Of all the things that you can do to get your home ready for the market, there’s nothing as effective or inexpensive as decluttering. Not only does it allow you to really showcase the best features of your home, it helps you get ready to move and to possibly shed some items you really don’t need anymore anyway. Two birds, one stone.
A proper decluttering can be a big project, though. It’s important to have a plan before you get started.
The goal of decluttering for a home sale is to make your house appear as large and functional as is possible within its structural limitations. Obviously you’re not going to turn a 12 foot by 12 foot living room into a massive parlor simply by getting some stuff out of the way, but as with anything you’re looking to sell, it’s a good idea to put the best foot forward possible.
Removing clutter helps rooms feel more open and airy, so make this the hard focus of your life until it’s totally done. Bringing in some friends who will give you an honest opinion can also help you find more things to get out of the house before your Realtor comes to take the photos for your listing.
These tips can help you stay focused:
1. Begin at the beginning. The first thing a potential buyer is going to see is the yard, then the driveway and then the front door. These areas need to be very neat and tidy or else they’ll simply stay in the car and drive away. You don’t want to waste a lot of energy inside for buyers to be turned off because your front porch is covered in shaggy planters and old patio furniture.
2. One room at a time. There are any number of apps for planning big projects like this, so pick one and get to making a list. Every room in the house, even closets and hallways, should have their own entry. Break the effort into the smallest chunks possible to make it easier to accomplish. The more you check off, the better you’ll feel and the more momentum you’re going to build.
3. Do you really need all that furniture? Rooms crammed with furniture are great for get togethers, but they’re terrible for showing a buyer how they can use the same space. All they can see is your furniture, so get as much of it out of the way as possible. Leave the pieces that are the nicest or the newest for the very best first impression.
4. Clean all the counters off. It’s the easiest thing in the world to get into the habit of using your counters for storage, but when buyers see this practice, they just assume you don’t have enough storage. nobody wants a house with not enough storage — that’s probably the reason they’re looking for a new place to begin with.
5. Clean the showers. It’s an incredible hassle and something you probably only do when company is coming, but assume that company will be coming every day until closing from now on. Black mold on shower grout is an huge turn-off. Those buyers won’t know that you haven’t cleaned the back shower stall since 1989, they’ll just see that black mold and leave.
6. Your collections have gotta go. Yes, you have the most amazing collection of paperclip stick figures ever assembled, but they don’t need to be on display. In fact, they’re probably standing between you and a potential buyer right now. Pack them up, get them out of sight, make the room where you keep them look enormous.
7. Declutter the garage and storage buildings, too. Oh, don’t think we’ve forgotten about these guys. They’re great places to dump stuff you don’t want to get rid of, but don’t know where to put, but that potential buyer is going to want to know if their own stuff that they can’t figure out what to do with will fit in that space. Clean that garage and those storage buildings up and, if necessary, install some heavy duty shelves or racks to give them some appearance of organization.
Once you’ve sorted out the things you can live without for a while, you have to decide what to do with them. You have a few options. You can sell them, maybe make a little bit of cash at a resale shop or a garage sale. You can keep them, but in a storage unit somewhere away from your home. You can recycle them. You can donate them. Probably, realistically, you’ll do a few of these things, depending on the clutter.
Whatever you do, don’t keep them in the boxes in your house. That defeats the entire purpose of decluttering. Remember, you want to make your house look huge, not like a tightly packed storage unit. So banish the boxes, clear the clutter, make it go far, far away. You’ll also be mostly ready for your move, should you sell that house quickly because of how clean and shiny it is, so that’s nice.
It can be a huge and daunting task to declutter a home you’ve lived in for a while, there’s no doubt about it. But that’s why there are professionals who have tons of experience organizing and staging spaces for home sellers. If this isn’t your forte, your HomeKeepr community can help you find someone who lives for it. Since your Realtor has already recommended these pros, you know they’re going to do an amazing job. You won’t even recognize your own house!