After the lull of winter, the real estate industry will start revving up again as it usually does in the spring. So now is the time to get your home ready if you’ve considered selling. But before I jump into why it is important to declutter and organize your home before you put it on the market, let me first tell you a story…
When I was pregnant with my first son, my doctor informed me at 37-weeks that I would have to keep my physical activity to a minimum. So for the remaining 3 weeks (and 3 days) of my pregnancy, I became a bit of a couch potato. And one of my favorite channels to watch was HGTV. Maybe it was because of the nesting tendencies of the pregnant female, but I was (and still am) absolutely captivated by everything on that channel.
One of my favorite shows was Love It or List It. On LIOLI, two professionals (one an interior designer and one a real estate agent) compete to win over a family with either a remodel of their current home (the interior designer’s dilemma) or a brand new home that “better fits their needs” (the real estate agent’s predicament).
The main argument of every family on LIOLI was one of space: there just wasn’t enough. And while one member of the family was dead-set on figuring out a way to make the current situation work, another member was certain that no amount of change to their home could solve their space problem.
What I loved so much about LIOLI was how the interior designer solved much of the families’ space problem by simply rearranging and readjusting the home to improve storage space and functionality. Some changes were more complicated than others (such as total renos of mudrooms or kitchens). However, many other times it was simply a question of cleaning out and utilizing organization and storage tricks in the already existing home. When these tricks were used, the clutter vanished and the home appeared spacious again. Thus, the home became more appealing when presented again to the homeowners.
But convincing homeowners to stay in their homes isn’t quite as difficult as convincing total strangers to move into yours. So it’s important to be aware of what homeowners are searching for in homes today. Crisp, clean, and open interiors with minimalist styles and bright colors are just some of the looks now in vogue, so decluttering and tidying up your home’s interior to meet the expectations of potential buyers is a must.
Excessive furniture, decor, and other clutter makes your home look uncared for.
Let’s face it: The homes they show on HGTV are gorgeous – and there’s a reason why. If they showed you what homes actually looked like lived in, you wouldn’t be so intrigued. You might even think, “How could someone possibly live there?”
Properties with too much stuff in and around them project an unkempt and neglectful image to potential buyers. They may even assume that because of the outer appearance, there may be hidden problems as well that the homeowners just didn’t care enough about fixing. Some houses I’ve seen for sale looked more like storage units than potential homes.
The fix is easy: remove the excess. Big heavy curtains, extra kitchen gadgets, shelves full of knick-knacks and this-and-that, unnecessary clothing, and furniture that looks nice but is rarely used are some of the common culprits. This doesn’t mean that you need to trash everything, though. Some of the aforementioned stuff should probably go, while anything else you absolutely need can be stored in the basement, attic, garage, or a storage unit.
Clutter makes your home appear confining and smaller than it really is.
In preparation for the birth of our son, we decided to change our Study into a Play Room. It went from a spacious room with a few bookshelves and a couple of couches, to a crowded, overflowing area filled with kid stuff. It has since been contained in a sensible way, but the original feel of the spacious Study is no more.
I discussed in my post Why Organize? that clutter can cause stress and anxiety. One reason is because it constantly assaults our minds with stimuli. The visual, tactile, and olfactory senses are those pointed out by this Psychology Today article as the ones primarily affected. Clutter is confining physically and mentally, so removing anything unnecessary will make your home look better and you feel better.
If you aren’t sure where to start, I’d suggest your closets. Potential buyers always look in closets to get a sense of how much storage there is. Less stuff in these areas means that they are seeing more space for their stuff once they move in.
Storing and moving things you don’t need will cost money.
If you’re wondering whether to declutter now or wait until after you move, the answer is simple: Do it now. On average, an in-state move can cost about $1,170 while and out-of-state move could run you close to $6,000. Moving is not a cheap endeavor, so any way you can save money should be seriously considered.
As I mentioned earlier, when you stage your home for pictures and an open house, you will need to move all your personal belongings into a basement, garage, or attic. If you don’t have access to one of these areas, you’ll most likely have to rent a storage unit to keep everything in. The less stuff you have, the less space you need to rent to store it in.
Along the same lines, packaging for your stuff (boxes, tape, protective wrapping, etc.) costs money, as well as the van or truck you move it in, and the movers you hire to move it. Having fewer belongings to pack means that you won’t have to buy as much packaging for the move, and might even be able to spring for a smaller truck. If you’ve decluttered enough that you could make the move yourself, you might not even have to hire movers.
If you do decide now is the time to sell, good luck! Just remember – Less is More. 😉