Inside: Learn how to declutter before listing your home for sale and why it’s so important.

If you’re planning to put your house on the market anytime soon, now is the time to start the decluttering process. Not only can paring down your belongings save you time on both ends of the move, but it can also help save you money and potential headaches.

The appearance of your home is also a factor in how quickly your home will sell and for how much. Potential buyers are looking for a home they can see themselves living in — a home that is well organized and has plenty of storage space. 

With all the changes that arise with listing, selling, and buying a home, adding decluttering to the mix can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The tips mentioned below will help it to feel more doable.

Read on for how to declutter your home before listing it for sale and why you want to make sure not to skip this important step in the home selling process.

declutter before listing your home

Why You Should Declutter Before Listing Your Home

Moving is listed as one of the top ten stressors in life. With all the moving pieces involved, it’s tempting to want to take shortcuts when possible. However, decluttering should not be something you skip over. Here’s why…

1. It will make your home appear larger

Having less stuff in a space will make your home look bigger. Have you ever noticed that your living room feels bigger after taking the Christmas tree down?

The same is true of rooms that have excessive furniture or decor pieces. When your home appears cluttered, the space looks less usable. Less stuff gives the space more breathing room and helps people to see more possibilities.

Overstuffed closets and cabinets make it seem as though the home doesn’t have enough storage space. If buyers are greeted by too much clutter, they might get the impression that your home is too small for their lives – and their stuff. 

The secret to making your space feel bigger is to declutter before listing it for sale.

2. Help potential buyers imagine themselves living there

People often have a hard time seeing beyond what is in front of them. This is why realtors often suggest picking a neutral color scheme and decorate in a way that is less personalized in order to appeal to the masses.

As you begin decluttering, it’s important to see your home through the eyes of potential buyers. Clutter is distracting and can make it harder for buyers to see your home’s selling points.

Not everyone has an eye for design or could imagine what the space would look like with fewer or different things. The more you can removed personalized items from the home, the better.

When a home shows more like a blank slate, it is easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves and their things in the space.

family moving

3. You’ll get better offers

Decluttering makes it easier to stage your home to sell. Homes that are staged tend to sell faster and for more money than ones that aren’t.

The additional effort put in to make your home show well usually pays off.

Keep in mind that people are likely to look in closets, cabinets, and other hidden areas. Decluttering not just the obvious stuff, but also behind closed doors will give a better impression of the home.

Potential buyers make assumptions based on what they see. If they see a decluttered and organized space, they’ll feel that you’ve cared for and maintained the home.

If the home shows like you couldn’t be bothered and it looks dirty and cluttered, they are likely to assume you’ve put off other maintenance of the home as well.

When you take the time to declutter before you list and then do some staging (either yourself or by hiring someone), you can move through the selling process more quickly and you’re like to have better offers presented to you.

Whether it’s a buyers or sellers market, presenting a clean and fresh space is key in getting your home sold.

4. It will help make your move easier

Another reason to declutter before listing your home is that it will help your move to go more smoothly.

The more work you do on the front end to get organized and decluttered, the simpler it will be to unpack and settle in to your new space.

You don’t want to expend the additional money or energy to move things you don’t even use or want anymore.

Taking the time to organize and declutter before listing your home will help to simplify your move. As you’re able to find items more easily and unpack systematically, you’ll be thankful you put in the work beforehand.

declutter before listing your home

How to Declutter Before Listing Your Home for Sale

Even with its many benefits, decluttering can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when you pair it with selling your home and a move. It can also be emotionally draining.

You might find it hard to decide what does and doesn’t serve a purpose in your life anymore. The good news is that it’s not impossible.

Knowing when and how to go through your things is the first step to streamlining the process.  

1. Begin early 

The easiest way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed is to get a jump on decluttering early. The truth is, we all have more stuff than we think we do and the closer you look, the more you’re likely to find.

You don’t want to get discouraged here, so planning ahead will be well worth it. 

2. Start with the obvious stuff

To maximize space, you’ll have to start getting rid of things. Remove personal belongings like knickknacks, decor, and family photos.

Sell, donate, or store any furniture that makes a room feel crowded and dated. Don’t worry if rooms start to feel empty. Space sells.

Flat surfaces like countertops, islands, and the tops of fridges are notorious catchalls. Take the time to clear them as well.

Ditch any paperwork, mail piles, or anything that crowds their real estate. Buyers need to see the potential of each room, and a spacious kitchen can help sell a home.

woman decluttering

3. Take it one room at a time

While every home (and its clutter) is different, some common areas will likely need your attention sooner than others. While the kitchen, bathrooms, living room, and bedrooms are all obvious rooms that need attention, don’t overlook these spaces in the decluttering process.

  • Garage / Basement / Attic

It’s no secret that these areas have a reputation for accumulating clutter. Take the time to evaluate everything you’ve been storing. If you haven’t used something or forgot it was even there, toss it or donate it.

Pay special attention to items like old paint cans or cleaning solutions, camping gear, broken toys, random party supplies, extra tools, and pieces and parts of appliances or furniture. If it’s gone unnoticed for this long, you likely don’t need it. 

  • Closets / Drawers

A closet cleanout is never a bad idea, but it’s particularly helpful before making a move. To help showcase the home’s closet space and give you a jump-start on packing, start purging.

Toss or donate any clothing that’s too old, too worn, too small, or too big. If you don’t like it anymore, toss it. To keep the process organized, don’t just create piles, categorize them into items you want to trash, donate, store, and pack for the new house. 

declutter before listing your home
  • Cupboards / Pantry

Believe it or not, prospective buyers will look behind doors when touring your home, so these areas shouldn’t be overlooked.

There’s no reason to keep every coffee mug you’ve ever owned or the lonely lids to mismatched tumblers. Get rid of expired food, anything without a lid, and cookware that’s seen better days.

And don’t forget about your junk drawer! Everyone has one. Take advantage of your current need to declutter and clear it out.

4. Don’t let nostalgia make decisions for you 

It can be tough to let go of items that have some sentimental value. From boxes stuffed with old art projects to snow globes from every family vacation, saying goodbye to treasured objects can be overwhelming and emotional.

But don’t let nostalgia get in the way of your decluttering goals. If you have a deep and special connection to an item, feel free to keep it.

Just try to be mindful that you don’t keep everything that’s sentimental. Remember, you’re tossing an item, not a memory.

5. Don’t do it alone

Sorting through an entire home isn’t an easy or quick process. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. Recruit friends and family to help.

Put on some music, order some food, and make the most out of your home cleanout with your favorite people. Take the time to communicate with what will be most helpful to you. This will keep the stress low and the morale high. 

declutter before listing your home

6. Staging your home

Small changes in decor, layout, and room usage can make a dramatic difference in whether your home stands out from the crowd. Decluttering is a very important piece of this puzzle, especially if you list your home with a real estate agent.

Because potential buyers like to weed out their options before attending showings, realtors often photograph the space. And if you want to create a scroll-stopping listing, you need to get rid of your clutter.

Think of staging as preparing your home to look like a “show house” versus a lived-in home.  When your listing photos are good quality, buyers are more likely to request additional details or submit an offer.

Did you declutter before listing your home for sale? Share about it in the comments section.

Decluttering can be a long process, but it’s certainly worthwhile. From showing every room in your home in its best light to ensuring you only bring the things you love and need to your new space, decluttering is a win-win solution to selling (and moving) fast.

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One Comment

  1. Very good article! We have followed your tips for many (many) moves. Never had a problem selling are houses. We rent a storage unit. We put our packed-up items in the storage unit until are house sells. It is worth the time, effort and cost. You will get your price and maybe more if you declutter. Clean, clean, and clean.

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