Is Your Hobby Killing Your Home Sale?

Home Stager with Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon CCB #180695

collections often create clutterMy job as a professional home stager takes me into over a dozen homes a week and I meet some fantastically creative people along the way.   It is amazing to me the unique things people do, create and collect - a fun part of my job.

All too often I have to tell these clients that their hobbies are going to prevent them from getting a good price for their home.

  • The doll collector, whose guest room housed hundreds of dolls,
  • the former antique dealer who can't let go of so many beautiful antique pieces,
  • the rock collector - whose every flat surface contained rocks, crystals or agates,
  • the quilter, whose fabric collection would be the envy of many small shops
  • and the scrapbooker whose papers, punches and cute items have taken over not only the desk, but cabinets, storage bins and more.
  • yes - I've worked with them all in the past few months and each and every one of them is killing their own home sale.

Sound extreme? If you can answer yes to any of these questions - your hobby (or lifestyle) is killing your home's quick sale!

Do you have furniture pieces in rooms where they don't belong?  Desks in the dining room?  File cabinets in the master bedroom?  Collectible cabinets in the guest bedrooms?  Is your bedroom, family room and dining room places of serenity where people can enjoy the space without viewing lots of "________"  (file in your vice - books, model cars, fabric, work piles, etc).

How much is your hobby costing you? If your home remains on the market more than 60 days your agent will probably recommend a price reduction of at least $10,000.  Are you sure you can't live without your "stuff"?

Spacious rooms are desirable to home buyers Home buyers are buying space.

Collections and hobbies take up a lot of space and usually don't photograph well.

Keep your "stuff" and I guarantee your home will remain on the market longer than necessary.

Time and time again I see that those who pack up their hobbies and get ready to move are able to do so. Their homes sell. Others who drag their feet and tell me they "can't live" without these things for a few months have homes who remain on the market month after month.

When you're selling your home, you're selling a lifestyle too.

And don't just stuff everything in your garage.  Get a storage unit, pack it off to a friend's garage, or to mom's attic.  Potential buyers want to think there is enough storage for all their stuff along with room for their cars in the garage.

The quickest selling homes in 2011 are:

  • Priced accurately
  • Prepared beautifully
  • Presented (marketed) well

Pack it up, and get ready to move.  Take a break or reduce your hobby to a small space.  It will save you time, energy and get it sold!

Margaret Oscilia is a Professional Home Stager with Creative Concepts - Home Staging and Contracting serving Salem Oregon and surrounding areas who specializing in helping home sellers stage to sell or re-design to live well.

Related Posts:

Can I Afford to Have my Home Staged?

What do buyers think of a staged home?

Selling a home in 2011?  Tips from the Pros


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. David Henke 04/16/2011 10:18 AM
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Donna Gallegos
South Group Real Estate - Pensacola, FL
I don't work 9 to 5, I work Start to Finish

Great, Great post and advice! I an going to re-blog it if you don't mind.

Feb 19, 2011 10:22 AM #21
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

So many homes become the "deer head house" and the "modern art house" that they seldom get a chance to be 'our house."

Feb 19, 2011 10:30 AM #22
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

I believe its more that 'you're selling the house, not the stuff' and you want them to fall in love with what is staying. If they can't focus on what's important then it needs to be packed away.

In terms of putting your life on hold while you sell - yes to a certain extent you do. At the very least you modify it so that you can maximize the sale of your home which is more important than collections and hobbies. Also, sellers are ALSO selling a lifestyle to buyers and in order for them to fall in love with it, it has to be the type of lifestyle they have been dreaming about while living in their current home. Your home is the product and it needs to be effectively merchandised in order to be appealing to the masses.

Great article! I can definitely relate to the 'doll collection' and I recently viewed a home where the seller was into Coke cans ... had thousands of them in two main floor rooms. Its hard to pack up but the results are so worth it!

Feb 19, 2011 10:50 AM #23
Donna Ross
Room Remedy Interiors, Sydney, Australia - Salton City, CA
Home Decorating, House Staging, Sydney

Hi Margaret.

Such a great post. Hobbies are fine, but the out of control passion obession runs a real risk of spooking potential buyers or turning the listing into little more than a joke.  So, why go there?

Can't say I disagree with Lenn's comment entirely. As a stager myself, I do understand that my clients need to live their lives while selling, so I don't ask them to remove all aspects of their hobbies (although I have to say, I'd urge Lenn's taxidermist to keep it under wraps at least for showings. One small mercy: his was confined to a garage and not the main living room or master bedroom). Instead I work with it by showing them how to manage their stuff to best advantage while they sell.

I like to use a hobby room to best advantage since lots of buyers are passionate about something and dream of a space they can indulge it. So for the sewing enthusiast (and I've come across quite a few) I'll show sellers how to use some of their stuff to show a functional space that still looks good. If the property's bedrooms happen to be in short supply, then I strongly recommend that, if possible, they make it so their 'hobby room' takes on the look of a dual purpose guestroom. That's cheap and easy to do just by adding a single bed or day bed (which my home office has in it).

Great post. Congrats on the feature. Well deserved!

Feb 19, 2011 12:06 PM #24
Don Hintz
2D-enterprises / HAUS Design, LLC - Anderson, IN

Great post on what can be a truely touchy subject with sellers.  Through it all, some take the advice, some don't, which you hit the nail on the head.

Great post and congrats on your feature.

Feb 19, 2011 12:23 PM #25
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Margaret- excellent post and congratulations on the feature.  I don't think we have to "stop" people from living their lives.. buyers know that someone lives there.  However, when the hobby becomes the focal point of the home... (I too consulted on a house where every room had dolls on every flat surface; one who collected porcelain eggs, which were in every room, again on every flat surfact) it's not that buyers can't understand this or "see" the home.. the problem is it becomes a distraction.  The buyer becomes focused on the hobby. 

Feb 19, 2011 12:24 PM #26
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Hi Margaret. I loved this piece. How about the Moosehead collector. That one is a winner too.

Feb 19, 2011 12:33 PM #27
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

"Do you have furniture pieces in rooms where they don't belong?" That's a great question that listing agents should ask all sellers as they get their homes ready for market.

Feb 19, 2011 12:37 PM #28
Amy Law
Alliance Properties - Crosby, TX

I think it actually helps to have a "hook" in a house that is a bit unique, that will help a home buyer remember the property. When all of the houses look very generic it is hard to remember one from another, so I encourage my buyers to make a nickname for each property. I also use this to help my sellers understand that they do not want their property to be the "bad nickname" house. They want people to remember the property for its positives, not it's distractors. Find a way to focus a buyer's eye on the positive, not the home owner's obsessions. That's what it is about. Good post!

Feb 19, 2011 01:31 PM #29
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Margaret, you gave me some good ideas on asking the right questions. It is a very sensitive subject - seller collection. The seller obviously loves his collection, so convincing him to pack it before putting his house on a market is a challenge. Thank you for great tips on how to handle it.  

Feb 19, 2011 01:35 PM #30
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

This is a perfect example of why sellers should hire a stager.  No one can be objective enough about their own home to appreciate that their hobby is killing their home sale.

Feb 19, 2011 02:01 PM #31
C Tann-Starr
Tann Starr & Associates, Inc. - Palm Bay, FL

Featured @ Club Chaos

Feb 19, 2011 02:15 PM #32
Sarasota & Manatee Counties FL
SaraMana Properties - - Bradenton, FL - Listings In Paradise

Good blog post Margaret. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Feb 19, 2011 04:19 PM #33
Danny Dietl - Minneapolis, MN
Buy, Sell, Lease -

Thanks for the thoughts; it's always good to get a stagers opinion on these matters.

Feb 19, 2011 04:25 PM #34
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

I couldn't agree MORE!  Builders, for years, have understood just how important it is to create a "model" environment. Buyers, viewing the model home, envision living a lifestyle similar to that that they see within the model home. And no, it may not be their current lifestyle but again, one they want.

A home filled to the brim with collectibles and/or their hobbies is distracting. 


Feb 20, 2011 12:24 AM #35
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

The storage unit is a great idea but I've had success with asking them to pack it in moving boxes and stack neatly in the garage.  A few boxes in the garage are less distracting than collectibles filling every available space throughout the house.

Feb 20, 2011 02:39 AM #36
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Margaret ~ great post .... we see this often too in homes that we visit.  Although I must say that sellers are starting to "get it" when it comes to collections and hobbies .. at least when the subject is brought up many of them now say "oh yes, I knew you were going to mention that we needed to put that stuff away..."

And may I add that sellers are indeed showing a lifestyle to potential buyers -- that is, the smart ones!!

Feb 20, 2011 07:06 AM #37
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

OMG, how many times do we see this!?! There are so many ways to organize this kind of thing, and if people remove/de-clutter, they're already half packed to move! And their house looks a million times better! All the hardware stores here have shelving and organizing products on sale right now, so 'get out and get organized' I say!

Feb 21, 2011 06:18 AM #38
Rosi Green
AmeriTitle - Silverton, OR

All that clutter just gives me an anxiety attack looking at it.  Margaret you always do an excellent job approaching people in a caring way to help them understand the benefits of packing up to GET IT SOLD!  Great post. 

Mar 04, 2011 06:33 AM #39
Mel Wagner
Knipe Realty - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Agent Salem Oregon Real Estate

Margaret-this is excellent information for sellers.  I see many homes with rooms just as you described when showing buyers homes.  Those rooms do not go over well with the buyers. I am going to have to remember to come back when re-blogging is possible again.

Mar 06, 2011 07:55 AM #40
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Margaret Oscilia

Home Stager, Salem Oregon
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