Increase the Odds of Selling Your Home by Cleaning Out Clutter

Written by Posted On Sunday, 07 January 2007 16:00

Several years ago, when my father passed away and family members and I had to clean out his entire home, I recognized the importance of the phrase "less is more." Whether you're getting ready to put your home on the market or you simply want to get a fresh start in 2007 -- clearing clutter is the answer.

Realtors will tell you when they show buyers a cluttered home, no matter how lovely it could be, prospective buyers just can't picture it and will usually pass or make an offer for much less than the seller thinks the home is worth. Yes, packaging matters. It matters when you're buying a product in a store and it matters when you're selling your home.

Think about the way model homes are packaged for display. There's so little in them; yet they look just perfectly appealing. Of course, that's not how any of us really live. But it's how consumers want to see the home. The fact is, maybe we could live with a little less -- at least while our home is on the market. After all, much of the clutter ends up collecting dust! And since you are moving, packing up some of your belongings before you actually move out (or even getting a tax credit for donating items to a charity) will help you when you finally sell your home and are ready to move.

Even if you're not in the market to sell, clearing clutter will give you a sense of freedom (and the ability to eventually accumulate more). Since the holidays just passed, you probably are already bombarded with stuff and maybe even wondering where to put it all.

The problem is many of us have a hard time letting go of things. So clutter builds up fast and furious and undoing the clutter becomes a frustrating task. But it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips on de-cluttering. Wouldn't it be nice to have a home that when you stepped inside you felt a sense of spaciousness -- everything seemed to have a place rather than items jammed into every last inch of the room? Cabinets and closets closed properly -- not like when you've gone on a three-week vacation to Italy and now you have to sit atop your luggage and tug roughly on the zipper to get it closed.

De-cluttering is a project that once you take the time to unload a few items, you often find they're never missed. And consider this, studies have shown that people waste several weeks a year looking for misplaced items that are buried beneath clutter. So let's get started.

First, don't de-clutter by making more room for clutter. As crazy as this is, true pack rats merely move their clutter from one location to another throughout the year without ever throwing anything out. When one area is too cluttered, they add shelves or even room additions to house their clutter.

Start with non-emotional items and rooms. You're less likely to have trouble throwing out things if you don't have an emotional attachment to them. Do you really need 12 different measuring cups? But here's a tip, I don't recommend throwing out your spouse's trinket collection (no matter how tempted you are) without first consulting him/her. Otherwise, you might end up listing your home by divorce default! Instead, start with your own stuff and lead by example.

Next go to the bathroom cabinets. Get rid of old prescriptions and products that you rarely use.

Clean out the clutter from under the bed. There are likely items that you haven't used in years underneath the bed just collecting dust. Nothings worse than viewing a home and the buyer lifts a corner of the bed's dust ruffle to reveal a mixture of clutter, dust, and pet hair -- yuck!

Walk-in-closets are so named because you should be able to move about in them. But some people have them overflowing. Buyers can't even squeeze inside, nor would they want to in that condition. So, the desirable walk-in-closet now becomes a negative for the buyer. Chances are there are clothes in your closet that probably haven't been worn in a long time.

Clearing clutter not only makes your home appealing to others, it's a richly satisfying feeling to create a sense of organization and space. And just think what you could do if you didn't have to spend weeks looking beneath clutter to find something you've misplaced.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or [email protected]. Visit for more information.

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