Go from “for sale” to “sold” in one clean sweep

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

According to a recent survey conducted by OLX on Facebook in South Africa, 37% of people say they cannot park cars in their garage because it is “full of stuff” and 85% say that most of the space in their garage is being taken up by “boxes of stuff’ including sporting equipment (33%), old Christmas decorations and furniture (28%) and gardening equipment (9.5%), while 24% of people don’t know because they can’t see through the clutter in their garage.

There’s a good reason that agents harp on about de-cluttering a home before the home goes on the market.

A recent Biggest Home Seller Mistakes survey of 1 000 estate agents in the US revealed that 32% of people don’t manage to sell their homes because of the clutter. The report, conducted by ActiveRain, an online community of nearly 300 000 real estate agents in the US, listed not clearing clutter as the third biggest mistake made by home sellers. The biggest mistakes cited are, overpricing the home (77%), followed by not showing availability (34%). Smaller mistakes include not being willing to negotiate (21%), not taking care of unpleasant odours (28%) and not being willing to make repairs (20%).

Kate says …

In South Africa, home sellers can sometimes prove to be the biggest sabotage in a house sale, says clutter expert Kate Emmerson. She points out that house sellers are often the biggest spoke in the wheel when it comes to selling their homes. She says that sellers need to consider the fact that their clutter could leave potential buyers with the feeling that there is a lack of storage and no space.

“Your clutter could leave potential buyers feeling a combination of oppressed, claustrophobic, crowded, and stifled,” adds Emmerson.

First impressions are always going to count and if that impression is one of disarray and a feeling of general mayhem, buyers aren’t going to come back for a second look. Strangely enough, sellers are often blind to the amount of clutter in their homes and instead of tackling the problem, will focus more on cleaning around the general chaos.

Clean up and compromise

She says that sellers are often unwilling to make the effort to remove clutter or compromise on how they live in their home during the time the home is on the market for showings. However, it’s worth remembering that removing unwarranted clutter allows potential buyers to more easily visualise their own things in the house.

“An uncluttered home will sell much faster than one that is brimming over with clutter,” she says. “Many times people give their homes a lick of paint and do some maintenance before putting it on show, when in fact they should be de-cluttering to ensure the house goes from for sale to sold in record time.”

It has often been stated that sellers need to think like buyers when marketing their homes and there are a number of very good reasons for this. Most of us become blind to our own home’s faults. The fact that the lounge is full to the brim with furniture, and has books and old magazines lying all over the place, often gets completely overlooked. For this reason sellers need to look at every room with an extremely critical eye. If the lounge, for example looks far smaller than it actually is because of the amount of furniture crowding every little bit of space, consider moving some of the items. While moving home is always an excellent time for getting rid of unwanted items, this doesn’t mean that you have to sell well-loved items of furniture. Simply rearranging things can often be the simplest solution. Putting the odd easy chair in a bedroom or even storing excessive furniture in the garage could go a long way in ensuring that buyers who come to view the home will be able to see the wood for the trees.


We have five of Kate Emmerson’s “Shift Your Property” courses, worth R880 each, to give away.

Simply comment on this article with your “for sale” to “sold” tip and you’ll be in line to win. (Remember to include an email address.)

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