Let me first say that I can, and have, worked under the craziest conditions imaginable (electricity off, homeowners/contractors/realtors/pets around, total mess, etc.). Those will always produce the worst results, and are often the result of poor planning. The point of this page is to help realtors and homeowners better prepare for a successful listing.
Anecdotally, the most successful realtors I know have a very organized system for listing a home. Their sytematic approach is apparent in even the initial meeting with their client, and adds greatly to their credibility and professionalism. I personally have learned from this approach, and have benefitted greatly. Working in real estate can be immensely stressful, and some people work in "panic mode" constantly. Some people are very relaxed; This is a result of knowing "what comes next" at all stages of the home listing and sale. These "laid-back" agents have contingency plans and often schedule buffer time for the unpredictability of weather, contractors, and the homeowner. This results in greater success, MUCH reduced stress, and a subtle "I've got this" vibe that puts sellers at ease. I know realtors that don't wear suits and don't drive luxury SUVs, but spend relaxed time with their clients; these people get word-of-mouth referrals constantly and have relationships lasting several decades.
One great trick a realtor told me is that you can really get a feel for how serious the homeowner is about selling their home by how willing they are to prepare for moving. If you can teach them to think about this house like it no longer belongs to them -- "Imagine it's already sold" -- then you can ask the question "would you like to have $10,000 in exchange for organizing and cleaning the house before you move out?". The home IS going to be vacated and cleaned, so you might as well do it before photos are taken. You've heard it before: Homes with the best photos sell faster and for more money, with fewer contingencies.
- Treat the photo shoot like potential buyer was coming.
- Make sure all contractors are scheduled to be done with any work WELL before the photo shoot (ideally at least a day). Don't have any other contractors, cleaners, landscapers, etc. scheduled for the day of the shoot.
- Have the homeowners vacate the home, including children and pets. There are many kinds of people: curious, "helpful," friendly, hesitant. They all have one thing in common: They get in the way! You will never hear any real estate photographer say "Boy, I wish there were more people around!" ANY people at the shoot will get in the way, several times, guaranteed. They will be visible in mirrors or through windows, or their elbows or butts will be sticking out from a corner. They will be chatting or playing with their phone, and as they walk around the house they will disturb furniture, leave things sitting out, turn off lights, and get a snack. If the homeowner is afraid to have strangers in their home, they can put up cameras or something. All valuables should be locked away anyway-- "anonymous" buyers will be poking into all corners of the home very soon.
- Make the home look great (lights on, blinds open/matching, clutter-free, etc), remove trash cans from the sides/front of the home (in the garage or behind side gate is fine), coil the hose, then leave (or wait in the car or somewhere not visible from the home).
I've put together a sheet for the homeowner to prepare for the photo shoot, links below. I recommend you get familiar with it yourself, so you can answer questions the homeowner may have. Even better, take the document (not PDF), make your own copy, and put additional information and your logo on it. Use it as part of your initial package.
Even if this is your first listing, people will think you've been doing this forever.
PDF VERSION: PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR A PHOTO SHOOT
GOOGLE DOC VERSION: PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR A PHOTO SHOOT
Finally, keep in mind that how the home looks actually reflects on YOU, the realtor. Other agents see it, potential buyers see it, and potential sellers see it. You owe it to your future self to create the reputation of success and professionalism.