Protecting Your Privacy when Selling

Most sellers forget to protect their privacy while in a hurry to sell their homes. This may lead to unwanted situations and reduce your bargaining power. If For Sale by Owner buyers have access to confidential information that is not intended to be revealed, they may get a rough idea of why you're selling.

A FSBO buyer does not need to know the reason for the sale whether it is divorce, debt, promotion or any other reason. Giving the buyer this knowledge can give the impression of "you have to sell" leaving a hint to the buyers to turn in a lower price.

Below is a 5 step guide to help you protect your privacy while showing your home:

1. Remove your mail

Most sellers (or For Sale by Owner people in general) leave their mail on the counter or in a drawer. If prospective buyers spot overdue bills or collection notices or excessive credit card bills in plain sight, they might assume that you are in debt and need to sell your home quickly therefore encouraging lower offers. No one wants strangers to read their personal mail at the best of times so put it away, all of it, right down to the last mail out catalogue.

2. Take down photos and diplomas

All personal items should be removed from the walls, but sometimes sellers overlook the obvious and leave diplomas up. These need to be removed as well as wedding or family pictures. Why? People form biases and carry a bias too far.

Diplomas and Certificates:

  1. A seller's diploma might be for a lawyer. A buyer may feel intimidated or uncomfortable dealing with a lawyer. They may feel under educated or possibly even taken advantage of because of this.
  2. A diploma on the wall may belong a recent graduate that leaves the buyer with the perception of lots of debt (from student loans) and that you are hard pressed for a quick sale.
  3. Diplomas also give away a seller's age or at least gives a close estimate. Some assumptions are drawn by age alone.


  1. Recent wedding photos may give the impression of newly found debt, encouraging the buyer to offer less or heritage issues cause a buyers prejudice.
  2. Family photos missing a spouse in the home can imply a divorce or family break up. A buyer's impression can be the remaining spouse cannot afford the home, or the sale is part of the settlement.

3. Clean the closets

If you have ever been to an open house or toured a home that is for sale, you would probably understand the desire to dig around. In most cases, prospective buyers simply open closets and cabinets to inspect the available space or make judgments about the construction. While most people who view your home will not try to snoop in your personal belongings, try to pack away anything that could tell an unwanted story about your life. Discourage the look of divorce or separation if possible; don't intentionally leave any valuables in plain view.

4. Documents/Jewelry/Mail in Drawers

Is it considered snooping to open a drawer? Not if the drawer is part of a built-in such as a kitchen cabinet, china cabinet or built in dressers. Buyers will open drawers to inspect the depth or construction quality. Buyers can unexpectedly discover items you may not want them to have access to. Some of these items may include written pricy comparables on your home, bills, or personal items that should remain personal. Be sure to check these areas in the home before allowing access or unexpected discovery.

5. Box the Small Treasures

Use a low edged box to remove all bias magazines or rated videos, as well as personal treasures or jewelry that could easily be stolen. The flat box will fit easily under the bed making it easily accessible to yourself if you need anything and easily stored in the event of a short notice showing of your home.