How best to sell your home?
Make sure it looks as good as possible online says Jessie Hewitson The Times
Now is the best time to photograph your house if you are planning on selling in September. Late May to early June is the sweet spot for photographing homes, says Ed Hill, who, with Tony Murray, is the closest the industry has to the fashion photographer Mario Testino. “The gardens are green, everything looks lovely and there’s light, but not too much of it,” Hill says.
Hill was responsible for taking the pictures for the sales brochure for One Cornwall Terrace, a mansion overlooking Regent’s Park that sold for £80 million to Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, the mother of the Emir of Qatar. It is said that when snapping the exterior of One Cornwall Terrace, he waited up a tree for three nights until he got a perfect, clear night-sky shot. The bill for the photography is thought to have been £20,000, although Hill — who works mainly in central London, “with the odd castle here and there”, is too discreet to say how much he charges.
Most estate agencies pay their photographers a fraction of this and it can show in the quality of the photography. However, some agencies are investing more heavily because, apart from the price, photography is the first thing a buyer looks at.
The London-based agency Brickworks, set up by an artist and an estate agent, employs two specialist interiors photographers, who can take a day to shoot a home. The company provides a stylist and can stage the home with furniture within a fee scale from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent. A two-bedroom flat in Daltson, northeast London, that was stuck on the market sold within three weeks after being styled, rephotographed and relisted by the agency. “All the niggly bits that the owner never gets round to doing — the perpetual snagging list, as it were — must be resolved because the buyers will notice,” say Ellie Rees, the creative director and co-founder of Brickworks. “Selling is the time to fix the light switch, paint the front door, and get the carpets cleaned. All this narrows down the opportunity for negotiation on the price.”
So, how do you take pictures that sell a home for the best price?
1 It’s all about light. “You never understand the light in a house until you’ve spent time there,” says Hill. “I might shoot a room thinking I’ve got the perfect time of day, but when I revisit it later I discover the light is better, so I reshoot it. People think that what you want is a room flooded with light, but too much won’t make a great picture.”
2 Style your home. Declutter to the max. Move the bins so they are out of shot and book an industrial cleaner. If the paintwork is looking tired, repaint everything a brilliant white. Richard Barber, the director of the residential agency arm of JLL, recommends employing an interior designer. “Spending £6,000 to £7,000 will easily add £15,000 at the £1 million price level,” he says.