"Out of clutter, find simplicity." - Albert Einstein
Anyone who has sold a home knows getting it ready to list can be a daunting task; whether you have lived in your home for a year, or 50 years, we all accumulate a lot of physical clutter. This clutter happens because of sentimental reasons, anticipated future need, or simply because we are too overwhelmed to do anything about it. After losing my father a year ago, my husband and I made the decision that we would put our home on the market and move back to NJ to be closer to our aging parents and family… and being near the ocean isn’t so bad either 😉. We gave ourselves a year before listing so we could focus on the necessary steps to ensure a well-polished house that would appeal to buyers and sell quickly. I didn’t want to wait until the last minute to get my home in “selling mode,” so I was proactive in simplifying our living spaces and decluttering rooms. In being proactive, my family got to experience a clean, tidy home, as well as a simplified daily routine that made getting ready for showings less stressful. Here are my top 3 areas of the home to focus on when trying to declutter.
1. Simplify furniture throughout the home. Home buyers are looking for simple, clean, and spacious rooms, so start by decluttering pieces such as: extra side tables, coffee tables, and faded or worn furniture. Yes, this might mean removing your husband’s favorite recliner, or the cat’s “chosen chair” being used as a scratching post. By removing extra pieces of furniture, the room instantly looks larger. This is also a good time to discard old and faded throw pillows or blankets. How you present your possessions is how the buyer will think you treat the rest of the home, so making a great first impression with your furniture is key. If you are struggling with getting rid of sentimental pieces, consider offering these items to family or friends, or donating them to a local charitable organization, such as Habitat for Humanity. Sometimes this helps lessen the guilt you are experiencing by removing it from your home. It’s also important to remember that this process of decluttering isn’t about excessively purging your belongings, but rather preparing the space for sale and making active decisions to make your move to a new home more efficient. You may feel the rooms starting to look empty, but your buyer will look at the same rooms and think it has tons of possibility; a decluttered home is calm and inviting.
2. Remove personal items. Though it may be difficult to do emotionally, taking out your personality in the home gives the buyer the opportunity to imagine living there. This means putting away family photos, cool collector items (yes, shrines to your favorite sports team must be put away!), and any unusual home décor. Use a critical eye when deciding if certain books or artwork should remain; you want to avoid giving the buyer a clear understanding of what your likes and dislikes are, and instead, allow the features of your home to stand out. This is also a great time to clean out cabinets in the bathrooms so you can store personal hygiene items quickly when you have a showing at the home.
3. Clean out the garage and storage room. These rooms are often forgotten because we think of them as the place where we can hide the misfits from the home. I assure you that a neat, clean, well-organized garage and storage room tells a buyer that the home has been maintained well. Purge things you don’t need or use…then purge again two more times! If you have a two-car garage, fit the two cars in it!
Of course, timing is everything when you decide to list your home. Unfortunately for my family, “social distancing” was declared a day after we listed. Talk about timing!! We are confident our home will sell once life gets back to some sort of normalcy, but, for now, we are enjoying the benefits of a clean, simplified home as we await our next chapter in life as a family to begin.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and remember that though the task seems overwhelming, be proactive and take it one day at a time. Your future self will be grateful.