Many people attempting to sell their home don’t recognize the difference between cleaning and decluttering, especially as it relates to a home’s selling potential. Most people are attached to their possessions, so advising sellers to remove certain items (because those items are devaluing the sale of their home) can be tricky — you don’t want to offend them.

To help you advise your clients on the decluttering process and help them maximize their home’s ultimate listing potential, follow these three steps:

1. Explain the value of a decluttered home

Opening the conversation concerning decluttering can be fairly straightforward if you go about it the right way. One easy way to do so would be to simply ask if your clients would like your advice on how to raise the listing price of their home. This is why most people hire real estate agents, so this opener should grab your clients’ attention.

You can give them several pieces of advice, such as how to boost their curb appeal, before you move onto the main discussion if you prefer to lead smoothly into the conversation.

The main points you should bring up when talking to your clients about decluttering are:

  • Buyers can visualize more easily with emptier homes. It is important for potential buyers to be able to see themselves living in the home, as it makes them more likely to make an offer.
  • Full homes can seem smaller than they really are. Although the buyers will be aware of the actual square footage of the home, it can be difficult to comprehend when the home they are viewing is still full of the sellers’ belongings.
  • A clean, crisp appearance is key to securing viewings. Nowadays, many buyers investigate homes online long before contacting a Realtor. Homes that present a clean, inviting environment in photos are the ones viewed most often and tend to sell faster.

2. Advise clients on what items to remove

The decluttering conversation can get difficult once it’s time to advise clients of which items should be removed from their home. Although it may be clear to you that the wilting houseplants and stack of magazines need to go, it may not be so obvious to your sellers, who might get defensive when these things are pointed out.

The easiest way to help your clients declutter is to give them a checklist broken into two parts. The first part of the list should address items that need to be removed from the property to free up visual space. Some items on this list can be:

  • Remove non-flourishing plants, and trim remaining plants.
  • Store all books evenly on bookcases, and remove newspapers and any magazines not stored on the shelves.
  • Remove all photos.
  • Minimize items left on kitchen counters.
  • Clear all knick-knacks and display items.
  • Keep closets and pantries organized and no more than 75 percent full.

On the second part of the list, you can create a checklist for your clients to follow prior to any showing. This kind of basic staging can greatly affect the overall impression a buyer has of the house.

  • Make all beds.
  • Wipe down counters and furniture.
  • Vacuum area rugs.
  • Spot clean high-traffic rooms such as living room, dining room, etc.
  • Ensure bathrooms are clean.
  • Empty all trash cans.

The added bonus of providing these lists is that your clients will see the tips as general advice you give all your selling clients, rather than a personal attack on their taste.

3. Offer sellers options for item removal

Although disposing of cluttering items can be as simple as throwing them away, it’s unlikely that your client will enjoy that suggestion. Instead, offer them item removal ideas. Some options are:

  • Storage unit rentals. If your client doesn’t like the idea of spending money on a storage unit, point out that they stand to make much more on the sale of their home if they declutter.
  • Item organizers for on-site storage. This is less ideal, as it keeps the clutter in the home. However, as some clients begin to use organizers, they come to the conclusion that they really don’t want to keep the stored item.
  • Charity shop donations. Knowing their former belongings will be loved by others allows many people to give up their clutter. Also, you can mention that some shops offer donation slips that can be used during tax season.

Advising your clients on decluttering their homes doesn’t have to be a terrible process if you take the time to follow the steps above.

Jackson Cooper is a writer and real estate enthusiast at Jensen and Company. Follow Jensen & Company on Twitter or Facebook.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription