How to Declutter Your Home to Sell


Apr 26, 2018

If you are beginning the process of selling your home, you already know how a deep cleaning, fresh paint, and an attractive entry or curb appeal are important steps to get the best possible price for your home. However, the first step you should take before the cleaning, painting, and flower planting begins is clearing out the clutter.

In the real estate market, decluttering typically means clearing away family photos, crowded bookshelves, stuffed closets, and any items that get in the way of a potential buyer envisioning themselves living in the house. A more personal deeper definition of clutter is all the things you have saved over the years that you no longer use. They are just laying around taking up extra space.

Since you are moving to a new home anyway, now is the time to get rid of the clutter especially if you will be downsizing to a new home. Decluttering your entire home will make your home appear more spacious and livable. It can help your home sell faster.

Decluttering can seem overwhelming. This article breaks the process down into steps to help get your home showcase ready.

  1. Create a schedule
  2. Categorize clutter
  3. Pack up
  4. Tidy the kitchen
  5. Depersonalize the living room
  6. Bare the bedrooms
  7. Declutter the closets
  8. Beautify the bathrooms
  9. Clean out the garage / storage areas

Create a Schedule

Large jobs like decluttering are best accomplished by first creating a schedule. This will help you stick to a routine. Plan to do one room at a time. Set a timely goal for completing each room. Consider when you hope to begin showing the house and set a deadline for finishing. If you are short on time enlist the help of family members or friends.

Categorize Clutter

Begin with the easiest area to declutter first. This will encourage you to continue. As you work, decide which items to keep, throw away, or donate. This will help you move through the process efficiently. If you haven't used something in a year, toss it. Donate useful items or consider having a garage sale.

Pack Up

Go ahead and begin packing the things you can't part with. These will be the first boxes ready for your move. Include family photos, memorabilia, and toys. Unless you have a hobby room you want to feature, pack away art, craft, and hobby supplies. Stack the boxes in the garage or rent a storage unit.

Tidy the Kitchen

Remove small appliances and knick-knacks that clutter the countertops. Coffee makers, toasters, etc. can be placed inside cabinets. Make space for them if necessary by packing away dishes you rarely use like holiday dishes. Remove all but minimal decor. Continue the process of tossing, packing, or donating. Be brutal. Buyers want to know that the kitchen has adequate storage space.

Depersonalize the Living Room

Remove personal items like photos and certificates from the living room, or common area. Prospective buyers need to imagine themselves living there, not you. Decide if removing some of the smaller furniture will make the area appear more spacious. Electronic pianos, large artificial plants, and your favorite overstuffed easy chair are the kinds of things to consider removing. Pack away all but a few books and decorative items from bookcases.

Bare the Bedrooms

Bedrooms can also be made to appear more spacious by keeping furnishings to one bed, dresser, and night table per person. Reduce children's toys to a few favorites. Use simple bedding and window treatments that coordinate with the wall color. If a bedroom looks too boyish or girlish, consider neutralizing the decor.

Declutter the Closets

Crammed closets send up a red flag to potential buyers that there is not enough storage space. Pack up out-of-season clothing. Organize them to look tidy. Remember the rule: toss, donate, or keep. Invest in some shelving if needed.

Beautify the Bathrooms

Pack away medicines, extra jewelry, and toiletries that aren't used regularly. Remove stains from grout and polish bathroom fixtures to a shine.

Clean Out the Garage / Storage Areas

Make storage areas look used but not overcrowded. Keep a few things like suitcases and seasonal decorations. Hang larger items on the wall to create floor space. Old appliances that you have held on to for "repairing someday" need to go. Leftover paint that matches the house will be appreciated by the new owners.