Just What IS De-Personalizing?

If your house is on the market, you’ve probably heard you need to ‘de-personalize’. Sometimes it’s combined with ‘de-clutter’ as in ‘you need to de-clutter and de-personalize’. And you know you need to get rid of some of the ‘stuff’ so potential buyers can actually see the house. And the house needs to feel open and spacious, and as if the potential buyers can move right in.

But what exactly do we mean about de-personalizing? Sure, the family photos need to come down so the potential buyer imagines their family living in the house, not your family. But it goes beyond that. What are those things that give the potential buyers too much information about you, your family and your lifestyle – things other than the photos?

First, do you have things around the house that tell buyers about your political beliefs? What about your religion? Your ethnicity? Many of us have certain beliefs about those we consider ‘different’ from us, even if we aren’t always aware of those beliefs. And that may be true of your potential buyers. These beliefs can impact (even very subtly) how your potential buyers may feel about the
house. So it’s better to remove anything that gives a hint about your personal beliefs.

What about awards and diplomas? Trophies? If these are displayed anywhere, take them down and pack them away. You don’t want potential buyers comparing their education or awards with yours. Or deciding that because you’re an attorney, you may be able to cover up issues with the house or problems with the sale.

Do you enjoy throwing cocktail parties? What if your potential buyers do not believe in using alcohol? To keep any concerns at a minimum, put the alcohol away while the house is on the market. The same is true of firearms. Even if you don’t use them, remove them. Many people have very strong feelings about them.

To make certain you have completely de-personalized the house, here are a few places and things to check:


  • Artwork – make certain it isn’t of a religious or ethnic origin and the subject matter might not be considered offensive.
  • Bookshelves – check titles as well as accessories on display.
  • Medicine cabinets – make sure no medications are in evidence.
  • Storage areas, including the basement, closets, and garage – do you have anything stored that might cause concern? And if you have labeled boxes make sure the labels don’t give too much information.
  • Desks and work areas – remove any personal papers including bank statements, correspondence, and legal items. And keep your computer turned off!


And if you’re still not sure just how much to remove, keep this in mind: If it isn’t possible for it to belong to anyone else, remove it. While this might seem excessive, it ensures the attention of the potential buyers stays right where you want it – on the house.

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