Here is the second installment of our 5 part series. Today we tackle…Clutter.
When a potential buyer walks into a house, they are imagining how they will decorate, where they will put their belongings and how they will live. If they are overwhelmed with your clutter and your belongings, they can’t see themselves in your house. Additionally, clutter makes your home feel smaller than it really is. No one said de-cluttering is easy: we still have to live in our homes while they are listed for sale. However, the changes you make in order to allow buyers to envision your home as theirs will undoubtedly lead to a shorter listing time and a higher sale price.
We discussed the importance of curb appeal in our last blog post, so I won’t be redundant. If you missed it, read it here.
Closets and other Storage Areas
A common concern amongst buyers is the storage that a home offers. If your storage areas are overfull and disorganized, buyers get the impression that the house is short on space. Make a plan to go through all of your closets, cabinets, pantries, and storage areas in the basement, garage and attic. First, donate and purge whatever you do not plan on bringing to your next home. Then, tidy up remaining belongings with additional baskets, organizers and shelves. After all, an organized closet with plenty of space says, “move right in.” If you have de-cluttered and still can’t shut the closet door, try to find an alternate place to store goods while your house is on the market, leaving only essentials in the space.
Garages are often extremely important to buyers. Reflect on the space and storage systems (or lack of) in your garage. Consider installing some inexpensive shelves or racks to hold tools, lawn accessories and sports gear before you list. Storage systems will help you to keep the garage tidy and will be a definite hit with buyers. Finally, if you park your car in your garage and it is a tight fit, take it out when agents are showing your home.
Remember, buyers will open cabinets, drawers and closets looking for potential storage in a new home. Make sure they get a feeling of organization and abundance of space when they do.
There is no question that too big furniture makes your home look smaller, and every buyer is looking to see which property has the most space. Bottom line: get rid of any furniture that overwhelms the room. In bedrooms, huge armoires, canopy beds and large dressers are likely taking up massive amounts of square footage and visual space. In the living room, entertainment centers, bookshelves and sectional couches may be making living spaces feel cramped and outdated. Finally, in the dining room, extra leaves in tables, extra chairs and giant hutches and china cabinets may be taking up too much room as well. The goal is not to make your house feel empty, but to make rooms feel open and light. Furniture that takes up too much wall or floor space or impedes movement through the house should be stored until you move.
Finally, also examine the surfaces of the furniture throughout your home. Are there stacks of paper and books piled head high on the built in kitchen desk? Are the bookshelves in the den stuffed to the brim? Surface clutter may be detracting from some of your home’s most unique and charming selling features. Moreover, even if you do not own a 1920’s Craftsman with built-ins, excess clutter on the surfaces of furniture sends a message that this property does not have enough storage.
With kids comes toys, clutter, mess, and star wars décor. If you have children it is important that you take a hard look at kid clutter. Consider how it may be negatively affecting your home’s sense of space and flow and whether potential buyers can visualize themselves in your house.
Baby gear is cumbersome and plentiful. If your den and living room have a pack and play, Exersaucer, two giant swings and a play mat that buyers need to step over and around they will not be able to consider the room or feel welcomed by the space. Maybe you can live with only one pack and play and swing for the time being?
Big kid clutter is problematic as well. You do not want potential buyers to come in and trip over the litter of tiny figures and legos in every room. De-clutter, purge, and donate kid gear and toys BEFORE you list your home. You may want to consider moving most or all of the toys out of the living areas and into the basement, play room, or kids’ rooms. Additionally, just because a room is labeled a “play room” does not mean that buyers are happy to see toys scattered about. Invest in some simple, inexpensive storage systems from Ikea or Target with attractive bins and baskets so that the floor is free from clutter in these designated toy areas.
It is essential to address storage within kids’ rooms as well. Maximize the floor space inside your child’s closets by adding shelves and baskets so that toys and games can be tucked away. If your child has too much furniture or large, over sized toys taking up valuable space, consider removing these items while your house is on the market. You may also wish to consider downplaying the kiddie décor in your child’s room. Removing the Winnie the Poo border or the giant Disney Princess wall adhesives and angling towards a more neutral palette will allow more buyers to visualize the space for themselves and/ or their own children.
Finally, if your family had previously decided to take a traditional room such a dining room and use it as a playroom for young children, convert it back to its originally intended use BEFORE you list.
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