8 Things to Remove From Your Home Before Listing It

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

When listing your home, there are a lot of things to think about.  You have to pick a Realtor.  You ahve  How you stage your space should definitely be at the top of that list too. You may not have the means to bring in a professional stager, but you can put your best foot forward by removing the following from your space:

Odors. From a musky basement to the closet where the kitty litter box is kept, odors in your home are a huge turn off. Do whatever you need to do to keep a prospective buyer’s nose from wrinkling. This includes ripping up mildewed carpet, opening windows and  lighting candles.  If you are not sure that you have distinctive odors in your home, ask an honest and forthright friend to stop by and give it the sniff test!  They will smell odors that you may be immune to - but the buyers will certainly pick up on.

Family photos. While these treasures may mean the world to you, personal items like this make it difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves in your space. Get a jump on the process and pack these photos up now.  Unlike many people, I don't think that means that you have to depersonalize your home to the point that it feels like a hotel room to the buyers.  I think that buyers like knowing that a person "just like them"  - i.e. human - lives in the property they are considering as their home.  Letting the buyers know that you have been happy in your home is a good thing.  Just make sure that you remove anything that the buyer might key in on - such as photos of you with political or religious figures or which show you in some exotic locale that disrupts the buyers' visit to your home. 

Clutter. While you may love your corners stacked high with books and your shelves piled with mementos and knickknacks, clutter can be distracting to buyers. Pick a few key items to leave out on shelves and pack the rest away.  Chances are that the buyer has just as much stuff/clutter in their homes and they are looking for a place with more room.  Looking at all your clutter will convince them that your home is not big enough for them.  Interesting clutter can also capture a buyer's attention as they examine your Pez collection or your books on witchcraft.  Just remember, you want them to pay attention to your home and not be distracted by the things that do not convey with the home.

Non-neutral design elements. Black lights in the basement or lacy, frilly curtains in the sunroom may seem fun to you, but these bold design elements can throw a buyer. Create a neutral atmosphere wherever possible.

Junk. Clear any old, unused items from your closets, storage spaces, basement and attic. You’re going to have to get rid of these items when you move anyway, so you may as well do this now so that your buyer can envision their own items filling up these spaces.

Pets. While it may not be possible to banish your furry friends while your home is for sale, you can make sure they’re out of the way when a prospective buyer is visiting. You never know what allergies or fears buyers may have, so put animals outside or bring them over to grandma’s for an hour, if possible.

Worn-out furniture. That sagging, stained couch in the basement may not be a big deal to you, but it can be an eyesore to an outsider. An empty space is better than a poorly furnished space, so adjust where needed.

Personalized and Potentially Offensive Collections   If you live in Washington DC, you might want to put away your collection of Dallas Cowboys memorabilia.  Put away your White House Christmas Cards.  Chances are no matter which President they are from, someone is going to be offended.

Yes, these things reflect who you are and all the good times that you have had in your home - but they are not for sale, so pack them up and put them away from the buyer's view! After all - you are moving so you may as well get a head start on the packing!



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Raymond Henson, SRES, GRI
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Great advice, Lisa.  We just sold our house last year and when I thought the house was ready to go, I invited my partner to walk through the house and give me her thoughts.  She had a lot!  I was surprised, but it does make sense.  We get used to our environment so it is a good idea to have an honest friend/agent go through the house and give their recommendations.

Jan 21, 2020 04:45 AM #1
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

All wonderful suggestions, Lise. I'm reminded of showing a house where the homeowner had a huge bonus room -- had to be 30 feet by 20 feet -- and very 12 inches there was a dead animal head on all four walls! A White House Christmas card is nothing compared to that -- especially when showing that house to a vegetarian! :)

Jan 21, 2020 05:21 AM #3
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Lise I think most people are aware of the need to do most of these suggestions, but often overlook

  •  Family Photos, and
  •  Personalized and Potentially Offensive Collections  
Jan 21, 2020 08:41 AM #4
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I approve this blog to be FEATURED. Homeowners love their pets. But some people who are allergic to some of pets smells and not only can it be a turn off,but it can kill a deal. Must read blog for home owners who plan on putting their house on the market for sale.

Jan 21, 2020 03:25 PM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Lise- this is spot on advice! And I do agree with you about the photos. Sellers don't have to totally "sterilize" their home. A few well placed family photos keep the home from looking to much like a model home. 

Jan 21, 2020 06:13 PM #6
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Lise Howe

Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC
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