The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Home for a Walkthrough
There’s a lot at stake during a walkthrough— potential buyers will check every nook and cranny of your house to make sure they want what you’re selling. So what do you do to make sure you give them your best first impression? Here is your ultimate guide to sorting, cleaning, and staging your home to sell!
THE GOLDEN RULE OF STAGING
The #1 thing to remember when staging a home is to show them the bones.
The goal of a walkthrough is to enable a home-buyer to imagine themselves living in the space. The more “you” that is in space, the harder it will be to picture “them” living there. So try your best to show them a blank slate — the “bones”, if you will. Pretend you’re at a crime scene and you need to purge the rooms of evidence that you live there. That means pictures of you and your kids, personal tchotchkes, and generally “extra” items should be out of sight. That isn’t to say you should throw all of those things away! The goal is to simply depersonalize your home and clear out any and all clutter that doesn’t need to be there.
With that in mind, let’s get to the three stages of organizing for a walk-through.
STAGE ONE: Sorting
Clearing out as much of your stuff as possible now makes it SO much easier for you to move later. It’s also very helpful when you’re trying to show off the best of your home. Maybe your living room has stellar windows, but there’s a clunky chair in front of them, or your spacious pantry is hidden under a mountain of plastic bags. Help highlight the best features of your house by removing the clutter in their way.
How do you know what to purge and what to hold onto? Here are three things to keep in mind:
Throw out items that are broken or worn out. This includes chairs with broken legs, ill-fitting clothing, and threadbare sheets. If you can’t use it in its current state, trash it and move on.
Eliminate duplicates. Seriously, how many white tees do you need? And why did you keep every Allen wrench IKEA’s ever given you? Pick the best version of your duplicate items and toss the others.
Picture moving with it. Is this item worth the time, effort, and money it will take to transport? If the answer is “no” (and you’ll know if it isn’t), then dump it. If you’re not sure, revisit it after you’ve gone through more items.
STAGE TWO: Cleaning
Potential buyers make assumptions about your property based on the little things being taken care of (or not). That includes neglecting to dust, sweep, or polish the furniture that will be visible. So it’s up to you to send them a message: The previous owner cares about this house.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a little “to-do” list to get you going:
Pay attention to your glass. Do windows first— dust the rails, clean any bugs out of the sills, and wipe the panes with a streak-free cleaner. Then move on to mirrors, glass tables, chandeliers, or any other shiny/clear feature in your home. The shine makes a difference!
Get the grime off of your appliances. Stainless steel is particularly tricky, so look for cleaners that are specifically meant for the materials your appliances are made of, then scrub away to remove fingerprints, food splatters, and general nastiness.
Deep-clean the floors of every room— even inside closets. Pay special attention to rugs. Scrub any crusty stuff out of it, and invest in a deodorizing powder to leave it smelling fresh.
Check your doorknobs. If any of them are loose or broken, look at what you need to do to fix them. It’s usually not a hard task, and it’s a minor detail that makes a world of difference!
STAGE THREE: Staging
When you are wondering what you should and shouldn’t keep out for your guests to see, keep the Golden Rule handy: Show them the bones. Here are some individualized tips on how to depersonalize the rooms in your home:
The Yard: Your lawn is the first thing people see when they look at your home, and the backyard is usually the last. Your main priorities for these areas should be gardening (mowing the grass, pulling weeds, trimming bushes) and storing outdoor accessories. Clear the area of toys and tools like weed whackers and lawnmowers; those should be stored in a shed.
The Entryway: As the “introduction” area of your home, you want to ensure that this space is bright, clear, and inviting! Only leave out essential clothing items, and store clutter like pet toys in a closet for now.
The Living Room: Highlight positive features like big windows, fireplaces, or recess shelving by clearing and cleaning all visible surfaces. Accent the windows with complimentary curtains (devoid of dust) and sweep any soot or debris from your fireplace. Adding small accessories is acceptable, like a potted plant or a candle, but remember to keep it minimal!
The Kitchen: Deep cabinets, long countertops, and roomy drawers are very attractive to buyers, so try to make any storage you have feel spacious. Invest in drawer inserts and remove excess items from your pantry. Any rarely-used appliances should be packed away first— you won’t miss them, and it frees up space to show off. Lastly, it’s a good idea to strip your fridge of any magnets or papers, and clean out the inside of it so it doesn’t leave any odors behind.
The Bathroom(s): Make cleaning a priority here— scrub all faucets, drains, and tiles until they sparkle. As for shelves and countertops, clear them of day-to-day items like toothbrushes and cosmetics. (Just hide those in a closet or cabinet.) If you’re feeling conscientious, see if your shower curtain needs to be replaced. If it’s turning brown, it’s likely not in great shape.
The Bedroom(s): Give your closet some love by sorting through clothing, organizing your shoes, and putting loose objects in bins. (If you want to go next-level, invest in some matching hangers… it makes everything look neat and professional!) If you’re storing items under your bed, consider placing them in a long, flat bin, or at least straighten them so they look nice.
The Office: Try to make your workspace look as minimalistic as possible, and straighten up any books you have lying around. Invest in file organizers for loose papers or tuck them neatly into a drawer. Just be sure to track your important stuff… don’t lose anything in the shuffle!
Sheds and Garages: These areas are normally used to store items you infrequently use, so be diligent in organizing them. Place smaller items in labeled bins, and keep objects closer to the walls to give the illusion of having more space. Give the area a quick sweep and dust as well… people look for bugs and pest droppings!
And voila! Your house is ready for viewing! Which tip did you find particularly helpful?
If you have any other advice for staging a home, feel free to drop it in the comments below. I hope this list gives you some peace of mind as you move forward in your home-making journey. Have a safe and happy move!