What helps a home sale? What sets your house apart? Is it simply price? (That’s certainly a big part of it in today’s economy!) Could it be something a little more aesthetic like curb appeal? (You do have to get people through your front door!) Maybe it’s all about freebies and incentives? I think we’re over looking one crucial point here. I think we’re over looking the clutter factor. Sure you still live in your house. You need your stuff. I understand. Prospective buyers coming into your home need to be able to picture themselves there… with their stuff… and without your stuff. As you look around your cluttered home, that you desperately need to sell, the one question on your mind is “What can I do about the clutter factor here?”
Start simple. Take out the obvious trash! This includes anything broken, outdated, expired, or past its prime. Identify the things you no longer use, wear, or LOVE. Start a box in each room for items to be donated and fill ‘er up. When the donation boxes are full you have two choices: put them into your car immediately OR move them out of your living space and call for charitable pick up. You pick which option works for you but PICK and FOLLOW THROUGH.
You will need to put things into storage. There will be out of season items and things you are keeping as hand-me-downs. You will have personal keepsakes that you can’t part with, but don’t want on display. You will have holiday decorations that you need out of the way. Do this process wisely. Remember that it is not a forever proposition and that these items can be retrieved at any time.
Countertops were made to be seen.
If you do not have a system for dealing with your paperwork, get one. Use a binder, get a desk top filing system, find an accordion file if you must! We are all under a constant barrage of incoming papers. School fliers, calendars, mail, club info, church/synagogue info, magazines/catalogs, take out menus, MAIL, receipts, … It really never ends. Since we can’t stop it, we have to find a way to control it. Get the paperwork off of your countertops and dresser tops. Contain the papers. Keep them readily available so that you can have important info on hand when you need it. Even if you are an avid baker, when showing your home, your kitchen counters need to be nearly naked. Only the absolute kitchen essentials should be present. Nothing should remain in your kitchen sink but the shine!
Set the stage by setting the dining table.
Whether you eat a a high top bar, a kitchen eat in, or in a formal dining room it is important that those surfaces are clear of clutter as well. You don’t have to leave the table set with your best china, do make an effort to keep it tidy and inviting. Think about how you feel when your table is all dressed for company. Consider a color coordinating table cloth to add to the homey inviting feel. Don’t neglect to add a centerpiece to your table, whether it is a bowl of fruit or just a vase.
If your closet is filled to the brim with clothing, shoes, hidden gifts and other items it looks smaller than its true size. Any out of season clothing can be put into storage while your house is on the market. This includes shoes. Keep in your closet only the current season and your current size. Do the same for all family members.
Linen closet pare down: If you have sheet sets for a size of bed that you do not currently have in your home, donate the sheets. If you have 235 blankets taking up valuable shelf space, donate some blankets. City Rescue Mission would love to have them!
Look in your pantry. Buyers will be looking here too. Toss all expired food. Donate non-expired “we’re never ever going to eat that” foods. Start cooking with what you have on hand. You are facing an impending move. You do NOT want to move 5 boxes worth of pantry items. Cans are heavy. Boxes of cans are heavier.
Remember: Your bedroom closet is for clothing. Your linen closet is for linens. Your pantry is for food you can and will use. These closets were created with a purpose and named thusly.
Bedrooms are for tranquility.
Your Realtor will tell you about the importance of neutral colors in selling your home. Listen to them! This is especially important in setting the stage for a peaceful night’s sleep. Keep your dresser tops clear of clutter (including laundry!). Add a tray or a basket to dresser tops and nightstands if these are places where clutter tends to accumulate. Just like your mama always told you, “Make your bed!” It is VERY important to make your bed each day as a tidy bed makes the whole room more inviting and open.
Bathrooms are often tiny but made big impressions.
Do not over load the medicine cabinet to the point of fearing avalanche. Keep surfaces clear as much as possible. (You are sensing a theme by now, I hope.) Use simple dividers in drawers. Make your mirrors and chrome shine! Wipe down all surfaces often with antibacterial wipes. More often if you have young boys in your home. A little bleach goes a long way in a bathroom, but so does the smell. Judge for yourself what the addition of a neutral smelling candle would do for this room.
Playrooms should be playful!
Hopefully you have been able to set limits and boundaries up to this point and will just be weeding out recently outgrown toys. If there are toys that your child does not play with or are no longer age appropriate donate them. If toys are broken or missing pieces, throw them away. Chances are, once your child sees all of the good things that have been buried in a mass of confusion of the toys they will not miss anything that has moved on. Do not take away your child’s most loved and cherished playthings. Containerize the toys that are left. Label the containers with words and pictures so that your child can put their own toys away in the right place. Clip art, flash cards, photographs, and drawings – paired with words - are all great ways to label for children who are not yet reading.
Make more room in the family room.
Selecting which movies/games/game systems can go to storage. For all of the AV equipment that is left, dust it often and hide the cords. This is a good time to pare down your book collection. Books are heavy. Boxes of books are heavier. Pass books you’ve read along to a friend, a used book store, or simply donate them. Keep shelves from looking overcrowded by interspersing mementoes between the books. Everything on the shelves should have breathing room. Pack up your personal collections and family photos for storage. Keep in mind that the home buyer needs to see their family living in your home. Arrange your furniture so that there is a focal point. If possible, make homey and comfortable conversation areas.
One final note: Keep up the upkeep. Overcoming the clutter factor is a huge step toward making your home more presentable to prospective buyers. Think also of the maintenance issues in your home. Replace burned out light bulbs. Touch up chipped paint. Keep the windows as shiny clean as possible. Make your home look loved so that someone else may fall in love with it!
We love to help homeowners get ready to sell. We also unpack in record time!
If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized, and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or searching for Organize With Julie. Want to follow me on twitter? Find me @juliebavi.