Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

Personal Photos: Remove or Keep When Listing a Home For Sale?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Using personal photos to decorate the walls and tables are common in homes. But when you’re listing a home for sale, can those personal photos become a turnoff to potential home buyers?

Real estate professionals and stagers differ on how much of a fuss they make over family photos gracing their clients’ for-sale homes.

Some in the industry strongly advise their clients to remove all personal photos. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to visualize themselves living in the home and not be distracted by seeing personal photos of the current home owners’ vacations, wedding photos, and family reunions.

Others in the industry may say “why not?” They argue that photos actually make a home feel more warm, inviting, and feel like a “home.” Even some builder model homes have started incorporating personal photos into the decor to personalize spaces more.

What do you think?

Certainly, asking a seller to remove their wedding photos and snapshots from happier days can be an awkward conversation. Clients can get emotional and may not understand why photos they consider just as much “art” as family photo has to be removed.

Some stagers and real estate professionals may offer up a compromise: Remove some photos, but keep a few up. An entire wall filled with family photos may be a little much and too distracting to buyers, but a frame here and there may actually do more good than harm, if it’s done tastefully.

“With a family photo wall, it may be a good thing if it’s done really well, so people can imagine their own family there,” David Kassel, owner of ILevel, a New York art placement and picture hanging service, told The New York Times in a recent article. “Our experience is that [buyers] have a really hard time making these design decisions and can’t fathom how to arrange pictures.” In that case, you might actually be doing the buyers a favor by leaving your photos up and giving them inspiration for their own photos.

To ensure it’s done tastefully, Kassel recommends using photo frames that complement one another (such as gold and wood together or black and white frames). He also recommends hanging the photos in a grid with similar spacing, such as leaving an inch-and-half between the frames to create a symmetrical look.

But if the photos prove just too much of a distraction, for the sake of a sale, you may have to ask your clients to remove them. But remember, if you do, make sure they don’t leave behind scuff marks or wall holes. Those can most certainly be a buyer turnoff too.

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REALTOR® Magazine is the official magazine of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and the business tool for real estate professionals.