Uncluttering to stage/sell a house
March 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm #233804
DH and I have decided we are going to put our house on the market – we’d like to become renters again, move to a different neighborhood, and downsize in the process. I’ve discussed this in a previous thread and got lots of good advice to aid in the decision making process – and there are quite a few cons to go along with the pros – but at the end of the day, we have to follow our gut.
I am grateful that we’ve already been uncluttering for several years, because it will make preparing to sell our home and move much easier. That being said, I’ve realized that we have a ways to go and that there might also be some subtle differences between uncluttering for ourselves and uncluttering to help sell our home. Our home is small compared to others on the market (looking at pure square footage numbers), so we want to make sure it feels clean and spacious for prospective buyers. So we probably need to get rid of a few more things to ensure the hall closet isn’t overflowing when it is opened, etc. On the flip side, we don’t really decorate much for ourselves, but it might make sense to buy some small things like rugs to help make the house feel more “finished,” because I think most people would be turned off by our stark, utilitarian style.
Any suggestions on how to approach uncluttering for this specific purpose? Or anyone else going through the same process? (@lifekeepshappening…you are, right?)
March 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm #233806
Exciting times! I’m preparing for a makeover of the storage area “entryway and walk-in closet”, which is taking place slowly over the course of about two months; painting, new shelving etc.
Stuff has been corralled and placed in Ikea Kassett boxes of various sizes, and in the process I’ve found out that I don’t have lots of knickknacks. Instead there are utilitarian things such as gorgeous votives doubling as lighting during dark months, or sewing gear for instance. The objects that are pretty to look at, with no other function, are actually quite few and putting like with like has helped me a lot; I’m not as appalled at the stuff anymore.
Also committing to a schedule to get rid of stuff; I just repurposed >40 cards from gift cards to note paper, but the are many more, so birthday etc. cards have to be sent out. Or the cute stickers (from my childhood) that still have sticky glue are slowly moving out as crafting, birthday or other gifts for kids of my friends. And so on.
My point is that I’m viewing “facts” though fresh glasses of some kind and most of the time I find it has helped a great deal. I’m also preparing for flea markets this year, had the thought to give a stack of paper bags to my parents since I don’t need them, yet realised it would be good service to offer a bag for a customer then. I don’t like being patient, but I need the money more, so the darn bags stay for a few more months…
March 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm #233807
When we sold our last house, we rented a small, off-site, storage space for three months. We put all of our personal items into it — family photos, kid’s artwork, etc. — so potential buyers could “see” themselves in the space. We also swapped out a few chandeliers and window coverings that we had purchased and wanted to take with us instead of leaving in the house (we bought new ones and installed them before anyone came through the house). Finally, we put into storage a few things that just didn’t make the home look like a magazine — a chair that made a room look too crowded, our bikes and golf bags from the basement storage to make the room look bigger, etc. Once the house was sold, we moved all the stuff into our new home and closed up the off-site storage space. For a temporary purpose, I think storage lockers can be a good idea. Our house sold in 10 days and we got the asking price, so the couple hundred we spent on the storage space was well worth it in our minds.
March 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm #233809
Wow – 10 days! That’s amazingly fast! I never even thought of the idea of storing things outside the house…I could possibly even just drop a few boxes at my office temporarily. Worth considering depending on how much we can unclutter quickly.
March 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm #233826
I also staged and sold my house in a short time (2 good offers in 7 days). I had a storage unit, too. We removed things like my husband’s chest of drawers (because it made the room feel cramped) and he kept his clothes in an underbed box.
You definitely want the home to look like it could be in a magazine. I put all the wastebaskets away in cabinets and got rid of the toilet bowl brushes (I got disposable ones). Every morning, once the rest of the family left, I would sweep and wipe down surfaces, put the kitchen towels and sponge away, and bring out a few vases with plants. The stager told us that green plants were especially good. Then I would open the curtains and shades so the house was bright.
Other things: I forced my husband to stop shopping at Costco for a while, because no one wants to see 50 rolls of toilet paper. I cleaned everything, including the outside of the washing machine and dryer. And I spot painted the walls that really needed it.
It was exhausting and a huge pain, but well worth it in the end.
Good luck with your home sale!
March 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm #233827
Good luck SleepyKitten! I know you have been debating this move for a while. I’m glad you and DH came to a decision.
DF has bought and sold many times. I haven’t. We’ll be selling the house empty as I don’t have the right possessions to stage a large house for the local market. A workman came into the house this morning and asked if I’d already moved out!!
I am taking really good photos of the rooms and the house. It involves some moving of boxes/personal items here and there to get a clear shot of each room. DF wants to avoid the “Realtor cell phone” photos that so many house sellers suffer from. This way, I can take photos that show how the rooms look when the sun is streaming through the new French doors and when the lawns are freshly cut. I’m using a tripod to be sure I get the best shots I can instead of my usual wonky snapshots. Once people are in the door, the house will sell itself.
A house that really appealed to us when we were house-shopping had a little photo album that chronicled all the updates and before/after decorating projects they’d done. It gave us confidence that the house had been well maintained over the previous years. We haven’t done any major work to this house so I maybe won’t do an album, but I have gathered/printed all the manuals for appliances, a/c units etc that belong to the house and have put them in a nice folder.
DF said in the past when selling houses that were still being lived in, he would have a clean rag under every sink that all family members had to use to dry and polish a sink after each use. That way they could pick up and leave the house at a moment’s notice this way.
We saw some pretty desperate houses when we were buying. I think clean, neat houses inspire a lot of buyer confidence.
March 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm #233833
Great suggestions so far – thank you and keep ’em coming!
@figlet – I don’t even know if I am capable of making our house look like it could be in a magazine – I don’t have that sort of eye – but I will do my absolute best. Your tips are good ones.
@lifekeepshappening – Excellent point about avoiding “Realtor cell phone” photos.
March 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm #233838
SK do you have any local friends with an eye for magazine style? If you feel brave you could share photos of your rooms here and people who know how to stage could gently give suggestions.
March 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm #233841
I realise I was focusing more on the part where you talked about stuff that falls out of a closet when you open the door. Is there a rug rental place where you could pick up something for visual warmth?
March 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm #233846
@ninakk – Don’t worry – I saw the connection – and I totally agree with the idea of shifting perspective and looking at things with “fresh glasses”, too. That’s so important for the long run.
@lifekeepshappening – I do have a couple friends who might be of help. I’m not particularly brave, so I’m not sure if I could bring myself to post photos here or not…we’ll see. I know many of you are very brave and I like looking at YOUR photos. 🙂
March 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm #233848
we painlessly sold a very tiny apartment several years ago.
we didn’t have much to begin with, but we took out all the personal stuff.
we bought white bath and bed linen.
we made sure there were fresh flowers and essentials oils at all times.
sk, i wouldn’t be coerced into buying rugs that you will never use again.
if rugs aren’t your style, then that is perfectly ok.
sometimes a space allows potential buyers to imagine THEIR rugs there.
March 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm #233855
Here, I’m focusing on clean and tidy: touching up paintwork, getting the windows washed, mulching flowerbeds. I like bandicoot’s suggestions of white bath and bed linens.
Ah, I need to know and recognize all these tips when we start looking for a house in MN. I vow not to be swayed by fresh flowers and white bath towels!!! lol.
My problem is more how to pack while touching up paintwork etc. My breakfast room is now a sea of empty boxes (the cat is THRILLED!) I made no progress with packing today. I am all indecisive and annoyed with myself for it.
March 14, 2013 at 12:23 am #233862
SK, as bandicoot says, I too wouldn’t purchase decorations just to sell. My stuff was perfectly fine when I sold a house 4 years ago. If anything more was wanted, the realtor I used brought it in! She was definitely incentivized to sell my house for me, and it worked well. So if you’re going to use a realtor, talk to that person first about staging. If you’re not going to use a realtor, then I would use a storage unit if need be, keep the place very tidy, and above all keep it clean. It’s a pain always putting away things in the bath and kitchen, but it’s worth it in the end. Best of luck to you!
March 14, 2013 at 7:43 am #233876
A friend of mine is an interior designer and worked with realtors to stage houses for resale. Her service more than paid for itself in the asking price and turnover time. She’d move homeowners’ clutter and excess furniture into storage units, or rent furniture for empty places.
Unless people are already interested in design and decor, they usually have a hard time visualising how a place can look at its best, and have a really hard time seeing past cosmetic issues (we don’t want that house because we don’t like that purple bedroom. We don’t want a purple bedroom!)
My friend’s job was to remove the blocks which prevent people from seeing themselves living in that space.
March 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm #233890
We’re selling my MIL’s house and we asked the real estate agent for advice, as Herisff advised. She wants it to sell, too! She said there are advantages to having it empty (as this one is) — there aren’t any nail holes in the walls that they buyer will have to repair; you can see the condition of the floors because flaws aren’t being covered by rugs and furniture. She recommended against doing anything to make it more cosy — clean, unclu7ttered and nothing broken sells.
March 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm #233909
Good to know we shouldn’t worry about coziness. We can just focus on cleanliness. DH and I talked a little bit last night about what to get rid of, what to pack away and store elsewhere, and what to rearrange…we have our work cut out for us this weekend!
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