5 scariest things that happened at a home listed for sale
October 13, 2023
- Photos are an essential part of marketing a property and can improve the chances of buyers looking at a listing.
- Real estate agents working with sellers help pave the way for a smooth professional photo shoot.
- But even the most well-planned real estate photo shoot can end up being a frightening experience!
Getting a home sold doesn’t have to be scary. While home sellers may want to haunt buyers to get their attention, a simpler method is to provide plenty of high-quality photos with a listing. In a National Association of Realtors’ report, 89% of buyers said photos were very useful in their home search — and that percentage was even higher among young baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and the Gen Z generation.
Today a majority (97%) of buyers rely on the internet as part of their home search, so eye-catching photos are an essential marketing tool. Professional photographers have seen it all — the good, the bad and the scary — when it comes to homes listed for sale.
5 spooky photo shoot stories
When photographers enter a home to begin a shooting session, they sometimes encounter some frightening scenes. Real estate photography firm HomeJab asked 114 professional real estate photographers to share their scariest stories when shooting a home listing.
While one photographer opening a deck umbrella found it full of bats, and another nearly step on a snake — inside the den, other photo shoots ranged from scary to downright chilling:
- A photographer in Greenwood, Colorado, put his hands up. “I was sent to shoot a commercial building. Supposedly the tenant expected me but of course no one told them, and they would not answer the door until I started walking around the outside taking photos. Then a man comes running out with a 9mm hollering, ‘Federal Agent, stop what you are doing.’ Turns out Homeland Security was the tenant, and they used the building to process prisoners.”
- Being bugged in Austin, Texas: “A repo company sent me to a house with an active hornet nest — inside the kitchen!”
- A Southern California photo shoot was more than a little creepy: “In a house that appeared to be an estate sale, I found an extremely large amount of blood leading from the carpeted master bathroom to the master bed. The carpet had been ‘cleaned,’ but someone had obviously died there. Also, I didn’t notice at first because the master bedroom was extremely dark, and the light didn’t work.”
- An unappetizing scene in Nashville: “The house was owned by a hoarder and filled with roaches and pizza boxes. While she [homeowner] talked to me, she had roaches crawling across her skin. I thought I was in a horror movie.”
- A sticky situation in Butte, Alaska, “On a foreclosure shoot I walked into a spider’s web. I screamed like a little child.”
5 things photographers wish sellers would do
While photographers would say the above scenes are part of their “don’t do this” list, they also have some good advice about things that homeowners should do that agents can share with their sellers before a photo shoot.
- Declutter. At the top of the list, mentioned by 95% of photographers, is the wish that homeowners would declutter before the photo shoot. A messy house never shows well in photos.
- Remove objects. Anything in the way of a photo such as toys, bikes or hoses should be moved before the photographer arrives to avoid marring the image or slowing down the photo session.
- Clean. Dust bunnies don’t make for a good photo. The camera can pick up streaks and smears and the lighting can be affected by dirty windows, so do a deep clean or hire a professional cleaning service.
- Fix light bulbs. While a professional photographer can usually improve the lighting in an image, it helps to start with all the light bulbs working and at maximum wattage. Besides, sellers will want the brightest bulbs on during buyer tours, too.
- Clear pathways and driveways. No buyer wants to see a car in front of their potential house — unless the car is part of the deal!
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