“Did you see the workbench?”
“How about the antique rug in the living room?”
“Aren’t the gardens incredible?”
I all say this tongue-in-cheek, but you and I both know that we’re all guilty of doting on our homes at one time or another. Everything about our home is better than any other home. Why is that? Because we picked it, we decorated it, we lived in it, and we made memories there. Often we’re shocked to discover that no, our home really isn’t any better than anyone else’s home. It’s just ours.
To us, however, our home not only fulfills one of Maslow’s fundamental needs — shelter — but it’s serves as the backdrop for so many of life’s most precious events: our children taking their first steps, family holidays around the fireplace, birthday parties on the lawn, and, yes, the time you and your son built that workbench. You get the picture. I have those memories, too.
The problem is that the next buyers, while they may be the nicest people in the world, don’t understand the sentiment you’ve attached to your home, nor do they care. It’s not that they’re unfeeling or lacking in compassion, they’re just going through the same thing you once did, only their memories happened in another home. Likely, the one they’re moving out from. Make sense?
Now, let’s talk about moving. Why do people do it? There are all sorts of reasons, but usually it involves some sort of major life event. Got a job, lost a job, got married, got divorced, baby born, empty nest… The list goes on and on.
The point is that something serious is usually taking place, and whatever it is, it comes with a whole set of emotions. Pair this with the deep connections we feel towards our homes, and you may need to hire a second moving truck just to help haul away all the emotional baggage.
It’s understandable that when we list our property for sale, we have trouble making that jump from “This is my home that I’m passing off to another very lucky family” to “This is a product that I’m selling.” Very few people are able to make that distinction. Or at least not without a little struggle.
The ones it comes most easily to are typically what I call “professional movers.” These are people who move every few years because of their careers. You can tell who they are the second you go to list their home. It’s already professionally cleaned and staged, and you just know that they’ve done this plenty of times before because they’ve disconnected emotionally. Selling their home, to them, is a business transaction and nothing more.
So why is disconnecting emotionally from your home so important? Well, aside from maintaining your own sanity, you have to think about your buyer.
Imagine for a moment that you are standing in the living room of a house belonging to a total stranger. The family is sitting at the table enjoying dinner. They’re talking about their day, smiling, and laughing together. Wouldn’t that feel a little awkward and uncomfortable? Maybe even creepy? You’d feel like an intruder, like you shouldn’t be there.
That’s the feeling you give a buyer when you list your home without having made the transition from home to product. For most families their home is a monument to their life, as it should be when they’re living there. But when you decide to put it on the market, and if you want top dollar for it, it needs to be nothing more than a product, and a beautiful product at that.
Essentially, that’s what staging does. It helps a seller de-personalize and neutralize their home by making it appeal to a broader audience. This, in turn, makes the buyer feel welcome and comfortable, like they could live in your home as if it were their own. If it’s a shrine to you and your family, a buyer will only feel like a stranger looking into your life. They need to be able to imagine themselves and their family comfortably making memories in your home.
When a seller is successful at conveying this feeling to the buyers, they have turned their home into a product. Only then will a buyer be willing to pay top dollar, which is what your home deserves, right?
In closing: Help them see their family living in your home. Don’t show them your family living in your home. More of them and less of you. The workbench, let’s leave that out of the conversation.