Updated: Apr 22, 2020
1. Get organized.
The number 1 comment that I receive from the sellers who I work with is that they can't believe how much stuff they have accumulated. Most of us fall into the consumerism trap. We see, we like, we buy! It isn't until we are in the position to sell our home that we realize just how much we really own. It can be completely overwhelming and many don't know where to begin. Selling a home is a process. The earlier we start that process, the easier and less stressful it will be in the end. So, don't wait to start organizing after you have signed with your realtor- get going as soon as you know you want to sell your home.
So, where do you begin? The strategy I use comes from my wonderful staging trainer, Audra Slinkey. I have adapted it a bit to include a couple of additions.
1. Throw away
2. Keep to stage
3. Keep to store
1. Throw away:
Go through every room in your home, one at a time, and throw away/recycle items that don't fit into the keep, donate, or sell categories. If you are having a difficult time determining whether you should keep it or not, assess the condition of the item and how long it has been since you last used it. Is it damaged? Is it beyond repair? If you haven't used the item in over a year and don't feel the condition is good enough to sell or donate, then throw it away. You can always put it out on the curb with a FREE sign. Additionally, you can put a free "curb alert" up on Craigslist or LetGo and who knows, someone may come and scoop it up!
When you are going through any toxic material, such as paint, stain, cleaning supplies, etc. be sure to look up where you can safely dispose of these items in your area. Some towns have a dedicated "pick up day." Some towns have a transfer station that will take these items. If not, you can Google search for places nearby that allow you to drop off toxic material. Here is one site: https://www.paintcare.org/drop-off-locations/#/find-a-drop-off-site?
So, where should you start?
Since organizing is arguably the most arduous part of selling a home, I recommend starting in the areas that are in need of the most organization/decluttering. You will have the most energy at the beginning of the process, so do yourself a favor and start there. If you tackle the more complicated areas of the home, then when you get to the areas in the home that don't need as much work, then it will be less cumbersome. You may want to begin in the attic, basement, or garage since these tend to be the areas that end up collecting the most stuff, but it may be somewhere else in your home. Start early and tackle one room at a time, you will be glad you did.
**If you start to tackle the areas of your home and feel in over your head, then I recommend reaching out to a professional home organizer. They can work with you to create system that works in your space and will take the stress out of this process.
2. Keep to stage
These are the items (anything from decor to furniture) that you will use to present your home in its best light. Before you decide what to stage and what to store, please contact a professional home stager in your area. A professional home stager can provide a consultation which will include an assessment of every room in the house, so you know exactly what to keep, what to change, and any additions needed to elevate your space and show your home in its best light. It is really difficult to be impartial to our home which is why it is so important to bring someone in who has the knowledge, experience, and eye to showcase your home in its fullest potential so it will appeal to buyers.
3. Keep and store
After you have worked with a professional stager to determine which items should be kept in your home to stage, now it is time to start assessing what will need to be stored. I have worked in many homes and a common theme that I have noticed is that home owners tend to have too many pieces of furniture. When we have an overload of furniture it quickly makes a space look small. And this will come at no surprise, but buyers want homes that are spacious. Now, this does not mean to get rid of all your furniture, but it may mean removing an armchair, extra tables, and other odds and ends that take away from the space. Once, you and your home stager have determined which pieces should stay and which pieces should go, you should then figure out where you are going to store your items. If you have a relative or friend who can store the items temporarily then start there. If you have quite a bit to store then you may want to consider renting a storage unit or POD while your home is on the market. You should really try to stay away from storing too much at home. Buyers will look at your garage and basement, so try to keep them as spacious and clean as possible.
If you have items in your home that are in good condition but you may not have a use for them anymore, then consider either selling or donating them. There are MANY places that will take a number of items for donation. The Salvation Army, Savers, The Epilepsy Foundation will come right to your home and take those donation items! You will need to schedule a time for pick up. Here is the site to schedule a time and to preview what they will take: https://www.epilepsy.com/make-difference/ways-give/donate-clothing-and-household-goods/how-donate.
There are also many opportunities to sell any items that you may no longer have a need for. Facebook yard sale can reach a wide audience while Craigslist and Letgo are alternatively good options for selling items. Remember, the less you keep, the less you have to move when you sell your home! And, with a little extra pocket cash you can put that towards some new furniture and decor in your next home!
While you are organizing, begin removing and storing any personal photos and items that you do not want to keep out while your home is on the market. This also includes degrees earned, college apparel, and anything else that is personal to you and your family. Buyers want to envision their family in the home and it is hard to do that when it feels like the previous family is still living there. The more neutral the space, the more buyers you will attract. Remember, removing these items is temporary. They will come with you to be enjoyed in your next home. Also, by removing these items sooner rather than later, you can be sure that you have safely packed them away and you can patch up any holes in the wall so your home is ready to go when you are ready to put your home on the market.
Along with personal photos and momentos, be sure that you also remove any items that are too specific to your tastes. They may not appeal to the array of potential buyers. For example, let's say you live in the Northeast but you have traveled to the Southwest every year with your family. Since you have fond memories there, each time you bring home a piece of memorabilia that is representative of that part of the country. Now, in each part of your home you have Southwestern pieces displayed. While you cherish these momentos, most likely they won't appeal to buyers. Pack them up safely and store them until they reach their next destination: your new home.
3. Make any necessary repairs
Live in a home long enough and you are bound to need a repair. This could be something as minor as changing a lightbulb, to fixing a leaky faucet, to a much larger repair like water damage or roof repair. Whatever the problem is, start working on the repairs now. If the repairs are minor and you can fix them yourself, then go for it. You could save yourself some money that way. However, if the repair requires a professional (think electric and any major repair) then you should make some phone calls. It may take an electrician or plumber a few weeks to get to you, so don't wait until the last minute. Buyers tend to overestimate how much a repair will cost, so it may be in your best interest to fix it. Most buyers don't want a lengthy "to do" list when they purchase a home. Before you make any large repairs though, be sure to consult with your real estate agent. They will advise you as to which repairs will be worthwhile, and which to forgo.
Another opportunity to gain some wisdom about your home is with a home inspection. While most buyers will choose to have a home inspection done when deciding to purchase the home, it may be in your best interest to have one done ahead of time. This will ensure that you haven't missed any work that needs to be done.
While you are organizing, neutralizing, and repairing, start cleaning. Clean from baseboards to ceilings. Don't forget to dust ceiling fans, clean grout, shelves, drawers, closets, etc. Once you get up close to these areas, you may realize that the trim needs to be repainted, a rusted shower head needs to be replaced, or a sink needs re-calking. If a carpet is going to stay in the home, be sure to have it professionally cleaned. Buyers will notice is a home isn't clean, in disarray, or smells. Cleaning is one of the cheapest but most beneficial things you can do to attract buyers. I'll be sure to follow up with a blog on my favorite cleaning products and tricks to help you tackle those cleaning projects!
I hope you found these tips helpful! Feel free to leave a comment or question and I'll be happy to get back to you.
Sarah @ SimplySarahDesigns.com