So, here’s a question for you. Would you rather walk into a clean home or a dirty one? No, it’s not a trick question but it is an important one. You see, when it comes to selling a home, many people forget how important the answer to that question really is. Sellers get busy looking for their new home, preparing the kids for a move, packing up their belongings, getting organized for their new life and relocation so much that sometimes their home that’s for sale doesn’t get the TLC that’s needed to push it to the top of the buyers’ must-have list.
It’s not until the home sits on the market for long periods that sellers realize something has to change. Sometimes it’s the marketing, sometimes it’s the price, and sometimes it’s the fact that the home that’s being shown isn’t clean enough. Yes, a clean home shows better and there are five ways to make yours sparkle from roof to baseboards.
Hard to Reach Windows/Skylights. These often get overlooked either because they’re difficult to access to clean or because they aren’t right at eye level. Whichever the case, cleaning windows in high ceilings or skylights provides a brighter light to shine in your home. Sometimes just getting out the cloud of dust and dirt that accumulates can make a difference between a murky-looking room and one that is eye-catching. And here’s a tip from Buzzle.com, “Clean the windows on a cloudy day, but not a rainy one. If you clean the windows in the direct light of the sun, traces can appear on the window, as the cleaning solution gets dry before being cleaned.”
Baseboards and Walls. I have written about giving your home a fresh coat of paint prior to putting it on the market. But maybe you can get away with a good wipe-down instead. Using a wet, mildly soapy cloth you can scrub the baseboards and walls to make them look like they’ve had a fresh coat of paint, if the paint isn’t chipped or too worn. However, a product called Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers will save you the mess and ease the elbow grease. These rectangle-shaped cleaning pads help take the grime off nearly everything. You don’t have to spray anything on the surface you’re going to clean; just wet the eraser and wipe off the marks. I’ve done whole walls with these pads and made it look as though the wall had been freshly painted. Be sure to get the baseboards and get down to kids’ level and wipe off the marks where they place their fingers while walking down the hall or up the stairs. When buyers see homes that are scoffed and worn like that, they may think it’s an indication that the home might not have gotten the care it needed for the bigger things too—such as furnace, disposal, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. It gives a general feeling of un-cleanliness and can leave a negative lasting impression.
Toilets. It may seem like this goes without saying but I’m sure any real estate agent you ask will have a horror story about toilets. Whether they’re leaking, continuously running, stained, or simply stinky, they pose a major deterrent. If you’ve got an older toilet, give it a good inspection and be sure to check under the lid. Buyers sometimes use your toilet when they’re looking at your home and nothing is worse than seeing rust stains and other unsightly marks. A good product is Zep Toilet Bowl Cleaner.
Tile. When you’re showing your house, hopefully, you’ll get lots of foot traffic. This, however, can lead to very dirty flooring and grout. Yes, you can supply those footies and the sign placed by the door asking buyers to remove their shoes or put the footies on before entering your home, but, the truth is, not all will comply. Still, the tile and the condition of the grout will matter to buyers should they decide to make an offer. There are certainly many products to get the dirt out of those tiny grout lines; one that I’ve had success with is called Heavy Duty Acidic Cleaner for tile. Use a brush to really scrub those dirty lines; doing so will make the tile standout and not look like it needs re-grouting.
Closets, Cabinets, Computer areas. “Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. That’s according to About.com Guide, Elizabeth Weintraub. She writes about the need to de-clutter closets, hang shirts all facing the same way, and even alphabetize the spice cabinet. Wow! Love it! I realize you may feel you don’t have time for all of that. Still, the point is, don’t have junk stuffed inside closets and cabinets so that when potential buyers open them to have a peek, everything comes crashing down on them–and gives the impression that the closets are too small. Computer areas are becoming more popular in homes and behind most of those computers is a tangled web of wires collecting tons of dust.
Organize the wires using Velcro zip-ties and dust them off! Or, better yet, if you don’t have to use the computer daily, arrange the area like you were filming a movie or shooting an advertisement—you never see wires. Remove all of the computer and accessory electronic cords. You can leave the monitor display on the desk but taking away the wires and storing them will give the area a more spacious, clean, and professionally staged look. A little cleaning and preparation before you market your home will help show buyers that you’ve cared for the house and that could be just the signal a buyer needs to make an offer.
Written by Phoebe Chongchua