Some of you may know that Stacey & I have 4 kids …. Yes 4! And we have moved a few times due to the growing size of the family. Over the years we have collected some tips that will really help for those of you trying to sell your home. I counted the other day, just for fun, and realized that we have moved houses 4 times in our married life together (not counting moving between apartments in the early years!). In that time, we have learned a thing or two about cleaning your home to sell, and most importantly - keeping it clean until it sells.
If you are looking for some tips on the selling process itself, I recommend checking in with Michael Baeumler from Re/Max who has many years of experiences with our current real estate market.
This is a very common question and based on houses for sale that I have visited, there are lots of people who feel that house buyers are coming to look at the layout and condition of the house, not to inspect its cleanliness. That thinking is both right and wrong - that's why I wrote this little helpful post.
It's true that the reason home shoppers look at houses is to inspect the layout and condition. However, there are several reasons why cleaning it and keeping it clean are to your advantage:
Showing a Messy or Dirty House.
1. If potential buyers get distracted by too much disorder, they may walk away from the house with a sense that it has not been well- maintained, even if it is actually in great condition.
2. If the house is dirty/messy it gives people the feeling that they will have a lot of work to clean it before they can move in.
3. Some people won't be able to see past the mess/dirt. They will get a sense that the house is hard to maintain and doesn't have enough storage - neither of which are good selling features.
4. Buyers will have visited more than one house. They will be comparing houses and prices, and you will not get the offers you want if your home compares poorly in the buyer’s minds to similar homes.
5. Buyers try to picture their furnishings in your space. If there is too much clutter, most people are not able to see past it, and the picture in their mind will look very 'crowded'.
I know that it's an inconvenience, especially if you have small children and/or pets, run a business from your home, (I do it all!) However, as with any major life change - you need to keep your eye on the prize, bite down and do what needs to be done. Cleaning your house to prepare for selling is essential. (You might even find that you like the new 'uncluttered' feel.)
What do I Need to Do?
Before you tackle anything, you need to sit down with the family. Help them to understand that there are going to be some big changes for a while, and that you understand that this is going to be tough on everyone. Explain that having a clean and neat house is one of the things that will to help sell it quickly (short-term pain for long term gain). Once the house is sold, you can go back to your regular everyday life.
After that there are only a few simple-sounding steps. The first is the most difficult, but once it is completed, the remaining will become possible and truly easy.
You should complete steps one and two before the first agents' open house. The agents will be bringing potential buyers, and you want them to remember your house in a positive way.
1. Declutter the house from top to bottom.
Move all unused toys, clothing and furniture to the garage or offsite storage.
This will help show the size of your home!
2. Hire a professional cleaning company. (I know a really good one)
Hiring a professional is important for a few reasons.
Time: A good professional cleaning company will come in with a crew to tackle the entire house in one visit. Its much easier to maintain a clean home then to clean a home with children, pets or family messing it up right behind you.
The dirty details: A pro will know where to find the dirty details that a potential new buyer will be looking at. Removing cob webs from the corners, under the basement stairs and sweeping the garage floor are some of the details that will show the potential new buyers that you truly cared for your home and kept it in top notch shape.
Have I mentioned I know a really good professional cleaning company?
3. Evening Routines to Help with Keeping the House Clean
These routines can be used by everyone, at any time, but let's be honest. Most of us can't keep them up for long. (Except for those few well-organized people, and we all wish we were you!) However, your house is for sale now, and it has to be done until you have that signature on the dotted line.
Always do the dishes and wipe down the counters. Simplify your cooking if that would help. If necessary - use paper plates to reduce the work.
Do not let anyone leave anything lying around. You will have to become the clutter police! Remind the family that this is only until the house is sold if they dare to complain. Your house belongs to the entire family, and everyone has a part to play in keeping the house clean.
If you find clutter accumulating, collect it in a basket. Family members can put them away at the first opportunity. A basket of stuff by the door or in a discrete corner looks better than the same items strewn across the house. If it's appropriate, these items can be made to 'disappear' for the duration as the price of laziness.
Pack lunches, school bags and briefcases in the evening to reduce the morning mess and stress.
Once all the children are in bed, do a quick 'walk-around' to take care of items that are out of place. Vacuum, and wet-mop the floors as needed.
You don’t have to hire the person with the “Guarantee to sell your home or nicest fanciest office”
A good agent in my option is someone who is on the same page as you. Understands your needs, understands your market, comes in with a plan. Most importantly, down to earth. You want to have a pleasant experience. Most families will only do this once, so make sure it goes as smooth as possible!
On a side note - Re-purposing rooms: Your Real Estate Agent may suggest that you change the way you use one or more of the rooms in your house. (i.e. turn that upstairs office or craft room into an additional bedroom, or the main floor den into a dining room) All I can say is - Do It! Your Real Estate Agent deals with dozens of clients a year, and they know what people are looking for. They want your house to sell - and their advice is intended to help you do just that!