We have all been there, showing a home and then then a pause and in full glory for all to view is the object that will now take the focus away from the home.
Such was the case when I was out with a client. A refrigerator magnet reading "I give the world's best _ _ _ _. I'll let your imagination fill in the four letter blanks. Well, needless to say the good natured clients I was out with and thankfully young buyers just stared - comments began. It was downhill from that point. With chuckles for the remainder of the day we came up with all sorts of quips - well the home with the ups and downs ... it just spiraled to even worse corn ball comments. It wasn't the home with possibilities, or warm fuzzy feeling it gave, etc. The distraction had been created the moment we entered the kitchen.
It is up to us as professionals to view our listings and take the owners by the hand to view each room and discuss ways to improve if needed. This not only applies to furniture rearranging, paint colors to neutralized, a pillow added to the sofa to pop a color but also look for items that may be of questionable taste. Even true art pieces like nude statues or paintings may make buyers feel uncomfortable. The popular pictures of maternity huge belly and then mom breast feeding a newborn may be special to the owners but certainly not to all buyers.
Screen for teenage rooms that have posters that would not be considered in good taste. Bumper stickers, magnets, and personal products sitting out need to be tucked away. Undergarments hung up to line dry need to be taken down, no one enjoys seeing thongs or bras in the bathrooms. Dirty clothes hampers hidden, trash cans emptied. Reading material and magazines that may raise an eyebrow need to be put away.
If you would be embarrassed if your mother saw something then that is the test to hide it away.
It is up to the listing agent to politely but firmly make the sellers aware that these things are distractions and in your most professional wording get them on board to stage for success.