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How to Organize Your House Before Listing it For Sale

Before you list your home for sale, it’s incredibly important that you get organized. A cluttered, disorganized house may not sell as quickly, or for as much. Buyers are there to see the house and its features, not your stuff. Most potential buyers won’t see past a distracting mess and won’t be able to (or want to) imagine themselves living there. And if that happens, it’ll be especially difficult to get a buyer to make an offer.

Realtors have found that clean, well-organized homes sell faster and can get 3-5% higher offers, or sometimes even more. Getting organized can even help in the home appraisal process, considering appraisers are usually impressed by a good-looking house. Therefore, they’ll know your house has improved in value because of its organized look and visual appeal to buyers.


The first major step is to remove clutter and daily life from view: think “less is more.” This can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve lived somewhere for a long time, or have a family or pets.

Break the work down into manageable pieces by doing one room or area at a time, and/or by setting a timer so you don’t overdo. You can even organize your effort to organize your house! Get some trash bags and boxes for “keep” and some for “donate” so your stuff will have a destination.

The goal is to have clear surfaces and an open, clean look where nothing of your personality (like a wall of family photos) distracts from the house itself. All built-in storage, as well as rooms, need decluttering. Let buyers see how spacious your closets and cabinets are, too.

Don’t forget to declutter the outside of the house as well, considering “curb appeal” is the first thing people see. Put away toys, bring in laundry, and rake, mow, weed, etc. Add pretty plants to bare areas, and tidy up outside living spaces.


This may not be an organizing tip per se, but it’s a vital next step. It’s the finishing touch on your decluttered home, and it will set the scene for the next organizational step you need to take.

Clean everything extremely well: every surface, wall, floor, carpet, cabinet corner, appliance, nook and cranny. Get every speck of dust or grime, every smear on the windows. Eliminate all odors. Then do daily maintenance to keep everything fresh and sparkling, so the house is always ready to show.

Organize What’s Left by Staging

Now that you’ve gone minimal, organize what’s left to show off your house and its lifestyle. One part of home organizing is staging, which creates a comfortable and inviting look without being too personal. There are big and small tips for good staging:

  • If you’re painting, choose neutral colors that tie the house together and “flow” from room to room.

  • Organize furniture around features, such as a fireplace or a nice view. Also, make sure furniture doesn’t block easy walkways.

  • Give each room a purpose. A room without an identity is confusing: make it a guest room, an office, or a playroom, so that every space tells a story.

  • Organize some objects in each room to suggest happy living. Pillows, flowers, and bowls of fruit add color and comfort. Simple vignettes, like a kitchen island set for breakfast, or a blanket and book on an armchair, say “home” to buyers and make them want to keep looking through the rest of the house.

If you’re not the DIY type, there are professional organizers and stagers out there who will make the house look its best.

Your realtor is a great resource in your organizing mission. Top real estate agents near you, who know the local market, can give you advice and feedback on organizing your house to sell. They know what look will give you beautiful listing photos, impressive showings, and a quick sale.

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