How to “Depersonalize” a Home for a Fast, Successful Sale



To a home evaluator, your house is a collection of support beams, pipes, roofing, insulating materials and other inanimate features. To the bank, it’s a series of numbers, line items and debt obligations. And to you, it’s a cozy place imbued with happy memories, milestone events, memorabilia and loved ones.

But if you’re selling your home, there’s one more party to consider: the buyer. To a buyer, your home represents an imagined future, a space to store their own hopes, dreams and memories. And to help that perfect buyer find your home, you have to get out of the way – in a process commonly called “depersonalizing.”

Depersonalizing involves removing all those idiosyncratic traces of you and your family so that a buyer can envision themselves in your property. Many real estate experts maintain that depersonalizing a home can lead to faster sales and higher offer prices. But to get there, you’ll need some help, determination and elbow grease. Here’s how to do it.

Partner with Experienced Realtors

This is the first step in any successful real estate transaction. You need to find an experienced partner who can guide and advise you through the process. Before you go ripping family portraits off the wall, connect with a respected realtor to discuss an overall staging strategy. Choose a real estate agency known for its customer service and results. If you’re at a loss for how to start, check out the Harvey Kalles Real Estate website; they’re a prime example of a respected real estate company that knows their way around a staging project.

Steady Your Emotions – Remember Why You’re Doing This

Next, have a sit-down chat with yourself. Depersonalizing a home can be a challenging emotional transition. Take a moment to say goodbye to the lived-in space, and remind yourself of the ultimate objective (a quick, lucrative sale).

Start by Decluttering

Clutter is personal. Have you ever popped into someone’s home when it was messy? You feel like you’re walking through an exhibition of their private life: laundry, grocery receipts, books, trinkets, hiking gear, etc. Start by sorting your clutter into neat piles labelled “keep,” “sell,” “donate,” and “discard.”

“If It Has a Face, It Has No Place”

It’s a ruthless maxim, but it gets the job done. If there are any pictures, portraits, kids’ drawings, awards, medals, certificates or anything else bearing either a face, name or personal details –box them up. You can keep them in safe storage until after the sale, revisiting them anytime you need a pick-me-up.

Toys, Workout Equipment, Collections and Cosmetics Are a Window into Your Home Life

Next, you can turn your attention to anything else in the home with a distinctively “you” flair – essentially, anything that provides a window into your personal life. These might include kids’ toys (your buyer might not have/want kids), workout equipment (a reminder of your personal routines), media collections (a reminder of your personal tastes) and even bathroom items like cosmetics.

Think Like a Buyer

Finally, once you have tastefully and respectfully ousted your personal items, you can start the staging process in earnest. Together with your trusty realtor, consider how best to show off the attractive features of your home like natural light, space, recent renovations and sightlines.

If all goes according to plan, you should finish with an attractive home appealing to a broad range of prospective buyers. And you can start focusing on the next chapter.