Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Showing your House, not your Home

Showing your House, not your Home

Look around your house. Now, take another look and count how many times your eyes move to all the photos of your family sitting on the shelves and hanging on the walls. Did you notice your college degree? I've had buyers not buy houses because they were Longhorns and they saw the Aggie diplomas on the walls, and vice verse. Sounds silly, but it's very true!

 I showed a house this weekend that had stuffed animals EVERYWHERE!  We couldn't get a good feel for the room sizes, and it was quickly crossed off he list.  I emailed the listing agent for feedback, and she thanked me over and over.  She said she has asked them to pack things up, but the kids started crying when she did, so she decided to leave everything out.  She's hoping enough feedback from other agents will convince her to pack.

You want buyers to be as comfortable in your home as possible. Not everyone shares the same religious beliefs so remove some of the non denominational things that might cause discomfort. Please, don't be offended by this suggestion. You're selling a "house" not a "home." I once tried to show a house that had a shrine-type atmosphere around the fireplace. My buyers and I were very uncomfortable and they didn't even want to finish walking the house, and we left.

 Another thing that has made many buyers walk out of houses before were dead animal heads on the walls. Yes, you're a hunter, and that's great... to you. The buyers aren't too fond of seeing eyes watching them walk around and horns up on the walls. Let's take the trophies down and show more wall space.

Again, these are just suggestions. You want people to look at your house, condition and floorplan. You don't want them focusing on your family pictures and your hobbies.

Remember, I work all of North Dallas County and Collin County including Richardson, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Garland, Rowlett, McKinney, etc... my car will take us anywhere you need to go!! 


Comment balloon 21 commentsDonna Harris • April 01 2008 10:00AM


Sellers sometime forget they are selling the house...not their lifestyle~
Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago
It's important to have the seller focused on SELLING, not getting the home shown! Selling means showcased to sell!
Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) over 10 years ago

That is a tough situation - I guess it depends on the age of the children.  I hate to see my son cry but I guess that is better than seeing me cry if I wanted to sell my house and couldnt...that is a hard decision!

Posted by JDo Doe over 10 years ago

So true! So true! Soooooo true!

We think that it is very important for the seller to "make an emotional break with THE HOUSE" and understand that their HOME will move with them.  The new buyers will, in turn, bring THEIR HOME into this HOUSE.

This is a point that we try to drive home immediately upon getting the listing contract signed and complete.  We take a moment to have the sellers sit down and take a deep breath because "what we are about to ask you to do may be very emotional for them."  We then proceed to explain how important it is for them "emotionally" and "FINANCIALLY" to make the shift.

"From this moment forward, we want you to begin thinking of this place as nothing more than A HOUSE.  Your goal--our goal--is to get this HOUSE sold as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible so that you can move your HOME on to your next location."

We ask them to 'check' each other that from now on they will call this their HOUSE and start referring to their future location as their HOME.  We explain to them how this transition in their thinking will help them make a better FINANCIAL decision when we get into negotiations because "emotions" almost always cloud good judgement!

Great post, Donna.  Thank you!


Posted by Tim Fennell, Jacksonville Real Estate (The Legends of Real Estate, REALTORS®) over 10 years ago
I think some photos are ok, but the diplomas, religious things, orientation, etc... I can see how that might offend people
Posted by Kim Sellers, Lake Arrowhead Realtor - BRE#01412099 - Lake Arrow (Lake Arrowhead, CA Coldwell Banker) over 10 years ago
This is what I learned from my ASP class and this is what we tell our difficult sellers not wanting to change or take things down- "it is no longer their home it is there house" and to keep reminding them of this. So when they have their house on the market- they are selling a product for a buyer to buy it is not their home the buyer is interested in or their stuff, but the house itself- the product.
Posted by Cathleen Rodgers, e-Pro, ASP (North Texas GMAC) over 10 years ago

Shame, shame, shame on their listing agent!

We make sure to have our clients get their homes ready to go on the market. This is one of our biggest pet peeves. We take a client into a home that looks like what you are describing and it wastes everyones time because they will not even consider since they can't see it to see if they like it.

Thanks for sharing hopefully agents that do not help their sellers will start to get it.

Patty & Scott Carroll - RE/MAX Equity Group Vancouver WA

Posted by Patty Carroll over 10 years ago
I worked with one of my friends once - my very first sale, he gave me a break to help me out.  After gently advise him on how to stage his home - had to talk him out of getting a dark brown carpet for this relatively small house because he thought it'd be good for new owners with small children; it took a few tries because this all very personal; he finally told me that he is NOT goiing to remove that unicorn; a lucky symbol for him and his family.  We stopped at that.  The house looked great afterwards :-  
Posted by Sylvia Barry, Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert (Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay)) over 10 years ago
No offense intended :-) but I think it is really funny that people would be offended by diplomas or religious items but then ..."people are funny" as someone once said... so by all means, remove those "offensive" items so as not to offend those who, for whatever reason, may be hyper-sensitive or have a bias against anyone who isn't exactly like them.  As for myself, I just think items like that are interesting. 
Posted by Shirley Parks, Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate (Sands Realty 210-414-0966) over 10 years ago

Gary, Exactly!

Vickie, I completely agree, thanks.

Nathan, From the pictures, they looked about 5 and 7.  They were adopted so the mom feels she needs to spoil them endlessly.  There had to be a FEW thousand stuffed animals.  I don't know how they slept since they were all over the beds too.

Tim, thank you for your well voiced thoughts.  I try to do that as well.

Kim, I allow only ONE photo to be left out, and it usually goes on the nightstand in their bedroom.  No other photos are necessary in the house.

Cathleen, You probably also learned that doing these things up front is much less expensive than a $5k price adjustment later.

Patty & Scott, Especially when the house is all "kid" stuff and the people looking at it don't have kids!

Sylvia, Friends are sometimes the worse... and I happen to know these sellers are friends of the listing agent.  I think I'll send her the link to this blog as more comments come in.  Maybe that will help her sellers pack up their stuff.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago
I went on a listing appointment last weekend and the clients / future sellers has a stuffed Dear head on either side of their headboard in the master bedroom. We talked about them taking them down and had to discuss where they could be placed in the home.
Posted by Jill Wente, Realtor, CRS, MCNE, CHMS (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Gary Greene) over 10 years ago
Yep, those animal heads aren't just a Texas thing (although those adorning your houses are probably bigger than ours in NJ).  Those are delicate issues, and I like approach that Tim and Susan use.  Thanks for the info.
Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 10 years ago
Remember the bennie babies, for awhile they were in every house. But, ditto, remove, pack up and show your house like a model home.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago

Jill, Did you tell them they could place them in a box in the garage?! LOL

Laura, Thanks for stopping by.

Missy, Yes, this seller had beanie babies in shoe holder thingies hanging from the closet doors.


Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago
Shirley, somehow I just received the email that you made a comment.  You probably think I'm a schmuck for skipping over you... Yes, I also find things like that interesting which makes me mention them, and then my buyers are caught looking at the "things" instead of the house again.  It's a cycle.  As for the diplomas, I won't say what my opinion is so I don't offend a good portion of people, but when it comes to Longhorns and Aggies, even though they're just people too, somehow the school defines who they are and it can make the buyer immediately like or dislike that homeowner without even knowing them.  Darn rivalry!!
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago
Donna, I've seen the Mooseheads, too, but I am amazed how many family photo frames (dozens) are everywhere. The listing agent just didn't advise them I guess.
Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago
Hey Donna, excellent post. I go through similar situations with some of my tenants, when I have to show the unit. It's scary at times what you see in people's "homes". 
Posted by Mina V. Garrey, Commercial Capital Properties, Los Angeles, CA (Commercial Capital Properties - License #01768282) over 10 years ago
Donna, Both my daughters and two step children are Longhorns, my brother and a niece and her husband are Aggies.  So we are a mixed family... LOL.  Our neighbor has one kid at UT Austin and one at A&M and has a sticker on her car "A House Divided" with the two logos.
Posted by Shirley Parks, Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate (Sands Realty 210-414-0966) over 10 years ago
I showed a property a couple of weeks ago that had religious shrines throughout the home.  My clients asked, "who died here?"
Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago
Hi Donna. Last year we had a client that had converted a bedroom into a dental lab. He had impressions of false teeth nicely lined on stainless steel shelves during the showings, and cases of amalgam stacked neatly nearby. It really gave new meaning to the thought of making clients smile during a showing.
Posted by David Saks over 10 years ago
You have to let buyers picture themselves in the home. This is more difficult if personnal items and to much furniture is in a home. Great Blog
Posted by Daniel Seider (BTRE Big Trees Real Estate) over 10 years ago