When getting a home ready to sell, a homeowner’s biggest challenge is often a change in mindset. No longer should you think of your house as your cherished home; it’s now a commodity that must compete with similarly situated homes in your neighborhood. That may be hard pill to swallow, but accepting this reality makes it much easier to do all the things necessary to get the highest possible price, facilitating the necessary changes to generate the broadest appeal to as many buyers as possible.
As such, it’s imperative that you seriously review your home’s personal aspects that could tell buyers more about you than they need to know. Sellers do best when they depersonalize the home and make it as clean and defect-free as possible. Buyers just need to know you’ve taken excellent care of the home, that it meets their needs, and that they can make it their own.
How to get to that point is quite simple. Granted, it can be a somewhat bittersweet process in a home full of fond memories, but it’s time to get past that and prepare yourself to move into your next home.
If you’re having a rough time getting past all of the great memories of your home—family gatherings, birthdays, and holidays—take some time to really look at what you’ve created. Video your way through the house. Review pictures on the mantle or the dozens of photos that adorn a stairwell wall to create a timeline of your life in the house. Admire taste-specific wallpaper in the bathroom or avant-garde artwork that covers the main living room wall. Take it all in. It’s often good to have a friend or several family members help in this process. Once you’ve gotten past that first big step, get to work creating a blank canvas for new home buyers.
Here are a few handy tips to depersonalize and prepare your home for sale:
- Those personal family photos that adorn walls, shelves and bookcases? Carefully pack them up for their trip to your new home. Yes, now; not after your home is sold. Those are your memories, and not the ones buyers care to see.
- Tasteful artwork accents can do wonders for a big, blank wall, but keep it minimal and generic. Ensure the room itself is the focal point, not the artwork. Extremely taste-specific art, items one might find offensive—and in the D.C. area, anything that might be overtly political—probably should go. (As agents we have seen buyers make buying decisions at least partially influenced by political material observed in a home.) Don’t risk that.
- Review room colors. One of the most cost-effective things you can do to prepare your home for sale is painting, particularly if you’ve got a penchant for loud or out-of-the-mainstream colors. If you do not want to repaint all of the walls to a more neutral color, fill in all the little nail holes and repair wall scratches and then touch up with ONLY THE EXACT COLOR, BRAND, AND TEXTURE PAINT THAT IS ON THE REST OF THE WALL. If you do not have the exact paint, consider repainting it all. A home with drastically changing, personally specific colors in each will not show as well as one with consistent, neutral walls. (Not showing as well translates to “not worth as much.”) Neutral shades of gray tend to be quite popular right now, but you can rarely go wrong with light, consistent neutral walls in each room. If you’re painting and wondering if you should keep that dark accent wall, stop wondering and neutralize it. Keeping colors uniform throughout helps add flow to the home. You want buyers to imagine themselves in the home, not remind them that you used to live there.
- Ultimately—and this is difficult if preparing a home you love for sale—buyers should know little if nothing about you when they tour your home. The most important thing they need to see is how clean, welcoming, and blemish-free your home is, while seeing themselves moving in and making it their own.
Check out our other extensive material on preparing your house for sale:
Christopher Prawdzik, an Accredited Staging Partner® Real Estate Agent, and his wife Angela Logomasini are licensed Realtors® with Samson Properties in Alexandria. Operating as D.C. Region Real Estate, they serve the Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland real estate market and offer comprehensive real estate services, including 4½% full-service listings.