Decluttering Before Selling Your Home

Decluttering Before Selling Your Home
Guest Blogger: Kelly Pidwerbeski, Associate Broker, North Ridge Realty Ltd.

With the days getting longer, many of us will make spring cleaning plans to declutter our lives and this type of organization is of utmost importance when placing your home on the market. Being that buying and selling real estate tends to be an emotional purchase, it is important to keep in mind the message you are sending to prospective buyers with the staging of your home. Below is a great article found on written by Bob Kelly that provides helpful tips on how to manage the clutter in your home and how to put your best foot forward when listing it for sale.


Since the advent of home staging other new words have been added to the English dictionaries. Declutter is one of them. To quote the World English Dictionary “declutter-(verb) to simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, complications, etc. declutter your life.” Now that we are all clear on exactly what it means, let’s discuss how to actually do it.

In terms of real estate staging the object of decluttering is to remove the items that would enable buyers to focus on who you are, how you live, and your interests. These are not the things that are for sale. Since there are precious seconds before we lose buyers’ attention we need to keep them focused on the task at hand—appreciating the space and features of the home you are trying to sell.

Here are some tips:

  • If your house is going to be on the market and you are serious about leaving, start packing as if you are moving. It is ok to have boxes neatly stacked in a basement or garage. It shows buyers a commitment on your part to selling your house. They will feel you are ready and willing to strike a deal.
  • Truly assess what you will be able to take with you in your new home. Don’t put off “figuring it out” until you get there. If you are downsizing then you will need to begin giving things away to friends and family members. Let them be the new keepers of the family mementos.
  • Donate, donate, donate—There have to be things in your house that you rarely, if ever, use that someone could find very helpful. Plus you will benefit on your taxes from the deduction. It is a win for everyone.
  • The rule of thumb in staging is that cabinets (yes even kitchen cabinets) and closets should be no more than 2/3 full. Jammed storage areas give buyers the impression that this home isn’t large enough for your things and therefore won’t work for them either.
  • I know you already have heard about removing personal photos. But do you also know that collections however large or small need to be removed as well? These are all distractions. It feels good to have people admire our photos and collectibles, but that is not what we are selling.
  • Don’t neglect garages and basements. Very often can become dumping grounds for things we no longer use or know where to put. These areas are important selling features and need to look as neat and tidy as any room in the house. Organize.
  • Keep the wall adornments to a minimum. Less is more. The more wall space showing the larger the room looks. And when accessorizing anything such as walls, tables, shelves always use the 3-5-7 rule. Accessorize in odd numbers and if things are on a level surface, have something at each level—high, medium, and low.

By following these basic principles you will be well on your way to maximizing the look and feel of your house. Most of my clients love their new and improved way of life, and vow to keep things simple in their next home.

Remember this: Having clutter in your home is in essence like paying for storage without the unit. There will be a loss of perceived value on the part of the buyer which translates into lower or worse yet, no offers.