In a perfect world, the entire family pitches in every morning to clean last night’s clutter and mess before heading out to work/school. In the real world? Not so much. But when your home is on the market, it’s important that you strive to get as close to that perfect world as possible. A hassle? Oh, yes. Crazy making? Indeed. But we have some tips to help you retain some of your sanity until the house sells.
Start with a clean slate
A deep, deep clean, fresh paint – you’ve no doubt heard it all before. Whether it’s to set the foundation for staging or just to make the home presentable for the market, there’s no getting around the fact that to get what you want for the home, it must be incredibly clean. If you can’t get the job done by yourself, or with help from friends and family, hire someone to do it for you – it’s that important.
The next step in the process of readying the home for the market is, again, a familiar one: depersonalize and declutter. This is the ideal time to pre-pack for the move after the home sells, which, in turn, gives the family less “stuff” to have to pick up before showings.
One of the best places to start is in the children’s room. Pack up some of their toys, especially those with a lot of pieces (LEGO® sets come to mind). You don’t necessarily need to seal those boxes. In fact, if you don’t, you can rotate toys as they tire of the current inventory.
Go through the house with a mission: seek and remove anything you don’t use on a consistent basis. Box it up and move it out.
Keep it clean without losing your mind
The home is clean and it’s free from clutter. Showings will be a piece of cake, right? Not so fast – you still need to live in the home and, if you have a family, they do to. This means you’ll need to keep on top of the ongoing messes that living in a house creates.
Sure, it sounds easier said than done, but if you create a plan, it will be a lot easier than if you don’t. Each family member should have routine tasks that they perform every morning before they head out for the day. This includes making their beds, picking up any messes they made the night before, ensuring dirty laundry is in the proper place, wiping down the counters in the bathroom after their morning showers and loading the dishwasher.
Evening chores may include sorting and putting away mail and other clutter that has accumulated since day’s end.
The big jobs, such as mopping and vacuuming the floors, cleaning sinks and toilets and folding laundry can be assigned to family members on alternating days. If everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, they’re far more likely to buy into the plan.
Last-minute minute showings
So, what happens if you get a request for a showing between those times that you clean? You know, when you are actually using the home to live in? Ah, homeowners are a crafty bunch and we’ve collected some tips from our clients that are not only rather funny but realistic as well.
“With four kids in the house we go through a lot of laundry,” a client tells us. “There’s usually piles of it scattered through the bedrooms and in the laundry room. I just race through the house, grab it and dump it in the washer and dryer where nobody will see it.”
Others have told us they use laundry baskets or boxes to grab clutter and then put it in the trunk of their car. Yes, even dirty dishes.
When a potential buyer is within an hour of being on your doorstep, prioritize your cleaning tasks, because some are more important than others.
- 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.
Should your home look perfect when buyers come calling? Sure it should, but there may be times, such as with last-minute showings, that it won’t be. Don’t stress about it. As long as it is pristinely clean and relatively tidy, you’ll be fine.