Staging FAQ's-Why Should I Remove All of My Personal Photos?

Home Stager with Room Service Home Staging

Staging FAQ’s- Why Should I Remove All of My Personal Photos?

Watch any of the cable shows or listen to a Home Stager, Real Estate Agent or a staging faq'sfriend and one of the Top Three things you’ll hear them suggest to you (besides editing and painting) is to remove all of your personal photos.

I’ve heard people say to “depersonalize” your home, which always sounds cold to me.  Unless yours is a vacant home, or you’re a builder with a model home, buyers do know that a person or people live in the home.  

And, even builders have a few framed photos around a model home to give it that “homey’ appearance.

So, why do you need to remove your personal photos?

First, I’m not a big believer that every single personal photo needs to be removed.   One of my clients had been recently widowed and wanted to have just a few photos of her husband around for emotional security.

I also consulted with sellers who had not one photo and very little art work in the house. They’d recently painted their walls and didn’t want to put holes in for pictures.

As I walked through the house, everything was neat and clean but something seemed missing, it lacked any emotional connection one would feel from some kind of photo or picture.

That said, here is why I believe you need to strongly edit your personal photos when selling your house:

home staging- wall of photos1.Like anything else in staging, too much of anything can be distracting.

It could be a table full of family photos or the same table full of small collectibles.  The issue is that it’s distracting to the buyer’s eyes and instead of focusing on the space, they find themselves looking at the items or objects.

“Who is that is the photo?”  “Isn’t that a cute family?”

Or “Look at all of the marble eggs on the table!”


When a buyer views your home, they know very little about you other than you are selling your house.  Let’s keep it that way, especially if you have children in the home.  

I also recommend removing any plaques or nameplates that have your children’s names on them.

3.Photos, photos everywhere!

This is similar to #1 but an overabundance of personal photos can backfire by making the buyer feel that they are guests in YOUR home and not view it as a possibility for them.

As you can see there can be a fine line in knowing what is too much or not enough.

If you are selling your home, you’ll be packing soon anyway, so why not get a head start.  


And, if you’re not sure what can stay and what to pack, call Room Service Home Staging for our Home Staging Consultation!


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Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I have mixed emotions about this, but agree that too many are distracting. I also find it's tough to get good pictures without the kids in them if there are too many. But a few nice happy family photos can create a nice emotion in buyers also.

May 30, 2015 03:27 AM #5
Patty Da Silva, Davie, Southwest Ranches Cooper City, Plantation, Weston, REALTOR
BROKER of Green Realty Properties® - 954-667-7253 - Davie, FL
Top Listing Broker

I agree. Great tips Kathy. Thanks for sharing :)

May 30, 2015 04:05 AM #6
Rob Thomas
Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954 - Bristol, TN
Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro

I think this is a great post Kathy Streib .....I agree with you and tell people all the time to leave a few ....I want buyers to see that a happy family lives here!

Have a great weekend!

May 30, 2015 04:55 AM #7
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
RE/MAX Northwest. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I some times find my clients fixating on the photos rather than the house. Your points are well taken Kathy Streib!

May 30, 2015 06:29 AM #8
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I remember one home I showed to my buyers had a picture of the owners with V.P. Joe Biden.  It was a moment that turned everything from house hunting to politics.  Take the photos down!

May 30, 2015 06:30 AM #9
Christopher Winkler
Silverwood Capital, LLC - Costa Mesa, CA
Real Estate Investments Without Getting Dirty

Great points, you don't want to distract them with your personal property all over. Keeping it sparse, clean, with neutral colors and neat helps people flow from room to room, and not get distracted from the goal, selling the house! It can be a canvas of how they invision it to be, not your version.

May 30, 2015 06:51 AM #10
J Perrin Cornell
Century 21 Exclusively, Wenatchee, WA - Wenatchee, WA

Pretty much agree. NOT EVERYTHING... you dont want a steril motel room. ut not too much either. Photos can become a distraction. Some art, some photos. Needs to look liveable but not like an ebola ward or cluttered and distracting.

May 30, 2015 07:07 AM #11
Cassandra Vickers, MBA, MCNE
RE/MAX Prestige - Houston, TX

I agree, a few family photos here and there adds a special touch to the home. In my opionion too many, makes me think the seller's may not be that motivated to move.

May 30, 2015 07:48 AM #12
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Kathy, as it often happens with home selling, this is an emotional item. My general advice to sellers has been to remove as many of their personal photo's as possible, but I always left it up to them as, after all, it is their home and they can do as they like. The rationale for no photo's was to create an environment, in which the buyers could visualize themselves rather than feeling like they are in someone else's home. I told the sellers, "you need to pack anyway, so might as well start with some photo's and it might even help you sell the house". 

May 30, 2015 08:49 AM #13
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Michael- I do believe it's about balance.  Nothing at all can leave the buyer without any emotional attachment to the property. Michael Jacobs 

Dick- thank you!  Editing your personal photos is very much like editing the other items in your house.  

Nicole- we are definitely in agreement! 

Alexandra- I don't think you can ask sellers to remove every personal photo especially someone who may have lost a loved one recently. Ron and Alexandra Seigel 

Karen- I see what you mean.  If you have a few out, it's normal and buyers expect it.  Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner 



May 30, 2015 09:17 AM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Patty- many thanks!  Have a great weekend. 

Rob- agreed!  It would be more distracting to see a house devoid of any personal photos. Rob Thomas 

Paul- that happened to me when I was looking at a house in VA.  The house belonged to a local celebrity and the agent and I spent our time looking at the photos. Paul S. Henderson, Realtor 

May 30, 2015 09:23 AM #15
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Chris- exactly (read my comment to Paul S. Henderson, Realtor ) Chris Ann Cleland   And, just a few years ago consulted with someone who was a family friend of a former government official. 

Christopher- it's so important to find a balance between keeping your home personal to you and at the same time showing the possibilities to your buyers. 

Perrin- that's exactly it.  And, let's face it... people are still living there. Buyers will understand that. Perrin Cornell 

Cassandra- that's a very good point!

Olga- a home doesn't have to be perfect or a model home to sell.  A few personal items can make the home feel like a home.

May 30, 2015 09:38 AM #16
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Kathy, it really is about balance and not distracting buyers from the home. I was showing property last weekend and my clients were focused on the stuff. The 4 ... count them 4 refrigerators and the white Christmas tree with lights in the corner.  Need I say more?

May 30, 2015 10:27 AM #17
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Kathy, I always tell my clients removing the photos keeps the buyer's focus on themselves and how their lifestyle will fit into the home, not on the  seller's lifestyle. As you point out a table full of photos is just another form of clutter. I have left photos if they are very stylized and could be a work of art.

May 30, 2015 11:06 AM #18
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


We had a listing that we asked the seller to remove all of his personal photo's . . . . Be elected not to do it . . . . After the home on the market for months  . . . . he finally agreed to remove them . . . . The home sold in a couple of weeks.

The photo where a distraction . . . . 

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

May 30, 2015 12:15 PM #19
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I think balance is key.  Certainly having summer fun at the lake in photos in a home makes buyers able to picture their family there having fun but the safety factor is huge for me too.

May 30, 2015 01:55 PM #20
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Good morning Kathy.  Interesting, I'll need to take another look from now on... on what I tell my future sellers

May 30, 2015 08:30 PM #21
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Excellent points for why personal photos should be removed, Kathy.  Thanks,

May 30, 2015 09:20 PM #22
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent advice to remove the personal photos. A wall of photos actually makes a room appear smaller, in addition to all the other reasons you mentioned.


May 31, 2015 06:20 AM #23
Brenda Corder
Cozy Corders Interiors, LLC - Philippi, WV
Home Stager, Home Staging Professional, Redesigner

My only comment would be that it's all about the psychology of how a buyer purchases a home and studies have shown that it's through the personal connection they feel toward the home. That's exactly what staging is all about and when a stranger's photo is staring at them, they immediately feel a disconnection to the home. Home staging is about making buyers feel like they could live in the home.

Feb 04, 2016 09:33 AM #24
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Kathy Streib

Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224
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