How to Declutter for Home Sale

Young Luxury


If you’re preparing your home for sale, you probably already know how important it is to declutter your home.  However, as you survey all your possessions--furniture, sentimental knick-knacks, and rarely-used appliances--you may find this is easier said than done. 
Before you become overwhelmed by the project of decluttering, check out our tips for decluttering your home for sale.

1. Limit Your Focus

As you tidy up your home, it’s best to limit your focus to one area or room at a time to avoid becoming distracted or overwhelmed. Make a list of the different areas in your home, and finish one area at a time.

2. Toss, Sell, Donate

You probably have many items lying around that you no longer use. Rather than move those items to your new house, why not get rid of them *before* listing your home for sale? Then, you’ll have less to move and less to unpack, plus, there will be less to distract potential buyers from the value of your home. 

As you sort through your possessions, decide which items you must keep, which you can sell, which you will donate, and which you will toss. You can easily make some extra cash by selling good quality furniture and appliances on Facebook or Craigslist, and you can take high quality clothing and shoes to a local consignment shop. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of resale, charities like The Salvation Army and Goodwill will always accept gently worn items. Depending on your zip code, Amvets will even schedule a pick-up in your neighborhood to remove unwanted items directly from your door!

3. Tidy Up Closets and Storage Areas

You might be tempted to simply hide unsightly belongings in closets, cabinets and cupboards to deal with them later. While this strategy might work for dinner parties, it’s a big mistake to cram your clutter in a closet while your home is listed for sale. Not only does this create a bigger mess for you to pack up later, but it can actually deter buyers when they see a cramped closet or a brimming basement. Buyers want to envision the amount of storage they will enjoy in their new home. If they see a closet stuffed full with items, they’ll get the impression that the house has too little storage and move on to the next one.

4. Clear Hallways and Entryways

Remove any unnecessary items from the foyer, stair landings and hallways. Your foyer will be the first impression of your home for potential buyers, so you’ll want it to be as neutral and welcoming as possible. Remove any personal photos, place a welcoming mat in the doorway, and add a bench and some flowers. Remember, less is more!

5. Remove Excessive and Worn Furniture

Remember that faded loveseat that you’re planning to replace after the move? How about that old bookshelf with a scratched surface and discolored wood? No matter how well maintained your home may be, worn and distressed furniture will give buyers the impression of disrepair. Before you begin showing your home, go through each room and identify any furniture that may need attention. If you’re planning on trashing it after the move, save yourself the trouble and toss it today! Or, if the items may be salvageable, rent a storage unit to keep the items out of site until you’re ready to restore them. Without excessive, threadbare furniture in the way, your home will receive the attention it deserves!

6. Remember the Purpose of the Room

Not only do you want to minimize the amount of furniture and decor in individual rooms, you’ll want to ensure that the items in each room fit with the function of the room. Using your dining room as an office? Is your fourth bedroom now your TV room? While it’s perfectly fine to repurpose your space to meet your own needs, remember that potential buyers will be less forgiving. Stage each room to fit its intended purpose so buyers can fully appreciate your home’s potential.

7. Remove Personal and Sentimental Items

When a potential buyer enters a home, they want to be able to imagine themselves in the space, with their possessions, memories, and decor. Having too many sentimental items dominating the space can prevent buyers from imagining the home as their own. Go through each room before showings and eliminate any unnecessary personal items. This includes family photos, knick knacks, and excessive decor. Children's art projects on the fridge? Box it up for later. College degree framed in the office? Take it to storage. Aim for only 1-2 non-identifiable pieces of art per room, think landscapes, still lifes, and abstract art. This way, buyers will focus on the home, not the home decor.

8. Sort Children's Toys, Clothes and Sports Equipment

If you have children, you know how easily excess toys, clothes, and sports equipment can overcrowd a space. Before listing your home for sale, sort through these items in each room and eliminate anything your child has outgrown or lost interest in. If you’d like to save it for another child, box it and put it in storage. Keep only the essential items that your child uses more than twice a week.

9. Invite a Friend to Keep It Objective

If you’re struggling to view your home objectively, invite a friend to help balance your perspective. Have them walk through your house and make a list of the items that should be eliminated or the areas that need attention. Once you have their inventory of items to purge, you’ll know where to start.

10. Rent a Storage Unit or Dumpster

Depending on how much clutter you’ve accumulated, you may consider renting a storage unit or even a dumpster before you list your house for sale. If you have a lot of items that you plan to replace, a dumpster might be the way to go. Fill it, and then the provider will handle the pick up and disposal. If you just want to keep excess furniture and personal items out of site until closing, there are many affordable and convenient storage options. Rent a unit, fill it, and then empty it into your new house when the time comes.


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