Transitioning a principal residence is an emotional, financial and physical challenge. While the journey is different for everyone, the home transition process is the same and needs to be anchored in hope, humility and humor.
Be warned… as most Realtors® know, when it comes to life’s major stressors, selling a home and moving, even once, lands in the top 5, along with death, divorce, illness and loss of a job. The good news for sellers is that you can rely on a good Realtor to help you through but understand you must also help yourself. I refer to it as “emotional ivy”. Like English ivy clinging to brick, your “emotional ivy” – the way you’ve made your house a home throughout the years – is so pervasive that it affects every decision you make about the upcoming move. You’ll have to rip the “ivy” out of every nook and cranny and off each surface to which it clings and that’s not easy.
The top 3 emotional mistakes most sellers make as they get ready to list are:
1. Not being able to let go of personal items.
Some of us refuse to let go of our things, even if we really don’t want them or use them. We look at some item and think “work of art”, while someone else thinks “garage sale”. According to the LA Times, most households in America have over 300,000 things stored in them and many people also rent off-site storage units filled with more stuff. Bottom line: we are all treasure hunters and ultimately you are the decision maker on what to keep or let go, but one thing I know for sure is the BUYER doesn’t care about any of it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your house is the exception to the rule and a buyer will look past your things.
2. Not removing your personal footprint.
Remember, it’s important to remove personal photos, tombstones, diplomas, and the like, because all that does is distract the buyer.
3. Not understanding what the BUYER values.
The buyer wants the ability to move in and do nothing for one year. Think white, beige or light grey walls, with white trim and ceilings. New carpet and floors in pristine condition. Here is a simple key to understand the buyer: they will walk through and give themselves less than 10 minutes to decide if this could be “it”. Many will only devote four to five minutes and make a snap decision – yes or no. This means they will fly through the rooms in a minute or two and if they are distracted and a few things seem odd or cause them to pause, you have lost their attention. You do not want to leave an impression that it’s too big a “project” for them to consider or pay for.
Remember, touch everything you own once. Clean and sort the entire house and remove your personal footprint. Our “stuff” produces a great amount of stress, anxiety and expense when we try to pack, store and move it. A smart seller will realize they have four choices when it comes to every item in the home:
1. Pack it
2. Sell it
3. Donate it
4. Dump it
Procrastination and delayed decision-making is not a strategy. Remember that you are staging your home to sell, while packing for your move at the same time.
Read more about how to Brace for Impact in my book: SMART MOVES: How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life. Be A Smart Mover!