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.