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12 Common Household Items to Get Rid of Before Your Sale

When it’s time to sell your home, your local real estate agent will help give you some key strategies and ideas that can help buyers see your home as their dream home — and make sure that your property stands out above any homes you’re competing with.

While most real estate experts agree that staged homes spend less time on the market and tend to draw higher offers, hiring a professional staging service isn’t always necessary — particularly in today’s active market. Sometimes, all you need is a personal touch and a little bit of DIY effort — including simple projects like hiding or removing some common household items. 

Simply taking some time to declutter and depersonalize the home can help move your sale forward faster. So, what decluttering projects should you discuss with your broker? Here are 12 common household items to get rid of, move, or hide before you sell your home.

1.) Family Photos, Diplomas, Or Other Personalized Items

Potential buyers want to be able to picture themselves in their new space. How will their items look? What decorating options will make the space personal for them? Does it feel like home? 

Photos, diplomas, and other personal decorating choices distract from the process of envisioning how the space will suit a buyer, and make the house feel as though it already belongs to someone else. Instead of picturing their own life in their new home, potential buyers will naturally be curious about the current occupants. 

As a seller, you will need to pack and store these treasured personal items eventually; making it an early part of your selling process can accomplish two big relocation goals at once.

2.) Pets And Pet Accessories

Homebuyers tend to have strong feelings about pets. Even if they want to bring their own furry family members into the space, potential buyers might not want to meet your four-legged friends as they tour your home. Some buyers will even cut tours short if they know that a pet is occupying the space, making assumptions about pet odors, damage, or the other potential complications of purchasing a home that has had pets living in it. 

Make alternate arrangements for your pets on days your house will be shown, and make sure litter boxes, leashes, and animal toys are stowed out of sight when you show your home to potential buyers. 

3.) Unique Collectibles

If you are an avid collector, chances are your treasured collection has a place of prominence in your home. And while that collection is no doubt a point of pride and a great conversation starter when you invite guests over, it can easily become a distraction to a potential buyer. 

Collections tend to make a home feel cluttered and less spacious, and can distract from a home’s other  features. A buyer may be less likely to appreciate your home’s above-average storage, for example, if it is overwhelmed by a collection of books or small items. Clearing out that space and making room for small plants or neutral vases can make your whole room feel more spacious and inviting.

4.) Oversized And Extraneous Furniture

One of the main tasks of staging a home is making sure the furniture in a space provides a good guideline for how the area can be used without making it feel small. Typically, professionally staged rooms focus on open, walkable space that allows buyers to visualize how a room might be decorated to suit their needs. 

While overstuffed sofas, large tables, large bookcases, and extra chairs may be functional for everyday use, they can make a room feel smaller than it is, and give buyers the impression that it is cramped and difficult to navigate. Similarly, a small work desk in the bedroom might be a pandemic fact of life, but to a potential buyer, it may just serve as a reminder that the home doesn’t have a dedicated office space. 

Store mismatched, damaged, or large furniture items, and focus on arranging the items that remain in a way that makes each room feel spacious and airy. 

5.) Unused Seasonal Items

Closets and storage space are always high on buyers’ lists of priorities, and for good reason — no home ever seems to have enough storage. Closets that are packed with winter gear in the summertime can make it seem like your home has less storage than it actually does. Conversely, closets and storage spaces that are only partially filled give the buyer the impression that the home has more than enough storage for their needs. 

As you get ready for a move, sort out bulky out-of-season clothing, sports items, and other gear and make sure those items are stowed off site — or, take some time to donate and recycle what you no longer use. This can go a long way into making buyers see your home as one they can grow into, instead of one where they’ll never have enough space for their own parka or set of skis.

6.) Paperwork And Other Household Clutter

Living in a home while preparing it for sale can be challenging. After all, the everyday process of living has to continue even while strangers walk through your home on a regular basis. However, keeping paperwork and general clutter to a minimum makes your home feel more spacious and allows potential buyers to imagine how they’ll put their own unique stamp on the space. 

Just as importantly, keeping paperwork out of sight also makes sure your sensitive personal information is protected from prying eyes. Invest in a locked cabinet, and make sure any personal papers, kids’ toys, and other everyday items are out of sight and out of mind when potential buyers tour your home. 

7.) Unused Outdoor Items

If you have a backyard or other outdoor space, chances are it has accumulated some clutter of its own. A table you don’t use anymore, plants that are a bit overgrown, or a backyard shed that is full of tools can make your backyard seem less inviting to potential buyers. Clearing out any backyard items you’re not using, trimming hedges and other plants, and getting rid of extra tools can all help you show one of your home’s greatest features to its best advantage. 

While you’re clearing out clutter from the backyard, make sure your front door is neat and inviting as well. Trim back any plants near the door, and make sure the front of your home makes a great first impression. 

8.) Excess Garage Gear

Like the backyard, the garage is a home feature to be highlighted. However, in practice, the garage can easily become a dumping ground for unused items or half-finished projects that take up room — and make this sought-after space seem smaller and more crowded than it actually is

Moving some items from the garage into storage and properly storing others can highlight how much available storage your garage actually has. Getting a jump on cleaning out the garage can also make the inevitable process of moving that much easier. 

9.) Taste-Specific Artwork And Decor

Strong color palettes, bold design choices, and striking artwork might make a house feel like home for your family, but they can sometimes elicit negative reactions or alienate prospective buyers. Most home staging experts recommend sticking to neutral colors, which are appealing to the widest range of potential buyers and help every individual envision themselves in the home. Safely store bold artwork and colorful rugs for your next home, and stick to neutral and inviting accents and finishes to help ensure your home has the broadest possible appeal.

10.) Private Personal Items

As exhausting as it might be, emptying out bathroom medicine cabinets, stowing laundry, and ensuring there are no dirty dishes in the sink or trash in wastebaskets is an essential part of making your home feel like a blank slate to potential buyers — and safeguarding your own privacy. A box or storage bin dedicated to this purpose can make the process a little easier, and can easily be stored out of sight under a bed or on a closet shelf during times when your home is being shown. 

11.) Specialty Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen is often called the heart of the home – and it is one of the rooms that buyers most consistently focus on and prioritize. While your juicer, Instant Pot, or food processor may be a daily necessity, too many items on kitchen counters can make your kitchen seem cluttered or small. To highlight your kitchen’s counter space and make this critical area feel more inviting, keep specialty appliances stowed away during showings.

12.) Worn, Broken, Or Outdated Fixtures

Buyers tend to overestimate the amount of work it will take to replace small items like light fixtures or drawer pulls. If a home has a lot of small items that need to be fixed or replaced, a buyer may feel intimidated by the projects and give up on the property. Relatively inexpensive repairs and replacements can make your home feel more up-to-date, and can make overwhelmed buyers feel more relaxed and comfortable — all with just a weekend or two of work on your end. 

When Home Means More, You Need a Team With More to Offer

Is your home working for you? For many of us, the way we think about our homes has changed — and that might mean you’re ready to make a move to find one that better fits where you are now. After all, home is about so much more than just four walls. 

Buying or selling a home is a big deal, and with everything we experienced in 2020, our homes have never been more important. That’s why your local Baird & Warner agent is with you at every step of the way, with the tools and support you need to make your real estate journey easier — including in-house connections with local experts in mortgage and title. Whether it’s the beginning of a story or the end of a chapter, we’re here to help.