How and Why to KonMari Your Home Before Selling

Though it’s still early in the year, all you TV fans out there know that there is already a frontrunner for the most binge worthy reality TV show of the year: Netflix’s new hit Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Based on her smash hit books Spark Joy and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this new series follows storage and organization expert Marie Kondo as she helps families get a grip on their cluttered spaces using her specialized method of organization: KonMari.

In the world of real estate, clutter can be a huge issue. While potential buyers won’t always give you the real reason why they have passed on a particular property, with my over 10 years’ experience selling homes in British Columbia, I can tell you first hand that if a listing is cluttered, it makes it extremely difficult to convince potential buyers that this is the home for them. Instead of being the home of their dreams, it becomes the “messy home”, or “the one with all the junk in the garage”.

Why is clutter such a big deal? Because clutter prevents buyers from envisioning their lives inside the home. 

When a potential buyer walks through the door of your property, your mission is to have them envision their life inside that home, not yours. The more they can visualize where their things will go and how their family will enjoy the space, the more willing they will be to decide that your home is the right one for them.

But they can only do this with a clean, organized space. If all they see is the seller’s clutter, visualization becomes extremely challenging.

With that in mind, I want to share a few of my favourite Marie Kondo tips, and help all those looking to sell their homes by giving you a little KonMari magic:

Commit Yourself to Tidying Up

Most people are not Marie Kondo. In fact, “tidying up” is probably the last thing most people want to be doing with their day. But in order to successfully organize your space and make it sell-ready, you have to commit yourself to action.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to schedule appointments, much like you would a meeting at work. Hold yourself accountable to actively working towards tidying your space during these times. And don’t be afraid to break it into more manageable chunks. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that garage won’t clean up in one either.

Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

In the context of Kondo’s show, this step is more about imagining the joy of a clutter-free life. However for you, it should be imagining the joy of selling your home (not to mention, the added bonuses of having a lot less stuff to deal with come moving day, and when unpacking in your new space).

Think deeply about what it will feel like to sell your home quickly and easily, and use that joy as motivation to push you through the not-so-fun tasks of organizing. Remember that all your hard work is directly affecting your future lifestyle, so don’t hold back – give it all you got!

Finish Discarding First

This is a big one. Nothing will slow down your organization progress faster than stopping every few seconds to decide whether or not you are going to keep an item.

Instead of discarding as you go, Kondo suggests placing all the items of a similar category (say, all your clothes or all your books) into a single pile. Not only will this give you a very visual perspective of just how much stuff you have, but it will also allow you to power through the discard stage all at once, ensuring that when you’re done you can move efficiently through the packing and organization stage.

Ask Yourself If It Sparks Joy

When it comes time to choosing which items you will be discarding, Kondo suggests holding each item, looking at it, and asking if it still sparks joy. For if an item no longer brings us joy and provides a purpose, what is the point of holding on to it?

For items that no longer spark joy, you should thank them for the joy they once brought you, and then set it aside. Do this for each pile of items until you have a clear selection of what will be kept and packed for your new home, and what will be sold or donated.

As you can see, Marie Kondo has some great tips for getting your family organized. However, her show focuses primarily on people that are organizing the homes in which they plan to keep living. For those of you that are trying to sell your homes, they are a few extra considerations you should make when organizing and tidying up:

Find a Place for Your Boxes

After taking the time to organize your space and prepare yourself to move, the last thing you want to do is leave a giant pile of boxes around the house or in your garage.

Decluttering your home means just that – taking it OUT of the home. Rent a small storage space for your boxes (or find a kind friend with lots of extra space) while you wait to move, ensuring all your items stay dry and secure, and that they don’t interfere with the sale of your home.

Remove Controversial Items

Nothing will send a buying running faster than the sight of something which offends or otherwise disagrees with their values.

The picture of you and the Prime Minister? You have a 50/50 chance of sending an off-putting message to the potential buyer. Your whitetail deer mount above the fireplace? The gun rack in your den? The suggestive artwork? All of these things have the potential of detracting buyers from being able to envision themselves in your home. Take them down and pack them away for the journey to your new home.

Reduce Your Personal Artifacts

Again, it’s important to remember that when buyers tour a home, their mission is to envision how they would live their lives in their home, not envision who lives there now.

If you are trying to sell your home, it’s a good idea to reduce the number of personal photos and sentimental items on display throughout the house. The big portrait in the entry hall and your child’s artwork on the fridge, while quite nice and sweet, will force every buyer to think about who lives there now, making it much more difficult for them to envision their own family there.

By using KonMari to organize your space before listing it for sale, you will be able to greatly increase your chances of having a buyer fall in love. So be sure to take these steps to heart, channel your inner Marie Kondo, and get tidying!