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How to make your home a product

Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 1:16 p.m. CDT

Many homeowners have been sitting on the sidelines, stuck in their homes and unable to sell because of low home prices or negative equity. But as the market bounces back in many parts of the country, some sellers are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If a home sale is in your near future, it’s time to start thinking of your home as a product to be sold on the market. Once for sale, your home becomes less about where you live, where you’ve made memories or have lots of life experiences. And to achieve top dollar, you have to look at your property through the eyes of prospective buyers who will be touring your home. You have to focus on what buyers are looking for.

How is my home a product?

Once you are on the market, your home is the equivalent of a product on the shelf at your home goods or design store. Buyers walking up and down those aisles looking at their options aren’t any different from buyers walking through open houses. Like any product for sale, you want your home to stand out and be as appealing as possible. This means depersonalizing the home, decluttering and doing any improvements that will help show the home in as neutral a light as possible. You want buyers to walk through your home and imagine themselves living there. You don’t want them thinking they’re walking through someone else’s home. Simple things such as taking down photos, religious artifacts and diplomas are a good first step.

Emotionally detaching is step 1

For those homeowners who’ve spent a lifetime in their home, a lot of emotions are attached to it. Even newer homeowners are likely to have become attached to their homes. It could be where you brought home your first-born or where you were living during some major life changes. Deciding to sell the home you love can bring up all kinds of emotional or psychological conflicts.

Awareness is the first step. Know that it’s normal and highly likely that you’ll experience strong feelings about selling your home. Allow yourself to “grieve” if you need to.

Cleaning, painting and staging: The home is ground zero for stress

Most people assume that the hardest part about selling a beloved home is the closing, handing over the keys, or walking out for the last time. Actually, by that time, most sellers have psychologically moved on.

It’s the act of clearing out the clutter, taking out some furniture and/or making small improvements to the home that tugs at the heart. Repainting your favorite pink room to a more neutral color, taking down and packing up your family photos or transforming your comfortable living room into more of a “staged” look can create incredible stress.

When in doubt, don’t do it

If you’re not sure you’re ready to sell or you have the least bit of doubt, don’t do it. Don’t be pressured by your partner, spouse or the “hot” real estate market. As a way to resist the change, a seller will ultimately shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing the home or not making the necessary improvements. If you have the luxury of moving out prior to selling, do it. Moving out, packing up and clearing out will be emotional. But by the time it’s ready to be staged and go on the market, you’ll have emotionally detached from the home. You’ll start to see it as an investment.

Smart sellers understand they’re selling their homes and also making a financial decision. Being able to consider this well in advance will allow you to slowly start to emotionally detach from the home and start thinking of the financial decision and the transaction that’s about to take place. Keeping your eye on the prize, you’ll want to price your home competitively and have it show like a model home to attract the most buyers.

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Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and one of the nation’s leading real estate experts. He has collaborated on multiple real estate books and his expert advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, Good Morning America and Forbes. An avid investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the US and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. You can find Brendon on Facebook or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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