cluttered home organize

Notes on Decluttering a Cluttered Home Before Selling

ClutterWe all tend to accumulate crap in our lives but the people who are selling cluttered homes have a tougher time preparing their home for sale. I’ve sold many homes for packrats and those suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder, and I try to be compassionate because I realize it’s not their fault. It’s a disease. Besides, I am also focused on the job at hand. I realize I am not responsible for their mental condition, I’m simply responsible for selling their home. I don’t try to be a White Knight agent.

Who among us hasn’t collected crap, when you come right down to it? True story — when my husband and I moved to Sacramento, I carted off truckloads of crap, er, really nice stuff and donated it to charity. The crummier stuff I tossed. I had worked past the years of moving boxes of old bus transfers from the 1960s and telephone bills and other types of paper receipts that are absolutely worthless, which I had saved and forgotten to discard. They tell you to save stuff but don’t tell you when to toss it. I also had accumulated boxes in my attic filled to the gills with old curtains, drapes, bath towels, pots and pans, you name it, if I had bought it for a previous home, I had saved it.

This is why now when sellers ask me if they can take the drapes, my eyes get wide and say WHY, for the LOVE of God why? They won’t fit the windows in a new home. They will be too long or too short or the wrong color or the wrong material, and they will go into a box in your attic that you will move to the next house and the next house and the next house, so for crying out loud just don’t do it. Even if they do fit, you’ll decide you want new window coverings for some other goofy reason. Don’t even get me started on the people who plan to unattach and take their plantation shutters.

I also threw away boxes of old shoes. I suppose now it would give me great pleasure to paw through such a box but only for a moment as I held up a pair of rotting hippie moccasins to recall the last time I wore them and realize I could not (that’s what the ’60s do to ya), so what they hey, into the trash they go. I had to tug and pull two boxes of old shoes, they were so huge and heavy, outside for the trash collectors. Next thing I knew, people were knocking on my door in anger, waving shoes in my face, demanding to know how I had a right to throw away such precious things! You can’t win.

Then, when I got to California and moved into our new home, not everything would fit. As I unpacked, I realized what I should have realized back in Minnesota, and that is I did not need half of this crap. So even though I paid to ship it across the country, I still rented a 30-ton dumpster, put it in the street and filled it to the brim. Homeless people and scavengers had a field day.

I share this story in hopes that my clients and readers will be a bit more ruthless — poor Ruth, she gets all the blame — when trying to sell a cluttered home and will get rid of the crap upfront. Or, you can just call this Sacramento real estate agent, and I’ll guide you through getting that cluttered home prepared for sale.

Subscribe to Elizabeth Weintraub\'s Blog via email