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Spring may have finally arrived and so has spring cleaning time. If you are thinking of putting your home on the market one of the most important first steps is a thorough cleaning and de-cluttering. If you aren’t in the market to sell right now, I bet you can still use a few de-cluttering tips! Most buyers will not look past a dirty, cluttered home no matter how much potential it may have. A sparkling clean, orderly home will help buyers actually see what your home has to offer instead of focusing on all your stuff and will usually sell quicker and for a higher price. If you are planning on moving all that stuff has to go anyway, so you might as well do it before you list your house and hit the market ready for a quick sale.

The process of de-cluttering can be daunting but breaking it down in to more manageable segments is the key to success. First, make a master plan. Walk in your front door and look around. This is the first impression your buyers will have so make it count! Walk through every room with this same focus. Look at each room like you are seeing it for the first time. Write a list of what needs to be done for each room with the goal of less is more. Clean, bright, open rooms is what you are after. In addition to de-cluttering and deep cleaning, make note of any repairs or touch ups that are needed as you go room by room. Now is the time to replace burnt out lightbulbs, touch up paint or re-paint if it’s been awhile.

In each room clear out all non-essential items. Empty closets, drawers, shelves, cabinets and counters so you can see what you really have. If you are moving, everything has to come out of the house anyway-right? Depending on where you are moving keep in mind your space needs. If you are down- sizing then you will probably need to get rid of more stuff than if you are moving in to a larger home. Don’t use that as an excuse to just move everything though! Most people are shocked at the amount of sheer stuff we accumulate between moves and now is a good time to edit your belongings. Make piles for everything in each room- keep, donate or trash- and then sort accordingly. Remember, the more you keep, the

more you have to pack and move so be ruthless! The goal is to make the rooms appear large and open and to have ample storage space throughout the home. Aim for only using 50% of your closet and cabinet space so buyers feel like you have tons of storage space.

Now that all of your belongings have been separated into three piles it will be easier to edit what you really want to keep. If you are putting your house on the market, no need to keep personal items on display. Family photos, collectibles, trophies, etc. should be packed away since de-personalizing your space so buyers can imagine themselves living there is key. The things you have decided you can’t live without should be packed now for the move or put back in an orderly manner so your closets and cabinets look clean and freshly organized. The trash pile should actually make it to the trash. No pulling items out of there and putting them back-that defeats the purpose of de-cluttering! Throw those things away immediately to resist the temptation of wanting to keep them. The donate pile should be taken to whatever charity you like to donate to or to a consignment shop or you could sell things online through sites like Ebay or Etsy. You could also have a garage or yard sale if you are really ambitious. Whatever you decide, just make sure the items actually leave your property and find new homes.

Finally, do the same thing in the basement, attic and garage. Contrary to what some people think, when you move you have to empty out those spaces as well. I have gone to many closings where the sellers thought it was ok to leave stuff they didn’t want in the basement, garage or backyard. Our real estate contract requires all personal property that is not specified to stay in the contract to be removed by closing, so everything must go!

If you are getting your house ready to sell, de-cluttering is a must do first step. After all the clutter is gone do a thorough cleaning. Your house will be clean, fresh and market ready and your packing will be much less painful. If you aren’t thinking of moving right now I don’t know many people’s homes that couldn’t benefit from a good de-cluttering and spring is a great time to tackle it. Happy Mother’s Day!

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