Looking to sell? Neutralise your home

Looking to sell? Neutralise your home

Looking to sell? Neutralise your home

If you are looking to sell your home quickly and as painlessly as possible, or if it has sat on the market for longer than others, you need to take a step back and evaluate what your house looks like from the perspective of potential buyers. 


Part of this process is for you as the home seller to remove the presence of you from the house. This process is known in the  real estate industry as “neutralisation.” Another common term used is “depersonalising.” 


Essentially, your goal is to remove your identity from the home so that potential home buyers can picture their future in the home without the “thumbprints” from previous  occupants. 


How does one go about neutralising the home? 


This is easier said than done. There are even limits to how much you want to depersonalise the home. If you go too far, your home may appear cold and foreign to potential home buyers. This may have the reverse effect, making it difficult for them to envision just what each room’s purpose is (or could be). 


Let’s look at the topics and nuances that can influence buyers to say “yes” to your house and close as soon as  possible.


Remove Photographs, Awards and Certificates 


Although you may still be living in the home you are trying to sell, it is beneficial for you to remove as many traces that show the “personality” that you have created within your home.


Things like family photographs, awards and certificates should be taken down and stored. When personal images such as photographers of family and children or documents such as University degrees are displayed, it creates the impression for the buyer of a “claimed” territory. For the buyer, they will see your life in the home, not how their life may be, should they purchase the property. 


It is much harder for anyone to picture themselves in a space, creating their own unique experiences in the years to come, when they are confronted with the same terrace they envision you using with your family. 


On this note, nothing speaks more to your personality and/or eccentricity than collections. They tend to be overwhelming to a buyer's senses especially if they do not share the same interests as you and can create a feeling of clutter. This can diminish the size of a room - two things you most certainly do not want to draw attention to. 


Your goal is to depersonalise your home so that homebuyers can psychologically see themselves moving into it. 


The house shouldn’t be completely barren, however, and it is recommended that you leave a few non-personal pictures on the walls so the space doesn’t look completely bare. That said, even some generic paintings or photographs can produce the same reaction as that family portrait from when the kids were young. So you need to think carefully about your selection.


Neutralise your book collection 


Believe it or not, books can have a subconscious way of conveying the specific type of person who would suit a certain property to home buyers. 


So when selling your home, you should choose carefully what books to leave displayed throughout the home. 


The rule of thumb should be to choose titles that could be considered “coffee table books”. Books that are fairly generic will appeal to most people - think of topics such as architecture, travel, history or cuisine. Try to avoid anything controversial or too deeply personal - topics like religion or ideology should be a no-go. Some topics can just be alienating to homebuyers. 


Also related to the previous topic, it's probably best to pack away your photo albums as well.


Take down artwork and collections 


Whilst most of us use artwork and various collections of items in our houses to showcase our personality, bring it to life and make it our home, there is an old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Although you may treasure these items, it doesn’t mean any potential homebuyer will take the same view. Just as with your book collection, you should make your goal for artwork and collections to appeal to the widest range of people possible. Any artwork that could even remotely be considered offensive should be taken down - anything with political messages, nudity, sports themes or religious imagery. 


Also, consider removing other artefacts such as family heirlooms. Whilst you might be very proud of that portrait painted by your grandfather, potential buyers could be completely put off by it. 


Get Rid Of Religious Items


There is nothing wrong in being proud of your religious beliefs and we take the view that everyone should respect one another's personal choices. Nonetheless, not all home buyers will hold the same beliefs as you or may not be religious at all  and some may not appreciate religious items on display. 


Whilst it's hoped that no one would be offended by your convictions, it could raise questions in the buyer's mind as to what types of neighbours you have and if these will be a good fit for them. So it’s best to remove all religious items on display when opening your home for viewings. 




Home staging is a great way to neutralise your home, as part of the process is to get your home set up so that each room reflects its purpose or potential. 


Although it might seem obvious to you, having lived in the home for a number of years, a prospective buyer might not be able to instantly see what the purpose of each room is without some prompting. 


It works in your interest to give potential buyers a clear idea of what the main purpose of each room is. As an example, if you have 3 bedrooms but have used one as an office, it is best to clear this room out and set it up as a bedroom so that the “feature” of the room is clearly communicated. Bare rooms simply work against you as they look uninviting, and even seem unfinished. Not forgetting that empty rooms can also create an “echo chamber” effect that may also be unappealing to buyers unless of course they are musically oriented. 


Neutralise your colour palette 


Colour can play a crucial role in neutralising your home when preparing to sell it. 


The colours you choose for the interior of your home should appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. Below are a few things to consider when preparing your home for sale. 


  • Remove wallpaper


It can be a painstaking process to remove wall coverings, and this alone could turn some home buyers off, especially if it’s not neutral. Additionally, wallpaper is often considered outdated.


  • Avoid bright colours.


Brighter colours are “an individual taste” and may discourage  home buyers from envisaging themselves settling into the home. Even though it may not be a lot of work to repaint, many can be put off by the thought of it 


  • Avoid dark colours. 


There is an optical illusion created by darker colours that makes a space appear smaller. Lighter, neutral colours for staging your home are best, as they make rooms appear larger. Adding accents of colour, with the use of photographs or paintings against a neutral background can make a room seem modern and appealing (think art galleries). They are also easier to change in the future, a situation that home buyers will appreciate when it’s time to move in.


  • Use complementary colours with carpeting and accessories 


For example blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green are complementary colours. Follow the rule that 80% of the predominant colour should be neutral, with 20% as the appealing complementary colour.


  • Avoid using too many colours when neutralising the home. 


Instead of having each room a whole different colour palette you should aim to focus on three to five colours to avoid harsh colour combinations or a feeling of “separateness.” Keep in mind that lighting can also change the colour you’ve selected.


You can use the same hue for incandescent lights and natural lighting, only to get different results. This can help save money and emphasise your home’s lighting variations. Ensure your colours flow from one to another. Earth tones and neutrals work best, as people are accustomed to these colours from nature. For example, having a hot pink go to a beige is off-putting.


If you would like more information on how we can assist you in marketing and selling your home in Portugal, check out our Sellers Information page. 

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