Want an Easy Way to Stand Out?

Want an Easy Way to Stand Out?

As I do shoots this season one thing stands out more than any other. Ask yourself: What’s the one thing I can do to dramatically improve my home’s marketability?

The odds are, you’ve had 3, 4, 5 ideas jump to mind. To be clear, I’m talking about improvements to your home. The same is true of commercial properties, but I’ll focus on residences here.

You’ve like thought of things like:

  • Make sure all your lights are (all) working (and the same color temp)
  • Declutter
  • Clean
  • Empty closets

However these are things expected. Most people do these to some degree or another. So, they really don’t make you ‘stand out.’ Like quality, when buying a car, it’s simply expected.

What’s been incredibly evident this season are the number of homes going on the market that have never been refreshed. The owners have lived in them, perhaps bought new, and not done any upkeep. After 5/10/15 years they look to move on. Yet their home looks worn, tired, mid-life.

The easy way to stand out is to consider getting your home painted. When looking at a hundred homes this season, perhaps 3% have had any painting done–inside or out.

Consider the impact of this room:

In what would have been an otherwise decent room shot, this master bedroom could only be shot one way. A blue comforter, pillows, or padded headboard had rubbed against the wall. The wet stain mark only emphasizes the issues.

Unfortunately the entire wall had to be excluded. Had it been painted, this detractor (very noticeable in-person) could not only be eliminated, the entire room would look fresh. Likely ‘smell’ fresher, too.

When painting the interior, do not skimp on the closets. All I’m saying here, is if you’re going to paint the room, include the closet. On the rare occasion I encounter a home that has some painting done, the closets are frequently skipped. Likely reason: cost.

To have a room professionally painted, takes a day (if no major repairs are required, same color). A 14’x16′ room will cost about $600 dollars. If you have the closet done, add about $100.

Here’s the issue. Yes, across 4 or 5 rooms, you might save yourself $500. However the entire reason you’re doing this is to create a positive impression, maximizing the value of your home.

There is nothing like entering a freshly painted room, only to open a closet door and see walls with 100s of scuff marks, dents, and crayon/marker lines. The potential buyer’s gut response, “Yuck,” as they close the door again as quickly as they can. In flash, their impression of the home is worse than if you had done nothing in the first place.

The same mindset applies to the exterior. Perhaps even more importantly. Consider the next image.

This home is about 15 years old. It was painted once, by the builder, and hasn’t seen a drop of paint since. It looks as you’d expect. Tired. Worn. In need of fresh paint.

Getting the exterior to look decent is even more important than the interior. After all, the potential buyer has to get ‘past’ the exterior. It quite literally is the first impression they get. You can have grass that needs cutting, a fresh-looking home will

Upon seeing a well kept home, buyers will forgive a lawn that needs mowing. But a fresh cut lawn does not overpower the impression of an unkempt structure.


SE Michigan, 2,400 sq.ft. house, 4 bed, 2-1/2 bath, the entire interior can be professionally painted for under $5,000. If that’s a lot, consider alternative strategies. Have just key rooms like foyer, living room, kitchen painted. It’s cheaper if you stay with the same basic color (single-coat vs double-coats possibly needing a primer). Plan on $600-800/room (varies wildly depending on size/condition, but gets you in the ballpark).

One strategy I have seen employed very effectively, is to only have high-wear surfaces, such as door trim, painted throughout. Similarly for the exterior, if you have a vinyl sided home, getting all the wood painted (think trim, edgings, porch ‘ceiling,’ entry posts…) can be done for around $2,000. The biggest variable when painting the exterior is how much wood may need replacement.

As a professional photographer, my job is to make every home look its best. But no matter what I do, the best pictures, the best first impressions, are tied to the best foundation. What’s the subject matter really look like. A bit of paint does wonders! Even in the Winter.

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