One person’s junk is a homebuyer’s negotiation tool: Why you must declutter when you sell your house
By Amanda Scali

30/06/2016 12:00am

One person’s junk is a homebuyer’s negotiation tool: Why you must declutter when you sell your house

The principle that one person’s junk is another’s treasure is true in many situations in life, but selling your home is not one of them.

Apart from the fact that everything is brand new, the rooms featured in decorating magazines look so spacious and elegant because they are minimalist in design and under furnished by comparison with most homes.

If the average family were to live in those artfully staged rooms, no doubt they’ would soon end up resembling something more like the busy, cluttered rooms we see in 'real' homes.

Decluttering is an important process that acts as a precursor to home staging, which we will return to in future articles.

Why you must declutter when you sell your house

At McGrath Real Estate we have found that decluttering a home before sale is critical to achieving positive first impressions.

Your home is competing with new and unoccupied existing properties, which naturally appear roomier than a lived-in home.

Your possessions have value to you, but in real estate the stakes are too high to deter buyers by having what they may see as junk marring their view of your home.

Your treasures can look like junk to others because they do not know the context that made them special to you—your family history is not theirs and they want to find the perfect home for their own treasures.

You need to see with fresh eyes the things in your home that look like clutter to others but you don’t even notice because they are so familiar to you.

How to declutter when you sell your house

Work systematically through the items in each room, assessing their: condition, usefulness, attractiveness and size appropriateness; sorting those that fail on those counts into

  • condition
  • usefulness
  • attractiveness
  • size appropriateness

And then sort those that fail into the following categories:

  • donate
  • dispose of
  • repair
  • sell

Store valued items that take up too much room or do not match your décor off-site during the sale process.

If the fridge or noticeboard is covered with photos, coupons, business cards, bills, receipts and lists, cull anything obsolete and relocate what’s left—in a drawer or inside the pantry or linen cupboard door, for example.

Even if you have designer kitchen appliances, the bench space will look larger with these and other items out of sight.

For inspections remove personal care products from the shower and vanity and display fresh matching bath towels.

Remove adults-only calendars or posters and any reading material from the toilet.

If it’s hard to be objective about your own environment, keep the image of the idealised decorator magazine home in mind when you prepare your home for sale.

Your McGrath Real Estate agent will help you to make market-savvy decisions about what should go and what should stay to give you the best outcome from the sale of your home.