Selling your home is a bittersweet affair; on the one hand, you stand to gain a substantial amount of equity, but on the other, you're selling your home and all those precious family experiences along with it. The house itself can be priced according to its size and location, but what value can be put on family memories?
According to a survey of home buyers conducted by My Online Estate Agent, the answer to that is none whatsoever. The survey found that house hunters are actually more likely to be put off buying a home if they see personal photographs belonging to the owner during the home staging.
Don't take it personally though. It's not because they think those photos of you and your kids playing on the beach aren't cute, they just don't want to be reminded that the home belonged to another family. As the seller, you have to leave your emotions out of the equation, and do everything you can to ensure the buyer is able to project their own vision for their family's future onto the home.
With that in mind, here are a few things you should avoid doing if you hope to sell your home.
• Don't leave personal odds and ends strewn about
It bears repeating; things that have sentimental value to you are not likely to appeal to house hunters, so remove photographs and other decor that makes the home feel “lived in”.
Many home owners have failed spectacularly to accomplish this, and have consequently scared off potential buyers. According to the survey, 11 per cent of house hunters were actually confronted with naked pictures of the owners during the viewing.
• Don't regale house hunters with sad tales
Many a home seller has attempted to elicit sympathy from house hunters by telling them about their recent divorce, financial issues or misunderstandings with the mob; thinking this will help seal the deal. Think again. A quarter of people who claimed to have been put off buying a home blamed the seller's attempts to “unburden themselves” during the home staging.
• Don't criticise your own property
So your pre-school teacher always told you that honesty was the best policy? Well, she clearly wasn't teaching you how to sell a home. Anything that you think prospective buyers need to be aware of for the sake of their own safety should, of course, be reported but any minor niggles you have about your home are best kept to yourself.
The things that bother you might not even be noticed by others unless you bring it to their attention; and either way, it's not just your home that's on display during a home staging, but your body language as well. The survey found that one in five prospective buyers was put off by home owners criticising their own property.
• Don't take bad photos
Be sure to take photos that show the home in the best light, and don't let any pets sneak into the picture. You want your home to be advertised on a website intended to sell houses, not make people laugh.
The Mirror has some extreme examples of the kind of thing you want to avoid, such as a photo in which the home owner's pet pig appears rather uninterested in cooperating with the photographer – the clothes hanging on a swing in the middle of the room don’t help either.
Provided such mishaps are avoided, putting your home up for display with online estate agents can be an effective marketing tool.