Do tastefully placed family pictures help or hinder when you are trying to sell your home?

Asked by Robert Lee, Arlington Heights, IL Wed Nov 3, 2010

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21
Lyle Wolf, Agent, Morristown, NJ
Wed Nov 3, 2010
A home while it is being marketed is less the home of those who live in it and more a product that must appeal to buyers. When buyers go into a home they need to see it as their home rather than someone else’s. This is better accomplished by making it as neutral as possible. That means removing all personal family photos on walls and shelves, religious icons and symbols, sports team stuff, erotic art, etc. For example, we have had METS fans reject a home because the owner had YANKEES stuff on display.
5 votes
Fred Griffin, , Tallahassee, FL
Thu Nov 4, 2010
As others have said, it is best to de-personalize the house.

If you live in the house, Keep the framed photos of your loved ones on a desk, dresser, or nightstand. When you leave for the day, or if Buyers are coming to preview the house, place the pictures in a drawer out of sight.
1 vote
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed Nov 3, 2010
They don't help, but they're better than haphazardly-placed family pictures.

It's a funny thing, but we have to keep buyers focused on the task at hand, which is: evaluating the property to see if you can call it, "home."

It's about them. It's not about how inconvenient it is for the homeowner to take the photos down and put them away, patch the nail holes, any of that. It's about showing the home to prospective buyers.

Ultimately, we have to realize that we're not selling walls or table tops or piano tops or desktops; we do not want to draw the attention of buyers to the stairwell wall. We want them focused on the living spaces, and imagining how they're going to arrange furniture, not on how wild those '90s fashions were.

We're trying to get your home sold so you can move, so, start packing!
1 vote
John Walin, Agent, Libertyville, IL
Thu Jan 23, 2014
It is hard for many people to take down family photos and keep the personal impact to a minimum. I personally like having vintage photos of family on the walls of the homes I list. I think it adds character to a home and keeps the buyer in the house longer looking at the grandparents baby pictures! That said, all too often sellers have a wall covered with too many photos that is distracting to buyers and close in a space, makes the room look smaller. Removing photos is part of the decluttering process. Typically people with too many family photos also have too much other stuff too.

If you like my answer, select best answer. Thanks!!
0 votes
Meegan Gerace, Agent, Bloomingdale, IL
Mon Jan 6, 2014
I have never had a problem with sellers leaving a few (as you say - tasteful) family pictures in the house. Having sold for 30+ years I think an emotional bond to a home is very important. Buyers see a happy family, they think they can be happy in this home.
0 votes
Barbara Gran…, Agent, Anaheim, CA
Mon Jan 6, 2014
Hi Robert,

I agree, I always encourage my sellers to remove personal pictures no matter how tasteful. Aside from de-personalizing a property, they take away the buyer's focus from the home itself. I have had buyers stop to look and comment on pictures rather than looking at the property.

Best of luck in 2014!

Barbara Grandolfo
0 votes
Charlotte Tu…, Agent, Williamsburg, VA
Mon Jan 6, 2014
There are certainly exceptions but I have found that personal pictures tend to distract more than they help. When a showing is finished the questions and comments should be about the house and not about the family pictures. Additionally, I try very hard to remove family pictures from my listing photos - it's really a protection of privacy issue with listings (and the photos) being so widely syndicated on MLS and online sites.
0 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Mon Jan 6, 2014
Robert Lee,

Buyers want to see your home to determine if they can picture themselves residing there. Your marketing focus when selling your home should be to do anything reasonable to get the buyers to want to make an offer on your home. As others have said , depersonalize. This helps the buyers decide if they would feel comfortable living at your address. Your agent can help you with this.

All the best,
Gary Geer
Results Realty USA
0 votes
Raymond Whit…, Agent, Mesa, AZ
Sun Jan 5, 2014
Staging homes is definitely an advantage, but I have found from experience that getting too personal with the family photos is a distraction and detour sometimes for the buyer. If your listing a home for sellers that have pictures everywhere, get them to "thin" them out and keep it not so cluttery. While a nice family feel is good, clutter pushes buyers away instead of pulling them in.
0 votes
Kay Phillips, Agent, Libertyville, IL
Wed May 4, 2011
I personally don't think a picture here or there distracts that much. A whole wall or an area of several definitely detracts. Because many of my clients have the "wall of fame" of family pictures, I typically suggest them coverning the frames with a nice (but inexpensive) fabric or a tasteful wrapping paper that matches. I actually looks really great on the wall and typically the people that come thru find it a fantastic idea.
Web Reference:  http://www.KayCanSell.com
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Thu Nov 11, 2010
Carl, I've got a very nice home for available for purchase for your Yankee's fans? ;-) Kidding aside, in my experience the presence of personal photos distracts the buyers. I even find myself distracte by them. Also staging guidelines stress deperonalizing a home. Great advise to keep your personal items on a desk or night stand where you they can comfort you but be easily scooped into a drawer for showings.

Best,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
Donna Johnson, Agent, Kalispell, MT
Thu Nov 11, 2010
I just had a client say that he really liked having personal photos, etc. about the room because it helped him imagine and associate with his possessions. Not cluttered, because he found it distracting, but some.
0 votes
Betty Best, Agent, Springfield, VA
Sat Nov 6, 2010
I agree with most of the answers given that a neutralized home will allow the buyer to focus more on the features of your house. But I've also had buyer clients who enjoy looking a photos of family on the wall, imagining their own family photos there. What looks worse, however, are the canned generic photos that come with picture frames - they look phony and clients know they are there just for staging.
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Nov 6, 2010
Lyle, I think that was the ex-girlfriend of the fellow in the commercial during the World Series!
0 votes
Ronelle Ray, , York, PA
Thu Nov 4, 2010
I also agree with the majority of the answers, depersonalizing a home allows buyers to view it with an open eye and forces them to focus on the house.
0 votes
Troy Brown, Agent, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Thu Nov 4, 2010
Hi Robert,

I agree with all the answers so far. Sometimes neutralilzing the home so buyers can picture their belongings is better because most buyers aren't visual. If they spend too much time looking at personal photos, they're not paying much attention to the house and other details. It can be distracting. I normally request all sellers to depersonalize the house, declutter and show the true product.
0 votes
Jacqueline D…, Agent, BELLINGHAM, WA
Wed Nov 3, 2010
Hello Robert,
I always say that you should put yourself in a buyers postition. Do you want to go into a home and see lots of personal photos on the walls and everywhere? You said tastefully placed, but did not say how many. My opinion is: This is your home and it might take a while to sell so why not a few of your family photos around. You are not selling your personal things. A buyer imagines their things placed about and their photos here and there so try to keep it somewhat impersonal...
0 votes
Mike Stodola, Agent, Libertyville, IL
Wed Nov 3, 2010
Robert,
I agree with others and believe every situation is different. If there are just a couple throughout the home and they are done professionally, they can stay and can add a nice feel. However, it's easy to over do it with these. You really need to look at the specific situation and see what you feel, or hire a stager to give their opinion. In hire a stager for a 1 hour cosultation on all my listings because they are a professional and my clients really appreciate it. If you want more information on that let me know. Otherwise keep up the good work!

Mike Stodola
0 votes
Brandon Schu…, Agent, Western Springs, IL
Wed Nov 3, 2010
If there are too many family pictures the buyers will tend to walk through the house and they stop to look, The attention should be on the house, so I will usually suggest that the family pictures get taken down and replaced with art type pictures.
0 votes
Suzanne Hami…, Agent, Orland Park, IL
Wed Nov 3, 2010
From a staging point of view, it depends on the degree and quantity of pictures. You want a prospective buyer to be able to feel that it could be their home. If they feel it is someone else's home, they sometimes feel awkward or intrusive and can't focus or picture themselves in the home. And yes - they know it is someone else's home, but we are talking about feel and perspective.

When I stage homes, I recommend very few family photos and only tabletop ones. Definately no family collages or large family photographs on the walls. Photos on the walls are noticable, distracting and seem to make everyone less comfortable.

However, a few family photos 5x7 or less preferred on table tops - maybe 2-3 per room max. or not in each room give a warmer atmosphere of hominess, but not intrusion.

One more caveat - only put out photos that will make your target market feel like they could live in the home. Consider the kind of pictures - not too personal - keep it generic.
0 votes
Donna Johnson, Agent, Kalispell, MT
Wed Nov 3, 2010
The opinions are mixed. I find that a few placed here and there (tastefully) add to the feeling home. It makes a home less "sterile" for buyers that are looking to live in the home. For investors and second home buyers that it makes little difference.
0 votes
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