Home sale preparation: Clear out your clutter

By Elizabeth Erickson | Mar 13, 2013

Word’s out: The market is hot!

Wait just a minute. In Mukilteo, there are currently 51 active residential listings – 37 houses, 14 condos – 30 of those have been on the market more than 45 days. The average of those 30? One hundred and forty days. This is hot?

Yes, hot – if priced competitively and in good condition.

The status that gives the most accurate thermometer reading is “Pending, Subject to Inspection.” Those negotiations typically have occurred within the last 10 days and there are 16 pending, STI.

Of those, nearly a third had fewer than seven days on market; the majority were fewer than 30. (Only two had been on market slightly more than 45 days.) Short ‘Days On Market’ is king when hoping to achieve your highest value.

If you’re listing this spring, you should be poised to move. We already live in ‘Location, Location’ so the only two remaining factors in a seller’s control are ‘Price and Condition.’ ‘Price’ is between you and your broker, leaving only ‘Condition.’

Preparation typically involves First Impression issues: sprucing up the outside as well as simplifying and staging the interior.

What’s often awkwardly missed in discussions are Second Impressions.

If your closets – and no apology necessary – are brimming over with winter clothes and Halloween decorations intertwined with tree lights or if #somebody else# transferred an armload of sheets and towels from the dryer into the linen closet, just know that these closets will be seen by strangers who are all looking for spaciousness and storage.

If the master closet is jammed full, then cull and store away. Master closets are a highly evaluated feature with buyers, so open up as much space as possible.

If the garage has not housed a car in years and boxes of stuff are sitting idly next to Suzie’s crib (she’s just received her master’s degree), then set aside a weekend or two to sort through garage, closets and drawers.

Attacking clutter can be daunting. If you’re not hiring a professional organizer (highly recommended) then one method is to begin with four boxes:

•Consider Later: Prevents getting sidetracked; i.e. reading old letters.

•Rubbish: Head out to the garbage can each time it’s filled.

•Alms: Good feeling knowing old favorite sweater going to a good cause.

•Put Away: Avoids getting sidetracked by re-positioning items as it fills.

Your intent to move will require this process be done regardless, so if you’re seriously intending to sell (if not, why are you calling your broker?) do this before you list your home.

A spacious feeling can equate to a quicker sale, which in turn can equate to higher net proceeds.

If this is still a struggle, take a closer look at the acronym formed by the four boxes – that’s how buyers see your overload of stuff. Hiring help is an option. There are organizers who live and work in our community; they’re extremely skilled turning chaos into order.

When complete, your only possible regret could be – “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” – a common sellers lament.

Elizabeth Erickson is owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate. Contact her at erickson@galleryhomesre.com or at the office: 425-212-4300 or direct: 425-508-1405, or go to www.galleryhomesre.com.

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