You’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate agent, talked about pricing, developed a marketing strategy, and spruced things up. The windows are sparkling, the floors are gleaming, and the landscaping has never looked nicer.
But you forgot one critical detail: you didn’t de-clutter. And even though all of your belongings, from the clothes in your closets to the books on your shelves to the appliances lining your kitchen counters are neatly stowed and in place, your home has the appearance of being overcrowded with stuff. Sure, that stuff is important to you, and maybe even quite valuable. The problem is that no matter how nice your possessions are, if they are too numerous, they are going to be a deterrent to a quick sale.
When a prospective buyer walks into your house, he or she wants to see a blank canvas – as blank as possible without appearing empty – on which to imagine personal belongings and decorating style. A cluttered home makes it much more difficult to take that imaginative leap, and some buyers will be turned off to the point of turning their backs and heading straight out the door to look for a less crowded home to buy.
The result is that your home will sit on the market until someone capable of overlooking the clutter comes through the door. And those types of buyers are few and far between. There are many pitfalls to trying to sell an overcrowded home:
- A first impression can make the sale. If a home shows well from the first moment a buyer walks inside, that impression will linger during the rest of the tour of the house and stay in the buyer’s memory long after he or she leaves.
- Spaciousness is important. Buyers like space. Period. And if your extra stuff is taking up a lot of space, no matter how roomy your home is, things will look tight.
- A messy home indicates a messy owner. And messy owners, who allow clutter to build up, don’t come across as the type of people who can maintain order with a home’s crucial systems. If your shelves are piled with knickknacks or there are dishes stacked on your counters, what are the odds that you’re the type of personality to change furnace filters or have the chimney checked regularly?
- Some people associate clutter with a lack of cleanliness. And if you have a lot of belongings strewn about, even the cleanest of floors, windows, and countertops won’t be noticed.
The moral of this story is that de-cluttering up front, before you list your home for sale, will save you a lot of heartache. If sorting through your belongings and prioritizing what stays and what goes is not an intuitive process for you, you may want to enlist the help of someone who specializes in the organization of homes. De-cluttering can be very liberating and result in helping you determine the things that are really important to you. And no one is suggesting that you throw everything in the trash. You can recycle, donate, sell, or store the items you no longer need or can do without in the long term.
There are a lot of online resources that can help you organize and streamline your life, and at no time is this more crucial than when you decide to put your home on the market. Investing in a little extra effort up front will reap rewards for you when it comes to making that swift sale.