Hiring a stager can help, but before you worry about making the place photo-shoot-ready, see how much cargo you can jettison. Make piles of things to save, to donate, and to throw away. Be ruthless. You can sell stuff online or hold a garage sale, but keep in mind that selling the house comes first and budget your time accordingly. You might be better off donating — some charities are even willing to pick up. For the things you’re keeping, consider renting a storage space and temporarily clearing everything out to make the house neutral.
As you declutter, pay particular attention to these:
- Furniture: Keep it to a minimum in your living areas so that your rooms look bigger.
- Entry: Clear out shoes, coats, umbrellas and other outdoor items from your foyer or mudroom.
- Equipment: Move out big pieces, such as drum kits or exercise equipment.
- Bookshelves: Edit your shelves so that you have a neat, orderly space with books and perhaps a few decorative items, like a vase, globe or art.
- Periodicals: Get rid of old newspapers and magazines, recycling if you can.
- Photos: Take down your personal photos. Let the buyer imagine pictures of their own family on the walls, tables and shelves.
- Cables: Organize the cords for your computers, printers, televisions and other electronics so that they don’t look sloppy.
- Plants: Get rid of sickly plants and keep only a few healthy ones on display.
- Kitchen counters: Remove everything from your countertops, keeping only essentials like a toaster. Decorate sparingly (bowls of unblemished fruit look nice). And clear off all those magnets, coupons, and children’s artwork from the refrigerator.
- Cabinets and pantry: Arrange the shelves neatly, with items and labels pointed in the same direction.
- Bedrooms: Make sure beds are made and all clothes, toys and shoes are off the floor.
- Nightstands: Take away the tissues, medicines and magazines and keep just lamps, clocks and maybe a book or two.
- Closets: Clean out your closets so they aren’t packed to the rafters.
- Bathrooms: Hide your razors, toothbrushes and shampoos in a cabinet while your house is being shown. Spruce up with some fresh soaps, towels or maybe flowers.