SO many times, people first think to declutter when their home is in contract, and they are finally moving. They were too busy they might say, and yet they would be asking their respective agents where were the bids! If only they would have realized that they would have obtained so much more for their home had it been decluttered PRIOR to even introducing their home to the market. Homes show so much better when they are pristine, organized, and when the potential buyers can actually see the rooms devoid of so much ‘stuff’ . One of my favorite quotes from George Carlin is ” A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff”.
I was recently invited into a home that had been on the market for 6 months. I mentioned that the sellers needed to move boxes from their bedrooms, basement, living room to the garage, and the home owner mentioned that he had received a bid with those same boxes in that room for X amount so why move them now. “Well”, I quipped in a gentle fashion ” if you had moved this and that from your rooms, then perhaps your bid would have been higher and you would have accepted it and the house sold by now!” They were speechless. I realized that their current agents had worked hard on their behalf, and suggested they stay with them, and merely declutter. They did that, and I showed the home to clients the other week, and now it is on their “maybe list”. They had seen it before and now like it as they can appreciate the rooms far better. Go figure!
When I first visit a home of a prospective new client, I will tour the home with them, and gently suggest that they do this or that to maximize their list price. It could be painting, power washing, removing wallpaper, to packing away or removing photos and knickknacks. If needed, I will bring in my stager (who actually re purposes what is already in the home and is excellent), but my goal is always to obtain he highest price I can for my clients, and so making sure the home looks its best is an important component to achieving that goal.
When is the best time to declutter? Actually the very best time is when you aren’t even contemplating selling your home. Do you look through your closets each season to see what is needed, not desired any longer or can be donated to a worthy charity organization? What about the attic? I am getting older, and I am thinking to the day that I am no longer able to do certain things (of course 20 years hence!), but I task myself twice a year to venture up into the attic and to remove 4 bags of unwanted ‘stuff’ . It is amazing that how your viewpoint can change from year to year as to what you really want to save. Having three sons, my attic is full of baseball cards, un-opened McDonald toys (yes, they are collectibles now), boxes and boxes of Legos together with the various instructions, their artwork (still invaluable!), and the empty boxes of their Nintendo games (games in a cooler area). When we first purchased our home, we never even checked the attic, and we discovered the original storm windows, French doors, all placed up there. I am still hating to throw them away but they could be used by a contractor… and so they are remaining up there... but …….
How many empty propane gas tanks do you need by the side of the house? How many broken or chipped clay pots in the garage? Are you going to have more rabbits so do you need that cage? What about those rusted and old paint cans that no one will want ? When was the last time you emptied out your garage, and then placed back the items you wanted to keep? You will be surprised at the amount of unwanted items you have and don’t need. I started donating books to the library a few years ago. I would take two bags of books to the library each week or month as I realized that I would not be reading certain books a second or third time, and it was time to let someone else enjoy them. Shame on me though, I had an autographed book by Nelson De Mille that I had inadvertently slipped into a bag, but I still have my autographed copy of “Salad Days” by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. However, if you declutter gradually then it will just make it easier for your children when the time comes and/or yourself should you wish to sell your home. Alas, I still have over 50 cook books…. maybe one day… (do as I say and not as I do..) .
Lists are good! Writing a list and checking off something each day gives you a sense of accomplishment. All positive and good!
One of the questions I ask a home owner, is where are they going, and how large is that property? If they have a 3000 square foot home, and they are moving to a 1500 square foot apartment then the answer is obvious. They need to throw out items they will not be taking with them, give them to children, friends or store them. There are so many storage facilities around the area but they can be expensive depending upon on how much you store, so really decide on whether you need certain things.
Some people find it hard to part with anything. That can be hard. I was referred to a lovely family the other year who were hoarders. One of my sons, who was training for the Olympics was home at the time, and so I asked him to go and help out the home owners. Character building! However, when he would go there, it was with the goal of emptying a room of things alongside the home owners, lifting the heavy items, but there wasn’t too much accomplished on each visit . After four such visits, and 30 hours later, I suggested professional companies to assist the owners. Sometimes, professional assistance and guidance from people who specialize in hoarding situations is required.
One former client (and now friend) decluttered her home of stuff, painted where suggested, and her home which was valued at one price, actually brought forth $400,000 more when it was marketed. It really makes a difference. Nowadays, we, as agents, can assist by having some rooms virtually staged (disclosing same on the internet), and so a home can look far nicer on line to attract more people. We can empty a room, furnish rooms, but when the potential buyers visit, the house still needs to present well. Clean, tidy and not cluttered. I love artwork, and I always find myself drawn to the artwork in a home. That can be a distraction to some buyers. A soft palette also is more desirable in a home as opposed to bright colors on the walls.
What if you have beautiful artwork so that you no longer need and would like it to be sold on your behalf? There are so many companies that can assist there also. Companies that assist in estate sales can either advertise your items on line if desired (Max Sold) , have estate sales in your homes (Finders Keepers 914 934-8055 will even clean out your home afterwards! firstname.lastname@example.org ), or you can access auctions at an auction house (Black Rock Galleries being one) . Arranging sales requires advance planning though so bear that in mind. Don’t forget the internet! Facebook has various sites also. Check out “Westchester Garage Sales”, “Westchester Community Tag Sales”, :Lower Westchester NY Tag Sale” , etc. You can also have your very own garage sale too. Many areas require permits so check on that!
Don’t forget that you can throw out unwanted items by your curbside also. I live in New Rochelle and they allow for two bid pick-ups (meaning yes- even a sofa!) and that is free of charge. You can easily place bags of unwanted things by the curbside on your regular pick up days and sale money. Start doing it 3 months in advance, and you will save so much money!
Where can you find help?
I live in Westchester, and so here are a few companies that will cart away your unwanted items:
Junk Luggers – 1-203-689-0629
I am here for all of your real estate needs!
Westchester is great!