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  • Writer's pictureCathy Borg

3 Simple Steps to Declutter Your Home to Sell Fast

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

You want to sell your house and you need to get rid of the clutter.

You know an organized, clean, attractive house sells faster and for more money. (clearing out clutter can increase a home’s asking price by 3-5%. An average Toronto home sells for $800,000 X 3%; that’s $24,000 more in your piggy bank.)

You want a fresh start. You don’t want to move things that you don’t want, need or love to your new place. And bonus, you’ll reduce packing and moving costs.


Buyers want to see themselves someplace better and more beautiful. If they walk into a cluttered, messy space, there’s none of that feeling that life will be better. Imagine your boss coming to dinner. Your home should be at least that nice on the day of any open house.

Nothing turns off would-be buyers faster than clutter, dirt, and the cloying smells that come with a messy home.


Feel overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering/purging your home? Don’t know where to start or where to put the things you want to keep but not show during open house. What do you do with perfectly good things you don’t need or want?

Use the 3 P’s – PLAN, PROCESS & PURGE

The first two are the preparation. The last is the action.

In the words of Amelia Earhart, “Preparation is rightly two-thirds of any venture.”

 The PLAN (decide)

· The items to be removed and where they will go.

· The order in which the rooms/areas should be decluttered.

· The people who are going to help do the decluttering/purging

· The Schedule of times and people responsible to tackle each area.

The Items to be removed and where they will go

With pen and paper, walk through your house, room by room and conduct a survey of which belongings stay and which go. Ask yourself:

Six Simple questions:

· Will this actually fit in my new home? (if you’re downsizing, it may be too large, so now might be a good time to get rid of it.)

· Will it match the décor in my new home? (A heavy ornate dark wood armoire for example may not look good in the sunroom of your new home.)

· Is this something that I really want to keep? Or am I holding onto it out of a sense of guilt because it was a gift, or because cost a lot of money?

· Is this something that I want to keep but don’t want during the open house?

· Is this an old item that should have been replaced years ago?

· Is this something that I haven’t touched in five years, and that I probably won’t touch or use for another five.

Put each item on a “yes”, “no” or “store-it” list. If you really can’t decide on something, put it on a “maybe” list.

- Items on the “yes” list will remain with you.

- Items on the “no” list will be purged.

- Items on the store-it list need to packed and clearly labeled before storing.

- Items on the “maybe” list may or may not remain with you.

When you create your “yes” list, organize items by room. Have one page for the kitchen, another for the living room and so on. Then whoever is packing up each room can use the appropriate list as a reference.

Items on the “no” list will go. Some will be: given to a friend or family member, donated, sold, left curb side or go to trash For a list of places to donate, consign, auction please go to

Items on the “store-it” list should be packed, labelled or in the case of furniture wrapped and stored in the garage or off site. For a list of storage options and packing supplies please go to

Pare down the “maybe” list

Ask yourself:

· Why am I holding on to this?

· How much would I pay if I were to buy this item today? Would I buy it?

· Does this item fit my vision of how I want to live my life? *Some of these items may now go to the yes or to the no list.

The Order in which the rooms/areas should be decluttered

Start with the easiest room first such as: 1. the bathroom, 2. Bedrooms 3. garage (because you might need it for storage) 4. closet 5. Hallways 6. home office 7. living room 8. laundry room 9. kitchen.

Once you’ve figured out which areas of the house you plan to work on each day, list actual objectives of what needs to be done in each area.

- Discard expired items from the pantry.

- Organize shelves.

- Empty out kitchen cabinets. Put back items presently used.

- Clear off countertops

- Clean surfaces and refrigerator and stove (inside and out)

- Mop and shine the floors.

The People who are going to help do the decluttering/purging

Get the able-bodied members of the household to help with the decluttering since many of the things being decluttered will belong to them. Perhaps there are trusted hard-working non-judgmental friends or family nearby? Ask if they’d be willing to assist. If you have small children you can ask them to entertain for a few hours while you declutter. Another tip: If a group of you will be hard at work for an entire day or weekend, be sure to have snacks and beverages and favorite tunes and maybe order pizza and drinks to complete the party.

The Schedule of times to tackle each area and people responsible

With input from the participants decide who is decluttering which area. Schedule dates and estimated times for each room and who is responsible for each. Schedule it in manageable 3-hour chunks - don’t try to do it all in one stretch. Sometimes 15-minute spurts will move things forward. It always takes 50% longer than you think it will. Beware of decluttering fatigue. It is real and can lead to poor decisions.

THE PROCESS used to declutter

1. Label boxes: donate, sell, recycle, give away to friends, and trash. (Ensuring these boxes won’t accidentally be packed when you move.) Special boxes for electronics and hazardous household waste should be established.

2. Take your “no” list; choose one room and collect the items to be purged

3. Sort these items into the appropriate boxes. For example, too big clothes, old but useable toys might go in the donate box; books and record collection might be given to your brother etc. For suggestions of places to donate as well as consignment stores please go to

Pro tip: Get everything that you aren’t keeping out of the room you are decluttering immediately and out of the home as soon as possible.

If you have a lot of stuff to be disposed of, you may want to hire a company to take it away. They will recycle, donate and trash items as you have sorted them. For a list of junk removal companies please go to:


Working from your schedule and your “no” list and with your boxes set up for sorting, you are ready to purge. Don’t do this all at once and remember you can also enlist help if going it alone is too much. A professional organizer can offer support and hands-on assistance. To be effective, do one room at a time and declutter the easiest room first. Try to always do the purge when you are fresh. It takes a lot of energy and you want to give yourself the best chance of success. If you find yourself losing momentum, think about the end results - your house sold, less to move, more money in your pocket. Think of how good you’ll feel to unpack and organize your new home with only the things you really want, really need and really love.

Best of luck with your open house. If you take the time to plan, use the process to purge, you’re bound to be successful.


Cathy and Brad Borg at In and Out Organizing help people dramatically improve their lives by offering support and expert hands-on assistance in home organizing, downsizing and move managing. They are systematic – compassionate - confidential. Contact us at

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