Removing Your Personal Touches from a Home

Anytime you hope to sell your house fast, you want to make sure buyers can see themselves living there. Among the best ways to do that is to remove all your personal touches. In real estate terms, depersonalizing a house is called neutralization. That might not sound like much fun, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a matter of removing the “fingerprints” of the previous (or current) owner or tenant, so the potential new owners can see the house for what it really is, not what the seller is making it out to be.

So, how should a home be neutralized? How easy is it to do? In some cases it’s easier said than done — and you don’t want to go too far. A house that’s completely sterile might not feel like home to a buyer who comes to see it. The key is to neutralize the house just enough for the buyer to see themselves living there, but not so much that it feels like no one lives there at all. You don’t want your home to feel cold or unwelcoming. Let’s take a look at the ways you can neutralize your home and get a quick house sale.

Make Renovations That Matter

Once you decide to sell, declutter your home. Then you’ll have less to move out of the way when you decide to make important pre-listing renovations. You might want to put in new appliances, replace the flooring, or paint the walls. Just don’t spend too much time and money on those things. Remember, you’re trying to sell your home quickly and for the best possible profit. Don’t use that all up on renovations that aren’t really needed. When you do make renovations, keep them simple and keep them neutral. Bold colors and unique styles aren’t a good choice when you’re trying to sell.

Take care of the small things that you’ve just gotten used to, like the loose door knob on the pantry or the cracked light switch plate in the bathroom. That burned out bulb on the back patio should be replaced, too, and you’ll want to touch up the paint in the spare bedroom, where the nightstand scraped the wall. It really is the little things, in a lot of cases, that turn buyers off and make them feel like you didn’t take good care of the house you’re trying to sell them. Making small changes can be enough to set your house apart and get buyers interested in negotiating with you to make it their new home.

Those Trophies and Pictures Have to Go

You may love your grandkids and be very proud of your bowling league average, but your potential buyers are young and like to go boating, instead. Make sure they can see themselves living in your house, by taking your personal achievements out of it. When you make a house your own with personal touches, you claim it as your “territory.” Buyers need to feel like they could make it their territory, instead. Any kind of display or collection speaks to your personality, and eccentricities you have, and how the house “belongs” to you. None of those things are what you want buyers to notice.

It’s also important to be aware that buyers may feel intimidated if you have a high-end occupation such as a doctor or an attorney, and all your degrees and accolades on the wall could scare them away. If they are the ones that have the upper hand academically or professionally, you definitely don’t want them to feel as though they’re taking a step down by purchasing your home. Your home should feel welcoming to everyone, and the more you have a staged, cozy appearance with living room styling photos instead of a cluttered, personalized one with grandchild pictures, the more welcome potential buyers will likely feel.

Your Book Collection Says a Lot About You

No matter how much your like to read, your potential buyers might not. Even if they really enjoy a good book, it’s always possible their taste in reading won’t be the same as yours. If they prefer the classics, they might not be happy to see your romance novels or sci-fi shelf.

They could also disagree with your views on life if you have non-fiction books that don’t match their values or thoughts. That could stop them from buying your home. For example, a conservative Christian might not want to buy an atheist’s home, and a die-hard Democrat might not purchase from a Republican. Put away any books that could cause real issues.

Artwork and Collections are Very Personal

Personal is great when you live there, but it’s bad for business when you’re trying to sell. Take down your art prints and replace them with something generic. Put away your collection of baseball bobbleheads, and store them for your next place. Instead, choose neutral sculptures or leave the space open. You don’t need a one-to-one ratio of things you remove and things you add. Some open, empty space is fine, as long as it looks intentional and the house still has decoration and warmth. There’s nothing wrong with a more minimalist look, as long as it’s cozy and comfortable, as well as neutral, for potential buyers.

No Religious or Political Items

Just like the books that might be off-putting due to subject matter, look around your house for anything religious or political. That hand-painted cross on the wall could just be decoration to you, but not everyone will feel that way about it. The same is true about the framed picture of you shaking hands with a former president. What was an exciting moment in your life could turn into the reason a potential buyer decided not to choose your house. Those kinds of issues can so easily be avoided, by looking through your house with a critical eye and putting away anything that’s political or religious in nature.

A Sense of Smell Can Sell a House (or Not)

If you’ve ever walked into a place and smelled fresh cookies baking, or headed down to a basement and smelled mold, you know exactly why smell is so important when a potential buyer is looking at your house. You want it to smell good, but you also want some neutrality.

If you overdo the air freshener trying to hide the smell of the sauerkraut you cooked for dinner, you aren’t going to win over potential buyers’ noses — or their wallets. Instead of trying to mask odors with other odors, focus on eliminating the odors themselves. Open the windows for fresh air, dry out the basement, and save the sauerkraut for the new house.

Buyers Shouldn’t Notice Your Pet’s Presence

A lot of people have pets, but that doesn’t mean your potential buyers have to be reminded of that while walking through your home. Odors and damage from pets can both be bad news for potential buyers, especially if they’re allergic.

If there are pet stains or odors in the carpet or on your furniture, it’s time to neutralize those with DIY pet odor remediation techniques or the hiring of a company to do it for you. Also, make sure you repair any damage your pet has cause. You may even want to see if a family member can keep your pet while your house is up for sale, just to reduce the chance of any problems.

Remove the Traces of Your Daily Life

It’s hard to live in a place and keep it spotless and smelling great all the time, but that’s one of the jobs you’ll have as a seller. Unless you move out before your house goes on the market, you’ll have to live there and make it look like you don’t live there, at the same time. But you can do it, and you’ll be glad you did when a potential buyer falls in love with your place. By following the tips here for neutralizing your home, you’ll have a higher chance of selling it quickly and for a good price, so you can get through closing and move on to the next thing on your list — like unpacking all those boxes in your new home.

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