We all know that first impressions are a part of life, and we expect that when we meet someone we'll walk away with a pretty good idea of the type of person we've just encountered. But did you know that your home also speaks volumes about who you are? This is especially important in the real estate business, as most times an agent will request that you not be present when they're bringing a buyer through - so what does your home say about you when you're not around?
The exterior of your home is, of course, the major first impression to a buyer. Beyond just the size of the home itself, a lot can be learned by how the yard is kept, the paint colors of the house and trim, and the overall appearance of the outdoor area. Bright, bold colors stick in people's minds, and give the feeling of an "in your face" type of personality. Someone who isn't afraid to paint their front door fire engine red is likely the same person who will tell you the truth when you ask if your butt looks big in those pants. On the other hand, muted, neutral colors give a more laid back vibe, and can project a feeling of calm, collected, peacefulness. If your yard is overgrown and strewn with tons of toys, this can make people feel that you either don't take pride in your surroundings, or that you're too busy to worry about the little things. This can be a drawback when selling your home, as a buyer could question what else you're letting fall by the wayside. Conversely, an overly structured, super manicured lawn area can make people feel as though you're very rigid and unwilling to "go with the flow." If you're putting your home on the market, try to strike a happy medium between the two extremes. Keep the lawn tidy and the grass mowed, but be sure the exterior of the home looks welcoming and not too severe.
As with the exterior, the first thing that pops out upon stepping into a home is the choice of color. Soft, neutral tones feel very cozy to most people, and can give a potential buyer the kind of blank palatte they need to be able to picture their own possessions in the space. While bright colors can be great for kids' rooms, keep the common areas a little more toned down to appeal to the greatest number of people. A bright accent wall can spice up a space without overpowering the entire room!
The next thing most people will notice is the way the home is kept. Remember, potential buyers will want to open up closets, pantries, and drawers to get an idea of the storage space available, so it's no good to have everything looking pristine on the outside, only to have the closet spill out a years worth of junk the minute the door opens! This can give a buyer the impression that things aren't as they appear with the remainder of the home as well, so be sure to take care of the clutter in both the visible and hidden areas of your space. You don't have to be TOO neat...as I noted above, sometimes overly meticulous neatness can make people feel as if you're an uncompromising individual. Just keep things in a semblance of order, and be sure that before you list your home you complete a thorough cleaning and decluttering, so that everything has it's place. *Note: everybody has a junk drawer. If you don't, you're some sort of superhuman organizing machine. Just try to keep it clean enough that your buyer isn't trying to pick up 3 phone cords and 17 pens when they open it up!
Finally, even though it isn't necessarily coming with the house, people are going to eyeball your decor. They will look at your family photos. They will scan the titles of the books on your shelves. They will peek at the DVDs stacked up next to the TV. It's human nature to be curious, so if you don't want to make a bad impression, store those "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs in the attic; your buyer won't know that they were a gag gift from Uncle Joe! Remove any personal family photographs you may have on display that you don't want anyone else to see, like that hilarious shot of you sleeping on the beach in your bikini. Of course, you don't want the home to be COMPLETELY sterile feeling, and you still have to live there until it's sold in most cases, so don't feel like you have to remove everything that shows a little personality. Just take a walk through your home with an objective eye, and tuck away those items that, when taken out of context, might not send the message you'd like your buyers to see.
Most importantly, your home should feel warm, welcoming, and inviting to guests and potential buyers alike. Think about what turns your head when you visit a friend for the first time, or what was a big warning sign when you were house hunting. Your home speaks loudly about who you are as a person, so make sure it's saying what you want your potential buyers to hear!