The first thing to remember when you list your house is that this is a business transaction. You must vow to remove your emotion from it and listen to the advice that you receive (easier said than done, I know!) about how you can make your house more attractive to the most number of buyers. Make sure that you trust your listing agent because the advice that he or she provides for you will not always be easy to take; it is much easier to implement, however, if you trust their motivation.
I do not have any clients right now that have these issues, so I think it is a perfect time to bring up some of the things I see in listings that can turn off a buyer. Remember, all buyers are different and your goal is to appeal to the most number of buyers.
1. Silk Flowers: This is a very touchy one. People who like silk flower arrangements generally love them. The issue with silk flowers is that people who don't like them generally hate them. Even people who feel ambivalent about silk flowers can sometimes feel that they are a distraction from the house itself. I heard of one listing, listed at over $1 Million, that had a silk wreath on the door. The agent had to go to the homeowners and ask them to remove it because the feedback they were getting is that it looked "cheap." I drove by a house today that had a beautiful cement urn at the front entrance to the property and it was filled with silk Poinsettias. My first thought was that it did not look festive, it looked cheap. That is probably not the first impression that you want a buyer to have of your house.
2. Family Heirlooms: There are people who hunt and people who don't. If you proudly display Grandpa's rifles or antique pistols, it is time to pack them away. The same goes for knives, daggers, etc. Why risk offending people? What if the client who otherwise would have bought your house was directly affected by a random act of violence? The negative associations that these items could bring up is not worth leaving them in sight...after all, you have to pack them up anyway if you are moving! There could also be liability concerns if someone looking at your house took a 'closer look' and was injured. Why worry? Just pack them away.
3. Taxidermy: As in the previous comment, there are people who hunt and people who don't. There are also Vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists and more. I am not making a judgment here, I am just saying that you need to be aware of the messages that your personal possessions send and, if necessary, remove them. What you see as a magnificent accomplishment, a buyer might see very differently and it is not worth taking the chance.
4. Political Photos and Memorabilia: You may be very proud of the time that Grandma met Richard Nixon, but rather than having this be what people focus on as they go through your house, I would recommend packing political mementos away. It doesn't matter what causes you support or political parties you favor, there are always a large number of tpeople that do not agree with you. Again, it is all about perception. Why display something that might irritate a potential buyer thus resulting in a negative feeling about your house? Isn't your goal to make your house attractive to the greatest number of people?
This list is by no means complete, but I think you probably get the idea. When you are selling your house, it is important to present your house in a way that allows people to imagine themselves living in it. As you look at your belongings, think about what they say about you and make a conscious effort to remove items that might be distracting, polarizing or even possibly offensive to potential buyers. Remember, you are not trying to make life-long friends, you are trying to get a fair price for your house.
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