As we kick off 2012, a lot of us get motivated to give our homes a good cleaning. It's a way to clear the physical and mental clutter and, if you're selling your home, it's a must-do to help attract buyers.  Cleaning up and de-cluttering will gain you thousands of dollars at the time of the sale and cost you as little as a few hundred dollars.

     We recently helped a Cupertino client load up 20 trash bags worth of their once-prized possessions. It's funny how, as the years go by, time and lack of room can make you realize that those prized-possessions are just eating up space.  Most of us have more than we need. Having more stuff than you need in a home is not appealing to buyers. It can make them feel cramped, nervous, and overall uncomfortable in your home which may result in a lower offer.  The best approach to de-cluttering is to have an organized plan.  So, if you're rolling up your sleeves and getting started, a good place to start de-cluttering is the hall closet. Why? Buyers are certain to open it up and check it out for storage space.

                                                            Declutter 2

     De-cluttering a home can be a huge task that can be made even more laborious if you're not careful. What people will want to do is haul everything out of that closet and then they don't know what to do next because they've got too much stuff to deal with.  It can be an overwhelming process. 

     We recommend a systematic approach to clearing clutter. We tell our clients to first start with everything on the floor. Pull those items out and leave everything on shelves inside. Go through the items and get rid of the things that you don't have a use for.  The golden question to ask is not 'Will I ever use that?' That's what we call the 'keeper' question because the answer to the question is almost always 'Who knows, maybe.' So then you end up keeping it.  The better question to ask is, "What will make me use this or what will make me need this?"

     We have found that when that question is asked, often people realize that they're never going to use the item and are more willing to let it go.

     Once you've found the stuff you're ready to get rid of, what do you do with it? Many sellers attempt to store it until they can have a yard sale or they donate the items. If you donate your items, make sure you take a look at the book Money for Your Used Clothing by William R. Lewis, CPA. The book tells you what the IRS will let you take as a tax deduction.                                 

     We also recommend to have a plan of what to do with all the clutter once you have cleared it out.  One common predicament sellers find themselves in is putting their belongings in storage and paying for the storage rental month after month.  When they finally look at their stuff, they find that they ultimately don't need any of it. 

     The sooner you get your house ready to sell, the better decisions you will make and the easier and enjoyable the overall sales process will be!