Decluttering Your Home: Expert Tips on Preparing Your House For Sale

The growing list of things to do before putting your home on the market can be overwhelming, but there are few things more critical than decluttering your home before potential buyers walk through your front door. And the best part is, the hard work will only benefit you in your overall moving process. Not only does it kick start the packing process, but you will likely find you have collected piles of unnecessary items since you first moved into your dream home however many years ago. You may also discover possessions you decide aren’t worth lugging to your new house, like your encyclopedia collection that has only collected dust, or the array of hand blenders you have accumulated.

Chances are, you are moving because you and your family have outgrown your current home. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that like you, potential home buyers are also looking for a home with additional storage and space. The primary objective when decluttering and organizing your home in preparation for sale is to allow future buyers to envision their possessions within the walls of your home and showcase the ample storage space. Without personal items in every corner, your home will not only look and feel larger, but brighter and more polished. Keep in mind, packing closets and storage rooms with boxes of your ‘hidden’ clutter won’t do either, be prepared for house hunters to look in every nook and cranny including closets, crawl spaces and attics.

Defining what clutter is.

First things first, you must decide what clutter is. To do this, you will need a critical eye. You may not think your antique china doll collection is clutter, but it will be a distraction during a showing. Another culprit of clutter is when you store items in temporary homes with the intention of getting to it later, cue, the junk drawer. Because you’ve likely accumulated more than you realize, things get left out of place and moved around. A good rule of thumb is if it doesn’t belong – move it! If you can live without it, get rid of it! Before a home showing, be wary of oversized furniture, knick-knacks, overstuffed shelves and kids toys as all these things can overpower a beautiful room.

Have a Plan.

Fact, decluttering can be overwhelming. Remember you don’t have to toss everything, but also don’t want to have anything unnecessary in the house while staging. It’s also important to give yourself enough time to declutter properly. The additional stress of an unrealistic time crunch can make this process feel more daunting than it needs to be. Don’t attempt to declutter a large family home in a few weeks. Decluttering can be an emotional and stressful task for some as personal items in our house have sentimental value. As decluttering expert Marie Kondo says, ask yourself “does this spark joy?”. Once you are ready to commit with an open mind, ensure you have a space to work within as this process will get messier before it becomes tidy. Create piles for donation, storage or toss, and have labels, bags and boxes readily at hand.

Start small.

Tackle a drawer in the kitchen or your bedside table. You will quickly see the reward and then move on to another problem area or tackle a room. Remove any personal photos or certificates, these items although tastefully adorned around your home could potentially be a distraction during a showing. Keep this in mind when it comes to bold art as well, especially if it’s large and dominating. Remove any access furniture that doesn’t have a purpose or crowds a room. Storing furniture can be difficult if you don’t have an external storage option, but this promises to make a huge impact. For example, an oversized hutch in the kitchen with your precious china could be taking up prime real estate, but once removed the flow and size of the kitchen will be optimized.

Tips By Room.

Front foyer: this is the first impression as people enter your home, it should feel open, bright and clean. Remove any open compartments usually reserved for keys, mail or other junk that compiles near the front door and reserve space for potential buyers to hang jackets.

Living room: as a gathering place for family, this room can often have the most personality but try to keep it neutral, spacious and inviting. Pare down books, magazines and horizontal spaces like fireplace mantels and coffee tables. You may also want to remove excess throw pillows if they make the room look crowded and cluttered.

Bathrooms: put away your toothbrush, makeup and other personal items, the bathroom should feel like a spa for the future homeowner, calm, clean and spacious.

Kitchen: this is often a selling feature or deal breaker for many buyers. Be sure countertops are free of appliances, your pantry is tidy with open space, and the fridge is clean, organized void of any magnets.

Children playroom/rec room: minimize children toys if at all possible and pack the rest for the big move. It's recommended you store your foosball table or large workout equipment as well. Your agent may suggest showing this room as an extra bedroom or home office, so remember, less is more!

Closets/storage areas: your storage areas should look as though you have ample room to spare, even though you have likely outgrown these spaces the potential home buyer doesn’t have to know that. Your closets and storage rooms should be free and clear of clutter and be well organized. Remove any extra linens, towels or cleaning products you can do without until you move. Seasonal clothing and sports equipment should also be packed and stored, ideally not on your property.

If you’ve done this exercise successfully your house will feel bare, and perhaps even cold – this is okay. Remember it feels strange to you because you are accustomed to the comfort of your belongs around you. Professionals believe every box of clutter removed from your home equates to $500 of valuable space. Decluttering aside, there are so many tips to ensure you get top dollar for your home, this checklist for getting your home ready for market is also a great tool.

Good luck!

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