In a perfect world, your entire family pitches in every morning to clean last night’s clutter and mess before heading out to work and school. In the real world however, this usually doesn’t happen. When your home is on the market however, you need everyone’s help to make your home look as perfect as possible. Buyers do not need perfect, however, you have a better chance of getting more offers when your home is neat and tidy.
Here is how to remain sane when you have to keep your home clean while it is for sale.
Whether you are going to stage your home or you just want to make your home look as presentable as possible when you put it on the market, you have to make it look inviting to buyers. The cleaner your home is, the more buyers will be attracted to your home and want to come see it. To clean it, you might need a team of family and friends, or you may need to hire a service to do the cleaning.
Depersonalize while you clean:
Buyers are curious about who lives in your home, however, you want to take down family photos, awards, and other identifying items so a buyer can see their stuff hanging on your walls and their furniture sitting in your home. This will also protect your family from anyone who is pretending to be a buyer but isn’t. Depersonalizing your home requires that you are emotionally ready to leave your home. I listed one home for sale and I recommended they depersonalize the home, two suggestions I gave where to remove their children’s photos off the wall, and paint the bright red walls in the living room with a neutral color. My client said to me, “But if it doesn’t sell, then I still want my red walls, and I want to see my children’s photos on the wall.” She wasn’t emotionally ready to sell her home.
Depersonalizing may seem harsh, even cruel put away all of your personal items you have lovingly placed in your home, however, you are not selling your stuff, you are selling your home. That shabby chic look in your home, you have been cultivating for years may really turn off your buyers. They may not be able to see past the tons of pillows or frilly curtains you have decorated your home with. They may be hate your taste in wall paper or your collection of feathered roosters along the top of your kitchen cabinets. Take pictures of your home the way you have created it.
Celebrate the moments you have spent decorating your home. Then pack it up! Sounds so insensitive doesn’t it? But if you are ready to sell your home, for the most money, you have to declutter, depersonalize and distance yourself from your home. This is a perfect time to pack up the items you still love and organize them for the next home you are decorating, but the less stuff you have out, the easier it is for the buyer to see themselves living in your home.
If you have bright walls of color, you should paint them neutral. If you have dark flooring, lightening it up with mirrors on the walls, plenty of lighting in the room and window coverings that are light and bright. Fill your home with light by opening curtains and adding lamps that will be on when you show your home. Buyers love a home that has lots of natural light or feels bright with overhead lights and lamps.
Start cleaning your children’s rooms first:
One of the best places to start your cleaning and decluttering is in your children’s room. Pack up the toys they hardly play with. Then pack up the toys with a lot of pieces, like Lego’s. You do not have to seal these boxes but you want to keeps items organized so that you can rotate toys for your children and keep their rooms easy to clean.
Use this statement as your cleaning mantra:
Are we using this every day? When was the last time we needed to use it? Can it be packed up for a month and we don’t miss it? If you realize that you are not reading every book on your shelf, your children haven’t played with a toy in months, you don’t need your mix master on the sink, you haven’t dusted your cologne shelf in a while, then you can pack up these items. Be sure to label your boxes so you can find the items you want should you need them.
Keep it Clean-Without becoming insane:
Ok, you have now sorted through every room in your home, and packed up a ton of items. You most likely have discarded items you no longer want to keep, pack and store. You have created a nice clean home. Now, how do you keep it clean while it is on the market?
You and your family still need to live in your home, and it is just part of life that your family may make messes daily. Your children may leave a trail of toys, or food in the kitchen. You need a plan to keep your home clean without going ballistic with your family members if they leave a mess.
Set up a routine with each family member and reward them for keeping the home clean and organized. For example, a school aged child can make pick up their room before they go to bed. They can make their bed in the morning before they go to school and check to see if the mirrors in the bathroom are wiped down and they have loaded the dishwasher. An evening chore for adults should be to straighten up the kitchen, sweep the floor, sort out the mail and put all laundry in the washing machine to wash. The big jobs like mopping and vacuuming the floors, cleaning sinks and toilets and folding laundry can be assigned to family members on alternating days. Everyone one gets rewarded when they participate without being nagged. Praise, points, money, special time doing a project with one parent or special reward encourages everyone including adults to keep your home clean.
If it is a seller’s market, then you have the luxury of having a lot of buyers looking for your home, because there is not a lot of inventory.
If it is a buyer’s market, then you may have your home on the market for a period of time, which means you have to keep your home up for longer.
I had one client, a woman in her late 40’s who hated making her bed. She told me she couldn’t wait to get her home into escrow because she could stop making her bed every day. She said she hadn’t made it for 10 years. She was a large woman so it was hard for her to make the bed, but she was really bummed when the home fell out of escrow the first time, and she had to make her bed again every day while she showed the home to buyers again.
What to clean when you have last-minute showings:
What happens when you get a request to see the home during the time you are all home and living in your home? You can go through the home with a laundry basket and scoop up clothes, toys and items left out and throw them in the basket. Sort through the items after the buyer has left. Put the basket in the trunk of your car to hide it if you don’t have a good place it can go without being seen.
If a potential buyer is within an hour of arriving, prioritize your cleaning tasks in this order:
• Pick up clutter. If you don’t have time to put it away, take it with you.
• Wash dishes or load them into the dishwasher.
• Empty all the trash receptacles in the home.
• Ensure that bathroom counters are free of toiletries and wipe them down. Hang fresh towels and close the shower curtain and lower the lid on the toilet.
• Straighten the linens on the beds.
• Straighten the sofa cushions and pillows.
• Open all window coverings to let the sunshine in.
• Turn on all the lights in the home, even in the closets.
You may want a perfect home when every buyer comes to see it. If you can’t make that happen, the best way to do this is to get the work done upfront by cleaning, purging, organizing and depersonalizing your home.
Dr. Deena Stacer is a real estate agent in San Diego. She uses her expertise in psychology, her skills in stress reduction and her real estate knowledge to guide families through the sale or purchase of a home with less frustration, fear and confusion. Dr. Deena will be happy to discuss any of your real estate questions and help you buy or sell a San Diego home. She can be reached at 858-229-8072, via email at [email protected] or by going to the chat box at http://sandiegosearchforhomes.com/
You can search for homes to buy in San Diego at http://sandiegosearchforhomes.com/advanced-search/ Get your FREE Home Value Report here: www.valuemyhomenow.com. Check out other helpful videos on Dr. Deena’s YouTube channel, (Dr. Deena Realtor):
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