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83% of buyers said pictures were very important in helping them choose which homes they will visit. Captivating real estate photos are crucial to drawing in buyers, and sometimes getting the perfect photo means going that extra mile with photo editing. 

However, even with the most cutting-edge equipment and skilled photographers on hand, a lack of lighting or saturated colors can get in the way! This means photo editing should always be part of your professional arsenal when showcasing houses for sale—taming harsh shadows, banishing cluttered backdrops, brightening up rooms that don’t have natural light…and you name it. 

In this post, we’ll share the do’s and don’ts of real estate photo editing so that you’ll know what’s allowed or what could lead to buyer disappointment and property misrepresentation. 

Alright, let’s dive in!

Why Is Photo Editing Important in Real Estate?

For starters, 61.3% of brokers believe high-quality photography is crucial for selling homes. And to create top-notch real estate photos, photo editing is vital. 

The final touches can be the determining factor to what will capture buyers’ attention and help sell a listing faster and for top dollar.

In post-processing, you can, for example, edit your photos to:

  • Balance hues
  • Improve saturation
  • Create special effects
  • Remove blemishes
  • Fix exposures
  • Improve detail
  • And more.

If you can ensure top-quality real estate photography, your clients will likely come back for more and also spread the word about your business to other agents and Realtors. 

In other words, you’ll not only improve your online portfolio but also brand yourself as a professional real estate photographer.

To give you an idea of what’s allowed and not allowed in post-processing, let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts of real estate photo editing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Real Estate Photo Editing

Real Estate Photo Editing by PhotoUp
Real Estate Photo Editing by PhotoUp

Photo editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom can be a great help when working on perfecting your real estate photography, but it’s important to not go overboard. 

It would be unwise, even illegal to deceive potential buyers by making an image look drastically different in comparison to reality. 

If you want some guidance about what edits should or shouldn’t occur, we have just the tips that will ensure every photo looks its best without compromising authenticity.

Real Estate Photo Editing Do’s 

Let’s start by listing what’s allowed in real estate photo editing:

1. Color Correction

Interior lighting, outside weather conditions, window tint, camera settings, and other factors can affect the color of the property.

Color correction is okay but make sure you color-correct without taking away from reality or misrepresenting what’s really there.

2. Cropping

Can I crop an image to enhance the view? Absolutely! Changing the aspect ratio or focusing on the focal point can make a world of difference.

Just keep an eye out for any permanent fixtures, like power polls and water towers in the surrounding area—these should stay visible no matter what you do with framing.

3. Image Enhancement

Even the best photographers often fail to capture the image they envision “in camera” (no post-processing required). 

Fortunately, they can safely enhance images by adjusting brightness, contrast, sharpness, and white balance, along with other aspects in order to give the image a better overall look and feel.

4. Vertical Correction

Making sure that your images are vertically aligned can have a huge impact on the final look. And, it is a completely legal and expected part of the real estate photo editing process!

5. Object Removal

Cleaning up the image of a property for sale is essential for potential buyers to take notice. A messy yard with no curb appeal can be off-putting to buyers.

Small distractions such as cars in the driveway, garbage bins, and electrical cords can easily be removed during the editing process to ensure no one gets side-tracked from its features.

Removing these objects can help to clean up the final image and let potential buyers see every aspect of the house without any distractions.

6. Sky Replacements

You don’t have to let a drab sky ruin near-perfect real estate images. No matter the weather during your shoot, a sky replacement can enhance your images and make them look warm, sunny, and captivating.

With a clear, bright, and welcoming sky, potential buyers are also more likely to spend longer looking at the image and imagining themselves living in the home.

As a photographer, you don’t have to worry about the weather or try to catch the perfect time of day for your shoot. This can be a quick and easy fix and can completely change the look and feel of the property.

7. Grass Greening

A lush, green lawn can make people passing by on the street stop to take an extra look at your property and get your listing images to stand out online. 

A well-maintained exterior seen from the sidewalk or in your listing photos will entice buyers to want to see more of your home and step inside. 

It increases the overall curb appeal and will assist in showcasing a home in its best possible light. So, patching up a lawn and making it look green and lush to bring out the best in a property photo is a go!

8. Virtual Staging

If the property you’re photographing is vacant, you should consider virtually staging your real estate images. With the help of virtual staging, you can transform empty spaces into warm and inviting homes. 

This helps buyers visualize themselves living in the home, which can help to sell a home faster and for a higher price. 

Virtual staging is perfectly legal and MLS-compliant as long as you disclose that your images are virtually staged. 

There are editing companies out there who will virtually stage homes for anywhere from $20 to $375 per image, depending on the requests and amount of editing time. For example, PhotoUp charges $25 to $30 per image and offers a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours.

9. Minor Additions

Additionally, some clients want to add a bit of life to an otherwise empty room. Adding minor things such as a fire in a fireplace, a screenshot of a movie on a TV screen, or flowers in an empty vase is fine.

Even a floor plan, virtual house tour, or walk-through video can be great additions to market a real estate listing and create more buyer engagement.

Floor Plan by PhotoUp
Floor Plan by PhotoUp

High-Quality & Consistent

Real Estate Photo Editing

Hire a dedicated editor with performance metrics from $7/hour.

Real Estate Photo Editing Don’ts 

In contrast to making enhancements to your images, here are some things to avoid when editing property photos:

1. Removing Permanent Fixtures

Be mindful that deleting permanent fixtures such as telephone poles or railroad tracks gives potential buyers just cause to file a case against you for material misrepresentation. 

Avoid this by shooting around those items – it should be easy enough to show off the best parts of the listing with some creative angles!

2. Photo Manipulation

Photo manipulation is a broad term that refers to the process of using image editing software to create a new image or alter an existing one in a way that changes its appearance or meaning.

Using photo manipulation to make a property appear more attractive or desirable than it really is can be misleading and could potentially lead to disappointment or mistrust when buyers or renters see the property in person. Changing the appearance of a property can even be illegal in some cases. 

For example, it’s generally not allowed to use photo manipulation to alter the appearance of a property in a way that would violate zoning or building codes. Or to make a property appear as though it has features or amenities that it does not actually have.

3. Unfair Representation

As experienced real estate agents, we understand the importance of accurate images. Rather than covering up a big hole in the wall with editing software, it’s better to show buyers what they can expect – flaws and all! 

For instance, you can take one photo that accurately represents your property as-is for transparency and then take another image where you showcase its potential after repairs are completed. 

This will not only help protect your credibility but also give homebuyers an inspiring vision of their future home purchase.

4. Changing the Background

In hand with photo manipulation, you sometimes may want to change the entire background to make the photo more impressive. For instance, instead of a smog-filled city skyline, you might be tempted to alter it to a pristine seascape.

Never do this because this is clearly misrepresenting the property. Buyers want to see the actual property including its surroundings so they could make informed decisions. 

Just imagine the shock of the property buyer when he finds out that the condominium that supposedly offers a seaside view actually faces a forest of skyscrapers.

High-Quality & Consistent

Real Estate Photo Editing

Hire a dedicated editor with performance metrics from $7/hour.

Enhance Real Estate Photos the Right Way With PhotoUp!

If you want to create captivating real estate photos without the risk of facing disappointed and angry buyers or even legal repercussions, PhotoUp’s expert team of real estate photo editors is here to help.

With over a decade in the industry, PhotoUp’s real estate photo editing experts can take any photo or video and make it truly stunning!

For example, our team can help with the following issues:

  • HDR editing
  • Improper exposure levels
  • Harsh shadows, lack of light, etc. 
  • Images that need cropping or other effects
  • Color correction and image enhancement
  • Lawn greening and sky replacements
  • Noise reduction and ghosting
  • Clutter and object removal
  • Day-to-dusk and twilight editing
  • Line and angle corrections, etc.
  • And much more.

But it doesn’t stop there…

House Portrait Service by PhotoUp
House Portrait Service by PhotoUp

PhotoUp offers a full ecosystem of real estate marketing services such as:

When signing up for a free PhotoUp account, you’ll get access to our user-friendly photo management system, so you can easily upload and receive photos.

PhotoUp Real Estate Photo Editing Uploader

To see how quick and easy it is to get started with PhotoUp, check out our real estate photo editing uploader demo:

It’s easy breezy!

Before you go, we have another surprise for you…

…if you sign up for a PhotoUp account today, you’ll receive 10 free edits to try us out! Plus, the signup process is completely free and doesn’t require any credit card information. 

Let PhotoUp help you edit your real estate photography to perfection and take your real estate marketing to the next level.

We hope this blog post was valuable in presenting the real estate photo editing do’s and don’ts so that you can avoid mistakes that can lead to legal repercussions. If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also want to check out the following resources:

Stina Pettersson

Professional Blogger

Stina is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, and professional blogger who's passionate about real estate photo editing, being outdoors with her pup, and sweaty gym sessions. She loves the written word and has been writing for publications like Forbes and Thrive Global. Originally from Sweden, she's called South Florida her home since 2013.

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