While Your Home Is On The Market - Protect Your Privacy

What Does Your Home Disclose About You?

Are your secrets safe? Before a home goes on the market and home buyers start to traipse though, savvy sellers will relocate confidential information. Even so, you might be astonished to learn what home buyers can figure out about you.

Private Documents

-Is it snooping to open a drawer?

Not if the drawer is part of a built-in such as a kitchen cabinet or a dining room china cabinet. Buyers can innocently tug on a drawer to inspect its construction or depth and find important documents that you might not intend for anyone to see.

I once opened a drawer and discovered the seller's net sheet sitting on top of her comparative market analysis, in plain view. It clearly indicated a lower price was expected, so you can guess what the buyer offered.

-Don't leave mail where anyone can find it.

Lots of sellers leave piles of opened mail neatly stacked on the kitchen counter. Buyers could find out how much you owe department stores or other credit cards. They can tell if you're late on your mortgage payments or if Revenue Canada is after you. Heaven forbid should you file bankruptcy or be sued and leave those documents on the table, but sellers do it. They must believe that buyers will not read someone else's personal mail, even when that mail is taped to the refrigerator door, begging to be read.

I've also shown vacant homes where the mail is tossed all over the floor in the entryway. Neither the seller nor his listing agent bothered to stop by to pick up the mail. It wasn't hard to figure out that much of the mail contained collection notices. If a buyer was armed with the information, guess what price the buyer would be thinking about. It wouldn't be list price.


Remove Diplomas and Wedding Photos from Walls.

Notwithstanding that all personal items should be removed, sometimes sellers overlook the obvious and leave diplomas on the wall. People form biases and can carry a bias too far. For example, the seller might be a lawyer, and there are buyers who might not feel comfortable buying a home from a lawyer. For whatever reason. Diplomas also give away a sellers age or a close estimate. If a buyer sees a recent medical diploma, for example, the buyer might assume the seller is saddled with student loans and needs to sell to pay them off.

Wedding photos might give away the seller's religion, as do certain religious artifacts left in the home. Buyers can be prejudiced. Don't let buyers form ideas about you from the type of music you like or the literature you read.


Contents of Closets.

Often sellers who are separating or getting divorced feel a lot of pressure to sell quickly, especially if the partner who remains in the home cannot afford to continue to maintain it. But that is not information most sellers want to share with buyers. Yet they do. They may as well toss their wallet out the car window doing 80 on the freeway.

They do this by hanging either all men's or all women's clothing in the closet. Who cares? It's nobody's business, really, if a seller is dissolving a relationship. But once a buyer finds out a seller desperately needs to sell, the buyer won't make an offer anywhere near list price. So don't leave any telltale clues around that could give away your motivated to sell.

Before you put your home on the market, please prep it: empty out drawers, stage closets and pack up anything remotely personal. If your house speaks to a buyer about you, it's about you, It's probably saying the wrong thing.