Though we’re getting better at keeping our personal things organized, no amount of Ikea furniture hacking can hide that fact that we all have too much stuff. Most of us have every nook and cranny of our homes bulging with clothes, linens, toys, tools, books, household goods, and a dish for every special occasion under the sun.
Too much stuff can make it harder to sell your home. If you want to sell your home, and sell your home fast, then you need to lose some of the stuff.
The buyer must envision their stuff in the space, not your stuff
A house generally consists of four walls, a floor, and a roof. Inside this structure is what is commonly referred to as “space”. What we call “home” is the way that we use the space inside our house with our stuff. But if your stuff is everywhere, it will prevent the buyer from seeing their own stuff there.
Here’s what’s going to happen when a buyer comes to look at your home. One of them is going to look in cabinets, closets, and drawers. The other will check out the garage. They will both be thinking of how their own stuff will fill the space inside and outside the house to make it a home.
Will they be able to picture their own stuff in the same living room as your bulging three piece sectional sofa? Probably not!
If the space is filled with your stuff, it’s harder for them to see their stuff in it
In order to imagine your house as their home, the buyer needs to see where they can fit their stuff. They need to have the vision of where everything is going to go and how they are going to live in the space. This will help it feel like home to them.
Too much of your stuff will prevent the buyers from seeing their stuff in the space. It will remind them that your house is not their home. They need to be able to see past that.
Here are some ideas to help you declutter and depersonalize your home….
How to Declutter
- Clean out the pantry: This will make your pantry seem larger. You should donate food that is still good, but won’t be eaten. Try the Thurston County Food Bank.
- Clean up the bathroom: Try not to leave your toothbrushes, deodorant, and beauty products on the counter.
- Garage sale: This is a time-tested way to get rid of that stuff you don’t need anymore or never use.
- Storage: If you have a lot of stuff that you don’t want to get rid of, consider placing it in temporary storage until after you move. If you can’t afford storage, try to make some room in the garage.
- Donation: Give your stuff to an organization that helps people in need, such as the Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.
- Craigslist: Craigslist is the undisputed champion of classified ads. Just be sure to follow some common sense safety guidelines.
- 2Good2Toss: Sell, exchange, or give things away online.
- Toss it: When it’s not too good to toss, take it to the dump.
How to De-personalize
- Remove pictures and mementos from walls. Pictures are distracting and draw attention away from the features of your house. This can be a tough one, but think about it. If the buyer sees your family and friends all over the place, it’s not going to feel like home. It will remind them that this is your house, not theirs. You don’t have to remove every picture, but try to limit it to one or two items per room.
- Cut back on the knick-knacks, trinkets, tchotchke, and collections. We’ve seen homes that had so many knick knacks, souvenirs, and trinkets on the walls that you could not see the walls! This presents a real challenge for potential buyers. Not only does it prevent them from seeing their stuff in the space, but it also makes the house feel smaller.
- Remove or reduce items that are blatantly political or religious. Though these things may be very important to you, a potential buyer might strongly disagree with your point of view. Some people just can’t look past this kind of thing, and you don’t want them to form their opinion of your home based on a negative association.
- Use neutral colors. We once had a room that had blue and red walls, and another room with purple and some sort of nuclear yellow. Don’t make the same mistake we did! It only reminded buyers that it was our home, not theirs, and if they wanted to buy it someone was going to have to paint. If you have some colorful craziness going on like we did, consider painting over it with a neutral color.
- Be scent-neutral. Try to get rid of any odor issues in your home. Common sources of odors are garbage cans, shoes, pets, perfumes and colognes, strong smelling foods, and smoking. If your home has an odor issue, it will smack people in the face as soon as they walk in the door. It makes a terrible first impression. Masking the odor with scented air fresheners can make it worse, because some buyers are very sensitive to scent.
- More fresh air! Whether your home has a scent issue or not, fresh air is always good. Crack some windows and let the house air out, especially before a showing or open house. Consider using window fans to circulate air quickly when you know someone is coming to take a look.
Decluttering and depersonalizing your home can be a real challenge. It feels like you are dismantling your home’s identity, or even your own! As you put your stuff away, try to flip this feeling around by asking yourself the following questions:
- Why do I have this thing?
- Does it bring me joy?
- When was the last time I used it?
- What would happen if it was gone?
- Do I really need to keep it?
If you ask these questions as you put stuff away, you might realize that you don’t really need so much stuff after all.
Do you have more questions about preparing your home for sale? If so, click this link and we’ll answer it!