Now that you’ve decided to put your home up for sale, it’s time to prepare it to show to potential buyers. This can sometimes be a gut-wrenching experience for sellers, especially if the sale is prompted by necessity and not a fun move “up”. Even if it is to enable a move up to a bigger and better house, it’s very difficult for most people to separate their home from themselves.
But that is the first step: your home is already no longer your home. The moment you signed with a Realtor to sell your home, it had become a “product”. Forget all the cartoons you’ve seen where the houses have been anthropomorphized, the home really does not care that you’re moving! It won’t cry when you leave and it won’t think of you after you’re gone. The potential buyers, however, care very much if there are “ghosts” of your family that they feel they would be displacing by buying your home. Make it easy for them by removing ALL your family pictures, all the junk stuck to the refrigerator (yes, that’s EXACTLY what my home looks like!), almost everything off the kitchen counters, any toys other than what are being played with this exact week, all your out of season clothes, the seasonal dishes, everything you don’t cook with on a REGULAR basis, all the old art projects. Clear everything but your absolute necessities out of your drawers, closets, visible shelves, everything. You never know what door or drawer a potential buyer will open. Dump it all in labeled boxes in the garage and then pack more carefully from there. I highly recommend a storage unit so that you don’t have to pack and organize at the same time. Get the house sold first, then you can worry about what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to throw out. That makes the preparation of the home a little less daunting. You can leave a few things – a tasteful vase or two, a couple of coffee table books – that will give a lived in feel, but not a “specific person lived-in feel”. When we decided to sell our home in Burbank, I was so overwhelmed with the thought of de-cluttering (three children’s worth of toys, for starters) that of all things, I chose to clean the top of the refrigerator first. I fell off the chair I was standing on, sprained my ankle and had to conduct the children in packing the remainder of the house from my seated perch next to my crutches, leg up on an ottoman. But I/we did everything my realtor suggested (more on that in another blog) and the house sold to the first buyer that came through.
It can actually be a fun project – a refined version of preparing for company and shoving things in the closet. Keep your focus on your new future. Whether you’re moving up or down, it’s an exciting adventure and this is the first step. Think of making your house like a friendly bed and breakfast – warm and welcoming, but NOT YOURS!