OK, in a previous post, I mentioned something I called The Great Disassociation and how it's such an important concept when it comes to selling a home. See, when we live in our homes for any length of time, what typically happens is that we become blinded to the condition of the home. They're our homes. We see them everyday. And as a result, little things kind of slip by us.
For example, I have a wall in my bedroom--and this is embarrassing to admit--that had a nail hole in it. I had tried to hang a picture and I put it in a spot I didn't like. So, I pulled the nail out, moved the picture and then spackled the nail hole. Impressive, right? Well, not so much. See, that's as far as I got.
In fact, while that happened over 2 years ago, I just noticed the other day that there's still a big white spackled spot in the center of the wall that has NEVER BEEN PAINTED! I've left that undone for over two years and I never really even noticed it. It became the new normal and it never jumped out at me as something to think about doing. (I told you it was embarrassing).
Another example is this: my basement has a musty odor in the Spring and Fall. If I run a dehumidifier, it goes away and smells fine. However, what usually happens is that we get used to the smell. We walk into our back entry after a day out and it smells like our back entry. I don't even think about it. But every now and then my mom will stop over. She'll walk in and say something like "I should get you our dehumidifier--that way you could clear out that musty smell." She doesn't mean anything negative--she's just offering her help. Problem is, she's offering her help with a problem I didn't even realize existed. And it's because I live there. I get used to it. I don't see it as an area of concern.
That's what I'm getting at--how we live with certain aspects of our home for so long that we don't even see them as trouble-zones. And while we're living in our homes, that's not such a big issue. But when we're trying to sell our homes, it becomes enormous. After all, I may not notice the spackle spot on the bedroom wall . . . but new buyers will. I may not notice the musty basement stink . . . but new potential buyers will. And who knows . . . those things might be enough of a turnoff to steer those folks away from my home.
So that's why the Great Disassociation is so important. It's all about disassociating yourself from your own home--about forgetting that it's yours--about looking at it with new eyes--with the eyes of potential new buyers. Doing this is going to help you spotlight some of the areas that are going to need your attention--areas that should be repaired or attended to before you put your home on the market.
So, to do your best to eliminate these little turnoffs, you first need to find them. And to find them, you need to look at your house as if it was somebody elses.
Now, that's not easy to do . . . so here's what I recommend. Drive away some night and go out for dinner with your family. Maybe, if you're brave, invite an honest and good friend of yours along. After dinner . . . and here comes the hard part . . . drive up to your home and do your best to pretend that it's not yours.
That's right. Don't pull into the driveway--because it's not your house. Don't pull into the garage--it's not yours. Don't get the mail out of the mailbox, don't pick up the newspaper off the sidewalk . . . treat this house as if it's one you just drove by, saw the "For Sale" sign, and stopped for a look.
Park on the road--where everybody else would park--and get out of your car. Look at everything--what's the mailbox look like? Is it rusting away on the post? Will you have to replace it if you buy the home? Will you need to stain the post?
Check out the roof--that's always one of the first things I look at--what condition are the shingles in? Does it look like you'll be replacing it in the next couple years should you make the purchase?
What about the trees in the yard? Do they look healthy or are they full of dead branches? And what about the yard? Is it green and growing or brown and dead? Is the grass cut or completely growing out of control?
As you walk up the driveway, pay attention to the cracks or the weeds that are growing there. What about the landscaping in the front? Is that out of control? Are the bushes growing like mad or have they been trimmed nicely? Are there weeds choking out everything else?
Check out the front steps--are they covered with newspapers? Are they littered with flower pots full of dead plants? Are they full of cracks? Is the welcome mat a mess?
What about the front door? What shape is it in? Is it rusting? Is it peeling? Is it faded and boring? Could it use a new color, a new paint job? Are there spiderwebs everywhere? Dead leaves?
You get the idea. Do that . . . analyze your home that way . . . and take notes. Look at it as if you might be purchasing it. What jumps out as you as a neat feature? Would it be better if you did x, y or z to enhance it? What jumps out at you as a big turnoff? Is there anything that you instantly would have to fix if you bought the home?
After you've gone around the outside of the home, it's time to head inside and do the same thing. Analyze everything and keep yourself in the mindset that this isn't your house. Keep telling yourself that everything you see that's not perfect is going to have to be repaired by YOU (the new buyer).
Do this walkaround (and through) your home separate from your spouse--and then meet up later and compare notes. What did he or she see that you missed?
And if you've got the guts and a thick enough skin . . . ask an honest friend or two to do the same. And don't chew them out when they let you know what they see either. Ask them to give you their honest opinion of your home as viewed from the road by potential buyers. Ask them not to sugar-coat anything. You want the straight scoop--you want to know what they see.
After you've done this, take all this information and analyze it. Some of the things are going to be too big to tackle when you're trying to sell your home. As nice as a loft in the garage would be, you don't need to build one to sell the home. But, if the front door looks dirty and old and the mat is worn out and the mailbox is rusting . . . well, those are all little fixes that will go a long way towards your goal: getting people in your house so they can see what's inside and hopefully fall in love with it. Think about it. And give it a try.