Most sellers forget to protect their privacy while in a hurry to sell their homes. This may lead to unwanted situations and reduce your bargaining power. If a For Sale by Owner [FSBO] buyer has access to your confidential information, they may get a rough idea of why you’re selling, and use that leverage against you in negotiations!
A For Sale by Owner [FSBO] buyer does not need to know the reason for the sale, whether it’s divorce, debt, promotion or any other reason. Giving the buyer this knowledge can give the impression that you have to sell quickly, effectively encouraging low-ball offers on the home.
Follow these five steps to help you protect your privacy while showing your home:
1. Remove your mail.
Most sellers (or For Sale by Owners) leave their mail on the counter or in a drawer. If prospective buyers spot overdue bills, collection notices or excessive credit card bills in plain sight, they might assume that you are in debt and need to sell your home quickly. No one wants strangers to read their personal mail at the best of times, so make sure it’s all put away.
2. Take down photos and diplomas.
All personal items should be removed from the walls, but sometimes sellers overlook the obvious and leave diplomas or certificates up. These need to be removed, as well as wedding or family pictures. Why? People form biases easily, and you don’t want to provide the ammunition.
Diplomas and Certificates
A seller’s diploma might announce his career as a lawyer. An individual buyer may feel intimidated or uncomfortable dealing with a lawyer. They may feel undereducated, or possibly even taken advantage of, because of this impression.
A diploma on the wall belonging to a recent graduate can leave the buyer with the perception of lots of debt (student loans) and that you are hard-pressed for a quick sale.
Finally, diplomas may also give away a seller’s age or at least a close estimate. Some assumptions may be easily drawn by age alone.
Recent wedding photos may give the impression of newly established debt, encouraging the buyer to offer less. Heritage issues can cause a buyer’s prejudice.
Family photos missing a spouse in the home can imply a divorce or family break-up. A buyer’s impression may be that the remaining spouse cannot afford the home, or that the sale is forced or part of the settlement.
3. Clean the closets.
If you have ever been to an open house or toured a home that is for sale, you probably understand the desire to dig around. In most cases, prospective buyers simply open closets and cabinets to inspect the available space or make judgments about the construction. While most people who view your home will not try to snoop through your personal belongings, try to pack away anything that could tell an unwanted story about your life. Diminish the ‘clues’ of divorce or separation if possible, and don’t intentionally leave valuables in plain view.
4. Documents, Jewelry and Mail in drawers.
Is it considered snooping to open a drawer? Not if the drawer is part of a larger built-in piece, such as a kitchen cabinet, china cabinet or built-in dressers. Buyers will open drawers to inspect depth or construction quality. Buyers can unexpectedly discover items you may not want them to access. Some of these items may include written comparables on your home, bills, or personal items that should remain personal. Be sure to check these areas in the home before allowing access or unexpected discovery.
5. Box the small treasures.
Use a low, edged box to store all bias-encouraging magazines or rated videos, as well as personal treasures or jewelry that could easily be stolen. A flat box will fit easily under the bed, making it accessible to yourself if you need anything, and otherwise easily stored in the event of a showing of your home on short notice.
Protecting your privacy in today’s world is almost mandatory. Not only can private information be exploited for real estate purposes, in the wrong hands, this information can completely destroy your credit and financial standing for years to come.
If you haven’t already, check out CanadianHomeFind’s Selling Packages.