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If you’re planning to sell your house, it’s essential to go beyond just cleaning and scrubbing; you also need to declutter. This means not only removing obvious trash, like empty paint cans or unused items that have been sitting in the garage for ages, but also taking out personal items. While these things may feel integral to the home for you, to potential buyers, they are simply clutter.

Buyers need to visualize themselves living in your house, which is difficult if there are too many personal items like souvenirs from vacations, personalized wall decor, or family photos. Instead of helping them see the house as their potential home, such items can make them feel like intruders.

No matter how clean your house is, if it’s cluttered, it will seem crowded and unappealing. I understand that these items are important to you, so moving them can be tough. However, you don’t have to get rid of them permanently—consider renting a storage unit to keep them safe until you move.

Your goal is to make the house look neutral, not empty. Here’s how to start:

  1. Classify your belongings into items to keep, donate, or throw away. It’s a good opportunity to part with things you haven’t used in years.
  2. If you have time, you can sell items through yard sales or online platforms like eBay and Craigslist. However, donating many items can save time and benefit others.

Here are some decluttering tips:

  • Remove unnecessary furniture to make rooms look more spacious.
  • Clear the foyer or mudroom of shoes, coats, and other outdoor items.
  • Remove large equipment like drum sets or treadmills.
  • Take down personal photos so buyers can envision their own in the house.
  • Discard old magazines, newspapers, and books, or recycle them if possible.
  • Arrange wires neatly to avoid a messy look and prevent accidents.
  • Clear nightstands of all items except a lamp, clock, and a book for a staged look.
  • Organize bookshelves and add a decorative item like a vase or artwork.
  • Clear kitchen countertops, leaving only essential appliances like a microwave and toaster. Remove personal items from the fridge.
  • Put away any unhealthy-looking plants.
  • In the bedroom, remove shoes, clothes, and toys from the floor and make sure the bed is made.
  • Tidy up the bathroom by hiding razors, toothbrushes, and shampoos in a cabinet, and enhance the room with fresh soaps, towels, or a plant.
  • Remove some clothes from closets to prevent them from looking overcrowded.

Following these steps will help make your house more appealing to potential buyers by allowing them to imagine it as their own.