Clutter Blindness: What is it and How to Avoid it?

Many of us are guilty of rushing through a basic clean every week or two in our homes. With the hectic pace of our daily lives, it’s no wonder that most of us prefer to spend our limited free time enjoying ourselves with family and friends, rather than deep cleaning our houses. When it comes to selling a house however, we all know that we need to keep it clean and tidy it to present it in the best light to potential buyers. Yet, it’s often very difficult to see through the everyday clutter we live in, and sometimes we don’t even realise our house is full of stuff – what’s commonly called “clutter blindness.”

When it comes to clutter, even the most minimalist among us have it. The everyday items that surround us all the time, those things we use so regularly that we don’t bother putting them away. Cereal boxes on the kitchen counter. Shoes or coats piled up at the entrance. Half-read magazines in the living room. Even the cherished drawings of our children in a place of honour on the fridge. They form such a part of our lives that we often don’t see these objects when we clean and tidy the house. Unfortunately, potential buyers who see our house on a property portal or come to visit are much more demanding than our friends and family. In fact, clutter is the first thing they notice.

Is Cleaning Enough?

While many people opt to hire a professional cleaning service when selling their house, there’s an even more interesting technique that doesn’t just consider the cleanliness of the property. Home staging takes a holistic view of all the details that might put a buyer off. Home staging professionals are specialists in understanding buyer psychology and the current trends that help properties sell faster and for the highest price. A cleaning service, while leaving your house spotless, won’t advise you to store certain items out of sight. Nor will they suggest replacing your personal mementoes and photos with more universally appealing accessories. A home staging company can advise in detail on how to make the most of your house and make it as attractive as possible to external eyes.

Emotional Marketing

The goal of home staging is to showcase the best aspects of a house, making spaces feel larger, warmer, and more inviting, creating an immediate emotional connection with potential buyers. Any salesperson will tell you that emotion is the key when buying and selling anything – from a pair of shoes to a new handbag – without emotion there is no sale. And if this is true for items of low value, imagine how much more important it is to evoke emotions in potential buyers when selling them their future home! When selling your house, you are selling more than just four walls. You are selling a lifestyle, a dream of a better and happier future. With that in mind, that cereal box on the counter suddenly doesn’t fit so well, does it?

Showcase Hidden Potential

Buyers know that they should place more value on the construction and functionality of a property more than its interior aesthetics. However, many people can’t see beyond what’s in front of them. If you can ensure that the true potential of your house is visible at first glance, the sale is almost guaranteed. There are many simple techniques to help reveal this potential. From removing clutter and personal items (depersonalisation) to using light colours on the walls and furniture to create the impression of larger spaces (we discuss this in more detail in our article “How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?”). These techniques are among the many used by home stagers to make the property for sale as universally appealing as possible, helping buyers start to create new memories from the moment they walk through the door. If buyers can imagine themselves cooking for all their friends in their new kitchen, or enjoying a relaxing bath with a glass of wine in their new bathroom, their hearts will win over their heads. And that’s when you might receive multiple offers, even above the asking price.

As with everything, anyone can use the techniques employed by professional home stagers, but sometimes it’s better to have an external (and expert!) perspective to truly achieve success. Clutter blindness is not the only barrier you’ll have to face. The vast majority of us who sell a home have a very personal relationship with the place, with memories made over many years. It can be very difficult (some would say impossible) to look at it without emotion, not as a home but as a product to sell. The good news is that home staging services don’t have to be a significant investment, in fact, they rarely exceed 1% of the sale value. And considering that this increasingly recognised marketing service often achieves sale prices above expectations, the return on investment cannot be ignored.