When you’re getting ready to sell your house, a million things are going through your mind. You want to list your house at the right price––not too high for the neighborhood, but not too low where you end up with 40+ offers. You know it’s a seller’s market, so you’d love to get $10-$20k (shoot, even $40k) over asking. You want your conditions to be met. You don’t want it to drag out for weeks with multiple open houses and dozens of showings.
You want it to go seamlessly.
So let’s talk about what you can do during the weeks leading up to the listing that will help you showcase your home and potentially get thousands of extra dollars from the sale. Some real estate agents don’t even think about these action steps (though the talented ones do), but I guarantee potential buyers will notice.
Why Should I Put In the Work to Declutter Before the Open House?
When potential buyers walk into your home, you want them to imagine living there. You want them to see the potential––to see the memories they can create, the events they can host, and their furniture and decor. You want them to ooh and ahh at what you’ve done to the place.
That being said, they don’t want to see Cindy’s giant stuffed whale out or Johnny’s finger paintings on the fridge.
We’ve all been in those houses where it’s been difficult to look past the bold colors, the poor choice in furniture, and the crap that’s everywhere.
Don’t let that be your house.
And let’s be honest, we all like being a little nosy. When we go to open houses, it’s fun to see how other people live, so you better believe that people are going to open your cabinets and drawers. Take this opportunity to wow them. You want them to remember your space because it stands out in a positive way. You don’t want potential buyers remembering your house by describing it as “the messy one” or the one with “toys and kid stuff everywhere.”
Additionally, prospective buyers want to see a home that has been well taken care of. If you have piles of clutter and cabinets are a disorganized mess, what does that say about how you’ve kept up with the house? Trust me, investing time and energy up front can make you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars more.
I personally worked with a client for a few hours to help her declutter before an off-market showing, and this is what Rebecca said:
“We were getting ready to sell our house and many of the rooms were somewhat disorganized and not polished. We have a 7000+ square foot home and Joanna went room by room and made relatively small but impactful changes, organizing, decluttering and rearranging things. The house looked so much more put together and honestly close to picture perfect after an afternoon with her services. I was shocked to see the transformation. Our house sold off market for a great price and excellent terms in part I believe because of her excellent work.”
Trust me, it’s well worth it! Because you’ll be moving soon, I highly recommend investing time to purge and declutter the areas I have listed in this post (plan to spend 30-60 minutes per space). You’ll want to do this anyways before you move, so this won’t be wasted time. If you want a FREE guide to purging your home before a move, download your copy here.
However, if you’re really tight on time or you’re listing your house in a couple of days, get some tubs or boxes and start purging and simplifying.
Let’s dive in!
8 Areas to Declutter Before the Open House
- Keep the countertops clear – Remove appliances, keep utensils off the counter, and keep decor simple.
- Remove personal photos and artwork from the fridge.
- Make sure drawers or cupboards are not crammed full. You want prospective buyers to be able to open everything easily.
- Straighten glassware and neatly stack plates and bowls. Arrange items tallest to shortest to enhance the visual appeal.
- Keep the countertops clear. Put away hot tools, toothbrushes, makeup, etc.
- Simplify the shower shelves to only having a shampoo and conditioner bottle out. Remove extra bottles, loofahs, etc.
- Check the drawers. If there’s hair, toothpaste stains, or other scuzz, clean it up.
- Neatly fold or roll towels and sheets.
- Check under the sinks. Remove loud, bulk packaging from items like toilet paper and paper towels. Use baskets to hide medicines, cleaning products, and other small items.
- You want it to feel like a hotel bathroom.
- Give your pantry a good purge. Toss anything expired or nearly empty. If you don’t have time to do this, remove about half of the contents before an open house and place in a temporary tub. If you’re overwhelmed by your pantry, potential buyers will be too.
- Vacuum crumbs, and wipe down sticky bottles.
- Keep the floors clear. Get rid of plastic or paper bags. If you have a lot of things hanging on hooks, simplify them.
- If you have time, invest in some turntables and baskets to contain items.
- Make sure the floors are completely clear as well as the tops of dressers.
- Neatly fold clothing that’s on shelves.
- Hang all clothing facing the same direction and group similar items together (long-sleeve, short-sleeve, pants, etc.).
- Use the same color hanger.
- If you have two rods, hang the heavier or bulkier items on the lowest rod.
- Get rid of the cardboard shoe containers, and invest in clear, uniform boxes. Cardboard shoeboxes add a lot of visual clutter and don’t stack easily because they’re different shapes and sizes.
- People expect toy rooms to be filled with toys, but there’s a way to create a calm space. Grab a few tubs and shove large, loud, bright-colored toys in the tubs as well as big stuffed animals.
- Use large baskets to keep smaller stuffed animals contained.
- Neatly stack books, puzzles, and games.
- If a toy has a lot of little pieces, keep them contained in a bin or a Ziploc bag.
- Get rid of coats, bags, and shoes that are typically laying around.
- Remove any pet items.
- Invest in a coat rack, wall hooks, or a cute shoe rack to keep things tidy.
- If you have baskets or containers, make sure everything is hidden from view with nothing sticking out of the top.
- Keep papers hidden or neatly filed, and shred what you can.
- Keep the desktop clear.
- Hide cords.
- Simplify the shelves. You may need to remove photos, books, and other miscellaneous items.
- Remove any hanging clothes or dirty laundry.
- Neatly put away your cleaning supplies.
- Thoroughly clean the utility sink.
- Hire a cleaner to do the deep cleaning.
- Have fresh flowers out in the dining room, kitchen, and or living room.
- Have a bowl of lemons or limes on the kitchen counter along with a few bottles of San Pellegrino.
- Keep the blinds or curtains open to let as much natural light in as possible.
- If you’ve used storage tubs to temporary hold items, be sure to get those and anything extra out of the house. Plan in advance by asking family or friends to temporary hold these until the open house and showings are complete.
- If you’re crunched for time, outsource what you can and hire a professional organizer.
- Real Estate Agent recommendations:
Now that you know the 8 areas to declutter to earn you more money and wow your prospective buyers, schedule time on your calendar to get the decluttering and organizing done! Treat this dedicated time like an appointment. Don’t schedule over it, and stay focused. Get the fun tunes queued up and get working!
And remember, if you’re crunched for time or want an extra hand, let’s connect! I’d love to help keep those stress-levels down and make the process more fun!