If you’re considering selling your home, one of the most important steps I recommend to clients is to start with an intensive de-cluttering and cleaning.

That’s before considering other touch-ups or improvements, such as fresh coats of paint in neutral colours or adding contemporary lighting fixtures to replace outdated ones.

As a Realtor who has assisted Ottawa sellers and buyers for more than 30 years, I’ve accompanied buyers into thousands of properties across the city. I’ve seen the immediate difference buyers feel when they enter a property that feels airy and spacious rather than one cluttered.

When you’re selling, this means closets and cupboards that feel orderly and roomy rather than crammed, bookshelves that aren’t overflowing, dressers or shelves that aren’t covered with knickknacks.

Even if you aren’t planning to sell immediately, it’s helpful to do an intensive de-cluttering each year, so that when you decide to sell, it will make your preparation easier, with fewer things to sift through.

Many of us tend to have clothing we no longer wear taking up space in closets, books that are gathering dust, pieces of furniture that could be used by someone else, or electronic items that we no longer use but which need to be disposed of correctly.

Many people also have things like cans of leftover paint or deck stains, often because they aren’t sure how to dispose of them properly.

If you are trying to find how to properly dispose of electronics or hazardous waste, or trying to find a charity or shop that will re-sell used goods like clothing or books, the City of Ottawa has an excellent waste reduction tool, at https://ottawa.ca/en/garbage-and-recycling/waste-explorer

In the search box, if you type in the item you want to remove, the site will bring up several outlets that will accept these items, either for re-sale or proper disposal. The lists include links and telephone numbers and will let you know if you need to call ahead first.

For example, when we typed “furniture,” the site brought up several locations, including a St. Vincent de Paul shop on Wellington Street and the Habitat Restore on Belfast Road. A search for clothing will find many shops that re-sell clothes in wearable condition, including Salvation Army shops and Value Village outlets.

A search for “latex paint”  brings up a number of retail outlets that will take back partially used cans of latex paint and dispose of them for you.

A wide range of electronic items, such as televisions, computer monitors, cellphones and laptops, cannot be left with your regular garbage.

But if you search cell phones, for example, the website brings up locations that include a Staples Business Depot, as well as locations of The Source and Bell World that it says will take back used phones and dispose of them. The search also says that cell phones can be taken to the City of Ottawa’s Trail Road Landfill site, at 4475 Trail Road, at no charge.

The waste reduction tool will also refer you to locations that take back “hazardous waste.” This includes anything that is flammable, corrosive or poisonous, such as paints, motor oils, gasoline, disinfectants and chemicals. The site will list retailers that will accept these items for proper disposal.

It will also link to a series of one-day hazardous waste collections that are happening around the city from June to October, along with instructions on how to package and transport the waste.

The City offers helpful detailed information on what to do with hazardous waste and electronic waste at https://ottawa.ca/en/garbage-and-recycling/hazardous-waste-and-special-items

While tackling the many items that we accumulate can involve some elbow work, sellers always tell me how great it feels to finally have their homes clean and de-cluttered, and ready for showings to buyers!

Aside from de-cluttering, when I first visit your property, I will also make other suggestions for any improvements that I know can make a difference to buyers. These do not always require a lot of work. Sometimes it can mean simply painting over any bold wall colours with something more neutral that will appeal to a wider range of buyers.

I’ve created my own page with a list of links of PLACES TO DONATE in the Ottawa area.

If you’re considering buying or selling in Ottawa, I’d love to chat with you about the current market and conditions in your area of the city.

With more than three decades of experience in Ottawa, I know the city and its neighbourhoods well, and I have assisted clients with my negotiating expertise in a wide range of market conditions.

You can read more about me and see current listings at www.nancybenson.com. Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.