop culture pieces, professional sports team logos, and political memorabilia. It will be easier for shoppers to view themselves in the home if it doesn’t have signs of another family living in it.

7. Opt for Neutral Tones.

If you have a room that is painted a bold color, like purple, red or bright blue, consider changing the tone.

“Paint it something neutral,” says Lappin. Shades such as beige, off white, or light smokey gray generally are more appealing to buyers.

8. Take Out Signs of Pets.

“Remove any signs of pets before you take your photos,” says Dolan. Take out food bowls, chew toys, litter boxes, beds, and crates.

“We know pets are family but not everyone has pets in their family,” says Dolan. “You want potential buyers to be able to envision their use of the home – not yours.”

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Rachel Hartman