Are you ready to sell your house, but worry, “How can I sell my house looking like this? It’s a mess!” Or are you discouraged that your house won’t sell and you know it would show better if you cleaned it out, but you’re overwhelmed by the thought of it?
Let’s face it. We have all too much stuff! And most of us tolerate the mess as it builds, takes over our lives, and stresses us out until something forces us to do something about it. And that “something” is often deciding to sell your house. When getting your house ready to sell, there is no task more daunting for most people than getting rid of “all that stuff.”
But no matter how bad your house it, you can clean it out in a weekend with the right mindset and some “muscle help” of course. Believe me, I’ve cleaned out houses worse than yours in one weekend, so I KNOW you can do it.
STEP 1: HOW BAD IS IT?
If your clutter isn’t too bad, you will at least need to get these things before you get started.
– Lots of boxes. Your liquor store is great places to get sturdy free boxes.
– Contractor bags. These huge, heavy-duty bags don’t rip or break. Look for 42 gallon 3 ml bags at your hardware store.
– Cable ties. The twist ties that come with some contractor bags are wimpy. These will never let you down.
– Masking or packing tape and permanent marker. Label every box and bag. You will be glad you did later.
– Manpower. Teenage boys are great for this and reasonable. Some will even work for food!
Depending on your level of clutter and how much you want to get rid of, you may also need:
– A storage pod or storage unit. It’s delivered to your house so you don’t have to get your stuff to a storage unit.
– A dumpster. This can really make your life easy if you’ve got a lot of stuff to get rid of.
STEP 2: GET RUTHLESS
People hang on to stuff because:
– It has sentimental value – Get creative. How about taking pictures of all your kids’ grade school art work and have the digital version instead?
– They think they might need it someday – Have you used it lately? Could you replace it if you need it later?
– They value because once they spent money on it – You already “wasted” your money. Now keeping the junk is subtracting from the value of your house.
Decide to let go. You will find it quite liberating.
STEP 3: GET DECISIVE
You’ll have to make quick decisions. If you agonize over every item in your house, you won’t get done. Once you make a few hard decisions, it gets easier and easier.
When in doubt, think “Would my life be different without this?” If this answer is no, out it goes!
MAKE YOUR MOTTO: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!
STEP 4: GET STARTED
Using your newfound-skills of being ruthless and decisive, go through your house room by room. Don’t forget your basement, attic, garage, or crawl space.
Move everything you want to get out before you sell your house into one area, divided into three sub-areas:
– The “I have to keep it” stuff. Box up and store all non-essentials while selling your house.
– The “I don’t want it, but someone else may” stuff. Donate it all to charity and getting the tax write off. Or if you love having a yard sale, have one, if time allows. Then take whatever is left to your nearby charity or arrange for a charity to pick it up.
– The “Nobody would want this” stuff. Bag it up for the trash, take it to the dump, pay someone to haul it, or use that dumpster.
If you spend just one weekend de-cluttering, but can sell your house fast, more easily, and for more money, just think how well your time was spent.
Deane Alban is co-owner of Pretty Nice Properties, a full-service real estate investment company. She is the author of “The Truth About FSBO – Complete Selling System.” She has a blog at http://truthaboutfsbo.com/blog, where she answers homeowners’ most pressing questions about selling their house for sale by owner. Her advice is relevant for anyone trying to sell a house in today’s market – homeowners selling FSBO or with an agent, as well as fellow real estate investors.