How NOT to stage your house for the MLS

I am spending WAY too much time looking through MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for our new home in Virginia. I’ve also started taking the courses required to take the exam for a real estate license. Needless to say, real estate is on my brain.

As I pore through listing after listing, I either click off the listing right away because of the horrible photos or I stay around to look through all of the images. I wanted to share some of the best of the best.

How NOT to stage your house for the MLS.


Some of these make me scratch my head and ask … who is their realtor? Isn’t it their job to make the house look as standout as possible? I understand that not everyone wants to take EVERY suggestion for staging a home, but some of these are just … crazy.

First up, do you think they cut the heart into the yard just for the listing photos? Or is that part of their everyday normal?

Heart Field


So I have a suggestion. Instead of weirdly blurring out the faces of your naked babies, how about just taking down the photos?



I can’t even discuss the Taylor Swift love happening in this room.



This one doesn’t speak to the staging of the home, but the original construction. This staircase would make for an AWESOME prom photo setting, but otherwise? Not sure I get it.



Turn on the lights, folks! 



Random guy checking out the toilet. Next time, ask him to kindly step out of the photo. 



I know they can’t do anything about this for the photos of the home, but maybe just leave OUT the photo of the pink tub?



No to the kitty litter box. If I see a kitty litter box, I am going to assume that the house smells like cat pee.



Remove 75% of the kitchen utensils before your photos. Oh, and the baskets on the beams. Those maybe could go also. 



Helpful hint, you can move things like hat racks and shoe cubbies to another room JUST for the photos … and then move them right back inside! 



What? Really? Two dudes in the pool for a MLS listing photo?


 Going back to the things you can remove temporarily for the photos … laundry definitely falls on the list of things that should be removed.

How not to stage your home for a showing


Make the beds.


How not to stage your home for a showing


I could say quite a bit, but the magnets should definitely go from the refrigerator. Also, the knives from next to the window!



Put the toilet lid down!




Ok, that’s it for now, although as I continue looking at hundreds of houses, I can’t promise I won’t have more photos in my arsenal!

Which of the offenders is your favorite?  

(Note: I thought about doing this post AFTER I saw a listing with a bedroom with full chalkboard wall with “The devil is in me” written on it). No joke. 



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  1. Kathy says

    It really is amazing what gets put out on the real estate listings. It makes me wonder if these people ever have other people in their houses. Some of these are things I would whisk away if I was having guests over and most certainly if oodles of strangers would be looking at my stuff on-line. The last house we owned, before being expatriates for so many years just went on the market again. I could add your comments to those pictures …. clear off that kitchen counter, is that garbage on the floor, magnets off the fridge please! Very telling is how few pictures there actually are of the house. No picture of any bedrooms or bathrooms, no picture of the great room or 4 seasons porch listed on the description. Not very enticing for any buyer!

      • Kathy says

        Ha, I have a box of magnets somewhere. I was getting one from every country we visited so they are fun and purposeful in a way but I don’t know what I was every thinking I would do with them. I vaguely recall someone had magnets on the vent hood above their stove and thought it looked fun. I’m thinking it would look hideous in an MLS listing! LOL

  2. says

    Awful! And so funny! Google “purple house for sale on rightmove”. It’s not on the estate agent’s website anymore but the first 3 or so rows of photos under that search term are from a house they tried to sell.

    As an aside, Brits have real trouble with staging a house for sale. An American came over here and made a hit TV show on it some years ago, because so many Brits don’t have a clue and the estate agents say nothing!
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    • says

      Right? I can understand kiddos not wanting to de-personalize their bedrooms, but maybe that bedroom didn’t need to be photographed for the listing? Hmmmm.

    • says

      It bugs me that I can’t find that devil photo … maybe it will creep back onto my list eventually again when they lower the price because of that craziness on the wall!