Depersonalizing is the process of neutralizing, or removing the personal taste of the seller from their home décor, as well as personal items like photos and other artifacts. The conventional wisdom is that buyers often have a poor sense of imagination, and that by seeing a home as relatively clean slate, they can more easily envision themselves living there.
Nick Wolff, Broker at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Real Estate in White Plains, offers a contrarian point of view.
“Lots of realtors go with stark staging, but we don’t like that feeling,” says the 50-year real estate veteran. “Just having the four walls and the furniture is cold.” Instead, Wolf asserts that “when we go into a house we like to feel like the house has warmth and love; that it’s a happy home. Showing that it’s a family home and that kids grew up there gives it a personality. It gives the buyer a good feeling when they go through.”
While some personal effects are useful in providing a cozy and inviting vibe, Wolf cautions, “You don’t want to go too crazy. We do suggest taking a few things away if there’s too much. Buyers need to have the feeling that a home was well-cared for and loved. This adds enjoyment for the buyer.”
Wolff advises avoiding excess clutter. However, buyers should consider keeping:
• Family pictures “here and there”
• One piece of children’s artwork on the refrigerator (just don’t clutter it with stickers and magnets)
• Trophies in the kids’ rooms
• “Action pictures” of a child in a baseball, soccer or softball uniform
“This approach has been well received by the buyers and the sellers that we work with,” notes Wolff.
Ideally, buyers should be left with the impression that the home they’re considering is from a happy, nice looking family, says Wolff. However, beware that “the emptiness of a closet following a tragedy or a divorce can negatively impact buyers. If they only see women’s or men’s clothing for example. This, says, Wolff, can make the buyer feel sad, or even try to take advantage of what they perceive to be a dire situation.
“Money and terms are the most important thing, when it comes to real estate transactions. However, “buying a house is emotional – sellers want to know that buyers love their home.”
To help tip the scales in a bidding war, a buyer may consider writing a letter of personal interest to the seller about why they want to buy their home. In some cases, Wolff says, that kind of personal connection will give the seller a good feeling about the buyer, and offering them the advantage.