Getting Ready to Sell? Where to Start: Tips for Decluttering

Moving Pod in Berkeley

How to begin: Tidy up in five easy steps

Are you getting ready to sell your home and feeling overwhelmed? Moving is always a big project, and when you’re introducing your home to prospective buyers, getting your house “show ready,” can be daunting. Here’s where to start, in five easy steps.

  1. Declutter. Decide what you’ll be taking and get rid of the rest! Knick knacks, though personal for you, may not be as deeply appreciated by buyers who want to imagine a fresh start. Pack the little things you’ll be taking and give the rest to charity. Think to yourself, is this worth carrying with me to my next home? Though it’s hard to let go of memorabilia, the less of it we have, the more we’re able to enjoy those few things we saved.
  2. Time to pair down your wardrobe. If you don’t love it, someone else might! Goodwill stores are a great way to “recycle” clothing that doesn’t get enough use. It may have been serving a nice purpose, warming your closet all this time, but if you haven’t worn it in the last 2 years, (some home organization experts say the last two MONTHS!) it’s time to give that dress new life. If you love it, but it doesn’t fit you, let it go. Your morning routine will thank you, and your pocketbook eventually will, because buyers love an airy, spacious closet. A packed closet weighs us down emotionally. Give this one a try and see how much lighter you feel.
  3. Make space for storage. Out with the old in with new doesn’t quite work here. You’ll want to save a few of the oldest boxes you have stored away, along with your tax paperwork and most important documents. Keep those irreplaceable family photos, but limit yourself to one box. Anything beyond that can be digitized using a service like Fotobridge. You send in your photos and they’ll send you zip storage back, so you can take your family memories with you and still save your back.
  4. Apply a critical eye to furniture. When selling your home, less furniture is more. Throw out anything that’s visibly or functionally broken. Next, set aside anything you can live without, to donate or sell. Apps like “letgo,” work well for this and you’ll get a rush when you see your old furniture given to people who need it.There’s craigslist for selling furniture, and goodwill accepts donations of smaller items. Nextdoor and the Oakland “Buy Nothing,” group on facebook are also great. If you have very large furniture items to offload, tag those, because movers will often happily take larger items off your hands. Even better, call Lulu’s Hauling in Berkeley, at 510.841.1821. They’re local and do it all.
  5. Second guess everything you’ve kept so far! Are you likely to use this in your new home? Many people are downsizing these days. A family of four in a big house accumulates a lot of “stuff,” but if you are moving to a fancy small spot in the city that’s half the size of your former home, get tough with yourself. Set a goal to get rid of about fifty percent of the things that might get in the way of your own fresh start. The less clutter you have, the less cleaning you’ll do in the next few weeks and going forward. Leaving things behind means getting freedom from them, to enjoy your life in new surroundings. Do it sooner than later, because the more quickly you do the hard work of moving beyond your possessions, especially if a little excessive, the higher a price you can expect when offers start rolling in from all those buyers with imagination, who see a clean slate where they’ll make new memories.

If you’ve got time to get philosophical, or you really need some convincing, check out these popular decluttering trends. Professional organizer, Marie Kondo, has written a book called Tidying Up: The Art of Decluttering, where the test for whether to hold on to an item is whether it “sparks joy.” Read more about how that works at her webiste, On a less joyful but equally compelling tip, there’s the “Swedish Death Cleaning” philosophy, which sounds scary but is super smart. The idea there is to remove unnecessary things as one gets older and wiser, to consciously minimize the amount of junk that defines our mark on the world. Regardless of your strategy, action is the cure for anxiety, so get going on the decluttering as a first step toward listing your home for sale.