The 10 photo fails that stop you selling your house

The Ghost House: interior of an abandoned house, very dirty and messy, with rotten walls and staircases.

Photos sell houses. 20 year ago, most of your buyers would get their first impression from wandering past, so selling your home was all about the kerb appeal. Now, however, 90% of buyers will see your house online first - and the photos will provide their first impression.

It means that it's essential to avoid the ten photo mistakes that will put people off - and can stop your home selling altogether.

See also: The 10 biggest turn-offs stopping people buying your home

See also: Are we set for a house price collapse?

Messy house

Taking a photo of a messy house is a sure-fire way to reduce the asking prices people are willing to stump up. The vast majority of people will be put off entirely by extreme mess, and those who give you the benefit of the doubt will assume this is a sign of some kind of deeper neglect, and will be factoring this into the price they are willing to pay. We can't all live perfectly tidy lives, but most people can spend a day cleaning - or employ someone else to do a deep clean. It could add thousands to the price of the property.

Not enough photos
If you don't include photos of a particular room, people will assume there's something wrong with it, so make sure every room is shown online. If that means having more than 20 photos for a property, then that's no bad thing. It's far better to have too many than too few. If there really is something wrong with a room - putting you off photographing it - then you need to do everything you can to solve those problems. If the room is very small, remove the clutter. If it includes the world's most hideous fitted wardrobe, then take the photo facing the other way.

Man working in home office by bikes and books piled by doorway, mess,  messy, clutter, houseCasual Clothing, Horizontal, Full L

If there's clutter on a photo, then that's all people will see -and they'll assume the house is too small. Over the years there have been houses that hit the headlines for having every spare surface cluttered with ornaments - but it doesn't have to be this extreme to be off-putting. Too much furniture or too many belongings in a room will make it feel crowded. The experts say most homes need at least a third of the belongings removed to feel clutter-free.

Nowadays anyone can alter a photo, but not everyone can do so in the best possible way. With inexperienced Photoshop there's a chance you make the photo look less inviting rather than more, and with professional Photoshop there's a chance that you end up disappointing everyone who comes to look round. Take good photos the first time round, and leave the Photoshop alone.

Empty white wall with spot lights and wooden floor

Bare rooms
Empty rooms are actually even more of a no-no than clutter, because people cannot imagine what the place will look like when it's lived in. You're trying to sell a lifestyle that people can move into - and nobody's dream lifestyle is a dreary empty property

Arty shots
Don't let the estate agent tell you that a close-up of a flowerpot or an angled photo of the spare room is going to look clever and arty. Get them to experiment with art in their spare time, and take clean and clear shots of your home.

'Dark and creepy room in an abandoned hospital outside of Berlin, Germany.'

Dark images
'Light and bright' photos sell properties, so don't take photos on a dull day, or with the curtains half-closed. The windows should be washed, the curtains drawn back all the way, and the lights on, so the room is as light and airy as possible. There's nothing stopping the photographer bringing their own lights if they think they will get a better result.

Close up of the fruit bowl
Whenever you take a photo, there's something strongly in focus, and your eye is drawn to it. If there are lots of vertical or horizontal lines in the photo, then your eye will be drawn along those too. Make sure there's something fantastic in focus, and that your eye is drawn where you want it. Nobody ever sold a kitchen because the photo made the fruit bowl look really good.

a lighted christmas tree with...

Photos that date
If you have had your home on the market for a while, consider how the photos have dated it. Snow on the ground, Christmas decorations, frost, or bare trees in the middle of summer will instantly tell people that you've had trouble shifting the property. You need to get them updated as the seasons change.

Some owners crop up in photographs, while sometimes the photographer can be seen looming in reflections too. Even when the owners have the good sense to stay behind the camera, they may well make a regular appearance in an array of family photographs. Owners will find it far harder to imagine themselves living in a property if they can see someone else living there - so you are automatically putting them off.

10 things that add value to homes in an area
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10 things that add value to homes in an area

A view out over the park isn’t just a nice bonus, it’s a valuable asset. A study by Marsh & Parsons has found that a park view can add up to 10% to a property's asking price.

It carried out its research in London, where it found that a view over Warwick Square in Pimlico added £75,000 to the asking price of a one-bedroom apartment.

Understandably, this is largely a London phenomenon, where the vast majority of train-based commuting takes place in the UK.

The Nationwide Building Society found that being 500m from a station would add 10.5% to the value of a property in London. In Manchester it fetched a 4.6% premium and in Glasgow 6%.

The researchers found that the closer the property was, the higher the premium would be - until the proximity of the station started having an impact on the area itself.

Having a Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer or the Co-operative within striking difference, will add value to your property. In fact, a survey by Lloyds claimed that it would add 7% - or just over £15,000.

However, apparently what we all really want is a Waitrose, because the same study found that having a branch nearby added almost £39,000 - or 12% to the value of the property.

The way the survey was carried out, however, doesn't make it clear whether this is a reflection of the attraction of the supermarket itself, or whether the supermarkets tend to target affluent areas with expensive houses.

People will pay 12% more to live in a market town than they will for the same property in the surrounding countryside. The findings come from Lloyds Bank, which claimed the towns offered a balance between country life and community spirit that proved irresistible to buyers.

It added that in some market towns the mark-up was even larger, with Beaconsfield in the South East attracting a 156% premium over the surrounding area.

A study by the London School of Economics found that living in a conservation area adds 23% to the value of your home. Given that this was an academic study, the researchers went even further and adjusted the results based on the kinds of properties in the area, and other aspects of the location (which none of the other studies took into consideration), and it still found an uplift of 9%.
Being near a good school will add 28% to the value of your home - according to Savills - with parents calculating that it’s cheaper to move into the catchment area of a good school and pay anything up to £100,000 more for their property than fork out for years of extortionate private education.

A study a few years ago by Zoopla discovered that living on a road with ‘Hill’ or ‘Lane’ in its name meant your property was likely to be 50% more valuable than the national average.

Those with ‘Mews’, ‘Park’ and 'Green’ in their names were also more valuable.

It’s unlikely that there’s any element of cause and effect here: instead they are by-products of the same thing. Expensive houses have always been built in the more exclusive parts of town, including the hills and the quiet ‘lanes’ around those hills.

A survey by Primelocation claimed that being near a top golf course would add 56% to the value of your property. It added that prices were also rising faster near golf courses than elsewhere in the country.

Of course, there’s a chance that the results were impacted by the fact that many of the courses are in leafy and exclusive areas, where people pay a premium to live regardless of the course.

You’d have thought the threat of flooding would make people take to the hills, but it appears we’re still happy to pay a premium to be beside the sea.

The Knight Frank Waterfront Index found that overlooking an estuary adds an average of 85% to the price of a property, a harbour adds 83%, while the coastline in general adds 56% to the value of the property. If you have a mooring, that’s even better, as it adds 104% to the value of your home.

Despite all the bad press surrounding flood plains and rivers breaking their banks, being near a river is actually more valuable than being by the sea.

The Knight Frank Waterside Index claims it adds 57% to the value of your property - making it the most valuable asset to have in the neighbourhood.


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