Updated: July 24, 2020
1. Think Like a Buyer!
When you’re getting your house ready to sell you need to think like a buyer!! What would a buyer want to see in your home? What would they NOT want to see? Walk around your house and pretend you’re a buyer. What do you see?
Take Pictures of EVERY Room In Your House the Way it is NOW
Your next job is to grab your camera or cell phone. You’re going to take a picture of EVERY single room in the house including the basement, the front and the backyard as well. Take a few pictures of different angles so you can capture every part of the room. You want to see the good, bad & the ugly. Don’t worry about moving things around. There will be plenty of time for that. Take as many pictures as you need to make sure you document every part of each room or space.
With the eyes of a prospective buyer, take a look at those pictures as if you were seeing your house for the very first time.
What do you see? Clutter? Dated furniture? Too much furniture?
No one likes to declutter their home but life gets busy. If you have a choice to hang out with friends and family or declutter your home, which one are you going to choose? The first one of course. So the clutter accumulates AND accumulates until we’re ready to sell our home. BUT now that you’ve decided to sell your home, you need to get rid of your clutter AND fast. AND you need to be very intentional about it.
What happens if you don’t declutter? You’re leaving money on the table. Your home will take longer to sell AND you won’t get the price that you want or need for your home. Buyers will make low ball offers on your home and you won’t get the money for your house that you were hoping for.
Are you’re now convinced you need to declutter but don’t know where do you start?
2. Tag Furniture that You’re Not Taking with You
You may have got used to all that furniture in a room but the challenge is with too much furniture for the size of the room, it actually makes a room appear smaller than it actually is!
Do you know what furniture you will be taking with you? One client of mine had a big king size bed and matching furniture in a basement bedroom. The bed & furniture was way too large for the size of the room and it made the room look small which it wasn’t. They weren’t taking it with them so it was decided that the furniture would get donated to a worthy cause and the office furniture that was in the family room, would get moved to that former bedroom turned into an office. A win|win.
Grab a bunch of post-it notes and lets get started!!!
Go around your home and place a sticky note on any large furniture pieces that you won’t be taking with you when you downsize.
You really need to reasonably think of what your space is like in your new home. If you’re downsizing, you can’t realistically take everything with you. And of course you shouldn’t. That’s the point in downsizing. Furniture and unused items need to go as well.
If you’re not sure if a piece of furniture is going with you or not, use a two-colored post-it note system. Tag furniture with one color that you know for sure won’t be going with you. Tag questionable items with another color. You can decide later down the road. You also might have adult kids, neighbors or friends that might take some items off your hands.
One house I staged that had 2 dining room sets and 3 large buffets. Definitely too much furniture for the house.
Pianos are also a piece of furniture that tends to sit in a house unused once the kids have moved out and no one longer plays it.
Call the Kids to Get Their Stuff!
Also tag those old university books, furniture & any items that you have been storing for your adult children. Now is the time for them to take it off your hands or else! Out it goes to the trash or recycling. One house I staged had been holding onto a piano for their daughter for years! Time to get it out!
Put ads in Facebook Marketplace and LetGo etc for other items like the unused play set in the backyard or the dusty treadmill that you no longer use. Get rid of those bulky items & eye sores.
Related Post: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Furniture
Don’t Remove Furniture That You Will Need For Staging!
Don’t take furniture that you will need for staging. One house I staged, the dining room furniture had been removed so it left the dining room totally empty. The dining room was also the first room you would see when you walked into the house so it was very noticeable. Fortunately, the client was able to bring the dining room set back for pictures & showings until the house sold.
The priority right now is to focus on the large pieces of furniture. These items are the ones that takes time to figure out how to dispose of. This is tomorrow’s challenge!
3. Start with the most important rooms first
If want to to get your house decluttered fast in order to stage your home, start with the most important rooms first. Rooms that are typically on the first floor or that you can see from the hallway. i.e. The living room, dining room, family room, kitchen and hallway. Master bedrooms and rec rooms will come second but are important as well.
Lastly, focus on the children’s bedrooms (closets can even be done AFTER photos are taken but BEFORE the listing is live). Lastly an unfinished basement. If the basement is a finished basement, it needs to be decluttered and staged as noted above. If it’s not a finished basement, it still needs to be neat & tidy. If you don’t have time to do a thorough decluttering job, just pack it up! See Tip #9.
4. Ask your friends or family to help!
THIS is the time to call in ALL your favors. (Okay maybe save one or two for moving day!) Remember the time when you dog sat your friends dog for the week-end? Or the number of times you have driven your son’s friend home back from soccer practice? Or when you shoveled your neighbor’s driveway while they were down south sunning themselves? You get the drift. Call in those favors. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours. Many hands make light work!
Don’t worry about how your house looks. Their house is going to look the same when they’re moving!
5. Visualize the room of how you want it to look like
Remember our picture up at the top of the page?It’s hard to believe that this is the same room right?
Visualizing your end goal will help you get and stay motivated. . Get pictures from the website or a magazine to motivate yourself and stick them up somewhere so you can see it daily.
6. Get 3 bins – mark them:
- Keep – If you still use it or wear it in the past year. Trash/recycle – Past the expiry date/broken/won’t work. Be ruthless. Get rid of the stuff you don’t absolutely love or use. Just because someone gave you something, doesn’t mean you need to keep it.
- Donate – Don’t use it or wear it but still in good condition.
- Trash/Recycle – Anything past the expiry date/broken/won’t work. BE RUTHLESS. Get rid of the stuff you don’t absolutely love or use. Just because someone gave you something, doesn’t mean you need to keep it !
7. Just Pack It !!!
If you don’t have time to sort your stuff as outlined in Tip #8, pack up your stuff that you don’t need for staging and put it in storage. If you rent a locker, you can always go to the locker to sort while your house is being shown. Since you will need to be out of the house for showings, this will give you something to do – lol. One client of mine that was combining two households did this. By the time they were ready to move into their one home, they had completed their decluttering!
Although this option is not ideal, in some situations it may be necessary if it means the cost of delaying putting your house on the market is MORE than the cost of renting a locker to store your stuff to sort later.
Happy tagging, decluttering & packing!
I’m Debi Collinson. Designer. Stager. Real Estate Investor. In 2006, at the request of a realtor, I staged my very first home. Staging houses was just starting to become popular. I watched every staging show on HGTV that I could find. I was very nervous staging my first house, but the sellers liked their newly redesigned home so much that they turned down an offer for full asking price. I went back to design school and have never looked back. Since 2006, I have been staging & designing spaces to make them look like they belong in a magazine page, and buying “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent them out. Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time!