If you’ve found yourself with a house or flat full of possessions that need clearing out quickly, it can be difficult knowing where to start.
It could be that a parent or other relative has died and left you their property, or you might be downsizing and need to offload some of your things, or perhaps you simply want to free up some space by decluttering.
In any case, it can be a daunting task facing down a house full of furniture with no clue where it’s all going to go.
In this article, we’ll go through the various ways you can clear out a house quickly, to help you decide what the best option is for you.
If you have a house full of furniture and belongings that needs clearing out, you should consider what’s there and think about your priorities.
Is it a large house that you need completely cleared out? Or are you only trying to offload some of it, and potentially keep the rest? Is there anything that you know or suspect to be particularly valuable?
Additionally, are you trying to get rid of everything as quickly as possible? Or can you afford to take your time and potentially net a good price for certain items? Is there anything you would like to keep but aren’t sure you have the space for, which you might want to put into storage?
Consider all these questions carefully as this should help you to come up with a plan. It might help to make a list or even a spreadsheet of everything and figure out what you want to do with each item, and label them accordingly.
We’ll explore a few common options for clearing out possessions below, but there’s no reason why you can’t mix and match these approaches depending on your situation.
Using a house clearance company
A house clearance service is what it sounds like – you pay a company to clear out some or all of the contents of a property, and they’ll either sell them on, give them to charity, or dispose of them. They’ll usually give you a quote for their services based on how many things you need removed.
If you are only clearing some – not all – of your possessions then make sure you are clear about this with the company, and set any items you want to keep apart when they show up to clear out your home. Some companies also offer temporary storage facilities if you have items you would like to keep but don’t currently have the space for.
Certain companies will simply dispose of your items after clearing them. Others, such as the British Heart Foundation, may be able to sell or recycle them depending on their quality, and any sold items may reduce the amount you are charged.
If the company is going to dispose of your items, make sure they hold a valid Waste Carriers Licence from the Environmental Protection Agency. If they do not, they may be planning to simply fly-tip your items, and you could be fined if these are traced back to you.
House clearance companies are probably the most efficient way of clearing out a large volume of items if you don’t think they are worth anything. However, if there are any valuables among the contents of the house, it’s worth setting these aside to have them valued or sold separately. Some clearance companies may alert you if they find anything important or potentially valuable among your possessions, but don’t rely on this.
If you’re not sure where to find a reputable house clearance company, Comparemymove.com has a useful comparison tool which enables you to compare up to six house clearance companies in your area, so you can find the best deal for your clearance.
Going through an auction house
If you have anything that you think could be particularly valuable, such as antique furniture, silverware, jewellery and so on, it could be worth contacting an auction house to try and fetch the best price for it.
It can feel like a daunting idea, but don’t feel like you need something worth thousands to consider the auctioning route. Anything worth at least a hundred pounds or more is likely to be worth auctioning.
An auctioneer will generally handle everything for you, including picking up the items, valuing them and, of course, selling them to the highest bidder. If all goes well, you should receive payment within 30 days of the sale, with selling fees deducted.
Auction houses are generally paid by commission calculated as a percentage of the sale rather than a flat fee, meaning they have an incentive to find the best possible price for your items. So, for instance, if you were using an auction house that charged a 20% commission and they managed to sell your antiques for £10,000, then they would take a £2,000 cut,
If you have lots of things that you need to get rid of, some auction houses even offer a house clearance service. For objects and furnishings that are less likely to sell at auction, they may be able to assist with finding charities who will accept them instead.
Selling things yourself
If you would prefer to handle clearing the property personally so you can be fully in charge of the process, there is of course nothing stopping you from selling some or all of the contents yourself.
The main advantage of doing this is that you avoid company costs. The only fees you need to expect from this route are from the platforms you are selling on (such as 12.8% of the sale price + 30p on Ebay for items under £5,000). Alternatively, you could opt to go through an Ebay middleman, who takes your items off your hands and sells them on your behalf, in exchange for a cut of the profits.
On the other hand, this option is overall less convenient, particularly if you have lots of items to get rid of, or any large furniture. While selling yourself can be a great way to declutter, the logistics are much more difficult when it comes to an entire house’s worth of things, and it can be a time-consuming process to list everything, wait for it all to sell, and send it all out.
If you are confident in selling yourself, you could consider using Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace or the Nextdoor app to sell furniture or other items locally, and request that interested buyers come and pick things up themselves. Alternatively, if you have a driveway or front garden, you could have a yard sale so you can hopefully get rid of most items in one day. A car boot sale is another option, although if you’re clearing a whole house, you might need to do several of these to get rid of everything you want to. It also likely won’t be the right choice if you’ve got large items of furniture to clear that won’t fit in your car.
Read our article How to make money from your clutter to find out the best websites and services for selling different kinds of items.
Putting things in storage
If there are certain items that you would like to keep but don’t currently have the space for, you could consider finding a storage company to hold onto them until you do. This simply means that you pay to rent a storage unit in a warehouse, where your things will be kept. Costs can be expensive, however, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you sign up, to make sure you’ve found the best possible deal. These companies tend to offer packing and removals services too for an additional charge, though you can choose to transport them yourself.
Bear in mind that your storage company may require that you have contents insurance on your things in order to keep them there. If the items are already insured, you should check the policy carefully to see if it still applies when they are kept away from home. The storage company will usually offer its own policy as well. While there’s no obligation to take this, they might insist that whatever policy you do have provides the same level of cover as theirs.