9 Ways to Clean the Clutter Before Selling a Home


Today we have a guest post from Bill Gassett, a popular real estate blogger who shares his tips and tricks with buyers, sellers and other agents. This article is an excellent resource to pass on to your clients and prospects.

So you have decided to leave your old home behind and move into a house better suited to your current lifestyle. The initial excitement you feel after making this decision is pretty invigorating, but there is still a lot of work to be done to transition from one home to another. Depending on how long you have been in your current home you may have a great deal of clutter to go through – stuff you have no reason to bring to your new home. Getting rid of all of the “stuff” you no longer need can be a monumental task if you are not well prepared in advance. 9 Ways to Clean Clutter

We asked Bill Gassett, a top Realtor in Bellingham Massachusetts to share his best tips on ways to clean the clutter before selling a home. Bill has been selling real estate for nearly thirty years so he has seen it all when it comes to the showing condition of homes. Using Bill’s tips for de-cluttering your home will more than likely increase your chances for a quicker sale while also keeping your life more manageable.

Ways to De-Clutter Prior to Moving

  • Organize your paperwork. Mail and other paperwork has a way of accumulating for even the most organized people. The next thing you know, you have drawers and piles of it everywhere, and the first thought that comes to mind is to just throw it all away. Take a deep breath and deal with this the only way you can – with patience. Once you begin going through your paperwork you will discover that much of it is no longer relevant and can be discarded. Shred any documents with sensitive information and recycle the rest.
  • For documents that you need to keep, consider buying boxes specifically for that purpose. Label them with as much detail as you can so you know where to find important documents later. Keep in mind that not all documents that appear important actually are. Supporting documents for your tax returns – like your W-2s and similar documents – only need to be kept for three years. If you run a business, the supporting tax documents must be retained for six years. When it’s time for you move, make sure to pack these in a place where you will be able to easily access them, especially if there is anything concerning the sale of your house.
  • Clean out your closet. Clothes are another category that tends to accumulate over time. There is no reason to haul all your unused and unwanted clothing to your next house though, so take a few hours to clear out your closet. Those outfits you loved in 1997 need to find their way to the local thrift store, and the pants that stopped fitting eight years ago should probably go as well. The less you have to move the better (and all that extra closet space is a fun excuse to go shopping). A great way to discard unwanted clothing is to visit the nearest Goodwill. Goodwill is a non-profit organization specifically set up to help those in need of life’s necessities. Not only will your donation help make your home look better, it will undoubtedly help someone who is less fortunate. A win-win for everyone!
  • Gather your home improvement records. When going through all of your documents, be sure to collect your home improvement records and receipts. These can come in handy when you are selling your current home and provide a nice history for those who eventually purchase the house. This way they know when things were done and by whom. Making a list of home improvements that will help sell a home is a great marketing idea. Buyers love to see what you have done to your property and when. Providing them a list as part of the real estate marketing brochure or on your single property website is something they will love!
  • Donate old electronics and appliances. Everyone has an old computer, appliance or other bit of electronic gear sticking around. Whether it’s in the garage, the basement or a closet, you probably imagined one day you would get around to fixing it, or that it would make a great backup when the new one broke. While your intentions were good, the fact is that these items are just extra things to move – things that will probably sit in a similar place unused in your new home. Where you donate these items will depend on your area and what donation organizations accept. Make sure to call ahead and verify that the place you are planning to take the item actually accepts it. It shouldn’t be necessary to stick it in a landfill, but it may take some searching to find someone who can actually use your particular item.
  • Clear out the cupboards and the freezer. Stockpiling food is very easy to do. Between your cupboards and your freezer you may have a good deal of food items that are past their expiration date or food you never really plan to eat. Check all of the expiration dates and discard all food that is no longer good. For your freezer, expiration dates are not the only concern. Food that remains in the freezer for more than three months often degrades in quality. Discard anything you think is old enough to no longer taste good. You may also have items that are still within their expiration date, but you just don’t see yourself eating them. These you can take to the local food bank so others can get use out of them.
  • Dispose of unused hazardous materials. If you have paint cans or other toxic home improvement or cleaning materials, some of these may need to be discarded before your move. Materials like this that have not been used within the past year may not even perform well anymore, and hauling already opened containers of things like paint risks unpleasant and possibly hazardous spills. This is something you should consult with your REALTOR® to find out local best practices. Some buyers love to have the old paint for touch up purposes while others plan to completely change the home’s color scheme and have no use for old paint. Contact your local hazardous waste disposal organization to find out where and how to discard these items.
  • Finish the de-cluttering process as early as possible. Moving is a real pain… even when everything goes perfectly. By starting your de-cluttering process early you can ensure that everything is ready to go by the time moving day hits. In fact, take a look at this helpful guide on how to prepare for moving. You will find tips that will make your move far less stressful than just winging it. The advice will help with considerations before and during your move. More than likely things you have not even thought about. Most people are surprised at just how much time it takes to go through all of their things.
  • Look over the home carefully. Lastly while you are going through your home doing the necessary cleaning and organizing, make sure you also give your home a once over looking for any necessary repairs. A buyer will almost certainly be doing a home inspection. A good home inspector will find common home inspection issues very easily. As homeowners we often forget to really look at our homes through the eyes of a buyer. We get used to our surroundings and don’t realize we have problems until they become a major issue. Home inspections are the #1 reason homes come back on the market. Don’t let this phase of the real estate transaction stop your sale cold in its tracks! By getting your home to look its absolute best, you stand a much better chance of getting top dollar and sitting at a closing table sooner than you expected.

A lot of decisions must be made when you are selling your home. Start early so you can be ready when the moving truck arrives. There is nothing that will take the stress out of a move more than being fully prepared for what lies ahead. Best of luck with your sale!


  • These are really great tips, especially concerning important papers and home improvement records. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for the receipt for the new roof only to be told that it’s packed away!

  • […] Don’t stop there! Look in that storage space where you’re putting the decorations and see what else needs packing up and labeling. Or better yet, you may want to consider decluttering by category instead. Do all your clothes, then all your paperwork, etc. Just don’t forget to keep all your important house papers handy as  Massachusetts Realtor Bill Gassett points out here: 9 Ways to Clean the Clutter Before Selling a Home. […]

  • […] may actually not be selling and also scaring away potential buyer’s because of clutter.  Cleaning clutter before selling a home is absolutely critical.  A home that may not have tons of closet or storage space must pay even […]

  • Things Sellers Do that Real Estate Agents Hate. | Real Estate Long Island NY says:

    […] and if your home is a disaster area they may not be able to look past it. It is vital that you clear the clutter before putting your home on the market. Buyers truly appreciate pride of […]

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