Before you put a sign in the yard, pictures online and throw open your front door to buyers, the first important step to putting your house on the market is to declutter. This big step toward selling is definitely worth the effort. A cluttered home can send the wrong message to house hunters. It puts them on the alert to find things wrong with your property.
An organized home appears more spacious, clean and well-cared for. No closet or cabinet is safe from the inspection of a curious home shopper. Go room to room and take a hard look at your home through the eyes of a buyer. Where can you cut the clutter? Here’s a list of six tips to tidy up and clear the way to sell your home.
Make an Entrance
Your entryway can be a catch-all for shoes, coats, bags, mail and more. Invest in stylish storage bins and hooks so everything has a place. Store off-season outerwear in a closet or underbed container. Clear jackets or other clutter from behind the door so it can swing wide open, unobstructed.
Liberate the Living Room
If you really live in your living room, it is the space with the most potential for collecting piles of stuff: books, magazines, electronics and their cords. Clear flat surfaces of both clutter and tchotchkes. Shred or file paperwork. Position decorative items so that each may be seen and appreciated but limit the number of items. Remember, your décor might not match a potential buyer’s. Depersonalize your rooms. Remove personal photographs and any religious references. You want buyers to have no barriers to envision themselves in your house.
Streamline Storage Space
Overstuffed closets give the impression that your home doesn’t have adequate storage space. Be ruthless in weeding out clothes that you no longer wear. If some items are still in decent shape, donate them to a charitable organization. You’ll feel great passing along needed items and your closets will gain some breathing space.
Beware of the Bath
Dig deep into the recesses of your vanity drawers, linen closets and medicine cabinets. Now is the time to toss expired cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Be sure to safely discard medical waste—don’t ever flush pills into the water system. For your personal safety, scrape prescription labels from bottles and jars before disposing of them.
Don’t Forget the Garage
Most home shoppers walk through the garage or shed. If the garage is clean and organized, it indicates a careful and conscientious homeowner that likely took good care of the rest of the house. A few neatly stacked boxes will communicate your readiness to sell your home but a wall of boxes will visually shrink the space. Secure an offsite storage unit for larger household items and multiple boxes as you begin to pack. Remember, if you declutter it now, you won’t have to pack it later.
Don’t Go It Alone
Feeling overwhelmed? Invite a friend or two to assist. Their fresh eyes will help you tackle the mess. Set out snacks, crank up the music and get the sorting party started. Take photos of each room and examine them for noticeable trouble spots to target. Ask the difficult defining questions that motivate you to keep, give away or pitch specific items.
If you don’t know where to start, consult a professional. Find a certified professional organizer near you via the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) online directory.
If you don’t want to hire help, you can read advice from a professional. The KonMari method of decluttering is sweeping the nation in a best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo. Kondo suggests that you declutter all at once, making sure each of your things always have a place in your home. Her philosophy says to visualize what you want your life to be like in an organized space and rid yourself of items that do not “spark joy” or fit that vision.
Whether you adopt the Kondo can-do method or choose a local pro to join you in your clutter, the service will pay for itself when you sell your organized home sooner and at a higher price than when it was overstuffed.
Fear may be the largest obstacle between you and an orderly home. By decluttering, you not only prepare your living space, but also your heart, for a move. Don’t let clutter get in the way of your move into the home of your dreams.
If you're contemplating selling your home before you start house hunting, be sure to get pre-approved so you'll know exactly how much you can afford. Visit bankatfirst.com/mortgage to connect with a mortgage officer near you to start the process.
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