How often have you browsed through property marketing search engine websites or apps, then been mesmerised by a photograph so incredibly awful you can’t decide whether it was included as a joke or someone had a momentary psychotic break during the image selection for the property information pack upload…

Not all homes are created equal and not all photographers are brimming with talent, but neither factor should ever result in potential buyers’ jaws dropping in appalled astonishment when they set eyes on a property listing for the first time.

Easiest to fix is replacing a photographer lacking composition skills, but significantly more challenging are the home interiors that would require the combined efforts of at least three fairy godmothers to make them even remotely inviting to buyers, according to Sandy Geffen, Executive Director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa.

“The main culprits are dirt, clutter and disrepair but sometimes homeowners spring the oddest surprises on you on picture day – even after you’ve given them a complete brief of what needs to be done,” says Geffen, who is a real estate industry veteran of more than three decades and has pretty much seen it all.

Geffen believes there are a few basic image dos and don’ts that’ll offer homeowners the best chance of a quick sale at the best possible price:

The first is never allow blurry photos to be used in the marketing of your home. Out-of-focus images give the impression that sellers don’t take pride in their homes – or worse, that they have something to hide.

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On the flip side, Herculene Visser, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty area specialist in Tokai in Cape Town, warns that sellers shouldn’t feature too many personal items that could make a home seem uninviting and cluttered.

To lighten and brighten a home for a photo, draw back the curtains, replace heavy draperies with mini-blinds, increase the wattage of the bulbs in light fixtures and consider painting the walls in light, neutral colours.

“Quality photos are attention-grabbing, will get your home on more in-person viewing shortlists and help you achieve a decent sale price,” says Geffen. “It’s painful preparing for shoot day, but putting in the effort will pay dividends in the long run.