Making Buyers Feel at Home (In Your Home)

Real Estate Agent with Realty One Group # S.0190863

Of course your house is awesome – it’s your house! But the things that you really love about your home’s decor can sometimes slow down progress when you’re trying to sell your place. Just because you’re all in on the “Halloween all year long” aesthetic doesn’t mean that potential buyers will be able to see past that when viewing your home.

What a Home Buyer Sees

Although we all like to imagine that we only look at the house itself and never, ever let ourselves be influenced by anything that’s easy to change about a home (or things that don’t even go with the home), the truth is often very different. Many homebuyers, especially those who are in the market for the first time, need to be able to picture themselves living in your house.

For some homes, that’s easy enough, but others that are owned by people who live an abundant or exuberant life can be a real challenge to homebuyers. They can forget they’re shopping for a home and get overwhelmed by the decor or intense level of personalization going on inside. Of course, you bought your house in part so you could make it your own, but now it’s time to let someone else take her for a test drive.

Obviously a lot of things can’t be turned into blank slates, especially if you have children or pets who have items that are specifically theirs and used often. Short of sending them to stay with the grandparents until you’ve got a contract secured, just keeping their areas tidy and focusing on the things you can soften will have to be enough.

Decluttering Is Important, but So Is Depersonalizing

There’s a difference between stripping a house of all its charm and simply depersonalizing it a bit. If you’ve got an original pink bathroom in a 1950s ranch-style home, by all means, let that brilliant bit of historical architecture shine. But, if your home is covered in photos of your family, your dog, and your intensely personal artwork, you may want to tone those selections down a notch.

When a homebuyer walks into a home that’s so deeply personalized, it can make them feel a little bit like they’re violating your privacy, even though you invited them in by listing your house. When someone feels like they’ve trespassed, they’re going to try to get out as quickly as possible, which does not help a buyer see themselves living in that house.

Consider Color Choices

Many buyers realize that they can and will almost certainly repaint your home to their liking, so for most sellers, repainting isn’t really a high priority, nor should it be. However, for some sellers, it definitely merits consideration. The homes that may need to consider a paint job are those that offer significant challenges to the potential buyer, or that have paint that works against the space. For example, if your house is full of dark colors that make the space seem a lot smaller than it is, it’s going to turn buyers away. Not only will they have trouble seeing themselves in the space that they perceive erroneously to be very dark and tight, those who realize it’s a visual trick may still be put off by the large amount of work that’s ahead of them.

As a rule of thumb, if you’ve chosen a color that will need several coats of primer before lighter paint will cover it, you’ll probably need to repaint. You can even go with a similar color that’s much, much lighter, if you really feel like the color works well for your house. Most buyers won’t care, as long as it’s something that they can easily imagine themselves repainting in a weekend to meet their own needs.

Need Help Making Your Home More Welcoming?

Look no further than your HomeKeepr community! Not only will you get the best recommendations for home professionals in your area who can help you repaint, reorganize, and even re-envision your home, it’s always free for homeowners to join!

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Comments (10)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Rocky- it's so important to make sure that your buyers can see themselves in your home...picture having family gatherings there, meals in the kitchen!  Your tips are good ones!

Jul 05, 2022 09:58 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These are really good tips!  Sellers need their home to feel like home to prospective buyers if they want top-dollar!

Jul 05, 2022 10:13 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Thank you for sharing the information. Buyers and sellers in your area will benefit from your expertise. Wishing you continued success.  Have a wonderful day and sell a house.  bill


Jul 05, 2022 10:50 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Rocky,

Great post.....there is a difference between decluttering and depersonalizing. Don't strip the home of it's charm ..its important for buyers to visualize themselves living in your home.

Jul 05, 2022 03:29 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Rocky:

This is sound advice from start to finish. Buyers need to be able to focus on the house and it's features, and not get distracted by the personal stuff and the clutter. Some may be better at this than others. but you never know. And you are moving any pack it up and market your HOUSE, not your HOME!


Jul 05, 2022 08:19 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Rocky I am all about de-cluttering and depersonalizing... I just had a conversation yesterday about this with one of our friends.... I went to an open house to a famous Beverly Hills home and there was a life sized naked picture of his wife in the living room... needless to say it detracted from the viewing of the home... we all remembers that was so and so's wife but nothing else about the house, Endre

Jul 05, 2022 10:41 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Rocky... your post reminded me of a home I sold many years ago here in Charlotte that was done in New England/Virginia Colonial style from top to bottom. Beautifully done, but very taste-specific to say the least. The sellers were an elderly couple in their 80's and not up to making so many changes. Fortunately, the home showed well and a buyer came along quickly from Virginia, no less, who grew up in a home just like this one. He bought it on the spot. The PS to this story is that some years later he and his wife renovated the home to a more contemporary style.

Jul 06, 2022 04:51 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

 A few personal items is OK...generally the less the better.  Another important factor is the house should be very very very clean!

Jul 06, 2022 01:59 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Rocky this is good advice.  Even though I am not in the market to purchase another home, when I stop by Open Houses to visit with Realtors, I still find myself imagining if I could see myself living in the home.

Jul 06, 2022 03:18 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Very important advice!  About 12 years ago, my sellers left town for a month during the summer while I sold their home.  When the returned, I had to explain to them where  all of the crucifixes, family phones and trinkets were located!  They were everywhere in their home! 

Jul 07, 2022 11:06 AM