Maybe THIS is Why You Don't Have Any Offers on Your Home....

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

It's always something new when you are a Realtor® taking buyers through occupied properties.  Today, I called a listing agent on a very desirable townhouse listing.  It had been on the market for two weeks with no offers.  That is an eternity for a house in good condition, priced under $400,000.  And it wasn't a short sale or foreclosure! 

As I drove to meet my buyers, I thought that it must be my lucky day.  Sure, the other properties they wanted to see had tons of activity and offers within 48 hours.  Maybe it was the holidays that had this lonesome gem just waiting for my buyers.

A walk through the home showed that it was worth every penny of the list price.  Nicely updated and well maintained.  A perfect match for my buyers.  And then my buyers caught a glance of the photographs, framed on the wall. 

There, for every buyer that walked through to see, were no fewer than a dozen "action" photographs, of the supposed home owner, a career firefighter, fighting blaze after blaze.  There was one of a bus engulfed in flames.  A house where a fire had started in a garage.  He was even on scene at several horrific car accidents.  And wait, there he was with the jaws of life.

Home Stagers and Realtors® will ask you to take down such personal items from a home.  For one, they call attention to the fact that the home is someone else's.  Therefore, the buyers have a hard time picturing themselves in the home.  Secondly, they are a plain, old distraction in general.  And in this case, a ghoulish one. 

While the home owner is probably very proud of his career, and the fact that he helps people in terrifying situations, those photographs called to mind circumstances that folks outside emergency professions do not have the ability to easily brush off.

I bet if that home owner had not had those pictures up on the wall, my buyers would have written an offer today.  There is just something about seeing a lovely single family home going up in flames that can give any regular Joe the creeps. 



Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Diane Williams 12/26/2009 01:41 PM
  2. Trisha P Realty Group 01/04/2010 12:55 PM
  3. Trisha P Realty Group 01/04/2010 01:13 PM
Home Selling
Virginia Prince William County
Real Estate Bloopers
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Diary of a Realtor
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staging a home
removing personal items from your listing

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Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Yes, Chris Ann, that would be creepy.  My dad was in a fire during his college of his classmates lost his life going back in for his stereo.  So, you are right...those pictures should be taken down. Bad vibes :) I hope your clients find something soon!! :)

Dec 23, 2009 09:31 AM #1
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Personal items need to be looked at very closely.   What is pride to the owner of the picture...may be digust to someone else!

Dec 23, 2009 09:40 AM #2
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Chris Ann:

This is a great example of what not to display during a home sale process. I am sure the owner is very proud of his fire-fighting career but this was more than a distraction to keep someone from seeing the place as "their own."



Dec 23, 2009 10:31 AM #3
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Chris Ann - That's a tough call as a listing agent, since this guy was clearly proud of the photos.  That being said, it would seem to leave a bad lasting impression. 

Dec 23, 2009 11:33 AM #4
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Sonja:  There's enough out there that meets their needs that the loss of this house isn't a big deal. 

William:  Yes.  To me, it was very disturbing.  It made me wonder though, who took the pictures.  There are multiple life and death situation depicted.  Who's the guy sitting around snapping photos?

Claudette:  I left the constructive feedback for the listing agent.  Maybe it will help them get under contract with another set of buyers.

Jason:  Maybe the listing agent could spin it like, "Hey, I know you're really proud of those photos.  I think, since there are so many strangers coming and going, it's best to carefully wrap them up and store them so that nothing happens to them.  After all, they are irreplaceable."  Hmmm.  Maybe I should look into a career in real estate.

Dec 23, 2009 12:09 PM #5
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

Were the photos in bad taste?  I don't ever ask my clients to remove their personal pictures unless they are offensive or over the top.

Dec 23, 2009 01:11 PM #6
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Chris Ann...

Sellers need to remember that their home is a product, and that the product must appeal to the consumer. It's that simple.

Dec 23, 2009 01:11 PM #7
Mike Hogan
The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty - Mechanicsville, VA

Chris Ann- I've had similar situations and have asked a few sellers to remove flags, photos, posters etc that can be offensive to certain groups of people. Ive never really had anyone get upset at the request.

Dec 23, 2009 02:01 PM #8
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Chris Ann... first impressions are lasting ones.  While some homebuyers may be able to see past the photos, for others it is easy to understand why they might be left with an unsettling feeling that could keep them from embracing this home as one they could see themselves in.

Dec 23, 2009 02:28 PM #9
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Chris Ann ~ As a professional home stager, I always advise my seller clients who are living in their home while it's on the market to pack up their personal photos, for a number of reasons:

  • Personal photos are distracting to potential buyers and make them more interested in "who" lives there rather than noticing the features of this home;
  • Buyers will feel like they're intruding in "someone else's" home when they see personal photos, and therefore are unable to imagine themselves living there;
  • Sellers don't want buyers to know too much about their family, i.e. who lives there, what their children look like, if it's a single-parent home, etc., for security reasons;
  • Finally, sellers are going to be selling and moving to their new home, and packing up the personal photos now gives them one less thing to have to do later
Dec 23, 2009 03:01 PM #10
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff
Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY - Babylon, NY
"Moving at The Speed of YOU!"

Hi Chris Ann! That would be creepy to most people. Here in my area, that would not stop a buyer from buying a house, especially when it's a good deal. But I can see their point for sure :)

Dec 23, 2009 11:17 PM #11
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Damon:  I certainly consider pictures of fatal car crashes and blazing houses in bad taste. 

Richard:  That's exactly it.  The more they keep their personal tastes everywhere, the longer they'll end up living there.

Mike:  Neither have I.  Sellers want to sell and are relying on us to help them get there.


Dec 24, 2009 01:02 AM #12
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Steve:  Absolutely.  This particular famliy is looking for that happy feeling of being "home."  Those pictures took that possibility off the table.  They had goose chills from the photos.

Maureen:  Even more reasons to get those photos down and get them packed up.  Thanks!

Jackie:  There are some buyers I have represented that see past virtually anything.  Generally, it's not your first time buyers.  That's who I was working with yesterday.

Dec 24, 2009 01:07 AM #13
Dawn A Fabiszak
Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado - Aurora, CO
The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience!

Personal items can be too personal.  I always say, "You live in a house one way, but you need to live in it differently if you want to sell it."  There was one home that refused to take down the "glamor shots" of his wife.  But after many showing agents making negative comments.  He finally obliged.

Dec 26, 2009 05:19 AM #14
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Dawn:  It's hard for sellers to understand that buyers don't want to see some of the "things" that the sellers treasure most.  I think the best way to address these sellers is to let them know that items that they don't want getting damaged should be packed up and ready to move.

Dec 26, 2009 05:31 AM #15
Diane Williams
Pell City, AL

Chris Ann, 

Great information for sellers, I have been in homes were there were so many pictures (this is a small town) the buyers knew half the people in them. They remembered more about the pictures than the house. 

Dec 26, 2009 01:38 PM #16
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Diane:  Personal items really do need to go.

Dec 27, 2009 01:25 AM #17
Trisha P Realty Group
Realty Executives - Leavenworth, KS
"Holding the Keys to Your Dream Home"

Great point, that buyers dont want/need to see your personal life!

Jan 04, 2010 12:48 PM #18
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Trisha:  Especially a personal life that could be construed as gruesome.

Jan 04, 2010 01:34 PM #19
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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