By Ruth Doherty
When you’re showing your home – whether virtually or during an open house – you probably already know not to leave out stacks of cash or piles of dirty clothes. But there are plenty of other things that you should also hide before prospective buyers start looking around to ensure a quick sale.
It is often the small things that can make a huge difference to selling a house fast. In this case rather than adding anything, it is all about tucking things away inside living room or kitchen storage ideas, to present your house as a buyer's dream home.
We've tapped real estate agents from Douglas Elliman and Realtor.com's lifestyle expert Rachel Stults to give us their top tips on what you should definitely hide before a viewing of your home to encourage a quick sale.
1. Cleaning supplies
'No one wants to think about the hard parts of life when they are shopping, especially for their dream house,' advise Heather T. Roy and Learka Bosnak of Douglas Elliman.
'Put away anything that makes you think about cleaning and maintenance. Seeing your toothbrush, vacuum cleaner, pile of bills, lawn mower and bathroom scales are distracting and even depressing – definitely not inspiring.'
Instead look to recreate stylish bathroom ideas by swapping practical everyday items for strategically placed houseplants. If you must leave some everyday items out, make sure they are stored neatly in elegant containers.
2. Family photos
One thing you should always pack away? Your family photos.
'Depersonalizing is a big part of prepping for showings. You need to make room for the potential new owner and their life is probably different than yours,' say Heather and Learka.
'Wedding pictures, kid pictures, family photos have to go. You don't want buyers wondering why you picked to have a fall wedding, you want them thinking about buying your house. And you don't want to alienate potential buyers who might be put off by your picture-perfect life.'
Rachel Stults adds: 'We know you’re proud of your beautiful family! But when you’re trying to sell, prospective buyers need to envision themselves in your house – not you and your kids. Stow away family photos and other items that might make a buyer feel like they’re intruding on your personal space, rather than making themselves at home.'
3. Photos of you and any political figure
Anything that could be contentious or divisive is a bad idea. That political photo you're so proud of? Put it in a drawer.
Heather and Learka tell H&G: 'You worked hard or paid a lot or both for it, but if you would consider accepting an offer from any side of the aisle, put it in a drawer with any polarizing or charged pieces.'
And Rachel couldn't agree more, adding: 'Anything political is guaranteed to put people off – even if you aren’t proudly displaying your “I’m With Her” bumper sticker on your fridge, keep your home neutral, and make it welcoming to people of every political persuasion to maximize your chances of a quick sale.'
4. Your college diploma
'If there is anything in your house with your name printed on it, you will be Googled,' warns Heather and Learka. 'Immediately, during the showing or out front in the car right after. Mail, magazines, law degrees, Amazon packages, they all make touring buyers feel like they've stumbled upon a clue and they've seen too much CSI not to follow up.
'If you don't care from a privacy perspective, you should still consider the distraction. You want everything to be about the buyer and the house during a showing.'
5. The Barbie Dream House
'Kids' stuff will not help your house sell,' advise Heather and Learka. 'You live with it and might not even see it anymore, but it will stand out and even take center stage during a showing.
'Put away the baby bottle drying rack, pack all children in the car and get far away while someone decides if they want to spend a lot of money on your house.'
Similarly, pets are a no-no during house showings. Believe it or not, not everybody falls under the spell of those cute puppy dog eyes.
'As cute as your Labradoodle might be, not everybody is into pets – and he risks ruining your sale if you keep him around during a showing,' says Rachel. 'Take Fido to the dog park for the day, ask a friend to cat-sit, or find a temporary place for your boa constrictor to curl up.'
7. Valuables and medication
'This falls into the category of things that can "go missing" during showings that you should plan to secure,' say Heather and Learka. 'Jewelry, watches, medication, electronics and the one people often forget, cosmetics. So pack up your laptop and fancy face cream and consider taking it out of the house.'
Rachel agrees: 'Sorry to break it to you, but some "buyers" touring your home might just be rooting around for valuables – and some medications fall into that category. Make sure prescription drugs and all other medications are removed from your medicine cabinet before a showing. Even if a medication seems innocuous, it’s better to be safe than sorry.'
8. That creepy stuffed animal
Taxidermy is not everybody's taste, and should be removed before a house showing.
Rachel advises: 'That 10-point buck above your fireplace might be your crowning achievement, but not everyone is going to be thrilled by the idea of dead animals on the wall. If you can remove any taxidermy before showings and store it away, you’re guaranteed to connect with a bigger pool of buyers.'
9. A standing fan
Some items you use in your daily life might unwittingly give prospective buyers the wrong idea, even your best fan.
'A space heater might scream that the house is drafty, while multiple standing fans might tell folks that the house gets too hot and stuffy,' says Rachel. 'Even those tiny foam earplugs next to your bed might suggest that your home is too loud at night.'
'Remember when you are preparing your house for a showing you are setting the stage for an experience,' advises Heather and Learka Bosnak. 'Get out of the way and make room for the buyer's emotions, hopes and dreams and it will be easier for them to say "Yes! I want to make this space my home."'
Ruth Doherty is an interiors writer who has worked for Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home magazines among many others.
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