How to Elevate the Exterior Appeal of Older Properties

older properties

As a real estate photographer, you’re often tasked with the challenge of turning a dull exterior into a captivating online listing. How do you tackle this challenge and bring out the best in a home, even when its curb appeal isn’t exactly flocking buyers to the front door?

Follow the insights in this article, and you’ll quickly learn how to capture the heart of any older home, from its outdated rooflines to its charming quirks.

Understanding the challenges of older properties

When it comes to older properties, time can leave its mark on the exterior. From weathering and wear to outdated design choices, there are several common challenges that real estate photographers may encounter when trying to present older homes in their best light. Some of the most prevalent issues include:

Weathering and decay 

As years pass, exposure to the elements can cause materials like wood, brick, and siding to deteriorate, causing a once-pristine home to begin showing its age. This deterioration can lead to noticeable issues like peeling paint, rotting wood finishes, or crumbling mortar, all signs that the home calls for additional renovation efforts. 

Outdated design trends 

Architectural styles and design preferences evolve over time, and what was once trendy may now appear dated. Features like old-fashioned facades, overgrown landscaping, or mismatched exterior textures can detract from a property’s appeal. 

Lack of maintenance 

Neglecting regular upkeep can exacerbate problems with aging exteriors. Deferred maintenance and repairs such as cleaning gutters, repairing cracked pavement, or replacing worn-out fixtures can contribute to a tired and neglected appearance. The camera can make these issues glaringly obvious without the right lighting. 

Structural concerns

In some cases, older properties may have underlying structural issues that impact their exterior appearance too. This could include foundation problems, uneven settling, or compromised structural components, like decks or balconies, that are easy to detect from aerial images.

A refreshed perspective for real estate photographers

Let’s say your next appointment isn’t some modern marvel with crisp white paint and complementary ocean views. Instead, it’s an older home with a weathered exterior and one two many issues to count. Before you lose enthusiasm for this job and declare it a lost cause, consider using the following photography tips for improving the curb appeal of older homes like in this scenario: 

Assess what is working well

It’s easy for your detailed eye to catch the things that aren’t quite right about an older home, but before you start listing off all the imperfections, take a step back and look at what is working. Explore different angles and perspectives to find the most flattering views of the home, while minimizing the less desirable aspects. 

Identify architectural details  

Older properties often come with architectural details such as gable, hip, mansard, or flat roofs, casement windows, decorative trim and molding, or handcrafted elements that are rarely found in modern builds. Highlighting these features can add visual interest and immediate charm to the exterior.

Pay attention to lighting conditions

The time of day is incredibly important for capturing any type of home exterior, but it’s especially crucial when photographing older properties. Natural light can significantly impact the way a home looks in photos, highlighting its best features or casting unflattering shadows.

When scheduling your photography session, aim to shoot during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset when the light is soft and warm. These twilight photos can help soften harsh shadows and create a flattering glow that accentuates the uniqueness of older homes.

Consider staging the exterior of the home 

If you’re concerned a particular home won’t photograph well, consider talking with the real estate agent about ways to enhance its visual appeal. Together, you can brainstorm staging ideas to elevate the exterior presentation of the property.

This includes adding pops of color with seasonal flowers or potted plants, creating cozy seating areas on the porch or patio, and clearing any clutter or debris from the yard. Although small touches, it can have a big impact on how the home is perceived, especially the outdoor spaces.  


Emphasize historical features 

Many older homes or commercial properties have a rich history that may be associated with a specific architectural style or period. By playing up this distinctive character, you can emphasize its striking detail and design in a positive light. Not to mention, your efforts will yield greater returns for the real estate agent, attracting the right type of buyer who appreciates its historical significance.

Landscaping is your ally

Older houses often boast mature trees, shrubs, and landscaping features that have had years to flourish and develop. This foliage not only adds visual interest but also contributes to the overall character of the home. By capitalizing on this greenery, you can enhance the property’s curb appeal and create a sense of maturity and permanence.  

High-quality photography is essential

Lackluster curb appeal can deter even the most enthusiastic buyers from viewing a home on the market. As highlighted by HomeDigest, 74% of real estate agents say the outward appearance of a home can prevent buyers from even attending an open house. Fortunately, local real estate photographers possess the skills and expertise needed to showcase the true potential of an older property. Through their lens, they can capture the unique charm and character of the home, regardless of its age or condition. 

Want more tips on how to perfect your real estate photography skills, read another recent HomeJab article on Why Flash Isn’t the Answer for Real Estate Photography.

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