To boost market valuation, reduce clutter

Much attention is paid to spring cleaning, but winter can also be a perfect time to reduce clutter. With incoming holiday gifts, decorations coming out of storage and a seasonal wardrobe to unpack, lots of housekeeping goes into enjoying and surviving this time of year. While getting your hands dirty with seasonal projects, however, homeowners might use this time to reduce home clutter before a market appraisal. ABC News reports that a cluttered home is valued by 10 percent less than the same home, decluttered. 

To pack rats and "collectors," that might seem like a superficial judgment, and in some ways, it is. An excess of belongings without proper storage may have no bearing on the integrity of a home, but it can certainly be hard to see around. In addition to presenting fire hazards which could lead to costly homeowners' claims, clutter can make spaces seem smaller, reduce light and make more work for appraisers. When getting an estimation for homeowners' insurance or a property sale, it's important to put your best foot forward. 

Despite ABC News' findings, Jeannine Mancini of The Nest assures consumers that appraisers are experts at overlooking lapses in housekeeping. 

"Although your home is not valued based on your organization or cleaning skills, it is always a good idea to straighten up before an appraisal so the appraiser can get an accurate look," she writes. "Provide the appraiser easy access to all rooms, including garages and crawl spaces."

This holiday season, it might be a good idea to clear obstructed areas, donate excess items to charities and make improvements to the condition of your home that will add value. There's no need to wait for spring to start cleaning.