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11 Things To Hide When Showing Your Home

You've decided to sell your home. Congratulations! Selling your home can be exciting, nerve wracking, fun, and tedious. A huge part of the process will be choosing the right Realtor and deciding on what price to ask for your home. Once that's done it's time to get some potential buyers through.

Before you start showing your home, take a moment to have a look around and decision what stays and what goes.

If you read any staging articles they will tell you to pack up anything personal (family photos, kids art work, etc) and box it up ready for moving. They will also tell you to de-clutter and minimize the items in your home. This is great advice and I suggest you follow it, although I have seen some charming decors that feature a wall of family photos or a bit of a mish-mash of decorating styles.

There are a few things that I will mention specifically that you should also pack away before buyers enter your home. Having been in Real Estate for over 11 years I feel I've seen it all, sadly I probably haven't and there are many more odd items that I will encounter in people's homes during the remainder of my career.

Here's a list of things I have seen while showing homes that I think are best put away prior to selling. Some of this may seem obvious, but experience tells me it needs to be said.

  1. Boudoir photos. While I applaud your courage and creativity, photos you have taken for your spouse should be reserved for the viewing pleasure of your spouse and not for potential buyers. (Unsuspecting guests visiting you may also appreciate the absence of these photos!).

  2. Shrines. Of any religious variety. If you have converted a room for the specific purpose of worshiping your god I suggest you return the room to its intended purpose prior to selling. This is not a slam at religion (in fact I like most religions a lot) but it would be unfortunate to turn off a buyer who does not share your religious beliefs.

  3. Offensive art work. Some Buyers may find 10 foot x 12 foot oil paintings of half naked girls dumping beer on their heads amusing....most will not! Pack it away and replace it with something neutral, think flowers, landscape, or abstract art that looks like nothing at all.

  4. Drug paraphernalia. Free choice and all that but not everyone supports your right to use recreational drugs. It's awkward to explain to the children of buyers what a bong is, what that smell is, and so on. Clean it up, enjoy when you are not expecting a showing.

  5. Personal items best left in your bedside drawer. Enough said!

  6. Guns, knives, bullets, and anything at all like that. Put this stuff away under lock and key.

  7. Wigs. This one sounds offensive and it's not meant as such. I have many amazing clients and friends that wear wigs for fun or out of necessity. However, it's a little odd to walk into a room with multiple wigs on styrofoam heads. If nothing else it's distracting as buyers tend to spend more time discussing the wigs than looking at the room itself.

  8. Legal documents. While I am sorry to hear that you are getting divorced, sued, convicted of an offence, or what have you, for the protection of your own privacy please put these documents away during showings. It's amazing how a buyer who cannot see the most basic details of a home will zero in on these documents and read them with laser vision from across the room.

  9. How do I politely say "anything soiled by human waste"? This includes dirty diapers, waste from pets, feminine hygiene products, and flushing toilets. I'm not sure if this should be filed under cleaning or things to put away prior to showings but either way none of this should be in evidence when your house is being shown.

  10. Contracts of purchase and sale for the house you have just purchased subject to the sale of your existing home. These kind of details MAY indicate to buyers that you are highly motivated to sell and you may lose your edge.

  11. Yourself. Yes you!! Put yourself away, as in go out, prior to showings. Do NOT be home sleeping in bed, doing more than sleeping in bed, cooking fish, or arguing with your spouse. Do NOT answer the door to showings dripping blood from multiple lacerations. Just do NOT be there at all, even if you are doing none of the above. 

(And yes, I really have seen all of these while showing!).

It's hard to put a price tag on the return you will get by preparing your home properly for showings. Suffice to say that homes that are clean, tidy, de cluttered and neutral sell quicker than homes that are messy, dirty, full of people and generally run down. Selling quicker almost always results in selling for more money than homes that hang around on the market and are forced to drop in price to effect a sale. Most of these tips are free (and just plain common sense) so in my opinion they are well worth the time.

Happy selling!