New Year’s Resolution: Sell My House!

It’s that time of year again when we take stock of our lives and set our new year resolutions. For many of us, it’ll be those five or ten pounds that have mysteriously crept back on or getting that promotion you’ve long wanted at work, but, for some, it is to sell their house. For this “resolute” group, I will be doing a series on tips, tactics, and bits of encouragement for selling your house.

Of course, there’s RedFin’s “The Real Estate Scientist” which highlights research findings of seven tactics for selling your home: (1) don’t overprice your property; (2) set your price to show up in web searches; (3) debut on Friday; (4) stay engaged; (5) market the property online; (6) when selling your home, stay put; and (7) if you can, wait to list your property until neighboring foreclosures are off the market. This “study” is awesome. I won’t try to top it, but thought maybe I could tackle selling-your-house issues one at a time, one per week.

This Week’s Selling-Your-House Issue: Disassociate and Depersonalize

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I chose the concept of needing to disassociate yourself from your home and depersonalize your home (and the whole selling process) as the first issue to tackle because you really need to have a healthy mindset before even thinking about selling your house. I get it; I understand that homes are very personal… they’re representative of our lives. For many, selling your house feels like selling the memories that were made in that house — raising children, getting married, etc.

I know I was affected when we rented out our condo for the first time. My husband and I bought that condo together before we got married — the first “plunge” we took. We spent endless hours, sweat, and money fixing it up to just how we wanted it. Then, we moved and rented it out. The idea of someone else living in “our place” was a little hard to get used to. However, I am proud to say that I have now (almost) fully accepted that our condo is an investment property only… it is just a commodity.

You can’t help it, you’ll most likely take something personal during the selling process. What you think is an awesome mural in your child’s room may seem hideous to someone else. The money you spent on new wood flooring may be said not to be cozy and buyers might plan to put carpet down (now, this should be a crime… but I’ve heard it happen!). Even the offer/counter offer process seems to “get personal”. Whatever the case, be prepared to hear negative things about your house. Realize it’s not you that’s being criticized but it’s just a result of someone with a difference set of preferences. Also, remember that each side is trying to make out with the best for their own side… it’s likely that you and them will disagree at some point.

Ok, after accepting that your house is a product you’re selling and you’ve taken care of your own psychology, it’s time to take on the design psychology of your home. Design psychology is actually a “science that focuses on social and cultural aspects of any given market to determine how to package products, services, or information for ultimate impact.” In this case, it’s about packaging your house for as many buyers as possible. The cheapest, easiest way to do this is to depersonalize and declutter!

What’s this mean? Well, it means if you have 20 knick-knacks on the dresser, edit it down to just 3; if you have every school picture of your children going up the stairs, take ‘em all down; if you have a stuffed animal collection, pack ‘em up. In other words, you don’t want your clutter to get in the way of buyers seeing your house and their design possibilities. There have been so many times that my husband and I have gone through an open house only to drive home talking about the seller’s decor (not the house). It’s not that you have to completely redecorate your house. Just edit everything you have down leaving a nice neutral house for show.

I don’t agree with the idea that you have to get rid of everything personal (all family photos, etc.). In this market, your house is probably going to be on the market for awhile. In this trying time, you need your friends and family around (in your picture frames in the bookcase, on the nightstand, and on the wall). So, don’t feel like you have to lose it all, just cut it down, way down.

Perhaps one of the hardest things is disassociating yourself from your house, not taking the selling process personally, and depersonalizing your home… may strength and fortitude be with you!

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