Clean out your stuff! What does that stuff do?
Remove family photos and anything that overwhelms a room by virtue of the volume of items, outsized items or anything that might be considered offensive or outrageous. Yep, time to take down that Rainier Beer Neon sign, the huge team flag and the “If Knitting Was a Drug, I’d Be Checking Into Rehab” sign.
Kids' and pet toys should be picked up. First, they are clutter, which makes an area messy, NOT homey. And maybe the potential buyer doesn't like pets... or kids!
Artwork should be analyzed - would the room look better without the artwork? Would some people be offended by the artwork? If you decide to take down artwork, don’t leave nails and nail holes in the wall. And if taking the artwork or photos down shows a clean spot of paint in an otherwise dirty wall, time to get the paintbrush out, or hire a professional.
Clean out cabinets and closets - buyers will be opening doors to see what’s inside and to determine if there is sufficient storage. Make sure that the cabinets and closets aren’t stuffed to the brim. Also, a closet or cabinet should preferably be used for its intended purpose. If they open what seems like should be the linen closet in a bathroom and find it's full of board games and toys, their first thought will be "that's weird". Then they will wonder where the linens are stored and why there isn't sufficient storage in the family room for those items.
Hotel guests make a hotel room their home, even if it’s for only one night – they don’t want to be reminded of the people that stayed there the night before. While you don’t want your home stripped completely bare and therefore feeling cold, you also don’t want your belongings lying around. That includes newspapers and magazines, charger cords, nick nacks and stacks of items on the counters or floor. You want a potential buyer to envision your home as their new home - a tidy, well-organized home makes it easier for them to do so.
Peruse a catalog from Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, West Elm or Pottery Barn. Notice how you are attracted to the "rooms" in the catalog. That's because they are simple, uncluttered and clean looking. Time to model that aesthetic.
Stacks of bags and boxes strewn around the house is not attractive. Either choose a closet or room to NEATLY store those items, or put them in your garage, if putting those boxes in the garage means you can still park your car in the garage. Otherwise, it's time to rent a storage unit. But before you do that, think about whether the stuff you are packing is stuff you really need. When you do move into a new house, unpack those boxes last - you may not have been ready to let go when you packed them up, but decide you don't want to unpack them into your new home. The added bonus: you will have less stuff to pack when it comes time to move out.
When someone is used to all of their "stuff" in their home, they often worry that removing all that stuff makes the home not feel like a home. I think of it this way: if your home does not feel "homey", then Buyers often walk in and think about what they would do the home to make it more homey. By thinking how they would make the home in their style, they are buying into the idea of your home being their new home - perfect!
A potential buyer will automatically assume that a home has insufficient storage if the garage is packed full of stuff, up to the rafters. Or if the garage doesn't have room for your cars, it's intended purpose. Time to clean out the garage and get rid of stuff. After the weekend garage cleanup (including sweeping and vacuuming up cobwebs), if you still don't have room to park in your garage, it's time to rent a storage unit. Or get rid of some of your stuff.
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