Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

How not to sell your house (and a few tips for pretty property too)

From murky photos to snapping rusty taps and random clutter, hopeful home vendors face plenty of pitfalls when capturing images to display in real estate listings.

Rusty taps, creepy dolls on beds, dishes on the bench, dirty washing in the laundry and even cat bowls with cat food scattered around them.

These are some of the sales faux pas that have popped up in Trade Me's real estate listings over the past year, as gathered by the Herald.

Agents and vendors from all corners of the country have been pointing and shooting at clutter, pulled curtains, televisions left on, intimate family photos left on walls and dirty towels left hanging in bathrooms.

Take a look at some of the worst Trade Me real estate listings

Some of the photos were unnecessary, such as a close-up shot of a chipped attic hole in the roof, or a zoomed-in frame of the laundry basin, complete with several loose cords. Quite a few babies in bassinets make it into the shots, as well as older children lounging on couches, lying on beds or playing with toys.

Some photos were of a terrible quality and hard to make out, or included an accidental knee or cat tail in the shot.

Surely the hair straightener left on the bed in a Papatoetoe home wasn't such a good idea? And hopefully the fly spray in the Pongaroa house wasn't an indication of what was to come.

Josh Trevarthen of Angles Photography, which specialises in real estate images, said the main thing before taking photos to help sell your home was to de-clutter.

And opening the curtains was crucial, as long as the exposure was right.

"If there's a nice landscape, you really want to show that," Mr Trevarthen said.

Photographers should make sure their camera was level and not try to get everything in one shot. Shooting into corners of rooms created a sense of more space, he said.

Sometimes having a person in the photo worked in the home's favour, if he or she was placed strategically.

"It can bring a bit of life into the photo, but not if it's just someone wandering around cooking tea."

But it was still so easy to miss small details, Mr Trevarthen said.

"There are so many details you don't see until you get the photo back, pull it up on the computer and there's a window handle that's slightly crooked."

Theresa Fincham of Ultimate Homestaging said simple things made a world of difference - for instance, clear benches and dressing tables, beds made perfectly and dressed with nice pillows and excess artwork on the walls removed.

Where possible, she advised a fresh coat of paint and if curtains were old and tatty, she asked clients to take them off completely.

"Have as much light coming through as possible.

"The entranceway is also very appealing. You don't want old pots cluttering up the doorway. Stand back and really get a visual of what the first impressions will be."

Mrs Fincham said that when dressing a house she placed minimal furniture in rooms to make them look spacious. Rugs and lamp tables next to the lounge suite were important for structure and a colour theme running throughout the entire house helped with flow.

"You want a person to visualise their own furniture in there," Mrs Fincham said.

She said vendors needed to cater to every possible buyer, so it was no use creating too many children's bedrooms in case the buyer had a different family make-up.

It was difficult trying to make changes to a rental property that was for sale when it was tenanted, Mrs Fincham said. If the vendor could afford to, it was worth keeping the home vacant while it was on the market because there was a higher chance of selling for a better price.

The managing director of Auckland's DMI Homestagers, Dinah Malyon, said she took photos before and after she staged a home and the difference was "quite extreme".

"You need to act as if you've already sold, so that's getting rid of all the doilies, the cat bowls, all the family photos from the walls, anything you're not going to use in the next four or five weeks."

- NZ Herald

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