The New York Times published an article recently about preparing a co-op (like a condo) for sale. This particular unit was crammed full of antiques, expensive collections and doo-dads. In order to get the best price, the owners had to massively declutter, pack up stuff and move things out of the home. Buyers want to see pared down interiors that are simply staged in light colors. I agree with the article: The more crap you have, no matter how valuable, the less likely a buyer will envision themselves in your home.
My friend Linda Hilton is an expert at helping hoarders, assisting folks in downsizing and is a professional organizer. As a borderline hoarder myself and working to improve my ways, I was eager to fill a seat at a recent lecture and take notes home to put her words into action. The first rule was something I've been trying to do in the past year: If you buy something, you play the trading game with yourself. For example, if I buy a pair of pants, I give another pair to charity. Nowadays, I always have a bag in the garage that I'm slowly filling with donations and when it's full, it's donated. Another rule: If you think you haven't used items in awhile, put them in a box and date the box for a year in advance. This could be dishes, clothes, tchotchkes, whatever. If in a year you haven't opened the box, then donate it.
I had a client a few years back who was addicted to shopping. She had a beautiful home at the base of the Cottonwoods with an unfinished basement. When I walked through the home, I was shocked to see that the lower floor was full, literally packed to the gills, with clothing racks. Not one piece had ever been worn, and every item still bore a price tag. She didn't take items back to stores, she just collected clothes as a security blanket of sorts. In order to sell her home, I had to connect her with Hilton, who subsequently spent 100-plus hours helping her pack up and donate those possessions. This work can be quite emotional for the client and takes massive patience and understanding.
Hilton shared another idea about clothes: When you wash a shirt or pair of pants, hang them up in your closet inside out. If, at the end of a year you still have inside-out things hanging on your clothes rack, donate them. To help people downsize, Hilton offers a free "One thing a day purge lesson for 30 days" starting in January. It's easy ... Day 1, get a box. Check out her site sortingthrough.com, and then recycle this paper!