Spending most of my time on vacant staging jobs, it’s always mind boggling to step inside a home that has amazing potential, but looks like a pig sty because of the homeowner’s living habits.  Dirty laundry piled high, dishes in the sink, dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds rolling across the floor, surfaces that have never seen a cleaning cloth and clutter build-up in every room can be a deal breaker when trying to sell a home. At that point buyers have a hard time seeing past the sellers unforgiving hygiene practices and move onto the next home. So, it’s up to a home stager to change the seller’s mindset and lifestyle to make the home sellable.

In a perfect world sellers wouldn’t need to be living in their homes while on the market, however, the list of reasons why someone sells are endless and in many cases forces the homeowner to stay put when selling. The experience can be grueling for sellers when their personal lives become public display to strangers and their criticisms. If a homeowner is going to be living in their home when selling they have to willingly be inconvenienced not only emotionally, but physically. So what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast.

Well that’s easier said, then done. Like the homeowner above, one of the biggest problems they face is dealing with clutter and cleanliness. When sellers hear those two “C” words, they tend to twitch and immediately get defensive about their private space. If you have a client that’s a dirty pack rat, it’s important to understand why they’re this way in order to help them move on.
Bonnie Mincu, a Senior Certified ADHD Coach, sheds some light on how people naturally create clutter in her recent blog post, “Why We Are So Good At Clutter.” While she notes personality traits of those with Attention Deficit Disorder, this information also resonates with sellers. Mincu writes, “we can literally not register what is right in front of our eyes, so clutter piles up without making an impact.” Most homeowners are visually oblivious to clutter, so in order to change a seller’s mindset home stagers tell their seller go around the home critiquing each room as a buyer would, this helps them detach from the space and view their home as a product.

Besides a person’s visual oblivion, Mincu mentions, a person can naturally create clutter for fear of forgetting or losing their belongings.  She says, “we want to keep everything out, available and within our sight,” which doesn’t help buyers when they’re looking for move-in ready homes that feel fresh, spacious and up-to-date. To combat this problem home stagers tell homeowners to start moving. That not only, begins the de-cluttering process, but it puts sellers in a mindset to start packing. Valuables won’t be forgotten or lost just packed up or removed so buyers can see the product their buying, rather then the seller’s stuff.

Mincu believes, that it’s hard for a person to clear clutter because the process is overwhelming and in some cases a person may have difficulty letting go of their belongings. Homeowners that have a considerably amount of clutter can spend hours on this task dwelling over each item, “most of us want to hold on to things with the idea of I might need it someday,” said Mincu. That’s why this type of seller needs a home staging expert to sort through their belongings quickly, choosing what stays and what gets packed, donated or sold.

After the belongings have been reused or removed, it’s time to clean the house, like its never been cleaned before. Prior to staging the home, most home stagers require homeowners to clean their properties. Dirty dishes, laundry and extreme dust must be taken care of so a home stager can focus on rearranging furniture and creating a lifestyle for buyers to aspire to. All homes also need to be cleaned prior to listing. Sellers become responsible for daily cleaning touch ups for those living in staged homes, which can be extremely difficult for homeowners who are impatient or are easily distracted. Mincu writes, ”we don’t want to stop what we’re doing to put things away or we pick something up and may carry it into another room without being aware that we have.” If a homeowner naturally creates clutter this way, a home stager may recommend hiring a weekly cleaning service while on the market.

The hardest part of living in a home that’s on the market is constantly being prepared to show the space.  The more a seller does in advance to prepare and showcase the home, the faster the property will sell. When it sells quickly a homeowner can limit their time facing public scrutiny and having their lifestyle be inconvenienced.