When you want to sell your house fast, there are lots of things to consider, from the asking price to which home improvements will make your house more attractive to buyers.
Decluttering is often cited as one of the best ways to help your house sell fast on the open market, at the same time increasing its value and helping you save time when you’re ready to move. In this blog, we look at the top reasons to declutter your house and exactly how to declutter your home to attract buyers and sell fast.
Reasons to Declutter Your Home before Trying to Sell
There are many reasons to go through the decluttering process even before putting your house on the market. Here are eight of them.
Depersonalise your house
Buyers want to buy the house of their dreams, not yours. Give them a blank canvas while still being homey enough to imagine themselves moving in and living there. Emotional connection goes an awfully long way to getting that purchase offer.
Make the Most of Available Space
While visualising how a sofa might look in a living room is easier with an actual sofa instead of a bare room (especially for those of us without the superpower of good spatial awareness), it’s best to keep anything floor-standing to a minimum. Space is a premium, so you want to show potential buyers that your home has plenty to offer.
… This Includes Cupboards and Other Storage Areas!
Yes, this includes cupboards! Some buyers will want to see inside the cupboard space, so don’t simply throw everything in there and hope the door won’t burst open during a viewing!
Decluttered Homes Feel Cleaner and Are Easier to Maintain
Even if it’s not actually the case, a lack of clutter helps a house seem much better cared for and cleaner. After all, if you don’t care about the house, why should they? And making your house easier to clean means less time stressing before each viewing.
Clutter Demands an Explanation
You don’t want to be saying “excuse the mess” to anyone who comes to view — first impressions count! Plus, if you’re not the one showing folks around, the estate agent won’t have the same funny story about the ugly old vanity table that (for some reason) is sitting in the corner of your living room.
Decluttered Spaces Look Better in Photographs
Let’s face it; we find the homes we want online, rather than driving around the neighbourhood looking for “For Sale” signs. Keep the focus on the home, and don’t let clutter give your photographs a chaotic feel, and it will result in more interest and a higher potential asking price.
Reveals Issues That May Need Resolving
Whoops, that armchair was covering a massive chunk missing from the wall! It’s much better to find aesthetic “quick fixes” before visitors or surveyors so that you can deal with them nice and early.
Make Moving Day Easier!
It’s not all about selling the house you have. Moving into your new home will also be much easier if you don’t have to pack, move, unpack and find space for items that you’re not really bothered about keeping in the first place.
… plus a bonus reason!
Earn a Bit of Cash
If you have items that you no longer want but could be worth something to someone else, you can always sell them and put that additional money towards your new home!
Download our Top Tips to Sell Your House Fast
How to Declutter Your Home
Now that we’ve seen why decluttering your home in order to sell it fast is important let’s get into the how! Here are 12 ways to declutter your home when you’re trying to sell.
If you’re low on time and are looking for a fast house sale, set realistic deadlines so you can figure out which actions will get the biggest results (this is also called the 80-20 rule, or Pareto’s Principle). Work backwards from the date you want to get your house on the market.
When you’re considering where to prioritise your decluttering, start with spaces that impact first impressions, such as:
- The Front Garden
- Make sure it’s clear of weeds
- Don’t leave your bins loitering in plain sight.
- Your Entry/Hallway (or Porch)
- Put away shoes and coats. If you have an abundance of both, making the area look smaller, consider storing the least-used items (neatly!) in an accessible cupboard for the duration of the sales process to have a bit more space.
- Have a “stuff” bowl as a catch-all for your keys, receipts, hair ties and anything else you might be tempted to let take over the whole sideboard. This will keep the rest of the surfaces clear.
- Living Room
- Clear your coffee table and recycle or bin any old catalogues, out of date takeaway flyers and other junk mail.
- Remove any unsightly wires down the side of furniture or organise them using ties and hooks.
- Make space on surfaces, even if that means removing some items to create breathing room. This also includes windowsills — you want to let in as much natural light as possible.
- Does the furniture placement make sense from an outsider’s perspective?
- Is there any furniture you never actually use or aren’t planning to take with you when you move? Donate, sell or take it to the tip before the viewings start.
- Create countertop space by removing rarely-used appliances.
- Make sure all doors and drawers close properly. If you have any fancy storage space you think might be a particular selling point, prioritise clearing those cupboards first in case potential buyers want to look for themselves.
- Put things away/get organised. For example, invest in a minimalist spice rack rather than having your four jars of cinnamon spread across the countertop. Better yet, donate three of the jars (if they’re still in date!).
- If you usually leave your bread or butter on the counter, put it in the fridge or a cupboard for the duration of the viewing.
- All dirty plates and cutlery should be washed and put away — ensure the draining board is clear (if you don’t have a dishwasher).
- Make sure your fridge doors are clear of knick-knacks.
- Clear your surfaces as a top priority. This means using up or getting rid of extra toiletries that have been lingering for a while.
- This especially includes the bath/shower space, where it’s common to have large collections of hair and body products.
- Bedrooms (Start with the Master Bedroom)
- Clear your nightstands. If you’re not enjoying the book that’s been sitting there for months, donate it! Keep only the items you use every night, such as your bedside lamp, reading glasses, hand cream, etc.
- Make sure your dresser drawers close properly.
- If you have in-built wardrobes, go through these and clear the clutter by assigning neat storage boxes and consider donating any clothes you haven’t worn in the last twelve months.
- Other rooms
- Once you’ve successfully decluttered the rooms above, it’s time to move on to secondary rooms, such as the dining room, conservatory, back garden, etc.
- Storage is also important! Make sure you tackle the attic, shed, etc., if you have time. Use tidy storage boxes to full advantage, and use these places for any “off-season” storage to make your primary storage solutions (such as cupboards and wardrobes) look more spacious. (For example, store away winter coats and big jumpers if it’s summer).
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… First
A lot of declutter lists will tell you to start with a drawer, but unless you have the world’s nosiest buyers, a random drawer in your living room isn’t going to help sell your house fast! If you really want to make a difference on how spacious a room looks, get rid of an old piece of furniture you don’t actually use. Look for items that will make a big visual difference right away, and get some quick wins — especially if you’re on a timer!
Use the Four-Buckets Rule: Keep, Donate, Sell, Discard
As you’re sorting through belongings, they’ll typically fall into one of the four buckets above. Depending on the room you’re decluttering, you might want to actually use boxes or buckets for Donate and Sell items and throw Discard items directly in the bin, so you’re not tempted to rescue them. Don’t have a Maybe bucket, as more often than not, you’ll keep items you were on the fence about — commit to a bucket right away. If it still feels like the right choice late in the day, action it!
This tip is easy — get rid of the rubbish! Whether it’s the pile of old catalogues or that old step stool you’ve been meaning to get rid of for ages — do it now! Reduce the “stuff” that serves literally no purpose so you can focus on the tougher next steps.
Clear What You See
Look at the room’s surfaces — is anything out of place? This is especially true for window ledges! Make sure nothing is hindering the natural light.
Countertops are especially important for this — larger items, such as your microwave or desktop computer, should stay in situ, but items such as your hairdryer or yesterday’s pots and pans need to be put away.
Finish What You Start
It’s common to feel overwhelmed when you start to declutter one room or section of your home. Moving from one room to another and not finishing each space will leave you with a big donation/discard pile without being able to see much difference. Tackle a room at a time and make sure you finish what you start to see and feel the maximum impact from your hard work — it’s far more motivating.
If there are items you’ve been promising to fix for a while, give yourself a realistic but firm deadline. Stick a post-it on the item if necessary, and put time in your calendar to upcycle that computer desk or fix the plug on that old lamp. If the deadline comes and goes, either recycle or bin the item. (Alternatively, you could list it on an app, such as Gumtree, to see if someone else would like to take on the project!)
Take Photographs, They Last Longer!
If you have a keepsake taking up a lot of space but you’re only keeping it for nostalgia or because you feel guilty as it was a gift/inheritance, consider taking a photograph and then discarding/donating it. That way, you’ll still be able to see it and bring back the memories without it looming in your space.
Don’t Buy Additional Organisers Unless You’re Sure
If you can manage to declutter your house in good time so that everything has a place, it’s much better than trying to hide the clutter in storage containers. You may not want to take them with you if they’re house-specific! And definitely make sure you declutter before you purchase any organisers; otherwise, you may over or under-estimate the additional space required.
Man’s Best Friend Isn’t Always
It may be shocking, but not everyone loves animals. Make sure you tidy away toys, bedding and treat/water bowls if they’re in a prominent place such as the kitchen.
Ask For Help
Finally, remember that a shared task is an easier task. A good friend can act as an impartial, fresh pair of eyes. Ask them to imagine viewing your house for the first time. What are their first impressions? What do they notice that might be second nature for you but a turn-off for others?
An extra pair of hands is never a bad thing for helping to tackle the Donate and Discard piles of items, either!
One In, One Out (Until the House Is Sold)
Unfortunately, on average, it can take up to 4.2 months to sell a property if you don’t use a genuine cash house buyer. So it’s important to maintain your new clutter-free home for as long as it takes. One great way to do this is to adopt a “One In – One Out” system. For example, if you want to buy a new pair of jeans, one of your old pairs must be recycled or donated first. Likewise for kitchen utensils, homeware, and (definitely) furniture (however tempted you are by a second wine rack!)
Feeling Overwhelmed? Sell Your House Fast without Decluttering
If you’re looking at the list above and thinking it’s far too much work and you simply don’t have the time or energy, there is another way to sell your house fast without listing it on the open market and opening your doors to swathes of potential buyers.
Selling your home to a genuine cash house-buying service, such as House Buyer Bureau, means that you won’t have to deal with any viewings, and we’ll even purchase properties which need a bit of TLC.