You don’t have to be a minimalist when it comes to your decor but if you want to sell your home, your chances improve greatly if you get rid of the clutter. While curb appeal speaks volumes, once potential buyers enter your house, you want them to be able to picture themselves in it. And they can’t do that if your stuff is spilling out all over the place. Clutter is confusion to prospective buyers and that puts you at a disadvantage right away. If you’re living in a cluttered home, you may not be able to see disarray. You see sentimental memories of your beloved grandparents, or knick-knacks from a great vacation; the buyer, on the other hand, sees chaos. They can’t separate the house from the clutter and in a market where there are more homes than buyers, you need every advantage you can get. Even if your house is clean, having stuff crammed in every nook and cranny is visually unappealing.

What to do?

  • Well, you don’t need to hire a stager, at least not initially, but you should consider renting a storage space and clear everything out.
  • Make the house neutral. Make it possible for buyers to mentally move their own belongings in. As with any type of decluttering project, make piles of things you’re going to save, things you’re going to donate, and things you’re going to throw away. Be ruthless. There’s a lot of money at stake, after all, especially if you need to sell your house fast.
  • Call a local charity to pick up your items or drop them off yourself. If you can absolutely, without a doubt have a garage sale or sell items online, you can do that as well but it might be best if you can just say good-bye to what you don’t need any more and give to a charitable organization. Yard sales, eBay and Craigslist take time and organization that you might not have during the selling process.
  • Keep what you’re going to save and store it. You’re not getting rid of it, you’re just getting it out of sight.
  • And throw things away. Really. It’s time.

Here are some particular areas you should pay attention to as you de-clutter.

  • Keep furniture to a minimum in your living areas so that your rooms look bigger.
  • Clear out shoes, coats, umbrellas and other outdoor items from your foyer or mudroom.
  • Move out big pieces of equipment, such as guitars, amps, drum sets, or exercise equipment.
  • Take down your personal photos and store them for yourself. Let the buyer imagine putting pictures of their own family on the walls, tables and shelves.
  • Get rid of old newspapers, books and magazines, recycling if you can.
  • Organize your wires in computers, printers, televisions and other electronic equipment so that it doesn’t look sloppy and overwhelming.
  • Take away those boxes of tissue, medicines, magazines and other items you might have on your nightstand and keep just lamps, clocks and maybe a book or two on them.
  • Edit your bookshelves so that you have a neat, orderly space with books and perhaps a few decorative items, like a vase, globe or other art object.
  • Remove everything from your kitchen countertops, keeping only essentials like a toaster. Add decorating items sparingly (bowls of unblemished fruit look nice). And clear off all those magnetized coupons and your child’s artwork from the refrigerator.
  • Arrange the shelves in your pantry nicely. Have everything point in the same direction so that it looks neat and organized.
  • Get rid of sickly plants and only keep a few healthy looking ones on display.
  • Make sure your beds are made and all extraneous items, like clothes, toys or shoes, are off the floor.
  • Clear out the bathrooms and spruce them up with some fresh soaps, towels or maybe flowers. Hide your razors, toothbrushes and shampoos out of sight in a cabinet while your house is being shown.
  • Clean out your closets so they aren’t packed to the rafters.