4 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Real Estate Photos

As a home owner, you recognise the value of curb appeal. You know that your house has one chance to make a positive first impression. And you understand that bad impressions could delay your sale or lower your home's total value.

But as you spruce up the exterior and attend to the landscaping, don't forget to prepare the interior of your home for professional real estate photos as well. 

Many potential buyers investigate homes online before they ever tour the physical property, so you need to make sure your photos look fantastic from every angle. The following steps, in particular, can help your home shine in front of the lens.

 

1. Remove Clutter and Personal Items

Many buyers need room to imagine themselves living in your home. If you have family photos covering the walls and toothbrushes scattered on your bathroom counter, buyers may have a hard time seeing past your personal items to fully enjoy the rest of the image.

Of course, professional photographers can correct the occasional awkward TV cord here or table smudge there. But you don't want to let your furniture, decorations and appliances distract from your home's best features. So tuck away those post cards on the refrigerator and hide that old toaster in one of your cabinets until after the shoot.

 

2. Introduce Additional Lighting

Natural lighting works wonders for home. It makes your rooms look bigger, softer and more inviting. It also brings out the striking colours in your wallpaper or your carpeting.

Fluorescent lights and LED lighting, in contrast, tend to make your home look cold and hard. Though a skilled photographer can help balance interior lighting via multiple portable flashes, your best photos will likely rely heavily on natural light from outside.

To maximise your natural lighting, hang mirrors on the walls to bounce light into darker areas. You may also want to install tubular skylights or swap solid doors for glass-panelled alternatives.

 

3. Clean the Carpets and Flooring

Many of your home's best features likely stand at waist level or higher, such as your gorgeous granite counter tops or your custom pedestal bathroom sink. But don't assume for a moment that your photographer will only snap images of these items.

Often times, real estate photographers step back so they can capture the entire room. These wide angle shots give buyers a distinct impression of space and grandeur. As a result, many of your photos will include your flooring, and a simple vacuum or mop won't be enough to hide years of stains.

Talk to a professional cleaner about deep cleaning your carpet or scrubbing the grout on your tile floors. If you have eye-catching rugs that you want your photographer to focus on, make sure the rugs receive a professional cleaning as well.

 

4. Refresh and Rearrange Your Upholstery

An empty home often looks boring, bland and unimaginative, so many photographers prefer that you leave some furniture in the room. A charming sofa or elegant chair can serve as a centrepiece or direct the eye to more important features in your home.

However, you don't have to stick to the same furniture arrangement you and your family have used for the past few years. If a kitchen chair looks striking in the bedroom, move it there. Or if a living room couch takes up too much space near the window, shift it out of the photographer's line of sight.

And like your floors, your furniture should look clean and well-kept. Leather couches should be free from stains, and throw pillows should accent the rest of the room. If necessary, hire a professional to clean and restore damaged upholstery.

 

Ask Your Photographer for More Advice

Although these tips will help you prepare your home for eye-catching photos, your photographer will likely have additional suggestions for you and your family. Before the actual shoot, talk to your real estate photographer about items that need to change or move to bring out the best features of your house.  

Do You Make These 5 Carpet Cleaning Mistakes?

Everyone makes mistakes now and again.

Perhaps you submit a resume to a potential employer but later discover a typo in the third paragraph. Maybe you text your friend an invitation to your party but then realise that the last digit should have been a 4 instead of a 7. Or you meant to order onion rings but mixed up the menu and received curly fries instead.

In most cases, the above mistakes seem laughable and correctable. However, when you make the following mistakes with your carpet, you could cause irreversible damage and shorten the lifespan of your flooring.

 

1. You Wait to Clean the Spill

When you are busy or not present when a spill occurs, you might not have the chance to spot spills the moment they happen. You may find traces of the accident the next day or even the next week, depending on the spill and its location.

However, the longer you wait to address a stain, the harder it may be to remove. Some liquids can sink deeply into the carpet backing and underlay or seep through and stain all of the pile and not just the surface. Other materials bond quickly with the fibres, making removal more difficult and in some instances impossible. With some exceptions, set stains usually require advanced stain removal techniques and don’t respond to cleaning or normal spotting product so are unlikely to be a DIY option.

 

2. You Don't Test Cleaning Products

In your hurry to clean a spill, you may feel tempted to grab the nearest all-purpose cleaner and attack the offending stain. But if you don't check the label, you may end up using chemicals too harsh for your type of carpet to handle. Always follow label instructions to avoid the possibility of permanent damage. Even if the product seems suitable for carpet, always test the product on an extra piece of carpeting or in a discreet area such as the bottom back corner of a cupboard or wardrobe.

 

3. You Use Too Much Powder

There are a number of powdered products on the market designed to help you handle spills and odours as they happen. While these powders may work to an extent, we don’t recommend them. They usually leave a residual of the spilled substance and some damp powder in the carpet. We recommend a procedure that will completely remove the stain and rinse out any product used to aid the removal process.

Additionally, it is very easy to cause a build-up of powder in your carpet either from overuse or inadequate suction from your vacuum cleaner. If you are going to try a powdered product use it sparingly and make sure your vacuum cleaner is in good working order and preferably use one with a motorised power head (beating brush).

 

4. You Scrub Vigorously

When you face a particularly difficult stain, your initial impulse may be to scrub the area as hard as you can. After all, a little old-fashioned scrubbing and elbow grease cleans almost everything, right?

However, the more you rub, the more you run the risk of spreading and or pushing the stain deeper into the pile. Furthermore, vigorous scrubbing causes the fibres to untwist and fray causing an unsightly fuzz effect which in some cases is more obvious than the initial stain.

Rather than muscling the stain into submission, lightly dab the area with a damp cleaning cloth. Start with the outside of the stain, then gradually work your way toward the middle.

 

5. You Do All Your Cleaning Yourself

As a DIY homeowner, you may try to maintain every aspect of your home on your own. You vacuum your floors regularly to prevent dirt and debris build-up. You place mats at the entry way and you keep the areas directly leading onto the carpeted areas as clean as you can.

While these techniques do extend the life of your carpet, you shouldn't neglect to hire a professional carpet cleaner now and again. As a general rule, hire a cleaner at least once a year to remove embedded debris that your vacuuming is leaving behind. If you have heavy foot traffic in your home, or if you have pets, you may need to hire a professional cleaner on a bi-annual basis.

5 Preventative Tips to Avoid Water Damage in Your Home

As a homeowner, you pride yourself on keeping your house in good condition. You clean your floors, organise your garage and maintain your yard. Whether you just moved in or have lived in the same place for years, you do all you can to keep up appearances and prevent irritating problems.

But what if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or high humidity? Homes in these locations-or houses that experience plumbing problems-may suffer from indoor flooding and the associated water damage.

Along with house fires and termite infestations, water damage asserts itself high up on a list of homeowners' nightmares. This kind of damage causes a host of frustrating-and downright unhealthy-problems, including:

  • Warped skirting boards
  • Discolouration
  • Mould & mildew
  • Rusted metals

The following tips can help you avoid water damage from some of the more common causes.

1.Check for Appliance Leaks

One of the easiest ways for water to invade your home is through leaky plumbing fixtures, including toilets, sinks, showers and baths. Checking these areas of your house on a regular basis for leaks or cracks can prevent flooding from ever happening.

As well as plumbing fixtures, remember some appliances can contribute to leakage. Don't forget to check on your refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine for any signs of unwanted drips. If you find regularly checking these items too tedious, consider changing washes and hoses every few years. If you don’t check them and don’t replace them, it is only a matter of time until washes fail and hoses crack.

2. Inspect Gutters and Downpipes

You may easily overlook the important role your gutters and downpipes play to keep rainwater and other debris out of your home. Clean pipes allow for consistent water flow and smooth irrigation. When dirt, leaves and other materials clog your gutters and downpipes, excess water may seep into your roof or exterior walls.

Regular cleaning of your gutters is recommended and checking your roof tiles for cracks or chips periodically is also a good idea especially if you have had a tradesperson up there.

3. Get the Air Flowing

To circumvent too much humidity or condensation inside your home, let in more air. Open windows in different rooms to combat stagnant or damp air. You'll feel less sticky and, perhaps more importantly, you'll defend your house from potential water damage. Depending on your budget, you can also use a humidity metre or a dehumidifier to create the right amount of moisture in your bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and other areas in your house.

4. Watch What You Pour Down Your Sink

Remember that garbage cans and sinks (including garbage disposals underneath your sink) have two separate functions. Your sink's pipes cannot handle solid materials or even thick liquids. When you cook or wash dishes, remember to avoid washing food items, plastics, chemicals and grease down your sink.

Such materials can accumulate inside pipes and create clogs and backups. Use your garbage bin instead as the receptacle for waste items that may ruin your plumbing.

5. Pay Attention to Your Water Bill

If you pay your water bill on time, do you also carefully read it? Your bill may shed light on unexpected or unknown water leaks in your home. If you notice uncharacteristically high prices, you may have a leaky pipe somewhere within your walls or ceiling.

The best way to resolve unseen, problematic plumbing is to contact a plumbing company or a general home contractor. Professionals will identify the trouble, fix it and give you advice on how to prevent further leaks.

Remember these tips and regularly apply them to keep your home safe from the physical and financial harm of water damage. If you experience indoor flooding, contact your local water damage experts to receive professional assistance.

3 Sneaky Pests That Damage Your Carpet & Upholstery

Ever hear the phrase, "snug as a bug in a rug"?

Some insects and pests love to nestle in your carpet. The soft, thick fibres serve as an excellent hiding place. And for many bugs, the wool pile presents a seemingly endless supply of food for themselves and their larvae.

The following pests in particular are infamous for sneaking into homes uninvited and damaging oriental rugs, upholstery and carpet.

 

1.Carpet Moths

Carpet moths (the webbing moth and the case making moth) don't look like much at first. They have a small wing span, only 14 to 18 mm. The adults tend to have a brown or beige colouring, and they prefer dark, undisturbed areas to lay their eggs.

Why They Like Carpet

Although adult carpet moths don't cause a lot of damage on their own, you should definitely watch out for their larvae. A single female adult can lay 100 to 150 eggs, which hatch in as few as five days.

The small caterpillars then proceed to devour the wool and other natural fibres in your carpet. They also nibble on pollen, hair, dried animal remains and other dead insects that tend to accumulate in your rugs.

Infestation Signs

Signs you have carpet moths include:

  • Loose carpet fibres where the larvae have eaten the knots in your rug
  • Squirming larvae underneath your rug
  • Small cocoons that blend with your wool
  • Adult moths flying in your home

Because adults prefer the dark, and because their larvae tend to blend in with their surroundings, you'll probably see the damage long before you see the insects themselves.

 

2. Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles have a recognisable oval body with a shiny, dark, brown-black colouring, though their wings tend to vary with irregular patterns of white, brown and dark yellow. They range in size from 0.3 cm to 0.4 cm.

Why They Like Carpet

 Adult carpet beetles don't eat carpet or upholstery, as they prefer pollen and nectar from outdoor flowers. But should you bring them indoors, they'll quickly lay their eggs on or near your wool rugs, carpets or leather furniture.

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will eat almost anything, from woollen socks to animal skins to dried plant products. And of course, they'll eat your rug fibres, too.

Infestation Signs

Are you worried you have carpet beetles? Here's what to look for:

  • Shed skins and faecal pellets on or near your carpet
  • Adults crawling around your windows and skirtings
  • Irregular holes in carpeting and other fabrics
  • Larvae squirming on the carpet
  • Small cocoons under your rugs

As with carpet moths, carpet beetles prefer the dark. You'll probably notice the holes and the occasional adult long before you spot their larvae.

 

3. Silverfish

Silverfish have a sleek, teardrop-shaped body with a blue-silver or brown-grey colouring. They measure 12 to 19 mm long and have three noticeable bristles on their rear.

Why They Like Carpet

Silverfish prefer to eat carbohydrates, specifically polysaccharides such as starch and dextrin. You can find polysaccharides in a variety of household materials, including glue, book bindings, clothing and human dandruff. But when these materials become limited, silverfish will also eat silk, linen, household dust and even synthetic fibres in your carpet.

Infestation Signs

Watch for these signs of silverfish infestations:

  • Holes in wallpaper, clothing and carpeting
  • Yellow stains around the holes
  • Faecal matter (resembles black pepper) in corners
  • Adults in opened or unopened food packages

Like carpet beetles and carpet moths, silverfish become more active during the night, but you can spot them during the day if you have a particularly large infestation.

 

What Can You Do?

If you've identified any of these pests in your home, you should take action quickly as all of these insects reproduce at a rapid rate. Start by hiring a professional carpet cleaner to steam clean your flooring. The high temperatures will kill the larvae and the vacuum will suck away any eggs lodged in the fibres. Your carpet cleaner may also recommend additional methods for removing infestations, such as the use of pesticides or changes in your lifestyle to make your home less inviting for pests.