Home is where the heart is. It’s the place you feel most comfortable, the place where your family lives. Home reflects your personality and style and holds history and memories. However, the more attached you feel to your home, the more defensive you will be about changing it. These feelings are likely to cloud your judgment when it comes to transitioning from a homeowner to a home seller.
As a homeowner, you probably hold the belief that “everyone will love my home as much as I do”. But until you break up with your home, you will not be able to objectively see the home from a buyer’s eyes. Sure, someone may eventually come along that has exactly the same taste and style as you, and keep your home exactly how you raised it. How long will you have to wait for that buyer?
In order to become a home seller, you need to give yourself the distance and perspective to make good decisions about the selling process. That detachment is key - It’s not about you, it’s about marketing your house to the broadest range of buyers. Removing your personal items and taming your personal style (and your emotional attachment) will clear the way for buyers to picture themselves living there. You want the buyers to be emotional, not you.
This transition requires you to see the house through the eyes of someone new. Try to step back and be open to what new buyers may be looking for. Your first attempt may be to seek unbiased opinions from friends or relatives. However, often they won’t be honest unless they truly believe that they are not hurting your feelings. Many times, this is why sellers invest in a professional home staging consultation. They provide honest (and experienced) feedback about getting your home ready to sell, without the emotions.
Once you’ve started the break up process you can get to work on the prep. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Paint over those bold paint colors
Colors are a reflection of personal style and allows you to personally make your house feel like your home. But this narrows down your market of potential buyers to only those with the same personal style as you. Play it safe and paint the walls neutral. White and light gray colors are a good way to go. Do you have a wall where you’ve been measuring your children and marking their heights? It’s difficult, but it is a personal memento that’s just a reminder to buyers that you still live there. My advice - take a picture of it before you paint over it.
2. Take down the family photos
Displaying family photos is the one thing that really makes your house feel so much like a home. Unfortunately, buyers walking into a house with pictures of your family members makes it feel like they are in YOUR home. It’s hard for them to envision themselves in a new house during a walk-through if they can’t stop thinking about the people who currently live there. Just take the pictures down while your house is on the market. This also includes your college diplomas, your sports team banners, and any religious or political nuances (let’s save all of that for Facebook).
3. Reduce the chaos of clutter
A staged home has no visible clutter – only the essentials. Truth is, nobody could really live forever in a staged house. We all have too much stuff - the treadmill in the corner that you hang clothes on, your pots & pans and kitchen appliances that fill your counter space, your office printer, shredder, and other gadgets you can’t do without, and mostly your clothing and shoe collection (your packed closets). Your house probably looks and feels pretty chaotic with all that stuff. When selling your house, you want to show off its great features and a big part of that is accentuating the size of every room. If you are living in your house while it’s on the market, you may need to get a storage unit in the meantime to hide away extra items. Leave yourself with just the essentials. Instead of showing how much stuff will fit, show them how much room they have for their stuff to fit. Once your extra stuff is gone, potential buyers will be able to walk in, relax a little, and visualize how they would make the space work for them.
4. Do the Work
Buyers are looking for a home that they can comfortably move into. If all they see in your house is a big to-do list that they get with the home, they will be put off (and either walk away or put in a low-ball offer). Fix the squeaky hinges, replace the burned out light bulbs, change the air filters, make sure the cabinet doors open and close properly, etc. It’s these little maintenance items the make buyers think that there might be bigger things wrong with the house. This list also includes cleaning! Roll up your sleeves and get in there where you don’t normally clean – the baseboards, the drawers and cupboards, under the refrigerator, and especially the bathrooms. Don’t think for a minute that buyers aren’t looking at this.
So before you list your home, break up with it - including the part where you take your stuff back. Remember, preparing your home to sell is not a reflection of you or your style. It’s about making your property appeal to a larger population of potential buyers.