Buying, selling and moving is full of stress and sometimes just pure chaos! Believe me…I am not immune to being overwhelmed in the process, even though I actually kinda love that chaos. I get strangely excited at the thought of organizing and sorting through closets. Yes, I realize that I am weird!
But the reality is that the mountain of tasks during a move is unbelievable. There are piles of stuff to donate, a room full of items to sell, unending boxes to pack up, and lots of cleaning. And then even more cleaning.
We moved back to my home town recently. Between that move and the previous two, I have found that there are a few things everyone could do to get a home ready to sell.
Actually preparing your house to sell (intentionally) will help it stand out from the competition and hopefully appeal to more buyers. Our first home sold in 11 days and our second home sold in 5 weeks! Both of those in an extremely SMALL town. My good friend just sold her home in 1 day by doing a good job of prepping!
Are you ready? It is going to be work…but you can handle it! Ya got this! Seriously…message me if you need personal help. I LOVE to go through closets and get people organized!
Even if you think your house isn’t cluttered……uh….it is! I really dislike clutter and even my home had TONS of extra stuff. Sometimes the clutter is hiding from you. Once we dug into attics, basements and garages…yikes!
This de-cluttering section is kinda long. I feel the need to over explain because the normal person (non freakish people like me) tends to overlook some of these places.
The goal is for the buyer to see extra storage space, clear surfaces and in turn, to be able to look past “stuff” and envision their life there.
I always use the first round of de-cluttering to say goodbye to the things that can be donated or sold. The second round of de-cluttering is when I begin packing.
Bonus…selling unwanted furniture, toys, clothes, decor, etc. can make you a few extra bucks to put toward the moving process. Moving has so many unexpected expenses that I guarantee you will use the extra cash! We downsized so HAD to get rid of several pieces (that we still loved)…and guess what? I have no regrets. Being free of excess makes moving easier. Packing half of your stuff before selling, also gets a huge jump start on the moving process.
If you are having a hard time parting with things….this is the perfect time to do an evaluation.
Do you love it? Have you used it recently? Does it serve a purpose in your new home? Will it sit in a box for 3 months and be forgotten? Do you have duplicates? Can you bless someone else by giving it to them? Are you holding onto it because of guilt or another person’s expectation? Is it broken?
Let this be a new beginning. Parting with your excess can feel freeing! Begin your new chapter by feeling lighter and more free! Plus, you won’t have to actually move and unpack as much!
Here are some key places to de-clutter and clear.
Kitchen counters-show off the counter-top space instead of your collections. Buyers have a hard time seeing through your stuff, so get it out of the way! Let them imagine their life there instead of peeking at your collections. Once you move, you can get all of it back out and into the new kitchen!
Kitchen cabinets-Believe me. People will look inside your cabinets. Remove half of your stuff to show how roomy those cabinets can be. If your cabinets are stuffed to the max, the impression is that the kitchen lacks storage.
All closets-Reality check. We all have stuffed closets. If you are an average American, you have an excess of clothing. Pare down to only what you really need for the time your house is listed.
If you have a very hard time parting with unused & ill-fitting clothes, at the very least pack up your seasonal items. The goal is to remove half of your clothing and shoes to showcase the closet space. If your closet is spilling over, the potential buyer will have the impression that the house lacks storage.
Chaos in the closet is unappealing and leaves a negative impression. If you have a few extra bucks, purchase hangers that match and hang items by color. I bought cheap white hangers like these and it makes a huge impact in the closet! A clean and organized closet shows well. Buyers want to see how they can live here…and if your closet is in order…they can imaging their life being in order there too!
Desks, dressers and tables-Clear the tops and only place a couple items back. Think about the swankiest hotel you’ve visited. None of them have 13 items on the side table or dresser. Clearing personal items and pictures off of these surfaces will also help the buyer envision their own life in the home. I cannot even tell you how much time I have wasted looking at people’s pictures instead of the room. I get so distracted haha! Make sure to also clean out dresser and desk drawers during this process. Remember, you will have less to move!
Shower and sinks-This one is huge! Have you ever been to a hotel and found someone else’s hair on the sink or toilet? Ew! Ew! Ew! One tiny hair can make the whole house feel dirty. Grimy shampoo bottles and crusty toothbrushes should be hidden or removed before showing the home. The last thing I want to see when checking out a tub is a hair or a grimy soap bottle.
While you are at it…purchase a couple new bath towels to display and a new hand towel. Hide or get rid of the old ones. No one wants to stare at dingy and frayed towels. They can make the house feel more “used” and old. A couple new towels go a long way in making the home feel refreshed.
Whew! All of that will be WORK for sure…but worth it! People will offer more cash for a home that shows well!
Deep Clean Everything
Yes. Dust, wipe counters, scrub toilets and vacuum. However, going above and beyond the normal cleaning is necessary when selling. Check out this list for ideas of where to deep clean.
Sink, stove, oven, refrigerator, and cabinets. The kitchen needs to be spotless! No one wants to see other people’s food spills, grime, grease and dust where they are considering cooking and eating. It is very discouraging to walk through a home with a dirty kitchen. I have literally been to wonderful houses where I gag in the kitchen. Grime can lose you a sale.
Make sure the sink is clear and wiped clean. Scrub the stove top and clean out the oven. Wipe down the refrigerator (inside and out). Make sure to get the crumbs out of the door seal crack thingy too. Wipe down cabinet fronts and knobs…then open them up and wipe up any crumbs.
The bathroom also needs to be spotless. Remember when I was describing how just one icky hair can make the whole bathroom feel dirty? Yep. It is true. I will gag at other people’s body hair on the sink or toilet. Worse….other people’s hair in the tub drain. Ew! So…scrub and wipe. Then do it again.
Wipe faucets and light switches. Make sure there are no makeup stains on the door handles or hairspray build-up on the mirror. Get a new shower curtain and liner to refresh the look of the shower. Water and rust stained curtains are not appealing to buyers.
Make sure your sheets are clean and the bed is made. You want the buyer to feel like they would be able to sleep there. Refreshing the bed coverings might be a good idea here too. Think about the nicest hotel you have every visited. The bed was made. The bedding was clean and not fussy. Try for a relaxing and clean look in the bedrooms. If you need to purchase a new comforter….do it now! What a good time to get new bedding! It will look and feel better….AND you will get to enjoy new bedding too. Many professional home staging people suggest having light and bright bedding that will appeal to anyone.
Living Spaces & Whole House Stuff
Straighten up pillows, blankets and your personal items. Dust baseboards and walls. Wash windows. Vacuum and shampoo carpets. Mop floors. Replace the floor mats and maybe rugs in the kitchen. Fix broken items. Replace burnt out light bulbs. Patch holes in drywall. Wipe doorknobs and light switches.
A fresh coat of paint can be extremely appealing to potential home buyers. I like to paint and can envision the potential of every house…but I am weird. The normal person would rather not paint AND has a harder time envisioning potential. It is usually advised to paint your home in neutral colors so it appeals to more home buyers. Having neutral paint does not mean that it has to be void of any personality. Add your small touches of luxury in throw pillows and textiles. Let the walls be a neutral backdrop so more buyers can envision their decor in the space.
Oh outside. This one can be a ton of work too. Fix the hole in the roof or repair that leaky window. Refresh the landscaping by pulling weeds and getting fresh mulch or rock. Power wash the siding. Get a new welcome mat and paint the front door. Tighten any loose knobs or shutters. Replace the dingy mailbox. Add some pretty potted flowers by the front door. A little effort goes a long way. I am extremely frugal when it comes to this stuff. At our second house, we paid $0 for landscaping! We were able to take splits off of someone else’s landscaping that needed pruned back. She was happy and so were we! Updated landscaping can do wonders! We removed the overgrown shrubs and planted her beautiful perennials. Seeing the porch made a huge difference in how the face of the house appeared.
We have all heard that curb appeal is huge! Admittedly, I am way better at “inside” stuff when compared to the curb appeal. But these little refreshes can make a huge difference in the feel of the home. Buyers can tell if you have made an effort to make your house look it’s best.
Remember, showcase YOUR home’s best features. While I wish my home had a huge Southern front porch where I could sip sweet tea…the reality is that my home is a New England Salt Box home and I fully plan to embrace it’s qualities and help it look its best. Comparison to something unattainable is not very helpful. Just do your best.
Keep Up On The Clean House
Oh, this one is tough. You feel me here. I can spend hours cleaning the house and within 3 minutes it is trashed.
Love them…but oh…kids, pets & husbands. There are a few things that have helped me…..
I usually keep a couple laundry baskets around so I can quickly throw all of the dirty laundry into the baskets and take it with me during a showing. No one wants to see your dirty laundry. I literally just throw stuff into the baskets and load them into the car. I can deal with them after the showing.
I then put everything into it’s “show” space, wipe all surfaces, vacuum, and get out. When time is really short, prioritize your cleaning to focus on the kitchen and bathrooms.
Here is a huge tip!
Keep the house clean with regular maintenance. Spend 15 minutes every day clearing counters of clutter. School papers, mail, books, cups and toys can get cleaned up throughout the day so you can stay on top of a “show ready” home.
Pick up loose items every night before bed. When selling (and 80% of the time in regular life), we pick up and clean before bed. We will get dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher, wipe counters, pick up toys and straighten up anything that is out of place. We were once out of our house in under an hour for a showing! Staying intentional about keeping things put away can help in those stressful last minute showings.
Oh! Also make sure to keep pet items corralled and in an easy place to remove them. Some people hate pets or have allergies. We once looked at a house…and LOVED it….but guess what?! They had several roaming cats and the basement was like a pit for cats. All I could imagine was my allergies, cat pee carpet and the $$$ if would cost me to get new carpet and to seal the concrete from the smell.
I always take my dogs with me during a showing and make sure to pack up any dog dishes or the crate. I love my dogs…but others could be totally turned off by pets. I’ve been to houses where the dog was crated in the kitchen and I was so distracted. I mean….I just wanted to pet it and play with it. Give me all the puppies!!! Not my goal in home buying haha! Remove the pet distractions.
Hopefully this list helped you in some way! I cannot stress enough how much better a clean house shows. We’ve had multiple comments from realtors and buyers about how our houses have shown well because they are simply clean. Buyers are excited that they won’t need to deep clean, paint or do many repairs and are willing to increase their purchase amount for a “move-in ready” home.
I also see this as an opportunity to show the buyer that they matter enough that I spent extra time and energy to clean for them.
The last thing we do when moving our stuff out of the home is to vacuum the floors inside and also sweep out the garage. Moving stirs up a lot of dust. Both times, the buyer was extremely thankful that they moved into such clean conditions.
I feel like it is a generous gesture towards them and shows that they matter. Love can be shown to total strangers by making sure you prepare a clean home for them. The home is no longer mine and it is definitely an act of service to go the extra mile to clean for them.
Go ahead, bust out your cleaning supplies and your inner organizer (even if you have to fake the organized trait) and get to work!