Lots of people struggle with neutralizing their home before listing. I think the main reason they have such a hard time is because they are cutting an emotional tie with the house when they put away all the things that have turned their house into a “home”. Family photos, collections, Grandma’s dishes, and all the colorful and memorable items that have been slowly and lovingly filling your house over the years.
Consider the photo on the left — it may seem obvious to you now, looking at a photo of someone else’s kitchen, filled with photos and other items that they probably got from their children, friends and other family. We can’t see the kitchen for the clutter, so it’s hard to figure out exactly what is for sale here. But when it’s your own home, it’s different. And it’s not about taking down a few things – it’s about packing up all the personal items, along with everything else that distracts a buyer from seeing the architecture, structure and available space in your house.
You’re selling a product, not your personal memories. You wouldn’t sell used clothes with stains on them, simply because you remember when the baby spit the carrots out onto that bib, and you can’t sell your house that way either.
Here’s another prime example of someone who is so proud of their belongings they just can’t imagine why that wouldn’t seem inviting to a buyer walking through the house. I’m not sure the wife in this house would have minded taking them down, but someone sure loves their hunting memories! Even if the buyer walking through does turn out to be an avid hunter, they will want to imagine their own hunting trophies and memories, and they likely won’t be as interested in yours.
When you get to the neutralizing stage, you can look online for ideas if you need to. There are hundreds of photos on Houzz and Pinterest to give you great ideas about furniture placement, how to arrange tables, countertops and the like.
Here’s an example of a kitchen that checks all the boxes: it’s clean, uncluttered, in very good repair and it’s been neutralized. I don’t know about you, but when I look at that kitchen I get the feeling I could just move right in. It doesn’t look like it needs a thing except me!
This is exactly the feeling you need to convey with your home. Whether it’s newer, older or even historic, it can give buyers the same feeling of warmth and evoke the same emotional connection.
The photo on the right is an example of a small den or study, not any bigger or much different than the one above with the taxidermy display. The big differences are in the wall color, which has been neutralized, and a simple, clean furniture arrangement. Nothing too elaborate here, just a small sectional, a standing lamp and a few pictures on the wall. Also notice the spotless windows! They just invite buyers to look out at the view. This room conveys a feeling of comfort and calm, which is certainly something most of us would enjoy.
Most realtors would welcome the opportunity to give you suggestions about neutralizing your space. They know it will help your home to sell better, faster and for more money. Also – if you are thinking about selling your house and your agent say anything about your record setting clown collection, you might need a new agent!
Coming up! Step 5: The “Wow” effect!