Prospective buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in your home, and decluttering plays a big part in allowing them to do that. Decluttering is one of several simple staging tips that will help to show off your home's best assets, maximizing space and highlighting organization. Here are some tips to declutter your home and avoid any deal-killing criticisms from potential buyers.
Wide Open Spaces
One of the most coveted amenities a home for sale can have is space. Think of potential homebuyers as space explorers in search of the biggest bang for their buck. That means that when they attend your showing or open house, they will look in all of your built-in cabinetry including drawer space, they will open every closet door, assess the amount of counter space there is in the kitchen and bathrooms, and perform a thorough evaluation of your garage and basement.
So, if you've decided to declutter by simply shoving things in the pantry, linen, hallway and bedroom closets or by putting everything that doesn't have a place into your garage, then you are signaling to the potential buyer that they will have a difficult time maximizing the space of the home, as well.
The first step you can take is to identify the items in your home that you can part with. Start with your closets and drawers, the boxes you have crammed into the garage and the area under the bed. In all likelihood these have been your designated areas for the items you weren’t sure what to do with in the first place, and many of those items may have extended beyond their usefulness to you.
Designating items under one of these categories can help make this plan more organized:
- Trash – Plan your cleaning sessions around your neighborhood’s trash pickup schedule. This way you can take your garbage straight to the curb instead of cluttering the garage or your front yard. If you are part of a Homeowners Association make sure you know what large items will and will not be taken by sanitation and how to properly dispose of these items.
- Charity – Designate items that you can donate to your favorite charity. Whether it’s clothes you no longer wear, electronics that still work but you no longer use or furniture that is adding to the clutter, there are many people who can benefit from your donations.
- Document Shredding – You may have a number of documents that you no longer need that have sensitive personal information on them. You can purchase a paper shredder, take your documents to a professional shredding company or even participate in local shred events in your area where you can have your documents shredded for free.
- Electronics Recycling – If you have electronics that are broken or no longer functioning you can take them to a number of electronics recycling centers. Retail stores like Best Buy offer recycling options for electronics at their locations and can schedule a pickup at your home for a fee.
1. Recognize the Power of Pre-Packing.
One best practice in paring down is pre-packing. You can pre-pack off-season items or things that are used less often. If your home is listed during the spring and summer months, you could pre-pack winter clothing and items, while the same goes for summer items if you are selling in autumn or winter months.
For kitchen storage and countertops, you can also pre-pack items such as holiday dinnerware, serveware and flatware.
2. Take Things Off-Site.
Consider off-site storage if space is at a premium in your home or if your items cannot be neatly stored in your garage. Many self-storage providers will offer you the first month of service free or at a heavily discounted price without a deposit, making this an excellent option if you have bulky furniture that you want to keep.
3. Make it Easy on the Eyes.
You may have come a long way in pre-packing and utilizing off-site storage, but you will still have items that you need to store under the bed, in closets or in your cabinets. Use storage baskets to contain clutter under bathroom sinks or on shelving. In children’s rooms, use colorful bins to organize and store toys. Bins and baskets allow for quick clean up so that your home can be ready to show in minutes.
Consider developing a plan for how you will declutter room by room to help you more effectively conquer the clutter.
It is important to separate the idea of decorating from staging. While decorating is personalizing a home, staging is depersonalizing your home so that a buyer can envision your home as his or her home.
Clean as you stage each room, focusing on making each room as simple and depersonalized as possible while still maintaining excellent flow and design. You can learn more about how to depersonalize when staging your home for sale with the third part in our series.
Many home sellers feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to clean out their entire home, so why not make the process more reasonable for yourself? Start with one room or even one part of a room, give yourself even as little as an hour or two a day and keep working in manageable chunks if you are feeling anxious about tackling this project in larger blocks of time.
This is part two of a five-part series about staging a home for sale by owner (FSBO) for showings and open houses. Learn more about staging in Part One of our Expert Home Staging Tips series.