Master decluttering your house to make a splash with buyers

two brown boxes and DVD cases on rack

How to declutter your home to make listing it a breeze

Selling a home can be a nerve-wracking and stressful process. Between moving, selling, listing, and financing, there are a lot of moving parts.  

That’s why it’s in your best interest to design a selling plan. Begin by decluttering your home. Here are our top tips for decluttering your home to get it ready to list for sale. 

Key takeaways 

  • Empty out your house as much as possible

This may include deep cleaning, decluttering, and making use of storage solutions while your house is on the market.

  • Decluttering can have a big impact on the appearance and value of your home

Clearing surface areas, signs of pets, oversized furniture, paperwork, and personal photographs from the house lets  buyers better envision themselves living in the space.

  • Deep cleaning is a great supplement to decluttering 

Not only will performing a thorough cleaning attract more buyers, but it will also help ease the transition and move-out process for you as the current homeowner.

  • There are several strategies you can use to decide what to keep, store, sell, and donate

It’s always an option to store, sell, or give away some of your belongings. Strategies like the Marie Kondo method and the day-to-day usefulness test can also help you decide what stays and what goes.

Preparing your home to sell

It can be difficult for buyers to see past the personal touches in your home, from decorations to family photos. They can’t see themselves living there because they can only see you in the space. Your home fits you like a glove after all these years but staging it means you have to let someone else picture themselves there. 

If you’re still living in the house, that doesn’t mean you have to remove all the beds and wall art. A little decluttering and tidying up goes a long way toward making a good first impression on potential buyers.

What to declutter from your home

Here are the most impactful ways to declutter your home before listing it:

Clear away signs of pets

Your pets are a part of your family, but they’re not a part of a buyer’s family. Home staging best practices advise guarding against any odors and routinely tidying up any toys, beds, or other signs of your furry friends.

Remove oversized furniture

If there’s furniture you no longer use or pieces that dominate a room, remove them. Temporary storage facilities are a great solution.

Clear surface areas (e.g. window sills, countertops, end tables, etc.)

When surface areas are cluttered, the home often appears smaller and more cramped. Clearing these areas will set potential buyers at ease and allow them to see all the surface areas your home has to offer.

Clear away personalization

It’s great to have your wedding or graduation photos hung up around the house—they serve as special reminders in your life. However, potential buyers won’t share that sentiment and will likely find it difficult to see themselves living in a space that’s overwhelmingly yours. Consider temporarily storing these items and replacing them with more neutral decorations.

Opt for stylish storage solutions

Vacuum-pack your seasonal clothes and invest in stylish storage baskets to help maintain order in your home throughout the selling process.

Tidy up any loose paperwork

Corral any loose paperwork into a secure storage area, like a locked filing cabinet or desk drawer both for the appearance of your home and your own security

woman in white and black plaid shirt sitting on chair
Decluttering your home before you list it to sell ensures that buyers have a good first impression of the space

Why should I declutter before selling?

Research has shown that decluttering can raise your home’s value by thousands of dollars. Decluttering will maximize the space in your home and give you the opportunity to show off its structural features. 

You’ll also better prepare yourself for your own move-out date. When the time finally does come to move out of your home, it will be easier to sever your emotional attachments if you’ve already performed some basic decluttering work.

How clean should you leave your home when selling?

Part of decluttering is cleaning. When your home is on the market, it’s best to keep it as clean and tidy as possible. Upon closing, you’re expected to leave everything clean. Some states even require this clause to be written into the real estate contract. It’s best to get a head start on cleaning during the listing and viewing process so that sellers, buyers, and agents all feel more at ease.

Should you deep clean your home before selling?

It’s not required but deep cleaning your home before selling is an excellent selling strategy. After decluttering, it’s one of the top things you can do to boost your home’s value. 

You can choose to put in the elbow grease and take deep cleaning into your own hands or you can hire a professional to complete the job for you. Either way, deep cleaning before selling can help your space appear newer and more appealing to potential buyers. The best times to schedule a deep cleaning are:

  • Before your home goes on the market.
  • Preceding a showing or open house.
  • Immediately before moving out.

How to declutter your home before selling

Decluttering can be harder than it sounds. Here’s a list of our best decluttering tips to get you on the road to a ready-to-sell home in no time:

Think about what your stuff says about your home

It’s only natural for us to keep frequent-use items on counters and bedside tables, but to the buyer, it could look like your home lacks storage. Cabinets and drawers should also be kept tidy and neat.

It’s easiest to declutter when you do so with the buyer in mind. Ask yourself: “If I were viewing this home, could I picture myself in the space? What distractions need to be eliminated?”

Try out the Marie Kondo method

If you’re having difficulty letting go of your belongings, try the Marie Kondo method: pick up an item and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If you deem the object valuable, you keep it; if not, it gets tossed.

The usefulness test

Another popular method of sorting is to perform the item usefulness test, also called the day-to-day test. Ask yourself if you use the item in the course of an average day, and then ask if you plan to use it before you move out. If the answer is no, it’s best to store or toss the object in question.

Go room by room

Generally speaking, the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen are the most important rooms in the house to a buyer. That means you should pay extra attention to how you stage these rooms, prioritizing them in the decluttering process. Going room by room makes decluttering more manageable for you and your family.

Ask a friend for help

If you’re still struggling to reach decisions on how to best declutter, consider asking a friend or relative for help (preferably someone who does not live in the house). Take a picture of a room or area and send it to a trusted friend for an objective opinion. They might notice eyesores you haven’t or know of easy decluttering solutions you may not have thought of.

Make use of donation services

For the items you do decide to toss, donating is always an option to declutter your home while giving your belongings a second life. Some donation services, like Goodwill, even offer to come pick up your larger belongings free of charge, including furniture items like sofas. There are also dropbox locations that may make donating a convenient option for you.

Sell unwanted items in-person or online

The items you can’t donate don’t have to end up in a landfill, either. Host a garage sale or find friends or relatives to rehome certain belongings. If you’ve exhausted your social network, you can even turn to online clothing marketplaces that practice “upcycling,” like Depop and Poshmark.

Summing it up

Selling your home and preparing to move out is a big transition. While you’re in limbo, you can ease the pressure on yourself and any potential buyers by creating a neutral, neat home environment. Create a plan using our above tips and, before you know it, you’ll be signing closing papers and packing your final bags. 

Throughout the decluttering process, you may have even picked up storage and cleaning tactics you’re eager to implement in your new home!

About the author: By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in real estate, technology, sustainability, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.

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