So you’ve decided to sell your home. You’ve chosen your real estate agent (Hagan has the best!) and he’s walked your home. You’ve agreed upon a price and signed the listing agreement. Now comes the hard part. While walking your home, you agent likely pointed out a few things that could be changed to appeal to the widest range of buyers possible. Oftentimes when a realtor tells you to depersonalize and declutter, he’s likely talking about the same thing.
Your home screams your personality and personal style. And while you’re living in it, it should. Your home should be the place that makes you feel comfortable, and your décor will reflect that. Conversely, when you’re selling your home, you want it to appeal to the widest range of buyers possible. How many people do you know who are exactly like you? Probably not that many. And while you may be an excellent decorator for your own personal style, it probably won’t appeal to everyone. Think about when you’re looking at homes to buy. If you’re young and single, brightly colored children’s toys scattered around the living room would turn you off right away. If you’re a family man, a frat house-like atmosphere is probably not all that appealing for you. Maybe orange is just your color. You love being surrounded by it every morning when you walk into your bathroom. That is uniquely you, and panting your bathroom the bright shade is a great way to show off your personality. Unfortunately, potential buyers are looking for four walls to buy, not a person (though we’re sure they’d choose you if they were).
So go room to room and look at the things that you love the most. Those are probably the things that need to be packed away first. Kitchens and bathrooms are usually easiest. They’re usually pretty bare-bones essentials. You might have to take a couple of pictures or finger-paint masterpieces off of your refrigerator, but that’s probably about it. In the bathroom, make sure to take products and grooming essentials off of the vanity. Buy some nice baskets to store them in in the linen closet. On the flip side, your living room and bedrooms probably say the most about you. Replace family photos with generic, neutral toned paintings or other wall décor. Your bedspread should be as gender neutral as possible, complimenting the new generic tan wall color you’ve chosen to mask your love of pink. Painting is probably not your favorite task, but taking a weekend to neutralize your wall color will likely lead to a quicker sale. Many buyers aren’t able to see through very personalized spaces to realize how they can make it their own. They need your help. Sure, you may be living in a home for a little while that just doesn’t feel like you anymore, but the more you depersonalize, the shorter that time will be. Besides, it’ll help get you emotionally unattached from the home before you move.
Along with depersonalizing comes decluttering. All of your stuff probably serves a very unique purpose in your life. You don’t know how you’d get the baby to sleep without his swing, but a potential buyer just sees stuff taking up space. Did you know that many potential buyers won’t notice if your microwave is missing? If it is taking up precious counter space, pack it away. Does your dog have a big pen in the livingroom where he’s supposed to stay while you’re eating? At least for the open house, fold it up and store it in a closet. Your kids’ toys will be difficult to keep tidy, but if you can stay on top of it for just a few weeks, the benefit will far outweigh your frustration.
So what do you do with all the clutter? Chances are it’s “cluttering” your living space because you’ve run out of storage solutions in your home. Find out when a local clothing store is getting their shipment in (my favorite is Old Navy – I used to work there, so I know they get a ton of boxes at least twice a week), and then call and ask them to put aside a few boxes for you. They’ll be glad to do it, as long as you can pick it up quickly so it isn’t taking up their storage space. Pack up everything but the bare necessities. Rent a storage locker or ask friends if you can store your boxes in their basements. Make sure to clearly mark the boxes in case you realize you packed something you need every day. An added bonus of this step is that you’ll have some of the packing done for when your home sells.
Lastly, clean your home like Princess Kate is coming over. Baseboards, the top of the refrigerator, behind furniture – all of these places are often forgotten in your day-to-day straightening, but potential buyers will be seeing your home for the first time. They will be picking it apart. Invest in some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Take everything off of shelves and out of cabinets. Once you have one major cleaning under your belt, keeping your home clean will be a breeze.
The truth is, buyers aren’t just looking for four walls. They’re looking for a lifestyle. Your home’s first impression will tell them a lot about the lifestyle they’ll have if they move in. If it’s cluttered, they’ll think life is too busy to pay close attention to the home’s cleanliness. If you have pictures of your family, they’ll think it’s only conducive to family life. Remember, tan walls and generic paintings from Bed Bath and Beyond may not be your style, but there’s a reason they sell so well; those are the things that appeal to the broad masses.