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Preparing to Sell Your Home: Cleaning Out and Cleaning Up for a Less Stressful Home Sale Experience

By July 16, 2019December 7th, 2023Design Advice, Niche Homes Studio Features

The Salt Lake City real estate selling season is well underway! I have really enjoyed getting to know some wonderful people in consulting through the pre-listing process. I have made two significant observations this season that I would like to share. First, the moving process is emotional and stressful no matter the circumstance. Second, clients who are living with less clutter have a significantly easier time preparing their home for sale and for the impending move. Here are some simple ways you can start preparing to sell your home.

When to Start Decluttering

If you are considering selling your home over the next year or two, I recommend preparing to sell your home now. You can start the cleaning out and cleaning up process today. By getting ahead of the process, you will ease the burden on your family and ultimately maximize your profit. Another benefit is less stress while living in your current home. Research done at UCLA and USC interviewing families in Los Angeles about their home, found a connection in study participants’ levels of diurnal cortisol, a measure of stress, and talk about clutter in their home spaces. 

Choose Your Method

Where do you start? There are so many resources and motivating statistics available online. My two current favorites are Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and “The Minimalists” blog and podcast. I find these resources inspiring because they both discuss considering whether or not an item adds value and joy to your life.

There is no magic number of toys, clothing or throw pillows that is aesthetically pleasing. However, there is a reasonable amount of goods that will bring you joy and not create a burden. This number and these items are different for everyone. By intentionally considering whether an object is essential and adds value to your life, the organization process becomes easier to execute and maintain. Once the clutter is gone, you can easily apply the same values as your add and subtract things day to day. 

Marie Kondo recommends to divide up the clean out process by item, sighting the categories as Clothing, Books, Papers, Misc. (Komono) and Sentimental Items. We have an article on our own blog about a client’s experience with the Konmari method, Kondo-ing with Lisa Dyer. I have also found a great checklist via Smudges in Print (above) on Pinterest. 

Another successful method we have encouraged clients to try is the 5-bin strategy. Our blog Easy-Peasy Decluttering Hacks gives simple instructions for this method and cites other inspiring books and articles on simplifying your stuff and preparing to sell your home.

Involve the Family

Another idea is to make a game out of it for your family like “The Minimalists” 30 Day Minimalism Game. Each person gets rid of one thing on the first day. Two things on the second day, three things on the third day and so on. Whoever makes it the farthest into the 30 days wins! I recommend the winner gets to pick a family activity to do together. 

Keep it Up!

Once you have purged out the items that do not bring value to your family’s life, how do you keep it from piling it up again? Preparing to sell your home after the first purge will take some upkeep. But it can be easy with a few of these no-fuss tips. Below I have listed some ideas I have implemented in our own home that are working well.

1. Create a Donation Box

The purging doesn’t need to stop after that first trip to Savers. By placing a box out labeled for donations you are encouraging everyone in your family to consider how essential items are around the house. This is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with your kids about the less fortunate and gratitude. This idea is discussed “The Minimalists” blog here

2. The One in One Out Rule

We apply this rule to clothing and toys at our house. If we are gifted a toy from a grandparent, I ask my daughter to evaluate her existing toys and chose one to put in the donation box. The key here, is it needs to be an equal trade. No Happy Meal toys donated to make room for a Lego set. Not only does this help keep the playroom and our closets from being stress inducers, it teaches our family about conscious consumption and encourages us to constantly evaluate what we bring in and take out of our home.  

3. Set Space Limitations

Everything has a place in your recently purged home, it is now important to honor those designated areas and not exceed them. This means if your cabinet of serving dishes is full, you don’t put your new Christmas platter in another cabinet with the crockpot. If there isn’t space to add something new, your need to purge that existing space to make room. (Above photo from The Uncluttered Home Instagram via Pinterest)

4. Quit the Amazon App

Don’t freak out. I know this seems crazy! I too am a busy working parent who loves convenience. However, I noticed the ease and instant gratification of ordering whatever I thought I needed with two clicks and fast shipping was leading to overconsumption and clutter. Without purchasing apps like Amazon or Target, I have to make the effort to log on to my account to order something, or actually drive to a store to make a purchase. This small but additional effort reminds me to take a deep breath and evaluate if the purchase is necessary and will add value. Sometimes the answer is yes but most often, the answer is no, I already have what I need. Denaye Barahona Ph.D. from discusses why she came to the same conclusion.

Karly Nielsen and the Niche Homes Utah Team are here to help too. We want the experience of selling your home to be as smooth and joyful as possible for all our clients. If you are considering a sale, please contact our team. We can provide you with a consultation and a simple checklist. And we will help you address all of them before putting your home on the market.


Niche Homes is a full-service real estate agency specializing in the Yalecrest neighborhood and surrounding Salt Lake enclaves.

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