The list of things that have to be taken care of when you are listing a home for sale. There is the appraisal, prepacking, cleaning, and more. But, one of the things that might be overlooked when it comes to preparing a home is the process of depersonalization. Depersonalization is a tactic that focuses on the psyche of the prospective buyer in order for them to feel more at home in your home.
As we live in a home, we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. For instance, most homes have a number of different heirlooms, knickknacks, specialized furniture, and even collections. These things are fine to have in a home, but when they are there, they make it hard for a prospective buyer to visualize themselves living there instead of just being a guest. The goal here is to make your home seem as neutral as possible like a hotel or model home. The more neutral it is, the easier it will be for prospective buyers to see themselves living there as well. Depersonalization is usually lumped under the umbrella of staging and there are many articles on how to stage a home, this article, however, is designed to simply shed light on certain things to look out for when trying to depersonalize.
Before starting, the first thing to ask yourself is this, “is there anything in my home that might offend someone or make someone feel uncomfortable?” If the answer is yes, or even a maybe, it is best to prepack those things. Things that may make other people feel uncomfortable can be anything, furniture, clothes, art, collections, etc. and they don’t have to be thrown away, just put away or prepacked so they aren’t in sight when a prospective buyer comes by.
Now that anything that could be offensive is gone from your home, it is time start the true depersonalization process. When you are trying to depersonalize, look for things that are specific to you or a certain niche group. At first, this may seem daunting as it can literally be a large majority of the stuff in your home, but it can be easily broken down for convenience.
The first category of depersonalization is your personal effects. This can be trophies, collections, hobby or work equipment, etc. However, if there are things that you rely on every day, or will need between now and the move date, then don’t worry about these, just find a place where they can be easily put so they are out of sight.
On the subject of personal effects, there are a few things that tend to be forgotten. These include, but are not limited to, excess clothing, toiletries, books, pets, and extras or doubles of anything. (Toiletries and pets are examples of things that can be exceptions to the depersonalization process. Simply put toiletries out of sight when a showing is about to take place, and see if someone can watch your pets… don’t forget to hide their food and water dishes though. However, when it comes to books, be sure that any that are left have no words on the spine or are simply classic novels like Moby Dick or A Tale of Two Cities).
Pictures, Paintings, and Artwork
This part is kind of self-explanatory, but any art or decorations that are not generic will be a distraction to the prospective buyer. Everyone buys art that is particular to their own liking which may not be a style that a prospective buyer likes. It may not seem like a big deal when preparing a home, but it can have an effect on your prospective buyers. Consult with your agent on what would be an appropriate move for your home. Most people will replace their art with pictures of plants as they are generic and have a subconscious soothing effect on guests.
This same rule can be applied to statues, busts, or another piece of artwork. 90% of the time a statue, bust, or figurine will just need to be removed, but if need be it can be replaced with a simple potted plant. (Make sure that it is a fake plant as to not cause an allergic reaction).
Wall Colors and Paint
When it comes time to sell your home, it is important to take into account the color and pattern of your walls. Homes with more neutral colors—not unique ones—will tend to sell better than homes with other colors. Even colors like sunshine yellow or salmon will be considered unique and may distract the prospective buyer. Talk with your agent about appropriate neutral home colors and paint when needed.
On the Color White
White is technically a neutral color and can work if painting is not in your budget, but it is also extremely bland. Consider painting them another color.
These same principles apply to wallpaper and textures as well. Don’t go overboard, go with something neutral.
Heirlooms and Keepsakes
Unfortunately, heirlooms and keepsakes are only valuable to the person they belong to. Do what you can to remove them from your home. Do this first so that you can take the necessary amount of time to pack them correctly to prevent damage. If they are big heirlooms or keepsakes like furniture then maybe ask a friend to take care of it while you are busy selling.
On the way to depersonalization, one of the most important things you can do is to take care of smells. It doesn’t matter what kind of smells you like, it is best to use air fresheners and scented items that are neutral as to make the experience of a prospective buyer more enjoyable. Have someone else come into your home to smell around so that you can target the areas that really need help.
Depersonalizing a home can be difficult business. It can take a huge physical and emotional toll on sellers, but the results are worth it. By depersonalizing and neutralizing your home, you can make it feel homier to a larger audience of prospective buyers.