Published September 20, 2012
Earlier this summer, we were contacted by a real estate agent to manage the decluttering and staging of a home. The seller, while vacationing out of town for a month, had decided to build a home down South and wanted to put her Maryland home on the market while she was out of town. This was the first time my team had decluttered a home without the homeowners present, but we were able tackle it in three hours flat. We found the following tips to be helpful to sellers struggling with where to focus their energy during the decluttering phase of preparing their home for sale.
Do you have a bookcase that looks like the one at right? If so, take the time to declutter it. When your bookshelves are stacked and overfull, it gives the image that you don’t have enough space. Remove some of the books so that the each book fits with its spine showing, either vertically or horizontally, and arrange books by size or color. Less really is more in this case. It’s OK to add a few small tschotskes to the mix, but don’t go overboard. And remember to keep them out of the reach of small hands.
Closets are a GREAT place to hide items, however, know that closet doors are typically opened by potential buyers. Homes with cluttered and busy closets convey a lack of storage space. If you can barely push back the hangers to look at the front of a coat or piece of clothing, then the closet is too full. Pare down those closets so that hangers can easily move on the rods. Organize the non-hanging items -- shoes, folded clothes, hats and scarves -- to showcase the space and not the items. Take some time to organize the pantry, too, even if it is just arranging items on shelves and turning labels outward. It seems small but can be impactful.
Clear off any and all countertops -- not just in the kitchen and bathrooms but also nightstands and dressers in the bedrooms. Each horizontal surface should have only three to four items maximum and should only feature relevant items: kitchen/eating items in kitchen, bath items in bathrooms.
No timeout chairs
All too often, we set up our furniture for how we live and forget about how it looks. Look at your living space; if you and three friends sat down, would the furniture help or hinder conversation? If it hinders conversation, then rearrangement as needed. In the picture above, it feels like the person in the back is in timeout. You don’t want a buyer to feel that way.
Of course plenty of other places in your home could need decluttering, but these spots are pretty consistent regardless of the home. Good luck with your decluttering!
Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC). She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.