Most of us have that spring-cleaning drive this time of year and even more so if you happen to find yourself spending more time at home. That may be especially so if you’re preparing to sell your home. It’s not all curb appeal either – a well-maintained home tells the buyer that you were a thoughtful owner, and they may have less to do or repair on purchase.
If you’re working with a real estate agent or are just starting to consider it, they’re likely going to instruct you to clean, declutter, and fix the little things that need fixing. And if you’re already groaning and wondering where to start, we’ve got the guidance to get you through it successfully.
Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Home
There are a lot of reasons why you want to keep a well-maintained home, with the top reasons being your health and your potential buyer’s future investment.
Taking care of these basic things can keep your air cleaner and germs at bay.
- Replace filters for central air conditioning and heating systems for air quality – indoor airborne allergens can make even those without allergies suffer
- Ensure proper ventilation in your bathrooms, so you don’t develop black mold
- Test and change the batteries in your smoke detector
- Clean or have the chimney cleaned if you have one
- Clean any areas that your animals use daily
The last thing any homeowner wants to attract is pests. There are plenty of outside sources to make us sick, we don’t need or want them inside our homes.
Every Room Needs Attention
First and foremost, when you’re walking through your home, look at everything with the critical eye of a buyer. Once upon a time, that was you! According to CEO of Full Frame Creative, Rob LeRoy, “The three rooms that buyers care about most are the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom. When I’m working with clients for a shoot, making sure all spaces are decluttered, clean, and appropriately staged is mission-critical for the seller and their agent.”
You want every room to shine. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, “The most common home improvement items agents recommended to sellers were decluttering the home (95 percent), entire home cleaning (89 percent), removing pets during showings (83 percent), and carpet cleaning (78 percent).”
Decluttering not only helps you make your space look larger, but gets rid of things you don’t want to pack and move; it also helps give your space the kind of canvas that your buyer can imagine for their things. In that process, you’ll also want to depersonalize. When a buyer is choosing a home, they want to see themselves there, and frankly, so do you. Consider boxing and storing those items for your next adventure.
You may have heard of Marie Kondo, who is championing the decluttering movement. She’s an inspiration to all who are working to reduce and donate unused stuff in their spaces: “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it.”
If you’re taking the next fantastic leap in life to a new home and a new location, decluttering is spring cleaning for your soul and screams: My life is in order, and I’m ready for my next big move!
Time to Organize
When you’ve finished decluttering, the next phase is to organize – think closets and cupboards that will also be viewed by your potential buyers. This is another opportunity to possibly discover additional items you can get rid of. Clothing is obvious but also think about medications and products you no longer want or are past their expiration. And if you have one, don’t forget your garage and all the unused items such as old paint cans that may need disposing of. Frequently, the much sought-after garage becomes one ample storage space that cars park outside of. You may consider staging your garage. It’s typically a pretty decent footprint, and many buyers consider that space for other activities such as hobbies and storage.
A Coat of Fresh Neutral Paint
While you may love bright colors on your walls or fun wallpapers, your potential buyers may not. Choosing neutral colors for your walls and consistently throughout your house will also provide that blank canvas for your buyer. Plus, as part of your spring cleaning, you’ll rid the walls of scuffs and other marks that occur just by moving around daily. In a 2020 study from Fixr, 57 percent of experts surveyed felt that cool neutral colors “such as white, gray, and taupe are the top trending palette in 2020.”
Decluttered and Painted, Now Deep Clean
Depending on your house, this can be a serious endeavor. You may choose to hire a service to do a deep clean that you can then maintain daily on your own, or you may choose to do it yourself. It’s important that your house is gleaming for any video tours, which in today’s world is not only likely, but highly recommended, along with people scheduling showings. Once the deep clean is complete, it’s simple to maintain. It really is about changing daily behavior to include tidying up and spot cleaning as you go.
Remember to attack all your cleaning before you get to your floors. Dusting and disinfecting all surfaces are where to start. Additionally, pay special attention to your bathroom, kitchen sink, and anywhere there is access to a water faucet. That’s where mildew and mold can grow and cause issues for not only your health and wellbeing, but also your counters and floors, especially by your shower where water may inadvertently get out while you’re in it.
If you have carpets, steam clean and shampoo them – you can typically rent units to do it yourself at your local hardware store and oftentimes at the grocery store. It’s simple to do, just like vacuuming – but if you want the extra care that comes with a professional in the event of hard stains, you may want to hire a professional who can manage your entire house in one go. The great thing about shampooing your carpets is that it also removes the allergens, pollens, pet dander, pet-related stains and potentially odors, and other things tracked in from normal life. If you have wood, laminate, or tile floors, you can often use the same steamer that worked on your carpeting. Just be sure you are using the appropriate cleaning solution for each.
Staging and Selling When You Have Children
Depending on the age of your children, selling your home can be incredibly disrupting to the normal environment they enjoy daily. And when you are preparing to sell your home, this can feel like an impossible task. A well-maintained home can still have children thriving and playing in it, even when it feels like they leave a path of destruction in their adorable wakes.
This is an excellent opportunity to also declutter children’s spaces. At the end of the day, it’s all things in reason. You can still be successful while striking a balance.
Your Furry Family (AKA, Pets)
When it comes to pets, that’s where things can be really challenging. Removing pets from the home is ideal if you can do it, not only for those potential buyers who have severe allergies to pet dander, but also to ensure that your pets aren’t distracting from the home viewing experience or becoming stressed by having strangers enter their domain. This Zing by Quicken Loans article suggests boarding pets during showings, or having them spend time with friends or family. This is not always possible – sometimes the best option is taking your pet with you on a nice drive while a viewing is taking place.
Additionally, make sure that any cat litter boxes and dog pads are hidden from view. You want to convey clean, fresh, and new.
Time to Hit the Outdoors
Sure, it’s not all about curb appeal. But that’s the thing that’s going to get them into your beautiful and well-maintained home if they happen to drive by and see your well-positioned sign. If you’re standing in front of your house – what do you see? Weeds, a fence that needs painting, and lights that need replacing? Maintaining your exterior is just as important as the interior of your home. Outdoor staging can create that ambiance for your potential buyer as they imagine entertaining with friends and family.
If your exterior paint and siding are in good condition, you may just need a good power wash. If not a power wash, maybe you do need a fresh coat of paint. If you have grass and landscaping, it’s time to cut back those trees, shrubs, and hedges. Also, do you have time to plant some colorful flowers, ground cover, or add potted plants to make your entryway more inviting? Plants are another way to create staged outdoor spaces that enhance your curb appeal. And don’t forget your gutters and your roof – if you’re handy, this may be a simple, yet time-consuming project – but well worth the time.
A great tip from HGTV on curb appeal is to talk to your neighbors and ask for their feedback. It’s in their best interest to give you candid feedback and for your home sale to be successful so they can benefit from increased value to their own home.
It can seem daunting to prepare for a sale when also balancing life in general. The extra time you spend in cleaning and prepping your home for sale will pay you back in spades – the kind that equals you being able to hand over a set of keys to the new owner, sooner.