How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

Above all else, photos are your guest’s first impression of your property – above the description, the amenities, and all other details.

So you can imagine what extremely important role photos can play in advertising your rental listing. However, photos can also be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, amazing photos can skyrocket your listing to the head of the pack and drive better occupancy and more rental income. On the other hand, below average photos can leave a damaging first impression with potential renters.

How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

Let’s start with a quiz, shall we?

Question 1: Are your photos dark and/or blurry?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Question 2: Are you providing your guests with context by showing pictures of both the exterior and interior of your property?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Question 3: Are there random items like chargers, laptops, remotes, people, etc. cluttering your pictures?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Question 4: Do you have 5 or fewer photos?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Question 5: Are you giving renters an accurate idea of how far the college campus is from your property and what activities are in the surrounding area by providing additional relevant photos?

  1. Yes
  2. No


So, how did you do?

If you avoided some of the typical pitfalls, then your listing is in great shape and you are on your way to marking a strong first impression. Congratulations! But, even if you passed the quiz, there may be additional ideas to further enhance your listings photos This guide will get you there.

If you did not avoid some or all of these pitfalls, don’t despair! provides a number of tips below and easy ways that you can improve your first impression with great photos and, in turn, increase your business because remember: stellar photos = increased inquiries = more bookings = more rental income.

Tip #1: Make Sure Your Pictures Are Bright and Clear

Like we said in our Ultimate Guide to Renting Your College Town Property, lighting can make or break a photo.

If you are taking photos of a space that has no access to natural light (e.g. no windows) then artificial lighting can be used to brighten up the space. Just be careful to ensure there are no ill-placed shadows.

It’s also important that you’re posting high-resolution photos.

If your images are showing up blurry, that means you could be moving your hand when taking the photos. That is completely understandable and can also be hard to avoid, and therefore, a tripod could be a great investment.

Tip #2: Use a Wide-Angle Lens to Shoot All Pictures in Landscape

Landscape, meaning that the pictures are wider than they are tall, is the best orientation for real estate and vacation rental photos.

A wide-angle lens is essential in capturing the entirety of the room and providing the full essence of your listing as it provides the most accurate sense of depth and detail. is also set up to favor pictures that are wider than they are tall. So when you upload a portrait photo, borders are naturally added around the photo to make it fit the space which can slightly decrease what is visible with vertical photos.

We also recommend that you don’t use a fish-eye lens because it will distort the room, making it look larger than it is and possibly deceiving your customers in the process.

How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

Tip #3: DON’T Over-decorate but DO Prepare the Room for the Shot

We know it is often tempting to over-decorate your space when there’s so much great home decor out there. But in reality, this can sometimes take away from the space, distract your potential renters, and make your property look too cluttered in pictures.

How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

People are more drawn to neutral rooms with small accents of contrasting color here and there. Therefore, while we do recommend that you prepare your rooms for your photoshoots, we do not recommend going over the top with your decorations.

Below are a few additional tips for preparing each of your different rooms to deliver optimal pictures:

To prepare the kitchen

  • Remove everything from the exterior of the fridge: magnets, photos, and whatever you might store on top.
  • Wipe the counters and keep them clutter-free.
  • Hide excess stuff around the sink – for example, dish soap, sponges, paper towels, hand towels, etc.
  • Set up the kitchen bar or dining room table with a nice set of dishes and placemats
  • Add a bowl of fruit or flowers as a great, colorful addition to the kitchen counter or kitchen/dining room table

How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

To prepare the bathroom(s)

  • Remove old mismatched towels and hang up a new, coordinating set.
  • Put both the toilet seat and lid down.
  • Hide toiletries that you keep on the counter and in the shower/bath.
  • Clean the mirrors and any other shiny surfaces.
  • If it makes sense, add a potted plant or flowers on the counter.

To prepare the bedrooms

  • Make the bed! And add decorative pillows as you see fit.
  • Clean the mirrors and other glass furniture.
  • Clear the bedside tables. Adding a decorative lamp, clock, and/or a potted plant also looks nice.
  • Include any additional elements that might be an asset to the room – such as TV’s, large closets, reading chair, etc.

How to Take the Best Photos to Advertise Your Rental Listing

To prepare the living room

  • Remove any excess clutter, pets or people from all photos.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Ensure good placement of furniture and remove any unnecessary clutter from the coffee table or end tables.

Tip #4: Add Some Contrast.

We mentioned earlier that neutral rooms perform the best but we must stress again that while neutral is nice, it can also drive people to scroll right past your rental listing. The eye needs something to grab onto and that’s why it’s important to provide a point of contrast, especially in your lead photo.

You can add a pop of color with a bright piece of art, a bouquet of flowers, bright blue skies in an exterior photo, or maybe a fun patterned tablecloth. You can bump up the saturation a little when editing the photos too, making it almost impossible for someone to scroll past your rental listing.

Tip #5: Post 20 or more photos.

A recent Flipkey study showed that listings with 20 or more photos get 83% more inquiries than those with 5 or less. Why? Because with fewer pictures, people think you could be hiding something. They want full context and all of their questions answered, with no surprises when they arrive.

By having at least 20 photos, you can give your guests a full sense of the entire property inside and out.

If you feel like your home doesn’t have 20 different quality pictures worth of space, we’ve got some ideas for you:

  • Create an imaginary floor plan by providing different angles of the rooms.
  • Give detailed shots of the decor and amenities.
  • Take photos of the neighborhood and the local college campus to give visitors ideas of any nearby attractions.

Tip #6: Create a Virtual Tour with Your Rental Listing Photos

So last but certainly not least, one trap that hosts with great pictures fall into is creating a confusing sequence of photos. They’ll start with a bedroom shot then move directly to a photo of a backyard with a pool, then take you back inside to a random bathroom, then to the kitchen, then back outside to show you what the front of the house looks like…you get the idea.  It is both confusing and distracting to potential renters.

You can imagine that for someone viewing this strange order it gets exhausting trying to figure out the layout of the house. Remember, even though you’ve walked through your property thousands of times, your potential renters are seeing it for the first time.

In order to advertise your rental listing effectively, you want to create a virtual tour.

We are not saying you should include every little closet or hallway too, but it’s important to at least 1) keep the rooms in sequential order, 2) keep wide-angle and close-up shots of the respective rooms together, and 3) not jump from indoor to outdoor and back again.

Here’s one final word of encouragement: You don’t need a professional real estate photographer, a fancy camera, or even 10,000 hours of photography training to get great photos.

Your smartphone camera will work just fine, especially in combination with a wide-angle lens attachment.

If you want more tips on the best ways to advertise your rental listing including creating a compelling description, what amenities to offer your guests, and how to create the best initial impression, head over to our Ultimate Guide to Renting Your College Town Property.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your College Town Property

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your College Town Property

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to effectively advertise your rental property in a college town. Here we have 16 tips to help you rent out your property and keep your customers coming back again and again.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #1: Write a Compelling Description

The opening lines of your description should compel the reader to want to learn more so it should be engaging enough to catch their attention. Consider the difference between these two descriptions:

1. Single bathroom ranch in Gainesville.


2. Within walking distance to the University of Florida football stadium!

Which would you click on?

Start your description with a short paragraph that gives insight not only into your property but also into the lifestyle it offers. Then describe the home as if you are taking them on a virtual tour.

You still want to list the key features in bullet point form so they’re scannable, but don’t neglect your description!

Tip #2: Be Realistic

If you manage your customer’s expectations, it will make for a better experience for all parties involved.

Be honest with how close or far your property is from major attractions like college stadiums, sports fields, a beach or river, shopping outlets, etc.

If your property has little eccentricities, just mention it up front so your customers are not unpleasantly surprised. They will appreciate the transparency. 

Tip #3: Take Clean Photos

Now that you’ve written an attractive advertisement, you’ve got to take some high-quality photos to match. The first step is to clean up your space. Photos of rooms that are full of junk and clutter are really off-putting.

Photos using natural lighting typically produce the highest click-through rate so try to take your pictures in the morning when it’s bright out.

For the exterior, take the pictures when the sun is out and for the interior, open up the curtains and blinds and switch off artificial light sources.

And lastly, it’s best to use proper equipment. While iPhone cameras are extremely high quality, they may not provide the widest angle view to give the full effect of each room. 

Tip #4: Arrange the photos in the most advantageous way

Kitchens and nicely decorated reception areas (entryways and living rooms) perform the best as the main photo.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

If your property has an especially unique exterior, show it off with a great shot of your property to really make it stand out. 

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Create a tour of your property by arranging the photos as if you are walking through your house. It allows the applicants to imagine the same thing and will encourage them to inquire.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

When it comes to renting properties, consumers want to be spoiled and provided with a plethora of options. You want to make sure they are choosing your property and not the one down the street. Here’s how:

Tip #5: Don’t Neglect TV Placement

Think of the places that people might like to watch TV, i.e. the living room and master bedroom, put them there, and include a DVD player. Then arrange the furniture to make viewing as comfortable as possible.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

You should also provide Cable TV, if possible, and make sure there’s network reliability.

Tip #6: WiFi is a Must

Make sure you are providing Internet access to your temporary tenants. Many people will not even consider a property that doesn’t have WiFi in the first place. This is important for those wanting to watch Netflix, Hulu, or even work during their stay.

Tip #7: Outlets and Powerstrips are Huge Benefits

You know when you check into a hotel and there’s only one electrical outlet in your room to be shared by four people? That is the very situation you want to avoid in your own rental. There should be 1-2 power outlets in each room, and in more crowded areas, a $10 power strip will do the trick. USB ports are also a nice added touch.

Tip #8: You Should Provide Renters with Security Measures

Maybe a lock box for renters’ valuables or a security system that you give them their own code to operate. These extra security measures will keep your property and your tenant extra safe.

While they aren’t always a must, they can always help you get clients that might be willing to pay a little more money.

Tip #9: Make Your Property Pet-Friendly and Fence in the Property, if possible

It’s really hard when searching to find properties that will allow you to bring pets along so this is a prime amenity to make your property stand out. If you are ok with having pets in your rental property, it’s definitely recommended.

However, be sure to set expectations – e.g. only well-behaved dogs or no pets on the furniture. Also, think about supplying a water and food bowl and convenience bags for them to pick up after their pet.

And again, a fence is not a must, but an added bonus especially if you are trying to rent to young families and pet owners.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #10: Provide Parking and Give Specific Instructions

Rental properties with ample parking spaces have a huge advantage, especially in crowded college towns. While your particular property might not have designated parking, you can offer renters a garage, carport, or driveway to give yourself the upper hand.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #11: Reach Out to Your Guest a Week in Advance

Make sure to keep open lines of communication between you and your renter.

Sending a personalized message gives a nice touch and makes them feel welcome before they even arrive.

Here’s a template of what exactly to include in this email if you’re a little lost:

  • Start by thanking them for renting your place.
  • Include a line or two based on the information they provided you about themselves. (I hope you’re excited for [some activity]! You’ll love it here!)
  • Give a little bit of information about the house.
  • Provide information about the college town, fun places to eat, things to do, gyms, and other activities.
  • Ask any questions you may have that will allow you to accommodate them more effectively.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #12: Always Add Some Kind of Nice Surprise

Going beyond your promises will serve you well in your reviews. It doesn’t have to be anything major: provide small extras (e.g. coffee/Keurig), leave a bottle of wine for when they first check in, or leave some coupons you’ve clipped for local restaurants and attractions.

Other tips/items to include in your property that will set you apart:

  • Fully stocked kitchen – utensils, cooking ware, coffee maker/Keurig, etc.
  • Fully stocked bedrooms and bathrooms – linens, towels, soap, shampoo, etc.
  • Unique items – Smart Home features (Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc.), DVD player, game system, outdoor grill, etc.

Tip #13: Plenty of Information

Have you ever tried to use a stranger’s shower and couldn’t figure it out?

Or checked into a hotel and you’re completely unaware of what entertainment lies in the college town?

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

You want to eliminate those issues for your guests by providing them with a guide to your house and your college town.

You can provide a binder with travel brochures and local attractions; menus for nearby takeout restaurants; information on the local transportation system; and how to use the different appliances and devices in your house.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #14: Err on the Side of Overly Responsive

Make sure you are able to respond to questions and issues that arise during their stay quickly and efficiently, especially with the measures we discussed in tip #11. 

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #15: Keep the Decor Simple but Unique

A clean, cozy space that’s free of clutter is all your guests really need to feel welcome in your home. No elaborate, fancy gifts necessary.

But feel free to play with unique decor in order to make for a more memorable, homey atmosphere. Antique stores offer great pieces for this very purpose.

Another nice touch is fresh flowers throughout the home.

And also decorating your space for the upcoming holidays so that people really feel at home in your rental is a great bonus that will ensure a great rental experience.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Property

Tip #16: Give it a Homey Feel

Provide blankets by the couch, extra towels and washcloths, books to read, and games to play (including gaming systems). You want to make for the optimal experience and that means providing things they don’t even know they need. Anticipate those needs and assure you can meet them.

If you do plan on providing anything they are likely to use, we recommend creating an inventory for yourself to make sure everything is still there after they leave. We recommend giving them a copy of the inventory under the friendly heading of making sure nothing got accidentally packed away in their luggage. connects alumni, fans, parents of athletes and other travelers with short-term lodging and vacation rentals in college towns.

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