I hear it all the time. When selling your home has become the plan, the first emotion is usually panic. What do we need to do to get ready to sell….and mostly….how are we going to get rid of all of our stuff.
Late Comedian George Carlin had a routine in the 70’s about how we accumulate so much stuff and then we need a bigger place to store the stuff. We are all guilty and frankly for some people it is even more difficult to part with things. But when selling a home, clutter means no sale or less sale, so it must be done.
It’s true, the range of buyer emotions when faced with too much clutter in a home is multi-faceted. Some buyers see the clutter in the home, closets, garage, basement, etc. and perceive that there is no storage in the home. Some buyers even express concern as to if the seller is going to be able to get everything out and if they will leave things behind. Some clutter adds too much personality of the seller into the home, like collections and themed possessions so the buyer has a difficult time separating the seller from the home and picturing themselves living there. But the majority of the damage clutter does is it make the home seem small and that means no sale or less price to the seller.
Selling a home, you must show the house in its best appearance possible. Remember, when you are selling a home, you need to present the fantasy of living there for the buyer. Tons of floor space, tons of closet space and storage. To parallel with retail, you would never see a storefront display or a Macy’s picture window that shows someone surrounded by magazines, newspapers, too many books, too many small appliances….and the list goes on. When selling your home, you must put your best foot forward.
Most sellers know this on some level, but the mammoth task ahead is just too much. When you learned to walk, you took one step at a time. And so does this. Here are a few steps and a plan that makes this easy. One step, then another and soon you are done. And you DO NEED to do all of this before you go on the market. First impressions are nearly impossible to undo. Make the right impression with buyers the first time.
Step 1 – Identify the problem areas…Your closets, your basement, your garage, your rooms. Go through each room with a very critical and keen eye and identify the things that are cluttering up your home. I tell my sellers to get rid of 20-30% of what is in all these areas. If you can’t do this yourself, ask your Realtor, friend or family member to help you with fresh eyes. BUT…remember. You need to hear their comments. If they think it, a buyer will too.
Step 2 – Formulate a plan. You need to figure out how you are going to get things out and where you are going to put them. You can hire stay at home moms, college kids, and high school kids in your area to help with odd tasks and heavy lifting, or get family and friends to help, but you do need to be a part of the equation. You need to have a measure for everything you look at like…if I haven’t worn or used it in a year, then it goes. Or two years, etc. You need to be brutual with yourself – why am I keeping this? Why do I need or want this? Remember, you have to pack it, store it, unpack it and pay for someone to move it. The last thing you want is to get into your new place and not have room for something or not want it anymore. Make that decision now. Once you make the hard decisions the first time, the next time it gets easier.
Step 3 – Where will it all go? This doesn’t have to be done in days or a weekend – you can do it in stages. I encourage you to put yourself on some charity routes. Give yourself 2-4 weeks. Stick with a schedule. Each few days or week have a different charity come to your house and give them something. You will be motivated to have something ready for them and it will keep you on schedule. Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Amvets, Vietnam Vets, Salvation Army… the list goes on. Most have websites and you can even schedule pickups on the website and they will tell you what they accept. Usually clothes, household goods, etc. Or just make a few trips to your local Goodwill. I like the pick ups because it forces you to stick to a schedule.
You can, of course, store the items in a Pod or storage unit. Remember, storage units cost money and you really need to decide if your things are worth it. Pod is part of your moving, but don’t store the pod at your home, either pay them to store it or put it elsewhere. It will not look good to buyers to have that in the drive. Too Distracting.
Someone once said that the best way to tackle a big project is just whittle away at it one step at a time…soon you will find you are done.