-Dear Darrell: I will be selling my house soon. I’ve lived here for a long time and have collected artifacts from my extensive travels over these many years. I think these things enhance the beauty of my house, but I’ve heard stories about real estate people coming in and telling owners to get rid of everything. Do I need to worry about that?
– Craig B., Logan Circle
Dear Craig: I don’t think you need to worry about it, but it is an important thing to think about. Nearly everyone, having lived in a house long enough, has collected “stuff.” Sometimes the collections are fine art, some are frogs from around the world, and one that I saw recently was a house with stuffed animal heads on the walls. Those three very different collections are precious to the people who live in those houses. However, it’s not difficult to imagine that what one person finds precious, another person doesn’t. Even extraordinary art work can affect the way any given potential buyer might respond emotionally to a property. In general, it is best to pare things down. I encourage you to find a real estate agent whom you like, and to ask that person to give you specific feedback about this issue. The feedback in some instances is hard to hear, but what the agent tells you is meant well, and is meant to help you sell your house in a reasonable time at a good price. I read an article recently in the New York Times by Dominique Browning, titled “What I Lost When I Lost My Job.” In it she beautifully and touchingly describes the process she went through in selling her own house. She talks a little bit about your question, so that might be helpful, but her other comments about moving from a long-time residence are also meaningful.
Darrell Parsons is the managing broker of the Georgetown Long and Foster office and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity regulations. Have a real estate question? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at georgetownrealestatenews.blogspot.com.