Yesterday I borrowed a Canon 5D with a wide-angle lens (and briefly considered faking my own death so I’d never have to give it back) and took the MLS photos for our house. It was a sweaty and near-impossible task, trying to keep surfaces clean and child-free for long enough to snap the photo, and I am officially in a state of anticipatory despair over the idea of keeping the house in show-ready condition with two small kids in the house and a husband who apparently believes all cereal bowls and shoes are continually sucked into another dimension by invisible dimension-sucking fairies and a dog who sheds giant haybales of fur every five minutes and the toys and the dirt and the mess, oh god.

Here’s what the pictures look like:





(I’m not sure about using this photo. On the one hand, I should show more than one bedroom, right? On the other, it’s nearly impossible to photograph well and is so Kid-Decorated which might be a turnoff.)








If you have any thoughts on house staging, I’d love to hear them. I’ve de-cluttered the closets and cleaned our windows and we’re about to touch up some trim and remove 90% of our family photos, what else should I be thinking of? Oh and also, hey, just how the shit am I going to manage this whole thing without losing my mind?


167 Responses to “Getting ready”

  1. Rachel on July 28th, 2010 1:47 pm

    God I love your house.

    I would power wash the back patio and plant some flowers (any kind, doesn’t matter) in the raised bed, and in pots next to the big one you already have. Add fresh mulch.

    Reangle the long shot of the backyard to show less fence and more house. Currently the main focus appears to be that tree.

    Trim the plants in the front of the house where it looks like they are covering the windows, throw some flowers in there too.

    Add a tighter shot of the front entry area of the house. If you can, and it is worth looking at, do a shot from the outside with the door open to show the entryway.

    A photo of every room, even the less awesome ones.

    Fireplace photo, with fire in it to show that it is useable, if possible.

    If it is warm enough and you have window screens, keep the windows craked open all the time, it helps the house smell fresh. Having frozen bakeables on hand to throw in the oven is a vastly preferable way to make your house smell great than anything artificially perfumed. Cookies, apple pie or apple turnovers, which are faster. Dryer sheets tucked in out of the way, hard to ventilate places like closet shelves will make them smell clean. If your heater vents have filters in them, tuck dryer sheets in there, too.

    Don’t vaccuum before bed, you’re just going to have to do it again in the morning. If possible make it the last thing you do before leaving the house for the day. Make sure you have spare vaccuum belts and bags on hand.

    Get sanitizing disks for the toilet tanks (not the blue ones, they stain) so you don’t have to scrub every day.

    Empty your medicine cabinets of everything except the most basic first aid supplies. Leave no prescription medication, alcohol or jewelry in the house during showings. People will go into everything, including your dressers. Have plastic bins that fit in the car handy to toss in whatever oughtn’t be seen.

  2. gg on July 28th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Just looking at the photo below the kitchen, I would try moving that sofa away from the corner… move the antique chair around, but try to get the sofa with more space around it…. love Riley’s room! put up the other kid room… love seeing kids that live in a gorgeous house!

  3. gg on July 28th, 2010 2:09 pm

    ps, what is the color of the master bedroom,,,,love it!!!!!!

  4. Trish on July 28th, 2010 3:58 pm

    One of the things that helped me buy my current home was that the sellers had folders with all the photos and details of the house (including the MLS) that you could take with you once you toured the home. I was able to refer back to it several times and it was better than all the notes I made on the other houses. I believe I still have that folder, come to think of it.
    It’s back to school time here, and the regular sort of folders can be had for about $0.20 each. Print out the photos on several pages, include the MLS print-outs, and there you go.
    The former owners used the baked cookies candles, which did the same thing as regular baked goods.

  5. Alissa on July 28th, 2010 7:03 pm

    I can’t even imagine trying to sell a house and keep it clean for showings with little ones in the house. More power to you!

    I think the place looks great.

    Good Luck!

  6. Dead Bug on July 28th, 2010 8:17 pm

    Looks like you’ve really transformed your house over the years–it’s lovely. Your (with luck) new house on the dirt road with views of wooded hills and no neighbors, though? Exquisite. I completely understand your motivation! For what it’s worth, here are a couple of suggestions that helped us sell our house with multiple offers:

    1) Open the blinds in all photos to highlight the views and light, unless what you see from the windows(at photo angle) is another home’s wall or something really unattractive. If it is, stage with a tension rod and a white sheer in front of the (pulled-up) blinds.

    2) Take a twilight shot of your house’s exterior with all curtains and blinds open and all lights on inside. You have the camera skills to pull it off and those shots always stand out.

    3) Add copious potted flowers and colorful plants to engage the eye, along with fresh tanbark (great smell, beautiful contrast color).

    4) Once you have some serious interest, have someone (husband?) access the crawl space and any attic areas and clean out any debris, animal droppings, etc. You want to minimize anything that might trigger an inspector to get too curious ;-)

    5) The open house brought in five of the nine offers we fielded, and should definitely be taken seriously

    6) Don’t describe repairs or maintenance (new roof, new paint, etc.) as it raises the mental “before” image for the buyer.

    7) If you have the stomach for it, price very low to spark a lot of interest, and possibly even a biddnig war. You don’t have to accept an asking-price offer if that’s not enough, though your agent may not relish this tactic and it may not be appropriate in your neighborhood (if a lot of similar houses are avaialble and sitting unsold for a while)

    8) Starting at a higher price can be the kiss of death; later reductions are less psychologically attractive than a fresh-to-market house at a really good price, even if that price ends up being the same–plus, you waste a lot of time

    Best of luck to you!

  7. Mel on July 29th, 2010 5:32 am

    LOVE the house!! My only suggestion for the pictures is to bark mulch the flower beds like others have suggested, but also rent/borrow a pressure washer and spruce up the cement pad. Then stage the backyard some more, borrow stuff from neighbours if you have to, flower pots etc., and retake the picture when the fence and the pad are dry and bathed in sunlight.

    I think the yard is absolutely great, but just thinking it is the weakest of all your beautiful pictures.

    OH and I love the twilight suggestion for the front of the house with the lights on inside. It’s such an inviting image!

  8. Rachel on July 29th, 2010 7:09 am

    Your house looks gorgeous. If I were shopping in your neighborhood, I would definitely want a showing.

  9. Jen on July 29th, 2010 7:12 am

    I want to spend the rest of my days on this earth in your living room :-)

  10. Amy on July 29th, 2010 8:13 am

    I love, love, love your house. Good luck with the sale. Beautiful pictures, too.

  11. Amy on July 29th, 2010 10:10 am

    Having had my former beloved house on the market for 7 months and dealing with many, many showings and a husband who also liked to leave spoons and bowls and his pjs in some random spot every morning, I sympathize!

    I would recommend NOT using the photo of the garage with the door open; folks can see the garage door in the exterior shot, and earn the privilege of looking inside if they come look at your house. :)

    Also, I would remove a few more things from Riley’s room, at least for the photo…like the pirate flag, the item on the bench/toy box, the photo on the bedside table, and a few things from the above-bed shelves. Make it look as uncluttered as possible (although it’s very clean and tidy and a sweet boy’s room as is).

    One more thing…is it at all possible to trade your bed for the dresser in your MBR? Not sure what the square footage is like, and I’m totally making an assumption about where the door to your room is, but it would be nicer to see the side of the bed than the foot when walking in, and nice to show some walking room on both sides of the bed, rather than just the foot and one side. JMHO.

  12. JR on July 29th, 2010 12:31 pm

    Open houses don’t sell the place, it’ll just be your neighbor’s walking through…the brokers open is a good thing though.

    Are you using an agent or selling on your own? I highly recommend getting an agent.

    Flower pots on the outside – front entry would be fab.

    Is there another placement for the bed in the master bedroom?

    Nice place – much luck to you!

  13. Anonymous on July 29th, 2010 12:47 pm

    The master bed is in a weird place, I would move it to the wall opposite the windows. I’m sure you don’t put it there exactly because you don’t want to have to walk all the way around it to get to the bathroom, but I think that layout would make the room look largest, because you’d have room for a small chair in the far corner, and it would also highlight the windows & light because the bed wouldn’t cover them up.

    The patio could use a good pressure wash, or I have seen these interlocking patio tiles with some kind of rubber-under-gripper thing. These tiles are meant to be put over existing but unattractive outdoor flooring and just sit there on top.

    That big couch & antique chair – the couch should be moved away from the corner and there should be another chair on the other side so that it looks like a traditional seating group. As it is, it looks like only a small half of a room or maybe a big hallway. Adding another chair and coffee table would highlight that it’s a fully functioning family room and it’s quite big. Even just seeing the arm of another chair in that picture would complete the room instead of having the whole left side of the room look like it’s not good for anything. I think it has a door there, and it’s used as a thoroughfare, right? But it doesn’t matter if you take the picture and then move the chair back to wherever it belongs, it would at least be good for the pictures to show off the room’s full potential.

    As a recent home buyer, I wanted to see lots of pictures, preferably of every room and of how the rooms flowed into one another. A few great listings even had a floorplan, which was really helpful.

    In the other living room, your furniture is only taking up 1/4 of the rug! You should add two chairs to the other, empty side of the rug to complete the seating group and highlight its spaciousness. I’m just saying for the sake of pictures, you wouldn’t have to leave those chairs there, but right now it looks like the room is good for one couch and one loveseat, when really there’s so much room there. Its like the brain just discounts all of that open space as if its not there. I know in real life it would be weird to have the backs of chairs to a fireplace, but just for the pictures it would be great – even if you move chairs in from other rooms and them move them back right after taking the picture.

    Somebody’s suggestion about getting a shot of the house at nighttime with all the lights on – you should definitely do that, at least for the back of the house with that whole wall of windows!

  14. Casey on July 29th, 2010 5:34 pm

    Your house is beautiful, I think anyone with taste will love it and scoop it right up! Have you thought about pressure washing the back patio (by the table in the back yard)? That isn’t even a huge thing but I wanted to offer something…

    We are in the process of doing the same exact thing as you guys… taking the house we have put so much blood, sweat and tears into and selling it in favor of moving somewhere else, better for our entire family. Just the thought of losing all of this money on the house makes my stomach ache but we have to follow our dreams, right?

    Good luck to you guys. I will be here in FL, decluttering and staging my own place in the hopes that someone else will love it as much as we do. :)

  15. veralynn on July 29th, 2010 6:20 pm

    It looks gorgeous. I vote for including shots of every room (don’t worry about a bedroom looking too kid-friendly)…I think people worry more when they see how many bedrooms are listed but that there are pictures left out…I think they figure there’s something you’re hiding. When we sold my house, I was crushed to make my craziest colors neutral, but it really did show so much better. Things I got the most comments on re: staging were setting the kitchen table (no kidding…got comments! It really looked inviting.) and painting the (unfinished) basement, which made it look so good the realtor actually posted a picture of it in the listing. I had a signed offer 6 days after it went on the market…in this economy! Fingers are x’ed for you!

  16. Catriona on July 30th, 2010 12:25 pm

    Gorgeous house! As for not having time to bake cookies – frozen cookie dough baby, yeah!

  17. Sue on July 31st, 2010 7:09 am

    Your house looks great! We have moved several times with 4 boys due to hubby being transferred. I used to have a laundry basket that I would dash thru the house with to collect all the “stuff” lying about when they called for a showing and it went in to the car with the kids and I as we left. I would also put them in the car and then do one last sweep to make sure they did not destroy something on the way out the door.

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