If you are looking to sell your home in the near future, or if yours has been on the market with no bites as yet, you’ll be wanting to get the maximum sale price in the quickest time for it – to make it an easy transition to your new home – especially with the market like it is at present.
There are a variety of things that are out of your control when selling your home, including market conditions, location, price bracket etc… – but the one thing that is totally within your control and that you can really do something about, is the look and feel of your home (inside and out).
In this post I want to explore the reasons around why its really worth spending time on your home before you leave it, and what a good declutter can achieve – both for you and for your potential buyers!
Why do I need to spend time and effort on my house before I move?
If you can entice a buyer in through great marketing photos, then show them an aspirational lifestyle when they come to view, then you will be much closer to that all important sale.
As a home stager myself I have seen first hand how changes to decor, layout, room useage, clutter etc… can all make dramatic differences to whether a home stands out from the crowd or lingers on an agents books, but people are reluctant to spend any time, money and energy on a home they are about to leave.
I know that most people don’t want to spend a fortune staging a home that they are going to soon move out of – it stands to reason as the moving process in itself costs thousands.
It is important however to think of the bigger picture when selling – if your home doesn’t sell for months you have had added expenses of living in it for that time, maintaining it, and possible reduction in asking price to get that sale. This will be in the thousands of pounds. And to think – for a few hundred you could have saved yourself the hassle.
And it gets even better.
The main way to change the look of your home is FREE.
It’s to declutter.
Can decluttering really make a difference to my home?
The biggest reason people give for moving house is lack of space in their current house. They feel they have outgrown the space. They are therefore looking for a home that gives them that space, and more to grow into.
If they come to your home and see that you are running out of space, its the biggest turnoff you could give.
Simple decluttering will really make all the difference.
Why should I declutter before I sell my home?
Getting your home organised in preparation for the move makes sense for SO many reasons, we’ll explore a few here:-
1. You will emotionally move out and be ready when the time comes
When you have called somewhere your home for a while, it can be really hard emotionally to move out, whether you feel ready for the move or not.
Sorting through your stuff ahead of time will help you to see that all your things will move with you, and to focus on that rather than the actual house.
When you start to see your home changing, because you are starting to pack away or throw away items, then it becomes less your home, and more a place you are staying ready for your next adventure.
2. You will be more prepared
Decluttering for selling may well mean that you need to pack away items that you don’t need until after the move, in order to make more space in the house.
If you have started the packing and sorting process ahead of time, then you will be in a really good position to finish packing when the time comes – and it will be so much less overwhelming.
3. You can focus your buyers on whats important
When you walk into a friends house, how often have you spotted something of interest on the surfaces or walls? By this I mean that a piece of art or a photo have caught your eye, and you want to know more about it.
When a buyer views a property, they too can get distracted very easily by your life, and the items in it.
Often buyers can simply overlook what they should be looking at (space, light, flow etc…), as they want to know more about the people who currently own it. Consciously or subconsciously they are seeing how your life and theirs compare, as they are aspiring towards a “better” life when they move.
If you have filled your home with your personal story, then theres no room for theirs….
4. You can maximise the space you have in your home
When you declutter, you can see the wood for the trees.
Buyers need to see the space they are getting, to see how good value it is.
They want to see the condition of the walls, floor etc…. – and this is really hard when you have most of it covered with your belongings.
If you declutter your stuff from your home then you are allowing the buyer to see the space and imagine themselves living in it – you are selling a lifestyle and a dream.
OK – I’m sold – but where do I start?
Firstly do this exercise as you will be surprised at the results.
Take a photo of each room in your home, and really look at the pictures.
Simple hey! But why bother? Well, even the best home can look dreadful in pictures because of light, furniture placed in the wrong position etc…. – and the pictures the agent takes are the first and only thing that potential buyers are going to see before they decide on whether to view your home in the flesh.
You want to create the right first impression. Do you focus on the room itself, or the stuff in it?
You will also see what stands out, and 9 times out of 10 you will see that its your stuff!
It may not be all rooms that need attention, but looking at your house as a whole will really help you to see the bigger picture.
Ideally you want to create the look of the lifestyle that your buyers will be aspiring to – both in the marketing pictures and for viewings. This is rarely a “lived in” house – much more likely to be a “show home” feel.
Key to achieving this look is to maximise both space and layout.
Space sells. Simple.
The quickest way to do this is to minimise your things. You want to ensure that a buyer can open all cupboards and doors easily, that there are no obstacles in the way or things that will cascade onto them! Anything that triggers a red flag for your buyer about space really isn’t good.
Remember – An agent can take photos and measurements of whats there, but you can make a real difference to the feeling a potential buyer gets when they see your home. Buyers will buy on emotion usually (they already know your home ticks the practical boxes in terms of rooms and size, they now want to know whether they could live there)
What clutter do I have in my home?
Clutter can be anything that doesn’t have a home, or is out of place in the space its currently situated in your home.
There are two types of clutter:-
1. Genuine clutter that doesn’t belong in the space, either because its out of place, or because it is rubbish.
2. Items that you want to keep but that don’t work for your sale (and you don’t need them until after the sale)
Lets explore these two types in more detail:-
1. Genuine Clutter
Now I’m not going to repeat myself on the best way to do a general declutter of your home, suffice to say that going through your home deciding what is clutter is the first step to getting it ready to be presented for sale.
The best reason I can give for doing a thorough declutter at the very least when you are moving is that the main benefit to you is you save money and time – as you know you are only paying to move and pack up the items that you really want to take with you. You can also be assured that unpacking at the other end will be so much easier as well!
2. Items not right for selling your home
There are various things that can fit into this category:-
- You are using a room for its incorrect purpose and it needs to be shown correctly for selling i.e. dining room is a study, bedroom is a TV room etc….
- Items are too large or too small for your spaces – making the rooms dimensions look odd
- There are too many personal effects or collections in the house that can be distracting to buyers
- There is genuinely too much stuff and its making the house look smaller than it really is
So what do you do with these items?
The best thing I can suggest is to move them out of the house for the time being, and free up the space.
Please note here that I am only suggesting using outside storage for things you will be needing in your new home – its not a way to get more space and have more stuff in your life – as thats a very slippery slope!
You can rent a storage unit for as long as required, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.
The other option which I have used for my own property in the past is to get the removals company to come and pack up certain things in your home and take them away for you. They can keep them in storage and then when your day to actually move comes along, they can bring everything in one go and put it into your new home. This saves you a lot of time and effort!
You could utilise a friends garage, or your own – but realistically you could be storing things like photos, books etc… and you want to ensure they are kept out of damp conditions etc…. so a paid for unit is the best idea for this purpose.
Here are a few things you really should look at when you are decluttering for selling your home – but of course I would suggest going through as much as possible given the time you have available!
Can your buyers open all cupboards without a struggle or without things falling on them? You want to show you have plenty of space, and don’t be fooled, the buyers will open doors!
When you open doors into a room, can you open the door all the way, or have you tried to hide things behind it? Its a subconscious feeling of less space when you can’t move things completely as you would expect.
Always remember as well that this is a false way of living – but its only for a short time (hopefully!). While you are living in your decluttered and staged home though, think on this – having less in it will mean you spend a lot less time tidying, cleaning, maintaining and repairing things in your home – so you have more time to do the things you really want to do!
Lastly – get the agent to take photos AFTER you have made your decluttering changes – as then your marketing photos will look their best and you will be more likely to get people coming through your door to take a look.
If you are looking to sell your home in the near future, then declutter so that it looks it’s best – here are the top tips from this post:-
- Maximise space by minimising your things
- Get rid of your genuine clutter now – and definitely before the agents photos
- Store items that you can live without until after the move to create even more space
- Create the ideal lifestyle and home that your buyers will be aspiring to
- Show every rooms use – and ensure its what your buyer would be expecting (never leave a room looking “spare” or out of place – as this is showing a buyer that the room isn’t really needed, and they shouldn’t be paying for it!
- Keep it looking great all the time its on the market
- Sit back and look at a job well done!