As a realtor and homestager assisting clients prepare their homes for sale, the most frequently asked question is, "how important is it to de-personalize your house for showings?" The answer to this questions is, VERY IMPORTANT.
Very few buyers have the ability to look beyond the furnishings, decor and personal items in houses. If you watch televsion shows like "Designed to Sell" and "Sell This House", you will hear the designers talk alot about a buyer's need to see themselves living in the house, and I can tell you from showing hundreds of houses to potential buyers, that is absolutely true. Once a buyer has found the house with the location, size, and amenities they require, the final deciding factor to making an offer is their emotional response. This emotional response is what we look for as realtors to let us know this is THE house. The best indicator of emotional response is when that buyer can visualize their lifestyle in the house...where their furniture will go and how much their family will enjoy the gameroom or backyard. This visualization is difficult to achieve if the house is full of personal photographs, trophies, collections and all that other general clutter like laundry, toys, unread mail, etc., that fills our homes in daily life. In essence, when preparing your home for sale you want to create that feeling you get when first walking into a nice hotel room. Fresh, clean, inviting and impersonal enough for buyers to visualize making it their own.
So, what's the best way to get started "de-personalizing"? Start packing! You're going to be moving when your house sells...get started with your packing right now. Box up all those photos, your beer stein or doll collection, and seasonal clothing to make your closets look bigger and organized. In your bathrooms, place all your shampoo bottles, shaving cream, razor, lotions and potions that you have on the counter and in around the tub/shower in a basket or shower caddy that you can bring out when you're bathing and put away when you're finished. And, even though it's a bit more work, remove just-used towels and washcloths, and keep out pretty, un-used towels so your bath looks as if it's never used. This rule extends to the bedroom as well. Tuck away in a drawer or bin that tissue box and nose spray on the bedside table. Put away your makeup, hair brush and perfume bottles on top of the dresser.
These are just some basics for de-personalizing a home, but your best source for suggestions is your Real Estate Agent. Ask your agent to walk through your home with you and help you make a list of all the personal items that need to be packed away and provide suggestions for staging your furniture and accessories for showing. I usually bring photos of some of my other listings that have successfully staged their home and thus sold quickly, so my new clients can see the result they want to acheive. You may even want to hire a professional stager.
These are tough times in the real estate market. Competition for home sales is brisk, so you want to make sure your home stands out among the competition. It's also important to note that most homebuyers begin their search for a home on the internet. All of your staging preparations need to be done before photos are taken and posted on line.