One of the hardest steps in home selling is emotional withdrawal. I don’t mean the numbness that descends after you’ve been spending two weeks solid de-cluttering, packing and organizing, I mean making your home into a sterile, personality-less collection of wood and mortar instead of the home that you have lived in for years. It can be very difficult to say goodbye to a family home and sometimes the pain of loss can sneak up and surprise you. This can block you from effectively staging your home to sell and from enjoying a positive outlook on your new home.
The first step is to pack away everything from your home that personalizes it – pictures of family, graduation diplomas, knick knacks that are more personal than decorative, toys, etc. You may even want to go so far as to remove artwork that has a special meaning. Stage the home with some generic artwork instead, perhaps. Leave decorative items that accentuate the space, like vases of flowers and some good, uncontroversial sculptures (now is not the time to show off your replica of the Venus de Milo) and a number of books, enough to fill shelves, but not so much that the shelves are overflowing.
Understandably, children might not understand right away why you are doing this. Explain that they can decorate their new rooms, but for now they need to keep only a few toys that will be packed away in a basket or box when showings are scheduled. Perhaps (if they are old enough) giving them a job to do that involves them with the home staging will help.
Fixing and repainting are another good way to disassociate yourself emotionally from your home. A neutral palette is best, as this will allow buyers to envision themselves in the home more easily. And, while the dent in the living room wall brings back your memories of when Junior ran his tricycle into it one Christmas, it will be a negative mark in the eyes of potential buyers and an obstacle to your letting go. Fix the places that have been marked in some way by your family’s life and paint over where Sally drew a horse on the wall of her bedroom.
Use this time to focus your thoughts positively on your new home. It’s okay to mourn the loss of your old home, but put limits on it so it does not destroy your enjoyment of your new home. As you pack away your family possessions, think about where you are going to put them in your new home and how you are going to decorate your new living space. Encourage children to plan out their new bedrooms.
It can be very emotionally wrenching to part with a family home. Ruthlessly packing away family treasures, fixing damaged or marked up areas and focusing your thoughts on your new home are strategies that will not only help you sell your old home, but prepare your mind and heart to bond with the new.