I always advise my clients to declutter before putting their home on the market. Believe it or not, this can add thousands to your selling price. As an added benefit, a big purge means that when it’s time to move, it’ll be easier and cost you less.
When faced with rooms full of junk and basements and storage lockers bulging at the seams, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Even I sometimes don't know where do you start? The next question to pop into your head is "How do I get rid of all of this stuff?" I interviewed a few local professional organizers for advice.
Start the decluttering process at least a month in advance; longer if you have a large home or have been living there for a long time. Give yourself enough time. Most people underestimate how long it will take to declutter a home. Spend at least a couple of hours per day in the month leading up to the open house sorting and getting rid of stuff.
Before digging into the crawl space where you store old memories and photos, start with the present; with the stuff that you see every day and are less attached to like chipped dish sets, old clothing, and children's toys. After the first round you will be surprised at how good it feels to rid your self of these items.
Next it's time to get ruthless. Arm yourself with plenty of heavy-duty black garbage bags, then designate sorting areas: donate, sell or consignment, and toss.
Things like broken and rusty appliances or torn or stained clothing headed for the trash pile are the easiest to determine. Deciding what to keep versus what to donate, sell, or even recycle can be tougher.
Evaluate each item and ask yourself what purpose it serves. Is it irreplaceable? When was the last time you used it?
What are the chances that your next new printer will come without a cable? Recycle the old cables you held on to for years.
Only keep what you need, use, and love. People tend to use only 20% of their things 80% of the time. Most people live in fear of, "What if I need it?" It is important to get over this fear when decluttering and realize that less is more.
Once you’ve determined what to lose, start offloading your cast-offs before you lose momentum. Here are some resources to help you along your clutter-busting journey:
Things like expired medication, batteries, antifreeze, or broken appliances have to be disposed at the appropriate depots. Find out what goes where here:
Metro Vancouver Recycles: Select a material type and enter your postal code for a list of depots, charitable locations, and consignment stores near you. Or download their free mobile app.
Freecycle.org: Join people around the world getting rid of stuff on this grassroots community page.
There’s no shortage of charities to which you can donate clothing, household goods, and small appliances. Some of them, such as Big Brothers and the Canadian Diabetes Association offer free home pickup.