Part of what makes a house a home is being comfortable in our own space. It is only natural that some of that comfort flows from being around familiar things and having our favorite possessions nearby. When you have lived in the same house for many years, you tend to accumulate quite a bit of stuff. Maybe you have a collection of trophies from various sporting events when your children were young, or perhaps you have your halls covered with family photos or college memorabilia. Everyone has their own sense of taste and style, and of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. At some point, the time comes when you decide to make a change in your life. You may be an empty nester who is downsizing, or you have chosen to start anew in a different city. Regardless of your reason for making a move you need to start by taking a look at your home with fresh eyes and think about how it would look to potential buyers. Remember if the house doesn’t look good in the photos, no one will want to come see it in person!

When you start planning to sell your home, you will need to declutter, and for some people, this can be a painful process. “What?” you may say, “Won’t everyone love my collection of depression glass butter dishes?” Sadly, the answer is “no” since not everyone has the same taste. You may also feel that you are stripping your home of everything that made it “yours.” However, that is exactly the point. You may have poured your heart and soul into your home and as a result feel it reflects “you” to a T, but you don’t want potential buyers to see and think of it as “your” home you want them to be able to visualize themselves in the space and imagine making it “their” home. The only way to accomplish this is by removing many of the idiosyncratic elements that you may have added over the years and presenting a tasteful if slightly bland vision which people interested in your home can then fill with their own dreams and imaginings.

You should start of course with the obvious, make sure the home is neat and tidy. If you have stacks of old magazines or newspapers, broken toys, or other debris lying around, get rid of it. Make sure all counters and tabletops are clean and free of all but essential items. Pay particular attention to your kitchen and bathrooms. If you have fifteen different devices taking up most of the space on your kitchen counter store or eliminate all but the essential ones you use every day. You don’t want to give the impression that your kitchen lacks counter space or is messy or disorganized.

Odd things on your walls need to be taken down and put in storage. Maybe you have a collection of masks from that trip you took to New Guinea that you are very proud of, but they probably aren’t going to inspire buyers, so they should be put in storage until you are in your new home. If you have a lot of furniture in your home, you may want to have some of it taken away as well; the goal is to make your house feel open and spacious not cluttered with too much stuff. Make sure you have your home professionally cleaned, including your carpets, so it will smell sweet and fresh for showings. Dings and scuff marks on your walls should be cleaned or touched up with fresh paint. If you have a room that is painted an unusual color, say bright orange, it would probably be a good idea to have it repainted in a more neutral color.

It is never easy to let go of the past but presumably, you have decided to move for good reasons, and this is part of that process. Work with your realtor and/or professional stager to optimize your home for sale and stage it in such a way that it will appeal to the broadest possible array of visitors. A house that is adequately decluttered and staged will, on average, sell more quickly and for more money than a comparable home that is not. Focus on the positive; moving can be stressful and properly handled the process of decluttering can be therapeutic. Once in your new home, you will have a whole new space to serve as the canvas for your personality and to decorate in a way that suits you and reflects who you are as a person.

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