During my years as a real estate agent in Riverside County California, I have experienced buyers' reactions to clutter in home sellers' homes. The first-word that rolls off their lips in a whisper is "junk." My personal belief holds the adage, "one person's junk is another person's treasure." Personally I am not attached to clutter one way nor the other. What does concern me if I am listing a home for sale for a client the perception their clutter will elicit in potential home buyers and their agents. If all buyers can see is "junk" and not past it to the wonderful features of the home, then it is likely we will not have a sale. Buyers will reject homes, even if it might be their dream home, based on paint colors alone. And so it can be with clutter.
Clutter can also make buyers feel uneasy the seller won't be able to pack up in time to move out. There is nothing like having to move to show us how much stuff we have collected during our time in our homes. I am a fan of Marie Kondo's tidying up and have applied a couple of her principles in my own home. I admit I haven't gone full Marie Kondo by category (if you've read her books you know what I'm referring to) but I use her folding methods so that the inside of my drawers are neat and tidy. It is possible to fit more in a smaller space if you know how.
Other ways of dealing with stuff when it's time to move is to get ruthless because the clock is ticking. Traditional method is to put stuff in three piles: (1) throw away because the item is broken, damaged or worn out (2) donate or sell in a garage sale, marketplace on facebook or ebay, if in good condition and (3) keep.
I realize throwing things away can be a sticking point for some. That point may be where excessive clutter has crossed over the subtle line to hoarding. Hoarding can become a serious hazard for the hoarder and other people in their environment. In my profession it is not unheard of to come across hoarding in real estate. I have met hoarders and they are just like anyone else, except they have a secret hiding the clutter in their homes. I don't judge. I care about people and trying to sell a home that is a safety hazard to all who enter is a liability. California law requires, at a minimum, the buyer's agent has seen and visually inspected the interior of a home their client is buying. If a buyer's agent cannot move about a home that is for sale to inspect it for their buyer client, then there can be no home sale.
Hoarding can impact the condition of a home, as bugs and little critters like the little bits of food stuck to food containers and wrappers left behind. They also like to snuggle in cardboard, stacks of paper and piles of clothes on the floor. If you must store things, especially such as in a garage, it is better to store them in plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes to keep bugs out.
Homes in good condition that don't have bugs sell faster and for a higher price than homes in bad or poor condition. A neat and tidy home gives the impression that it is in good condition. The owners show they maintain their home. On the other hand, chaotic clutter leaves a less-than-favorable impression on home buyers that the home has not been cared for. Don't let clutter hold you back from attaining your real estate goals or any of your goals in life.
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