Getting ready to sell? Depersonalise and get rid of clutter first

Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Published on May 21, 2018


Think back to a time when you, or someone you know, sold or traded-in a car. There was some work to do before advertising it for sale or taking it to the car lot, right? It’s a rare car seller who’ll leave all the fast-food wrappers, empty plastic water bottles and crumbs left behind by the kids.


Because a clean car gives off an impression of being well-maintained.

It’s the same thing with houses. Sadly, cleaning and decluttering a car about to go on the market is a routine task, doing the same for homes isn’t.

Yet a home is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a car.



First, get rid of the clutter

Scientific studies show that clutter causes anxiety in people who view it. Not a good state for a homebuyer to be in, and reason enough to get rid of excess “stuff” in the home.

If you have a lot of it, the process may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Remember the old advice on how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time) and apply it to getting rid of the clutter in your home.

In this case, take it one room at a time. Try to do the entire home in one day and you’ll most likely get frustrated and lose the mojo needed to complete the job, according to professional organiser Nicole Anzia.


The best way to get rid of your clutter is to start packing early. Place any non-essential items into boxes in preparation for moving day. Get rid of any odds and end on tables, desks or bench-tops. If you have a lot of furniture, store it somewhere out of the way.

It’s much better to spend a few hours — 2 or 3 — on one project or space. This way you’ll feel motivated to do more, not be burned out by the process,” she tells’s Catrin Morris.

For those who burn out quickly, Anzia suggests doing one room at a time, “in 30-minute bursts … work for 30 minutes, take a half-hour break, then work for another 30.”


For fresh smells we recommend trusty old baking soda. It really is the miracle cleaning solution and absorbs stains and smells. Sprinkle a bit over the carpets and sofas, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then vacuum. This will neutralise any stale odours you may not even notice.

We also recommend scents such as lemon, vanilla or citrus to keep things smelling fresh.

The final step is to do the types of clear out that wouldn’t even be considered in a regular spring clean. While the following tasks aren’t essential, they will enhance the appeal of your home:

  • Remove old curtains to improve lighting
  • Paint common areas a standard white
  • Scrub the bathrooms until they shine

By ensuring your home is looking clean, smelling fresh and free of clutter you’ll be almost guaranteed to sell, even when the market isn’t so crash hot.

When tackling clutter, pay close attention to any collections you may have. Too many items in a room makes it appear cluttered and distracting to buyers.




Some of what you should remove and store includes:

  • Excess family photos
  • Framed diplomas, degrees and awards
  • Extra toys
  • Magazines and professional journals
  • Craft items
  • Anything on the refrigerator doors
  • Anything that sits on the kitchen and bathroom counters that isn’t decorative
  • Mail
  • Paperwork
  • Anything of a religious or political nature
  • Sports memorabilia

Depersonalisation doesn’t just include removing overly-personal items from your home. Consider repainting walls that are currently painted in a bright or odd colour and getting rid of odours from cooking, pets, babies and smokers.


Depersonalising comes next

Actually, you may end up doing a lot of the “depersonalisation” while you’re getting rid of clutter.

In a nutshell, depersonalising a home involves removing anything of an overly-personal nature.

Think about model homes in new-home communities. These homes are carefully staged to appeal to the broadest number of buyers and they are decidedly depersonalised.

You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, with their furniture and their belongings.

Don’t go overboard in depersonalising your home, however. Leave some traces of your personal statement so that buyers get an idea of the lifestyle the home offers.


Do you have a question on the local Real Estate market, or should you spend money on your home before you sell, just call Matt Wineera on 0274 951 536 who is always on hand to answer your query.  

Work with Matt Wineera who lists and sells in the Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa areas.

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