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Getting ready to sell? Depersonalize and get rid of clutter first

Think back to a time when you, or someone you know, sold or traded in a car. There was some work to do before advertising it for sale or taking it to the car lot, right? It’s a rare car seller who’ll leave all the fast-food wrappers, empty plastic water bottles and crumbs left behind by the kids.

Why?

Because a clean car gives off an impression of being well-maintained.

It’s the same thing with houses. Sadly, cleaning and decluttering a car about to go on the market is a routine task, doing the same for homes isn’t.

Yet a home is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a car.

First, get rid of the clutter

Scientific studies show that clutter causes anxiety in people who view it. Not a good state for a homebuyer to be in, and reason enough to get rid of excess “stuff” in the home.

If you have a lot of it, the process may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Remember the old advice on how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time) and apply it to getting rid of the clutter in your home.

In this case, take it one room at a time. Try to do the entire home in one day and you’ll most likely get frustrated and lose the mojo needed to complete the job, according to professional organizer Nicole Anzia.

“It’s much better to spend a few hours — 2 or 3 — on one project or space. This way you’ll feel motivated to do more, not be burned out by the process,” she tells Apartmenttherapy.com’s Catrin Morris.

For those who burn out quickly, Anzia suggests doing one room at a time, “in 30-minute bursts … work for 30 minutes, take a half-hour break, then work for another 30.”

When tackling clutter, pay close attention to any collections you may have. Too many items in a room makes it appear cluttered and distracting to buyers.

Depersonalizing comes next

Actually, you may end up doing a lot of the “depersonalization” while you’re getting rid of clutter.

In a nutshell, depersonalizing a home involves removing anything of an overly-personal nature.

Think about model homes in new-home communities. These homes are carefully staged to appeal to the broadest number of buyers and they are decidedly depersonalized.

You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in the home, with their furniture and their belongings.

Some of what you should remove and store includes:

  • Excess family photos
  • Framed diplomas, degrees and awards
  • Extra toys
  • Magazines and professional journals
  • Craft items
  • Anything on the refrigerator doors
  • Anything that sits on the kitchen and bathroom counters that isn’t decorative
  • Mail
  • Paperwork
  • Anything of a religious or political nature
  • Sports memorabilia

Depersonalization doesn’t just include removing overly-personal items from the home. Consider repainting walls that are currently painted in a bright or odd color and getting rid of odors from cooking, pets, babies and smokers.

Don’t go overboard in depersonalizing the home, however. Leave some traces of your personal statement so that buyers get an idea of the lifestyle the home offers.

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