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Thursday, December 1, 2022   /   by Dave Magua


People often spend decades making their home a visual showcase of their life, family, interests and more. They enjoy having friends and relatives over to see what they’ve collected and displayed in rooms and on walls.

But when it comes time to finally sell the house, asking the owners to remove a lot of those personal items can be a sensitive topic for you as the seller agent. As you know, potential homebuyers liking something in a house for sale means little, but if they don’t like something–that could unnecessarily plant a negative association with that particular home in their minds.

We recently spoke with several REALTORS? who shared some sage advice and strategic tips for helping sellers make their home as neutral-appearing as possible so homebuyers can envision the space as being theirs.

Of course, helping them understand the importance of removing anything personal on view, such as family photos on walls, religious symbols, posters of celebrities or athletes, works of art or anything that might be even slightly offensive to someone, is key. For example, love cats? So do I! But a home with cat pictures on pillows, and maybe a cat painting or two on the wall could be a turnoff to someone who only loves dogs or is averse to pets in general.

Direct from our contributing agents, here are some more hints for adding to a home’s allure:

“Work with what you’ve got. If one room is too cluttered, repurpose items to other areas of the home. If you can’t find a new spot for it, put it in the garage or in storage. Keep the garage organized but if you need to declutter your home the garage is a great place to put things because buyers know you are moving. Use your senses. Buyers use all five senses when they shop for a home, and smell is a huge part of buying a home. For air fresheners throughout the home, I recommend fresh-linen-scented Glade plugins.”
–Angela DeMarta, REALTOR®, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Paracle (The Carolinas)

“Walls should be a neutral color, and add throw pillows with color to add some pop to a room. There should be no personal photos but scenic pictures are fine. And make sure to let as much light into the room as possible.”
–Valerie Cohen, REALTOR®, ERA Key Realty Services

“When painting, don’t forget the doors, baseboards and AC vent covers. Baseboards can really tell the story on how clean a home has been kept, so keep them spotless. Clean ceiling fans and make sure your air filters are changed.”
–Nancy Brown, REALTOR®, ERA American Realty

“Reduce the number of items on shelving, on walls, and in cabinets and closets to showcase the spacious feel of a home. Reducing over decoration is key.”
–Heather Thompson, REALTOR®, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Infinity (Texarkana, TX and AR)

“Don’t just start on the inside. Stage something welcoming and inviting at the outside entry to the home. Colorful, seasonal, cute and calling their names.”
–Janice Sizemore, REALTOR®, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Country (Tulsa, OK)

“Remove rugs when you can. That opens up the space more than you think. And add plants. Green plants create life and a feeling of warmth. That feeling carries over.”
–Brandi Taylor, Broker/Advisor, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Paracle (The Carolinas)

“Pick up classic cookbooks at thrift stores, because kitchens need personality. Truly, it’s the heart of a home, so simplify the appliances on the counter but jazz it up, for example, with a coffee station and a wood bowl of citrus fruits. Add a collection of fresh herbs in the kitchen window, available for a few dollars at most grocers. Tiny details paint the picture of a happy home.”
–Kathy Moran, REALTOR®, Better Homes and Gardens Preferred Properties (Greater St. Louis Area)

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