A good real estate agent will likely advise the homeowner to clear the clutter, remove personal photos and other personal items, but lived in spaces will usually have some things that often get overlooked. It’s to be expected that some adjustments will need to be made and many of these things are customarily done by the agent and myself. I am generally willing to ‘stage as I shoot’ but this adds time to the process, so any listings that are not photo ready may be subject to additional charges.

This is the general list of what needs to be done to allow the shooting to begin right away. Please stand at the entry of each room and scan carefully to see what you don’t want seen in the photo.


  • Lights On – end table lamps, dining room chandeliers, ceiling fan lights ONLY if it is the only light source in a dark room.
  • Light Bulbsif rooms have good natural light, I will shoot with the lights off. If dark rooms, all light fixtures in any particular room should have working bulbs. Bulbs in any one room should match in temperature (all warm incandescent, or all cool LEDs, etc….)
  • Ceiling FansOFF and if the fans run constantly, check for the dust line on the blade edges and clean it.
  • Curtains – open and evenly spaced.
  • Blinds – open completely or at least flat or parallel to the ground to allow for any view, and they should be even and matched to other blinds in the room. If sliding glass to patio area, open blinds all the way.
  • Garbage Cans – out of sight
  • Pet Stuff – hide dog bowls, beds and toys
  • Kid Stuff – hide toys or, if not possible, arrange neatly


  • Garbage Cans – remove from curb and hide on the side of the house.
  • Hoses – remove or coil neatly by spigots
  • Chairs – arrange neatly around tables, fix cushions and remove any tags that may be sticking out. Lounge chairs should be set at the same reclined level.
  • Tables – clear and wipe down surfaces
  • Leaves – blow leaves from walkways and driveway
  • Pool areas – stash excess toys or arrange neatly around the pool
  • Stuff – Recreational gear should be stored, but if storage space is limited, make sure anything left out is stacked or arranged neatly.
  • Yard – Pick up branches or palm fronds that may have fallen and place on the side of the house out of view.

Living Areas

  • Cords – stand in the entry of the room and scan for unruly cords. Try to tuck them neatly behind objects.
  • Books and Magazines – if decorative, arrange neatly, but stay away from recognizable branding and markings.
  • Remotes – everyone has at least 3 these days, so just hide them.
  • Cushions – straighten and space evenly. If worn and slumpy, just remove.
  • Throws – decorative versions can add a pop of color if nicely drapped over the corner of a couch or chair.


  • Kitchen Counter Tops – less is best! You want to create the illusion of space for the home shopper so clear counters as much as possible. This includes all personal items like keys and phone chargers. Clear spices and grocery items off of every surface including the top of the fridge. Small appliances are okay, but make sure cords are tucked neatly between the appliance and wall.
  • Kitchen Nick Nacks – clear window sills and counters of excess decorative items. Remove items like magnets, calendars and photos that are attached to fridge.
  • Kitchen Trash Can – hide it in the pantry or storage area.
  • Mail – stash it away in a drawer or pantry, even if it’s in some type of caddy.
  • Kitchen Towels – if they add nothing to the decor, remove. If it does add, make sure they are neat and evenly hung.
  • Sink area – clear of drying racks, sponges, strainers and branded soap containers.


  • Toilet seats – closed
  • Toilet paper – replace empty or almost empty rolls on holders.
  • Plungers and toilet cleaning brushes – hide them
  • Counters -clear of all personal hygiene items – toothbrushes and toothpaste, electric toothbrushes and shavers, branded lotions and makeup, used soaps, hair brushes and combs, hairsprays, medicines and jewelry.
  • Trash cans – hide them, or if decorative, empty and tuck plastic liners down and out of view
  • Tissues – decorative boxes, yes, branded, no
  • Showers – remove branded items like shampoos and conditions, cleaning and personal care items: if tub or shower tile is newly renovated and a selling point, please make sure it is clean.
  • Shower curtains – if newly renovated bath, open curtain partially to show tile work, if not, close the curtain.
  • Mirrors and glass – clean of soap scum and water stains
  • Rugs – if decorative, clean and straighten, otherwise remove them
  • Perfume trays – okay only if neat, tidy and unbranded
  • Light bulbs – replace burned out bulbs, all the same temperature.


  • Beds – neat and tidy, pillows plumped and nicely arranged.
  • Bed skirts and Comforters – straighten sheets and skirts and make sure they hide box springs and any items stored under the bed. Check spreads and pillows for tags that tend to stick out on corners. Bedspreads should be smoothed and straightened to hang evenly on all sides of the bed.
  • Nightstands – clear the clutter of personal care items, phone chargers, reading materials and remotes
  • Personal Photos – hide any on dressers and nightstands
  • Decorative Items – less is best!

Home Office

  • Papers – clear the top of stacks of paper, bills etc.
  • Wires – hide or coil neatly, if possible
  • Storage Boxes – the home office often serves as extra storage so make sure any visible boxes are neatly stacked if not hidden in a closet.