Compass Home Group: Clutter Eats Equity!! How to Depersonlize Your Home for Sale

Clutter Eats Equity!! How to Depersonlize Your Home for Sale

How to Depersonalize Your Home for Sale 
Compass Home Group of Keller Williams American Premier Realty
Call or Text 443-360-0086

Making the decision to sell your home begins a journey of a thousand steps. From hiring a real estate agent, the Compass Home Group, to getting the home ready for the market, there is a lot to do. Luckily, homeowners have a tool belt full of items that make the job easier. The most powerful tool of them all is decorating – better known as staging. Done right, staging your home will help it sell faster and for more money.  Lucky for your Compass Home Group works together with a professional home stager to make sure your home will show off its best features to potential home buyers.  To find your homes value, complete our short seller survey for a free market analysis of your homes value in today's market.

Before you hire a decorator, or decide to do it yourself, you'll need an appropriate backdrop – a clean, uncluttered space. Otherwise, staging the home is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Why Declutter? 
There are several reasons homeowners should clear their homes of the clutter accumulated from daily living. First, clutter makes people anxious. The results of a nine-year long UCLA study show that there is "real psychological stress associated with clutter." The last thing you want a potential buyer to feel is stress or anxiety when touring your home. Since most clutter in a home is a collection of personal items, depersonalizing the home goes hand-in-hand with clearing clutter. Sure, all those personal items are what makes your house a home, but too many of them may hinder its sale. Buyers need to be able to imagine what it would be like living in your home, surrounded by their belongings. Your stuff detracts from their ability to do that.

Depersonalizing: What's Involved?
Depersonalizing is the act of removing most items of a personal nature. Family photographs, souvenirs, collections, DVD and CD collections and framed diplomas, degrees and awards are a few examples of items to pack up and store.

Getting Started
Since you'll need boxes for the move, buying them now saves work later on. Buy several boxes for each room in the house, and don't forget newspaper or other packing material to protect breakables. The best way to go about depersonalizing the home is to do it one room at a time.

Living Room and Family Room
Since this is where families spend most of their time, these rooms will most likely take the longest. Items to remove include:

  • Toy bins or boxes. 
  • Toys (including pet toys). 
  •  Family photos. 
  • DVDs, video games and CDs. 
  • Excess magazines and catalogs. 
  • Newspapers. 
  • Craft items. 
  • Clothing. 

Kitchen we move from the most challenging room to the easiest room to depersonalize – the kitchen. The biggest clutter catcher in this room is the refrigerator. Remove the magnets, sticky note reminders, kids' artwork and personal photographs. In fact, remove everything from the front, sides and top of the refrigerator. Unless it's decorative, pack it all up. Many families use the kitchen counter as a mail drop. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, but mail is highly personal and needs to be put away, out of sight.

Since bedrooms are the most personal of all the spaces in a home, they can be challenging to depersonalize. Remove family photos, of course, but you may need to go beyond that. Imagine a posh hotel room and remove anything from the bedrooms that you wouldn't find in one.

Bathrooms tend to become cluttered with personal products. While it isn't necessary to pack these items up, it is crucial that they be put out of sight in cupboards and drawers. Don't forget the shower stall or bathtub. Buyers will pull back the shower curtain. Would you want to be greeted by pumice stones, shampoo bottles or kids' water toys? Again, think of a posh hotel bathroom and try to imitate that look.

Home Office home office is typically one of the most cluttered rooms in the home and also a hot selling feature, so it's important to create a vignette that appeals to the target market for the home.  I can personally speak on this one, as our home office usually seems too look like it was just attacked and a bomb was set off.  Attack the walls first, taking down awards, diplomas and degrees, and photos. Clear the desk of mail, work papers and professional journals and magazines. As you work on depersonalizing each room in the home, don't just throw the items in the boxes. Wrap and pack for the move and then take the boxes to a storage facility. Don't forget to organize what's left in the room – it puts you one step closer to staging the home.

For more great articles and tips on any, and everything, about your home, check out our Insider Tips section of

Compass Home Group of Keller Williams American Premier Realty  
Tim Langhauser & Michele McCartin  
Call or Text 443-360-0086 for information

Comment balloon 8 commentsTim & Michele Langhauser • January 09 2014 07:04AM


That is the best headline I've seen in a while. Clutter DOES eat equity!

Posted by Katherine Flansburg, Real Estate Professional in College Station, Texas (BCR Realtors 979-492-7830) almost 5 years ago

These are very good tips on selling a home.  Thank you.

Posted by Elite Home Sales Team, A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team (Elite Home Sales Team OC) almost 5 years ago

What a fantastic post! And I thoroughly agree that clutter causes stress.  I typically tell my family that "we need to pretend we're moving" because there's nothing like a properly staged/de-cluttered home to make you feel good.  :)

Posted by Brenda Mayette, Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how! (Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

As agents, I think we have all seen pictures like the two in the post in our MLS systems, and clients should know the disservice they are receiving from an agent who would post them!

Posted by Tim & Michele Langhauser, Realtor in Maryland - Harford County (Compass Home Group @ Keller Williams American Premier Realty) almost 5 years ago

I completely agree with this post.  In this new year, I've started the decluttering with my own home. BTW, those photos of cluttered rooms are shocking.  What's equally shocking is when photos like these accompany listings on the MLS...

Posted by DALIA KIBBY, Selling Broward County Homes with Passion! (Keller Williams Realty Partners SW) almost 5 years ago

Tim and Michelle,  Your words are great, but, wow, those pictures are worth a 1000 words!  Excellent illustrations of your text.  You are totally correct about the kind of impression clutter gives a visitor.  I can remember a property I toured about 12 years ago.  The only thing I remember about it is the stuff lining the stairs to the second floor.  

Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) almost 5 years ago

Thanks so much for this blog post.  Clutter is a big deal and really affects how and when a home will sell.  I really try to stress this to my clients well before going live on a listing.

Posted by Dave McFarland (RSVP Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Great post. These simple steps, with brief explanations, really can help inform the seller about the reasons why we stress decluttering. Thanks.

Posted by Joan Fitton, CRS, ABR, RSPS, kw New Homes Ambassador (Keller Williams Southern Nevada) almost 5 years ago