Preparing your home for showing:
Weeding out the clutter

by Ruth Lorenzen

Hi. Today I want to talk to you about clutter. When you’re showing your house for sale you want it to look its best, of course. What can you do to make it look its best?

Sometimes one is a little “blind” to what others would see if they looked at one’s house. Clutter, too much furniture, and lots of personal possessions can be a real “turn off” to a potential buyer. Too much stuffed into a house can make a potential buyer think that the house is too small and they won’t fit. Your job as seller is to make your house appear roomy so that any potential buyer can see how they can fit well in your house.

Too many personal possession can also turn off a potential buyer. The potential buyer cannot imagine themselves in your house or you will give off the impression that you’re not really ready or serious about moving out of the house. You can do much to help your house sell by removing all those little personal touches that “tag” the house as “yours”.

Here are some steps you can follow to make your house more acceptable to a potential buyer.

  1. Go through all your “stuff” and get rid of what you won’t be taking with you to your new residence. Either sell it, send it back to the person you borrowed it from, give it away, or throw it out. Why wait until the last minute anyway to do this. You are planning on moving, right?
  2. Rent a storage unit. The cost of a storage unit will more than repay itself in ease of showing the house, having the potential buyer see the house “as their own”, and will even make moving easier in the end.
  3. Put in the storage unit all those things you have stored in your closets and garage that you will be taking with you, but that you don’t plan to use in the next 3 to 6 months. Cluttered closets make the house seem like it doesn’t have enough storage space. A garage should look like you could easily put a car in it and store bicycles, tools and other stuff. Go for that look.
  4. Also put in the storage unit any large exercise or sport equipment that you don’t currently use but that you might use “some day.” If your house has an actual exercise room, then leave these items in the house.
  5. Many people have far too much furniture and possessions in their house. If you’re planning on moving up to a larger house, it’s a good bet that you already have too much furniture and other “stuff” to easily and comfortably fit in your house. Decide what you can live without for the next few months and put these items in your storage unit. Some people have so much furniture that removing half of it will leave just the right amount behind for showing. Potential buyers should be able to easily move around the house and rooms shouldn’t be so full of furniture lined up “wall-to-wall”.
  6. You can probably go through your clothes and even put away in the storage unit those items that you won’t be using in the next few months. For example, if it’s springtime, put away those winter clothes. Roomy closets make a good impression on potential buyers.
  7. Put away all your many little personal possessions until very little is displayed in your house. Those items left out should be useful (like in the kitchen) or decorative (as good as any model home). For example: Plan to put away just about everything you have out in the bathroom. Bring back out those items which you use a lot of. Of course everyone expects to see toothbrushes, soap, a shampoo bottle, towels, a glass, etc. in a bathroom. But that rubber ducky can go in a drawer, along with the dozen other shampoo bottles that you don’t use anymore and that stack of toilet paper in the corner (put it all in a closet or under the sink). Throw out that stack of magazines!
  8. In the kitchen, see if you can clear off the countertops. Many small appliances are not used that often and should be stored under the counter or elsewhere. Sure, leave out the toaster and the coffee maker if you use it every day, but the blender and the deep fat fryer could probably get stowed under the counter. Go for the “model house” look in the kitchen.

The cost of a storage unit is negligible in comparison to the negative effect a cluttered house will have on potential buyers. It will also make moving a little easier because you can first move the items you already have in your house, which are the items you need most of all, and later you can pick up the items from the storage unit (which should already be boxed and are easily movable).

These are some low-cost things that you can do to make your house show its best when you have it on the market for sale. If someone can come in and remark that your house is like a model home, then you’ll know you’ve done it right. Believe me, you’ll still have plenty of personal possessions left out after doing the above, but your house will look a lot better. It’s a small price to pay for a quick and easy sale. You might even get more money for your house. And that wouldn’t be all bad, would it?

--Ruth Lorenzen

Contact me for a consultation about selling your home.

© 2006 Ruth Lorenzen. All rights reserved.