Clutter turns buyers away

Messes are inevitable. Any homeowner knows that sometimes it's hard to stay on top of keeping things clean and orderly. Holidays, tough work weeks, visitors, home improvement projects - all of it contributes to the difficulty in keeping a tidy home.

But when your home is on the market, the clutter can be a deterrent to potential buyers. In my experience there are four areas you need to concentrate on to keep your home ready to show:

The kitchen
Start the clean up process in the kitchen, which may be the most important room to consider.

Two things stand out in a kitchen: work space and storage space.

Counters should be cleared of everything, except possibly a toaster, knife block and fruit basket. Organize your cabinets by consolidating food items and arranging cooking utensils.

Likewise, drawers should be organized and uncluttered. Buyers want to see storage space but they can't if your cabinets and drawers are filled to capacity.

Check under your sink as well. Remove extra cleaning supplies.

The closet
Too many people use closets to hide their clutter, especially when company is coming. Well, now even the closets need to be cleared out.

Remove the seasonal items and place in storage elsewhere. If the time has come for a yard sale or trip to Goodwill, then do that as well.

Furniture
If you entertain frequently or have a large family, you probably have the furniture to accommodate larger groups of people. Too much furniture in a room makes it feel cramped and small. Store it elsewhere until your home sells.

The storage area
Resist the temptation to free up space in the home by overfilling your garage, attic, or storage shed with items from the house. Your storage spaces need to look roomy too.

It is helpful to keep in mind that your ultimate objective is to move to a new home, so the work you put in to organizing and declutter your house will not only help you sell, but it may well make packing easier.