I love this saying from our friends to the south and the warmth it conveys. As you know, the direct translation is ‘ my house is your house’ although what is meant is that you are “always welcome”. In reflecting on the actual expression, it reminds me of the relationship between a home seller and a potential home buyer.

The homeowner owns and usually occupies the home. Once they have decided to sell the home, their motivation shifts from wanting to be the owner, to wanting someone else to be the owner. Henceforth: “Mi Casa es Su Casa. “

Once the homeowner makes that decision, there is allot that has to take place. First they hire a realtor and second they prepare the home for sale. Preparing the home for market could involve minor things like depersonalizing, de-cluttering and cleaning, or it might entail repairs, painting or remodeling. Every home is different.

The one absolute is that living in your home while it is on the market, is NOT like living in your home in a regular day to day lifestyle. You will have a lockbox on the front door, agents will be calling and showing up seven days a week (often with short notice) and people will be in and out of your house at all hours. The home ‘must’ show well or potential buyers will be turned off. That includes keeping it spotless; animals put away, yards trimmed and zero clutter. For safe keeping all valuables should be removed from the home and kept elsewhere.

Where I often find resistance from sellers is in the area of de-cluttering and depersonalizing. We must remember our new mantra: Mi Casa es Su Casa. We want the house to become someone else’s, so we must first remove ourselves, and our lives from the house. This includes all family photos from walls, nightstands, dressers etc. We should remove all political and religious items including books in bookcases that might alienate someone of different beliefs. Some experts even recommend removing sports items as that might upset opposing fans.

Please remember, we want them to visualize their life in the house, not yours. Next we must de-clutter. I was in one home that had paintings everywhere, perhaps one hundred or more in the home. The paintings were beautiful but it made the home feel more like a gallery than a home. Another home had large elaborate furniture, all of it beautiful, but more than people could see through. One other family loved cats, so there were climbing towers and cat freeways on many of the walls. Many homes have very dominant paint colors, huge TV’s in small rooms, cars under construction and car parts all over the garage. My favorite is the empty pool complete with toys and old lawn furniture at the bottom.

Most sellers want all the money, but are unwilling to do what is necessary to get all the money. There is this belief that the way they live, and the way the home is furnished, decorated and maintained is the right way and that buyers should appreciate it accordingly. Unfortunately, that is false 99% of the time. The next time you have a few hours, check out model homes. Furnishings are well coordinated and not over the top. Paint colors are fresh and neutral. Kitchen counters are clean with minimal items on them, bathrooms are spotless, paintings are also neutral and there are no personal pictures. New home builders spend millions on professional decorators to make sure that their homes are viewed in the best possible condition. They hire experts to make sure that you will be able to see your life in the house, which results in higher sales prices. One constant is that professional stagers make rooms purposeful, attractive and spacious. Less is always more. The National Association of Realtors has documented that staged homes sell for more than vacant or lived in homes.

It’s really up to you. If you want buyers to visualize themselves in the home and compete against other buyers to win the bidding war, you must first remove yourself.

And in the end, Mi Casa will be Su Casa.

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