Nooga.com article, May 22, 2017
By Todd Henon, Broker, TN, GA, AL
Simplifying, minimizing—whatever buzzword you want to use—is trendy at the moment, with capsule wardrobes, tiny houses and digitally archiving part of the movement. The trend is a good one, not just for the pocketbook but for the mind. Studies have shown that we’re at our best in most aspects of life when we aren’t surrounded by unnecessary stuff.
As a Realtor, though, I see plenty of sellers clinging steadfastly to things that would add more value to their home packed away rather than lying out. With 90 percent of the homes I walk into, I tell the owners to put away half their things before we list it. Those who heed the advice tend to see a much faster sale.
Depersonalizing your home typically creates a faster sale for a few reasons. Firstly, your home is a commodity as soon as we put the sign in the yard. It is now an item for sale, with many scrutinizing eyes driving by and looking online. The entire world will be looking at the inside of your home. The market—the buyers—will decide what décor is acceptable. Sellers typically underestimate what buyers are willing to look past! For example, imagine you have a wine-themed kitchen with grapevines along the cabinets, wine-themed placemats, wine-themed curtains, wine-themed rugs and every type of wine glass available in the china cabinet. You’ve spent years tweaking and refining your style, and finally, it’s perfect for you. Now bring in a buyer who doesn’t drink, and your taste may have just killed the potential sale.
Secondly, buyers find it hard to imagine the home when your family photos are sprinkled throughout the house. Let’s face it, buyers look at your photos and jump to conclusions about your situation and why you might be moving, and are totally distracted. Just as you wouldn’t leave out medication for a health condition, don’t leave the opportunity for buyers to know your personal, private affairs.
Think of this from a buyer’s perspective—a family home of 30 years as opposed to a newly constructed model home. Both are cozy and furnished, but one feels like “someone else’s home” and the other is ready to become your home. Additionally, the family home of decades likely has items that haven’t been touched in years, whereas the new home has the potential to be filled with your own items and memories.
Thirdly, show off the features of your home. Don’t cover up the marble countertops with a seldom-used toaster oven. Pull up the rugs to show off the hardwood and tile floors. Clear off the stainless steel refrigerator, pick up, straighten up, and pack up.
But even if you aren’t selling now or anytime soon, jumping on the “less is more” bandwagon will benefit your life in more ways than you probably think. When you are not weighed down by “stuff,” you feel more agile and ready to transition easily into different jobs, stages of life or a greater feeling of calm. It’s also a timesaver: The National Association of Professional Organizers reports we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items. I’d rather spend that year fishing … wouldn’t you?
One way to keep your clutter to a minimum is to make your attic, closets, basement and garage work for you. (Be careful with your garage, though; the U.S. Department of Energy reports that one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there they can’t park a car.) Create storage for things you need but don’t use regularly. Check out home improvement stores and Pinterest for countless space-saving storage options.
Downsize regularly. This means going through the kids’ toy chests and digging through your closet at least once a year, if not once a season. If they don’t play with it and you don’t wear it, donate it or sell it. Simplifying is a lifestyle you must practice regularly, as unnecessary objects have a sneaky way of coming into our homes, despite our best efforts.
A great way to keep a simple home is to have a donation/sale box in the garage or a closet so your family members have easy access to a place for things they no longer want or need. The temptation to shove something under a bed or in a drawer is minimized when everyone in your home knows where to take something they are ready to get rid of. Then, a few times a year, either donate or sell the unwanted items.
Implementing—and sticking to—these strategies will enhance your home, family and mind. And, when and if you do put your home on the market, you’ll be ahead of the curve in having your home market-ready.