Critical Home Staging Tips

Nov 23, 2010

What’s the big deal about packing family pictures before you put your house on the market? Most sellers have some objections to following the advice of putting away family photos. As a result, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the real reasons it is important to follow this advice.

I often see homes on the market with a ton of family pictures on walls and tables. Since we are in sellers’ homes all the time, we know the resistance that occurs when we ask home owners to pack up the pictures. Some people don’t see the importance of removing them. After all, little Johnny and Susie are adorable and if their pictures come down, what goes up in the place of the photos? Others may not think that it’s the family pictures that are keeping the house from selling.

I invite you to reconsider these thoughts. After all, didn’t we learn a long time ago that, just because someone thinks something, it does not necessarily make it true? More to the point, if you could sell your home more quickly, wouldn’t it be worth it to follow some advice?

Getting started in the staging industry many years ago, I worked with a Realtor® who allowed me to take her buyers out for those first looks at houses. It taught me invaluable lessons regarding the things that are important to buyers. The first thing the women and I wanted to do was look at the seller’s pictures. We would walk out of the house and forget the floor plan. Obviously, the buyers didn’t fall in love with that house.

Here’s the most important reason for removing personal pictures – safety: we don’t want pictures of the kids on the Internet with the property address. It’s one thing to know there are children in the house, and another to see what they look like. While you are packing away the photos, I recommend taking down any awards or other plaques that have children’s names on them. Keep your children protected!

Moreover, research has shown that men would prefer not to see pictures of someone else’s family in the house that they are considering for their family. They see pictures of the adults and wonder if they were in a meeting with them last week. “Were we in college together? A golf foursome? Where do I know these people? They look familiar. Do I want to buy their home?”  They spend the entire tour of the home trying to place those faces and remember where they met them. It has been my experience that you might as well take that house out of consideration.

On the flip side, men who are selling their homes aren’t ready to pack up the pictures. They are proud of their wife and kids and like showing them off to the world. Trust me here – the sooner you do what we advise, the sooner you will be in your next house, displaying the family again. Meanwhile, stick one of your favorite pictures in the top of your desk drawer for inspiration. You can explain to the children that you want potential buyers focusing on the house and not on how cute they are. You can reassure them that their pictures will go right back up in the new place. Lastly, I have learned that packing away photos helps you to begin to detach from your current home and helps get you ready for your next home. Remember that moving is one the top most stressful things we do in our lives. Do not underestimate the power of your emotions.

Another big question sellers ask us is: What goes up in place of family pictures? Most of often, the answer is quite simple, nothing. There’s an old adage, “when your home begins to feel a little empty to you, you are closer to being ready for your first showing.” If your office is like mine, once family pictures come down, the shelves won’t be cluttered, the room will look bigger and buyers can focus on how they will utilize the space when it’s theirs. We can usually find something around the house to put up in a hallway if necessary. Most often, we leave hallways empty to move buyers on to the living spaces. And, we can always rearrange the shelves so they look uncluttered and attractive. Large portraits over the fireplace or living room sofa can be replaced with a mirror that reflects light or, even better, allows buyers to see themselves in your house.

We know how stressful it can be to keep a house looking great for showings. That’s why everything we tell home owners is designed to put a “SOLD” sign in the front yard as soon as possible. So, get some bubble wrap and boxes and get to it. You’ll thank me on moving day!

My best,



Founder and CEO

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