According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2019 Profile of Home Staging, 83 percent of buyers agents think that staging makes it easier for potential homebuyers to visualize a property as a future home. Whether you believe in the KonMari method of tidying up in one go or you have a strategy of your own, one of the most important steps in prepping a home for sale is the process of decluttering. 

By clearing away unnecessary items, personal effects and neutralizing the decor, home sellers can get a running start in a competitive real estate market. Moreover, when looking for information about homes, 99% of Millennials search online, so decluttering is particularly important before the real estate agent takes photos. What’s best is that decluttering a home is something you can do yourself long before a home stager enters the picture or the home hits the market. 

If you’re thinking of selling your house, here are 5 tips to decluttering your home: 

1. When decluttering, remove personal items

When you are in the process of selling a home and potential buyers come through, they will be looking at the house as well as the decor. The more clutter and personal effects you leave lying around, the less people get a sense of the space. Photos of family and friends are lovely in a home, but during open houses and showings, tuck them safely away. Pack away souvenirs and knickknacks too. Clear personal items that line the counters and shelves in the bathroom, bedrooms, and sitting rooms. A great decluttering tip is to stash toiletries, personal products, and hobby items in baskets that can be stowed away just before showings.

2. Reduce furniture when decluttering

Reducing the amount of furniture in a room can open up the space. When you look at your rooms, think about whether they feel inviting or crowded. Is the dining room really just full of a hodgepodge of chairs you don’t want to get rid of and are there other pieces that seem worn and faded? Some home stagers recommend removing as much as half of the furniture in your home, so it has a minimalist, clean feel. Also, think about the arrangement of the selected pieces that remain. Smart design techniques such as “floating” or arranging chairs, couches and tables away from the walls can give buyers a better idea of the functional uses for each room.

3. When tidying, purge closets, pantries and drawers

Removing clutter from your closets makes them look larger, and a well-organized closet makes potential buyers imagine all their organizing woes can be solved. The same exercise should be done for your pantry, cabinets, and drawers. Box up lesser-used kitchen utensils and cookware. Get rid of the half-used shampoo bottles and hairsprays you’ve kept around for years, and pack away all but three sets of linens. In the bedroom closet, remove and store off-site any out of season clothes, suits, and special occasion dresses and shoes.

In a pinch for space? Rent a storage facility and place anything that’s not necessary for daily life there. It is not a long-term solution, but it can certainly help you clear the clutter quickly without having to make a lot of tiring decisions. A storage facility is also an excellent place for nostalgic, personal items that are best removed as you neutralize your space.

4. Go for near-empty surfaces when decluttering

If a house appears unclean, potential buyers will get the impression it has not been well-maintained. One way for a home to exude a sense of cleanliness is to go for near-empty surfaces. For example, declutter kitchen counters of small appliances, and then swipe islands, tabletops, and counters clean. Be wary of small crevices that collect crumbs, dirt and dust. After the surfaces are completely clear, go back and add a piece or two of décor.

5. Do a deep clean at the end of the decluttering process

Light, open, clean spaces can draw in a potential buyer, so make sure to do a deep clean as the decluttering process comes to a close. Wash windows and wipe away the film of dirt that collects on surfaces over time, but remember, good lighting highlights the positive and negative attributes of a home. Scrub grout between tiles, deep clean carpets, and wipe down walls. Do a quick walk-through of each room to look for inconsistent lighting or light bulbs that need to be replaced. Open up the curtains and ventilate the rooms to remove any stale odors. 

Once the home is decluttered, go back and declutter some more. Then, turn your attention to the small details. For example, put a fresh bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or, perhaps, a vase of fresh cut flowers. Not only will these small touches make visitors feel welcome, but they will make the home seem cared for and loved. 

Are you starting a new phase of life and thinking about selling your home? It’s never too early to start decluttering. If I can answer any questions for you about the home sale process, please contact me. I would love to assist you. Email Victoria Carter at, or call (973) 220-3050. 

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