Joseph D. Federico's Blog
One of the biggest challenges of putting your house on the market is keeping it clean, organized, and ready for the next showing!
This is no easy task, especially if you have pets, messy kids, and/or a hectic schedule. If you're like most people, you're probably contending with all three conditions!
Although it's human nature to get immersed in our own view of the world, it's helpful to try and see things through the eyes of prospective home buyers. When buyers walk into your house for the first time, they're not going to immediately know about all the improvements you've made to your property or the many ways your home has served your family's needs for all these years. They're not aware of the "big picture" and may never be. They only know what they see, hear, and smell during their brief visit to your home.
Anything which makes a negative impression can sour them on the idea of buying your house. It's a delicate balance and it doesn't take that much to tip the scales in either direction. That's why it's so important for sellers to get into a routine of keeping their house clean, orderly, and well maintained.
It's amazing what a difference 24-hours (or less) can make on the appearance and cleanliness of your home. Rest assured, if you've said or thought the words, "But I just cleaned it, yesterday!" -- you're not alone! Cleaning your house when it's on the market is a lot like shaving: It doesn't take too long for that "five o'clock shadow" to start creeping in!
Reminding everyone in your family to clean up after themselves is the first step to being ready, but it also pays to have a checklist to refer to when preparing for a real estate showing. If you don't use a task list, chances are you'll forget something important -- like wiping off the kitchen counter, sanitizing the toilets, putting away dirty dishes, or cleaning the bathroom sink. Floors almost always require a quick sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, and waste baskets need to be emptied. Crumpled towels, bath mats, and bedspreads may also be in desperate need of straightening and smoothing out! If you own pets that tend to have "accidents" or kids who haven't quite mastered the art of cleaning up after themselves, you might also want to allow a few extra minutes in your routine to take care of the "unexpected."
While it's true that you want your house to have a "lived in" appearance, it's all-too-easy to cross that thin line into a whole different category! No reasonable house hunter will expect your home to be spotless and perfect in every way, but if it looks messy, disheveled, or neglected, then that could be a potential deal breaker!
Although all home buyers have different tastes, expectations, and preferences, there are several things you as a home seller can do to make your home more appealing.
Three priorities worth keeping in mind are spaciousness (or, at least, the appearance of it), brightness, and cleanliness.
Whether your home is a compact cottage or a large colonial, a feeling of spaciousness will enhance its visual and psychological appeal.
Sometimes getting a second opinion can make all the difference in identifying ways to improve the look and feel of your home. As an example: If you're unsure whether a bulky piece of furniture, a huge plant, or a rarely used side table is detracting from that desired look of spaciousness, your real estate agent or an interior decorator can provide you with helpful feedback.
One common room decorating mistake that many people make is to choose a coffee table that's either too big or too small for the furniture or available space. It may seem like a small detail, but it's one of many elements that can throw off the balance and flow of a living room.
Another staging tip for home sellers is to have groups of chairs and couches face each other to create "conversation areas." That effect often helps to add warmth to a living room or family room, and makes it easier for potential buyers to imagine living there and enjoying the space with friends and family.
Lots of illumination, whether it's natural light or artificial light, can make your home appear more cheerful and inviting. It also reduces shadows and dark corners, which can detract from the beauty of your living space. While there is the possibility that some of your lights may be too harsh or glaring, dimmer switches can often be a quick and easy solution to that problem.
Keeping your home impeccably clean every day is one of the biggest challenges of putting your house on the market and making it available to agents for client showings. Since first impressions are one of the most important aspects of attracting a serious buyer, cleanliness should be among your main priorities. The good news is that keeping your home clean will become easier when you get into a routine. As you scramble to make sure your home is ready and presentable for the next showing, you'll find yourself becoming more and more adept at streamlining the process.
One strategy for increasing efficiency might be to get your family in the habit of cleaning up after themselves on a consistent basis. It may require a little gentle nagging now and then, but if it helps get your house sold faster, it'll be worth it! Create a cleaning checklist you can refer to when you're getting ready for a house showing to improve your efficiency. Evenly divide the work among family members, and make sure nothing important is overlooked along the way.
- Scrub grout in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Wash pillow and mattress protectors as well as duvet covers.
- Discard any food in the freezer that has become freezer burnt or is past its time.
- Wax any wood floors your home may have.
- Dust fans you have throughout your home. Don’t forget to do this in the winter when they are not in use to avoid build-up.
- Wipe down and disinfect light switch plates and door knobs.
- Wipe down and disinfect your home phones and your family’s cell phones.
- Flush drains. Try a natural solution by pouring baking soda down drains and allowing to sit overnight to deodorize. In the morning pour hot water down the drain to rinse the baking soda out and flush the drain.
- Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards.
- Check the fire alarms throughout your home and replace any batteries when necessary.
- Dust each room in your home.
- Empty all trash bins throughout your home. Don’t forget smaller, less used baskets like in your child’s room or in the office.
- Clean sinks, toilets, and bath of any soap scum or buildup.
- Vacuum and mop the floors throughout your home.
- Wipe down surfaces like tables and counters.
- Clean mirrors and windows.
- Wash sheets and pillowcases.
- Sort through your mail and email inbox. Pay any upcoming bill and file paperwork as necessary.
- Clean fridge out of any food that has gone past its expiration.
- Wipe down appliances in the kitchen such as the microwave, stove, and toaster.
- Wipe down and deodorize trashcans and recycling bins.
- Put out fresh towels in your bathrooms and kitchen
- Tidy up. Keep on top of clutter by putting items away when they are no longer in use.
- Make the beds and if your children are old enough encourage them to make theirs.
- Sort out mail. File and discard as necessary.
- Clean up as you prepare meals to leave time to relax after dinner time instead of spending another hour in the kitchen.
- Wipe up any spills as they happen to avoid having to use elbow grease to clean up later.
- Sweep the kitchen floor and any other high traffic areas.
- Throw in a load of laundry. If you have a large family make laundry more manageable by doing a load a day.