Actively Raining Thoughts-Room Service Home Staging


How Do You Live In Your House While Pretending You're Not There?

How Do You Live In Your House While Pretending You’re Not There?


Often our everyday lives can disrupt trying to sell our house.  Isn’t it the other Home staging tipsway around? Maybe but when your house is on the market, getting it sold has to become a priority for you.  Until it sells, your everyday lives are totally disrupted.  The sooner it’s sold, the sooner your real everyday lives will be back in order.

Before you start…...Take a cue from the professional photographers.

Years ago when we sold our house, I thought I’d had everything in place for the photographer who was coming for MLS photos.  However, his professional eye with the help of his camera caught a few things that distracted from the whole picture.

They were simple items, like the paper towel holder on your kitchen counter, or a small waste basket in by a desk or counter.   And, yes, the water bowl and food dish of the four-legged family member do stand out.  

Not every little thing has to be removed for a showing but consider these small but visually distracting items when you are readying your house for its up close and personal photos.


How do you live in your house while pretending you’re not there?

1.Enlist everyone in the household and assign them a daily task.

Your children can help with their own bedrooms and bathrooms.  Explain why (give it up… “because I said so”  doesn’t work anymore.  Those wee ones are on to us)

Some of the tasks are listed below, but you’ll know what you need to do for your own house.

-Empty wastebaskets

-Pick up electronics, mail,shoes,magazines, gym bags and everything else you’ve using.

-Put all dishes, etc in the dishwasher and run it. (No one wants to look in a dishwasher and see dirty dishes)

-Wipe down your kitchen counters and run a Swiffer or vacuum.

-Put away your laundry.  No one wants to look in your utility room and see piles of dirty laundry.


Before you leave the house:

-Do a quick check to make sure that signs of your living there are house soldminimal

-Double check to make sure that prescription medicines and financial papers are out of sight and secure

-Give all countertops a quick wipe down

-Let the light in: open your curtains, or raise the blinds.  Turn on your lights!  Don’t make the buyer’s agent have to go searching for your light switches.  You want to make that first impression count.

- Check your bathrooms: Commode lids down, towels folded, toothpaste covered faucets wiped.

-DO NOT light candles and leave them burning!

-Do not leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink. If you don’t have time to wash them and put them away, and your dishwasher is full of clean dishes, rinse them and put them in the fridge.  Yes… I did say that!

-After your pets are out of the house (subtle hint to remind you that you do not want to have your pets around for the showing) put their bowls and toys away.


2.Give each member of your household their own small basket/bin for their personal items in the bathroom.  It’s a lot easier to put everything in these and place them under the sink or in a nearby cabinet.

3.When weather permits, let some fresh air in.

You really couldn’t resist cooking your favorite garlic/interesting spice/bacon specialty dish- that’s understandable but as good as it tasted, you’ll want these gone by the time buyers arrive.  When you can and when you’re at home, open your windows and let the smell of “clean” in the house.

4. Once you’re in the moving mode, don’t stop there.

With the market the way it is and condition, price and location are just right, you shouldn’t have to endure this too long.  What you’ll want to do is as each day passes and you see items that you aren’t in need of, pack them away.  This is going to make moving a lot easier because you’ll see that all of the things that you thought you couldn’t live without… you can.

Having your house on the market is never fun.  But if you follow these tips to make sure your house is in “show ready” shape, your days on the market could be lessened.

Call Room Service! Home Staging for our made-for-you Home Staging Consultation.


 Kathy Streib 

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Comment balloon 44 commentsKathy Streib • August 16 2015 05:05PM


Such great advice.  And what a difference it would make.  However, sadly, not many are able to achieve this.

Posted by Dama Scott, Evergrene Resident Specialist (One World Realty, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Excellent tips Kathy.  Sellers need to keep in mind the mindset of the typical buyer.  

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 5 years ago

Hi Kathy.  Excellent tips.  Most sellers don't have a clue.

Posted by Conrad Allen, Webster, Ma, Realtor (Re/Max Professional Associates) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Kathy Streib selling your home is very invasive.... but one needs to present a "neutral" scenario to the public....crisp, clean and uncluttered....been there, done that...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Kathy. This is excellent. When I sold my home the photographer even removed the towels from the bathroom. I thought that odd.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 5 years ago

You have given some excellent advice here BARFF.  It  isn't easy, but it needs to be done.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Kathy -- as Barbara Todaro commented, selling a home is invasive but your handy tips will make the process a lot shorter.  Time is money and a closed sale is worth the effort.    

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 almost 5 years ago

Good morning Kathy!

Good tips here on what to do!! Make it a marvelous Monday!

Posted by Kim Johnson, Selling South Florida (Signature Realty Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Kathy Streib I started selling houses LONG before there was such a thing as "staging." I would coach them about making a good first impression, but I ALWAYS told them "you live there , so continue to live."

If we got the curb appeal right, then we would let the rest fall where it may.

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Great advice Kathy. The stress of selling a home can be overwhelming, but keeping it clean doesn't have to be!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) almost 5 years ago

Dama- It's amazing what we've seen when viewing a house on the market, isn't it! Dama Scott 

Gabe- I've moved many times and I know what a pain it is to have your house on the market. Gabe Sanders 

Conrad- It's hard to understand why sellers would leave their homes as I've seen them.  Conrad Allen 

BarbaraT- that's it in a nutshell.... it is invasive of our personal lives and things. Barbara Todaro 

Sheila- that is a little odd.  It gets me when I see an MLS photo with a bag of trash sitting in the corner of the kitchen. Sheila Anderson 



Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

BARFF- true, it's a pain in the behind. Roger D. Mucci 

Michael- if we can help sellers realize that doing all of this can help get their house sold quicker. Michael Jacobs 

Kim- thank you, and you as well. Kim Johnson 

Bill- times have changed and today's buyers expect more (you can thank some of the cable shows for that).  Bill Roberts 

Wayne and Jean- exactly.  If we can do this, chances are our homes will not be on the market for very long, especially if it is priced right!  Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

Hello Kathy,  Good points as always from you.  You should write a book with all your knowledge.

Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Kathy, I can honestly say I've had to question only a few times if someone was living in the home while showing, sellers were that good but that doesn't happen often. Great tips!

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) almost 5 years ago

Great advise.  it is easy to show homes where the homeowner has followed this type of advise. I often give my clients a check list that includes many of these tips.  Whenever possible I like to take sellers out to show them the difference between homes where the seller has followed this advise and those where the seller has not.  It is amazing how distracting the little things can be to buyers.  But this also can be an indication of the overall love and care the home has had to things you can't see, it routine repairs, heating & cooling systems, etc.

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) almost 5 years ago

It is not convenient to have your house listed for sale. That's why most people don't do it very often and it's why they should listen to the professionals to get it sold as quick as possible. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty (Zion Realty) almost 5 years ago

Love your tips Kathy, especially about the pet dishes.  Though I am an animal lover, some buyers are very dog/cat averse, and so I advise sellers to try to make it look like they have no pets  as much as possible...

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) almost 5 years ago

One thing is for sure.  The very worst things an agent can write in the showing instructions in an MLS listing are:

     24 hour notice required.

     prequalification of buyer required


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Thorough list of tips, Kathy. I always tell sellers "there's one way to live in a home, and another way to sell it."

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) almost 5 years ago

Kathy Streib I see another call for your book. Better get with it.

But actually, a real life example of a buyer. I recently sold a condo to a buyer that knew exactly what she wanted. We saw units that were tenant occupied, owner occupied, and vacant. Nothing mattered except what she wanted, not curb appeal, not condition, not access, nothing. She ended up buying a vacant unit that was NOT STAGED. But we got the right price.

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Hi Kathy - Great advice for dealing with one of the biggest challenges of home selling. We have a cute little contract we sign with the kids - if they do their part, they get $25 at closing.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) almost 5 years ago

Kathy lots of great tips I've never even thought of! And I like Dick Greenberg idea too. That would motivate the little ones!  This is a MUST read for every single home seller!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) almost 5 years ago

Kathy Wonderful and smart tips for sellers, So much to remember

Posted by Sharon Lee, Retired and loving life (Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance) almost 5 years ago

Kathy, no one said it would be easy but it will be worth if if sellers adhere to keeping their home show ready.  And, I'd add that a 2 or 4 hour notice before showing is a lot to ask and may cause buyers to simply skip seeing it.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 5 years ago

Once again, you have given everyone great tips, Kathy.  These are simple solutions, and we can attest that it is tough to live like you are not there.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) almost 5 years ago


Living in a home when it's on the market to be sold  . . . . can create challenges.

Your post is right on point and how to live in the home and have it ready for show time.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) almost 5 years ago


This is an excellent list to follow but certainly not easy to do every day. I will book mark it for future reference.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) almost 5 years ago

Great tips Kathy Streib ....I use a lot of these, but you give me even more ....Thanks!

Have a great day!

Posted by Rob Thomas, Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro (Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954) almost 5 years ago

Will- thank you!  You never know!!! Will Hamm 

Beth- I think that many sellers are getting smarter and understand the importance of how the house looks. Beth Atalay 

Shirley- buyers today are different and they want a home that is in move-in ready condition. Shirley Coomer 

Nicole- it's never fun having strangers coming into your home and examining your personal life.  Hopefully, we can show them how to do this and make it easier for them.  Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert 

Lenn- that's the thing.  We are a gotta have it now society.  Buyers don't want to wait. Lenn Harley 


Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

John- exactly.  Very few people live in a model home.  Who'd want to! John Novak 

Bill- we've seen it all, haven't we!  I've always said that there's a buyer for every house! Bill Roberts 

Dick- I love that idea!!!  You may have covered this before but how about a post on it! Dick Greenberg 

Anna- I think Dick's idea is one all agents should consider! Anna Banana Kruchten 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

Sharon- When you start living as if you're selling your house, it can become a nice habit. Sharon Lee 

Kathleen- that's the world we live in.  No one is willing to wait. Kathleen Daniels 

Alexandra- thank you.  No it's not easy and I've moved enough to  shout it out. But you do!  Ron and Alexandra Seigel 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

Lou- thank you!  It's hard for families with children, I know but it has to be done.  Lou Ludwig 

Bob- you know what, if you get into the habit then it can be done! Robert (Bob) Gilbert 

Rob- thank you.  We've all been in homes where dirty dishes were left out and beds weren't made.  Buyers don't want to see that! Rob Thomas 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

Perfect tips for Sellers that are staying in their home, while it is being sold, you are the best and I love reading your posts!!!

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) almost 5 years ago

Kathy, The living and the selling are two different beasts.  And I can't count the number of times I've shown a home and there ARE candles burning when I get there.  I almost feel that I should blow them out before leaving.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 almost 5 years ago

This is very good advice for home sellers.

Thanks for sharing these tips.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 5 years ago

OMG, love the one about the dishes in the frig! Hadn't thought of that--you are so perfect, creative AND funny! 

I was so absolutely glad that I took the entire week working on cleaning/neatening/organizng/simplifying projects before the buyers came on that Saturday. Turns out that she is a "meticulous" housecleaner and won't even think of having housecleaners for this 6214 sq ft home! I was THRILLED when they made an offer the very next day--full price! (That hasn't happened around here in a very long time). 

Whew...all of what you describe pays off. My hubby figured we'd have the house on the market for "years" (I overheard him say this to someone) and I thought to myself, I'm going to prove you wrong! The highest priced, biggest home in the area at that moment and it's in sale pending within 6 months in a vacation area where homebuyers usually top out at $300K! (ours is $599,000). They know they're getting a deal, tho. Very savvy, they are! 

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) almost 5 years ago

Brian- thank you.  It can be a long list, but it has to be done!  @brianBrian England 

Bill- I quit putting candles in vacant stagings.  Someone had burned the candles during an Open House or showing and they had burned all the way down.  My candlesticks were covered in wax. Liz and Bill Spear 

Roy- thank you.  Hope you and Dolores are having a good week. 

Gayle- you were smart to do what you did.  I can't imagine she's not having any housecleaners for that size.  Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 



Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

Kathy, this is very difficult to do especially with kids and pets.   I know the last family cleaned and stayed at parents' house.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) almost 5 years ago

Kathy, I think that's crazy, TOO! And she's 71! She shoos her husband out of the house and cleans for hours. Hey, more power to her!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) almost 5 years ago

These are excellent tips and very useful to sellers. It's good to have a plan in place like what you described before putting the house on the market.

Thank you Kathy!


Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Kathy. Important suggestions for anyone that is considering selling and in many cases, even if you weren't planning on moving.

Great job with your post!

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) almost 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing the great tips. I will share these with others.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 5 years ago

What it boils down to is.....

you can suffer a bit more for less time or you can be comfortable and do very little and stay in "for sale" mode for a far longer time.  Longer time results in price reductions too!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) almost 5 years ago

Great tips Kathy. Your "dishes in the fridge" solution reminded me of when our house was for sale many years ago. Those days showings happened perhaps once a month... NOT a hot market! So, we were a bit lax. 

My 12 year old son was home alone when I called to tell him an agent would be arriving in 15 minutes with potential buyers, so please "Do what you can."

Seeing a big basket full of unfolded laundry, and not having time to deal with it properly, he peeled the fluffy comforter off my bed, spread the laundry out, and replaced the comforter. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 5 years ago

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