Declutter Your Home for Sale

Should you declutter your home for sale's sake? Oh yes. There is no demographic that values a tidy space more than your prospective buyers. Here are some easy areas to fix up prior to listing your home so you make sure it makes the BEST possible first impression.

Should you declutter your house for sale preparations? Quick answer, yes.

But the long answer poses a question, to what level?

I do not know if I am allowed to say that I’m truly a “Type A Individual.” Technically, I have my own little microcosms of clutter within my space, sometimes I leave my frying pan unwashed for the whole day, and I’ve refrained from properly scrubbing my bath tub for longer than I rightfully care to admit to you.

However, for the sake of this guide, I’m going to put on my ultra-nitpicking lens, and tell you exactly how you should go about decluttering your home prior to putting it up for sale.

Declutter it all!

Types of Clutter in the Home

It’s certainly not an accident that Marie Kondo has become exceptionally popular in the last couple of years. For those that are unfamiliar, she is the tenacious home improvement guru who encourages you to dispose of anything that does not spark you joy.

Now think – if the clutter doesn’t spark joy to YOU, how is it going to spark joy to a prospective buyer? They have no personal relationship with it.

Minimal Clutter

Maybe you don’t think that your home HAS clutter. Well, does any of this sound familiar?

• Miscellaneous boxes in the garage

• Wire clutter hanging behind your devices

• Lots of cosmetics adorning your bathroom counter-top

• Pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils taking up all counter space in the kitchen

• Unstacked blu-rays, DVD’s games in your media cabinet

• Empty miscellaneous packaging laying around the house (hey, sometimes breaking down those Amazon delivery boxes can be a nuisance, I get it).

Those are some light amounts of clutter that I have found even the most TIDY people to be in possession of.

Advanced Clutter

Now, let’s talk about Advanced Clutter. Here’s some more horrifying things that you might find, if you’re searching around an “owner-occupied” home.

• Discarded fast food bags and pizza boxes

• Overflowing trash cans

• Overflowing laundry appliances

• Your home is a literal nicknackatory (it’s a real thing)

• LEGOS and toys strewn across the floor

• More unspeakable things

Now I’m not here to judge. You’re free to configure your home exactly how you like it.

But that being said, I spend a lot of time with prospective home buyers, and I can watch their eyes glaze over when they see an image of a home that hasn’t been cleaned up properly.

Giving People a Blank Canvas

You see, I have a mantra that I usually stick to when I’m helping sellers prepare their home for listing.

“You want to give people a blank canvas that they can paint on with their imagination.”

A Blank Canvas – Divine Truth Christian Center
Always let the buyer start with a blank canvas!

Well, sometimes I abridge it… but you get the idea.

People don’t want to see YOU and YOUR LIFE when they go tour a home. They need to be able to have a look at it and imagine what THEIRS could be there. Your clutter 1000% impedes this natural process and will scare away a percentage of your prospective audience. Sorry, you MUST clean your kitchen before an open house.

Staging furniture is a little bit different, as it is meant to bring out the possibilities of the space, rather than tell people exactly how they ought to live in it. But that is a topic for another article.

How to declutter a home for sale

Do you love when things are simple? Then you should enjoy this.


Just kidding. I am not suggesting that you throw everything in a trash bag that “doesn’t spark joy.” I understand that moving from one home to another often requires people to start boxing their things up early and get prepared… so often, this leads to clutter laying around.

However, you need to get it all out of the field of vision of two things:

1. Any people who come see it

2. The cameraman who will be doing your photos

As real estate agents, we invest our cash upfront into doing marketing presentations properly. This means having great photos. It always feels like a waste if the seller had their makeup collection across the bathroom counter top, or a stack of boxes in their living room.

Often, we’ll try to remove these from the photos ourselves as we take the pictures, but sometimes things squeak through the cracks.

If you cannot remove some of the items that were listed above, then at the very least, make sure that you have gotten then out of anybody’s sight prior to the home listing.

Keep it Clean

Stay actively in touch with your agent about prospective buyers coming to see your house so that you can take the appropriate measures to clean it up as needed.

It might be a bit of an inconvenience if you are still living in the home, but trust me that it will be worth it to attract the right buyer EARLIER ON in the process.

Alternatively, you might ask your agent “Why don’t you think it’s selling?” and we’ll have to give you the hard truth that it’s because your home is messy and turning them off.

Use it as a great opportunity to take inventory of what needs to come with you, what can be donated, and how you might experience some more peace in your space when you take the time to tidy it up!

The result will be a shorter period on the market, and attracting a buyer who has been able to IMAGINE their life inside your home. And once the buyer’s imagination takes hold, it becomes a powerful motivator toward a successful, smooth closing process.

If you have any questions on how to declutter your home for sale, I can help answer them for you. I can also recommend my favorite brand of trash bags 😌 (Jk).