In this real estate market, home sellers need to take any advantage they can. One of the most important things to do is to get rid of clutter so that the prospective buyers can imagine themselves and their belongings in the house. Decluttering also creates the illusion of a more spacious home. This can help the home sell more quickly and may even bring in a higher sales price.
Removing clutter is no easy task for most people, as they are often emotionally attached to everything in their homes. After years of living in the same house, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner.
Yet, for prospective homeowners looking for a fresh start, the clutter drastically affects their decision, even if you do not realize it. Clutter quickly collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, dining room tables, exercise equipment and in the four corners of the basement.
For many people, the longer the clutter is there, the harder it is to organize it. The piles of boxes and clothing often become nostalgic, as they remind the homeowner of special times when the clutter was first amassed – perhaps during a quick clean-up in preparation for a birthday party or a first Thanksgiving in the home.
And, so the clutter sits…and sits.
To sell your home, take a crucial step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter – as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive.
Target these Clutter Filled Areas:
The kitchen is an easy place to begin. Get everything off the counters – even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage, too.
Homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their “stuff.” If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. Create as much “empty space” as possible.
Junk your kitchen “junk drawer.” If you have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every cabinet and drawer. Create open space.
Beneath the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home.
Now, head to the closets, which clutter often festers. I’m talking about extra clothes and shoes – things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a couple of months by putting them in a box, because these items can make your closets look “crammed full.” Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of “stuff” or other accumulated personal items, too. Box them up, too.
In regards to the den and living room, many people have too much furniture. Not too much for your own personal living needs, but too much to give the illusion of space that a homebuyer seeks. You may want to tour some builders’ models to see how they place furniture in the model homes, as you will get some ideas on what furniture to remove and what to leave.
Basements, garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential and take it to the storage area, or have a garage sale.
Ironically, getting rid of clutter, while time consuming and emotionally difficult, is usually the only preparation that leaves you with more money than you started with!
Whether you have a yard sale, have someone else conduct a sale at your home, or even donate it all to charity and take the tax deduction, you’ll be surprised at how much money it’s all worth. The most organized and disciplined home sellers often realize enough money from their yard sale to pay for many of the other improvements and spruce-ups necessary to get the home ready for sale. You save again with reduced moving expenses later on!
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| About this Experts Contributor: Betsy Fein is a recognized expert in professional organizing and President of Clutterbusters!!, which provides professional organization services in Rockville, Maryland. You can follow this contributor on Twitter @clutterbusters.
As of September 3, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie’s List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.