The Problem with Living Rooms That No One Talks About, According to Real Estate Agents

published Nov 2, 2020
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Before putting a home on the market, it’s important to make sure the place is looking its best. This is especially true in the living room, where buyers will likely try to envision themselves relaxing. There’s one factor about living rooms, though, that most sellers overlook—TV placement. It’s also something real estate agents can’t seem to agree on. While some think keeping a television in the living room at an open house is crucial, others say it takes away from the taste of the home. It’s a problem that sellers don’t seem to talk about, and its solution isn’t the clearest, either.

Where you place—or don’t place—your TV ultimately is up to you. But it might pay to be mindful of how future buyers might perceive it. Before you decide, consider the advice below from realtors.

Can TV placement make or break a sale?

Hayley Westoff, a Compass real estate agent, says if there isn’t a good TV setup, buyers will be turned off. “I have found it to be deal breakers for some buyers, especially in Chicago condos,” she says. “A lot of the time, there’s a diagonal fireplace, and that totally throws buyers off.”

Allison Chiaramonte, a Warburg Realty agent in New York doesn’t think having a TV (or not having a TV) at an open house is a huge determining factor. “It’s generally not a deal breaker,” Chiaramonte says. “Most buyers realize that a TV can be taken out and replaced with art or a mirror.” 

But if it’s a more formal living room, a television shouldn’t be the focus, she says. “You have to see what you’re showing, and see what the property sort of lends itself to,” Chiaramonte says.

Credit: Franke Chung

Why does TV placement matter to buyers?

According to Westoff, most buyers want to visualize themselves living inside a home—and understanding how they’d set up a TV in their living room is part of that. “Rearranging the furniture, and putting either a TV or mirror where the TV would go to really helps the buyer visualize what that setup would look like,” she says.

Especially for tricky spaces—for example, a room that’s not a perfect square or lacks wall space—buyers want you to put the work in for them and show them how it could be set up. Westhoff recommends staging a space to accomplish just that.

Should you upgrade your TV or hide it?

There’s one TV rule that always applies no matter where you might place it. Chiaramonte says you should absolutely take down a TV if it’s outdated. “If you have a really old, thick, crazy TV it definitely makes people wonder why it’s not upgraded and wonder what else in the house might not be upgraded,” she says. 

If you think your TV is too much of a focal point in your living room, you can find simple ways to have it blend in. For starters, Chiaramonte says new TVs with mirror or art presets can be an effective disguise. Additionally, if your TV is mounted in a cabinet or shelf wall, you can simply close the cabinetry. 

What’s the best spot to place a TV?

Ultimately, TV placement is based on personal preference. According to Chiaramonte, there’s not one ideal arrangement. “For some people that ideal place is smack in the middle of the living room and for some people, that’s absolutely not an ideal place,” she says. “It really depends on who’s buying and looking at the house.” 

Even though above the fireplace is a common spot, Westhoff says buyers are starting to get concerned over how high the mantle is. “They don’t want to strain their neck looking up at a TV,” she says. “I had buyers not [buy a property] because the mantle was too high and they would have nowhere to put their TV.” Whether it’s above the fireplace or mounted on a plain wall, there’s no single answer to what the best placement is—you’ll need to decide what fulfills your space’s needs.