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You may be saying by now that the house looks great what more could I possibly do to make things more presentable. Deep cleaning is the answer. It goes beyond the typical weekly cleaning and will make your home look, feel and smell brand new. This is a step that may be easier to hire someone to assist or take on. But for those who are DIY people here are some steps to take.
Minding the details
- Wash windows inside and out
Windows properly washed will let in more light, and allow for distraction free views.
- Power wash your sidewalks and the exterior
- Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks
This small step will revitalize your bathrooms and add a crisp finish hiding cracks and other signs of wear and tear.
- Polish chrome faucets and mirrors
- Wax floors
- Deep clean grout
- Replace worn rugs
- Hang up fresh towels
- Rent an ozonator to remove odors
You would be surprised at how this can radically transform the smell of a home. It will even go a long way towards removing smoke and pet odors.
- Steam clean carpets
- Use a Magic Eraser on doors, walls, window sills and trim
- Dust every surface. Mantles, fan blades and remaining furniture
A Cleaning Crew
For a simpler approach I recommend hiring professional cleaners to get all the areas that might get missed. They are well worth the price and will make your home shine. They may also be able to come in periodically during the showings stage to touch up and keep your home fresh.
One thing is for sure, Buyers love to snoop and will inevitably open every closet door and look inside many cabinets. For this reason it is good to organize what is left in your home so that it shows that you are immaculate and the home has been preserved in perfect condition. Let’s take a tour of your home and get everything cleaned out and organized for the best first impression.
In the kitchen you want to make sure every surface is free of clutter including taking small appliances off the countertops and all those knick-knacks should already be packed.Clean fridge doors by removing magnets, family photos and awards. The dishes that are left should be neatly stacked. And make sure the spice jars are neatly hidden. Clean inside the cupboards, take everything out and wipe the insides. Pack everything else in boxes and store them for now.
Once everything is cleaned out it will look open and organized. And if you are going to invest in staging then the area will already be prepared for the next step.
Remove the toiletries you have on display, nobody needs to know you use Head & Shoulders or what brand of toothpaste you use. A good option is a toiletry bag or Dopp kit to store it in. Invest in some new towels for display only. And for a small price you can replace old toilet seats, curtains and mats to give your bath an instant fresh new look.
Make your bedrooms as inviting as possible. So beyond decluttering and cleaning you may want to invest in a few things. A new neutral-colored duvet and pillows will make your bed look fancy and if the floors are laminate an area rug will make the space feel warmer.
Take down any personal family photos and decor leaving it simple and spacious. This will also include removing any bulky dressers, nightstands or other furniture that make the room feel small and claustrophobic.
Make sure your closets show plenty of room for lots of stuff. Remember, less of you will give the buyers the vision of themselves living there. While you are at it, hang your shirts together facing the same direction and line up the shoes. Any loose items should be packed or put into little bins to keep like items together and out of sight. Taking a minimalist approach will naturally invite buyers to linger longer, instead of wanting to move on quickly to the next house showing.
The living room should be a haven of peace. More often than not it is one of the most used rooms in the house. Make sure to not only get rid of the clutter but to also replace old throw pillows and possibly get a new area rug to bring the space together. Make sure to pack all the magazines, dvds, cds, and records. Hide what you wish to have around while you’re selling your home in your media console, including cable wires . Nothing looks more disorganized than a pile of wires running from speakers, computers and entertainment centers.
Stage your furniture to face amenities that are being sold with the home. It is important to showcase your fireplace, instead of your prized tv that isn’t included with the listing. Paint the picture for the buyers enjoying this cozy living space for themselves. Deer trophies, religious paraphernalia or anything that could pose to be offensive to a buyer should be packed away in storage. Making your living space look less “lived in” is the name of the game.
Most Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it. So make their first impression a lasting one. Make it inviting and spacious. Only have a few coats on the rack and store your shoes neatly in your own personal closets. Be disciplined and store things away. A cluttered foyer that makes the entrance look like the kids just home from school will leave a lasting taste in the buyers mouth but not in a good way.
Curb appeal is the first impression. Stand outside your front door and ask yourself if the home welcomes you in. Take note of anything that needs to be repaired or hidden.
Some general things to do…
- Keep the sidewalks cleared.
- Mow the lawn.
- Paint faded window trim.
- Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow Marigolds are inexpensive, and evokes a buying emotion.
- Trim your bushes to allow more natural light come through the windows
- Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
- Clean the scuff marks off the front door
- Touch-up the chipped paint or give it a fresh coat.
- Clean up the garden.
In the backyard try to keep everything maintained and clean. Mow regularly, stain the deck, and clean off the BBQ. A Power Washer will go a long way toward making patios and siding look brand new, and that illusion of new will surely put more bucks in your pocket.
Having all this accomplished, reward yourself with a cold drink and a long nap to prepare yourself for the next step: Deep Cleaning
Now that you have started clearing out all the distinct items that have made your home yours it’s time to remove all the little things that can make your space feel smaller than it is. It’s time for the D-word. Declutter.
The general rule is: If you haven’t used it in over a year you probably don’t need it. Something a minimalist said to me recently also struck a chord when it comes to decluttering. “Instead of asking if you will need this in the future, ask will this add value to my life? Will it get me closer to my goals? Does it still bring me joy when I look at it? If not, then give it to someone that needs it or toss it.”
Step 1: Create designated boxes
Begin by setting aside specific boxes for items you can donate, toss, sell or keep. These will give you an option for each item so you can avoid just moving items from room to room. You can think of this process as getting a head start on packing that you will need to do eventually.
It’s a real pain to store stuff and can get really expensive. Take this time to think about what you can donate, sell and get rid of altogether. Often these items are ones that you have held onto just in case. And more likely than not they are items that are cheaper to replace than take the time to pack, store and carry around for years. There is a plethora of information on the web too if you begin to wonder what might be worth keeping or letting go of.
Step 2: Small items
Start with the small items like books on your bookcase, knickknacks, and everything on your kitchen counter. These items most often are things you can pack as they are not essential to daily living. Go through each room placing items in boxes that are just taking up valuable space.
Your essentials can also be organized into a box or basket that you can store in a closet or cupboard when not in use.
Step 3: Store Furniture
In almost every situation a home will show better with less furniture. Remove the pieces of furniture that block paths and walkways. Since your bookcases are empty you can store them as well. Remove the extra leaves from your dining room table and leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s potential and purpose.
Step 4: Closets and Storage areas
Buyers always tend to open closets and check out your storage spaces. The last thing you want is for a buyer to think there is not enough storage and move onto the next home. So go ahead and pack the seasonal clothes, memorabilia, and collections and move them to your storage unit or designated area for those belongings.
Having a decluttered home will be a process but it will make a huge difference in the minds of buyers shopping for a place with enough space to call home.
Getting ready to sell can be a daunting process. This journey is one that takes time, patience and a good mood. So start with why.
Why are you selling? This question can be answered in a thousand different ways but the answer will determine a lot of things. This will keep you moving forward to achieve your goals. So take a few minutes and write down exactly why you are moving and how you will feel when it is over and you are embarking on the next phase of life.
This will allow you to look at your WHY when things are looking hopeless and emotional. You can easily remember you are selling for a purpose and press on.
Now that you have defined why begin with Step 1.
Step 1: Disassociating yourself with your home.
One of the hardest things is letting go. It’s a process of preparing yourself mentally to be ready for the upcoming move. You need to be ready to move forward without looking back.
Begin separating yourself from the home so that you can see it like a product to be sold and marketed.
Step 2: De-personalize.
Begin by removing personal photographs, family heirlooms and anything that may cause the buyer to wonder “What kind of people live here” so that they can instead say, “ I can see myself living here.” In essence take down anything that makes your home yours. It hurts but in the end you want the home to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a Buyer. During your walk note anything that personalizes it to yourself or distracts you from seeing the house. Then pack them so that you can make your next house your new home.
This may mean renting a temporary storage unit or moving everything into a shop or garage. You could think of it as pre-moving. Create a blank canvas for the house hunters to envision the possibilities for themselves.
A good idea is to remove or replace favorite items. If you want to take your window coverings, appliances or fixtures then take them now. If a buyer never sees them they won’t want them. But once they have been seen and you tell them they can’t have those then they will covet them and it could pull the whole deal apart. So pack them, replace them or you may lose them to keep a deal together.
Step 3: Pick a listing day and start working backwards from it.
Don’t list it right away. Take the right amount of time to prepare your house for it’s grand presentation. There will be many little things to get ready so make sure you give yourself the time.
Step 4 Get Ready
Buyers and their agents are going to ask a lot of questions so get out all the paperwork and put it in order. Including Mortgage details, utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties and appliance manuals. You will also want an extra set of keys made for the lock box.
Also get yourself some boxes, packing tape and labels. It’s worthwhile to get started early on the packing. It will make the last few weeks much better and you won’t lose sleep wondering what to do when it comes down to the wire. And you won’t be stuck packing when the moving van is outside waiting for you, charging by the hour.
The show House Hunters takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples and families learn what to look for and decide whether or not a home is meant for them. Focusing on the emotional experience of finding and purchasing a new home, each episode shows the process as buyers search for a home.
Everything you know about house hunters is false news. It is all scripted for TV. “Yes. lets. move. on. to. the. next. house.” says the wife. “yes. I. think. that. is. a. great. idea.”answers the husband.
As a matter of fact, the home owners already have purchased the house that they choose and the real life roller coaster of emotions of buying a house is all done when the cameras aren’t rolling. The hopeful homer-owners-to-be stroll easily from room to room commenting on the hideous lamp shades and throw pillows (that don’t even come with the house) calm as can be as if they have the upper hand and have all the time in the world to think about the pros and cons of the house and if they can see them selves living there. The bias of this blog is to burst that HGTV cloud you are living on and tell you, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately.
My wife and I played “house hunters” on our very first date. It wasn’t supposed to be a date but in hindsight it was a date. Our hometown of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho hosts the “Parade of Homes” every year and as we strolled through each magnificent lake house we quietly made jokes about how awful the curtains were and made fun of every thing that would be considered staging and nothing about the bones of the house, making sure everything sounded as scripted as possible. “I could not live with this painting on this wall. It is just too, too paint-y.” Since that day in August almost three years ago, we have helped a multitude of families find, buy or sell their home. All having their own story of something going wrong and feeling deflated of hope of ever finding the right one. It starts feeling more like a job interview, and then three or four months in to the search you start pounding on the glass of your front living room window like the ending scene in the movie “The Help” yelling “I is Kind, I is smart, I is important PLEASE SELL ME THIS HOUSE!”
Something to keep in mind when working with a Realtor or if you are a realtor yourself. It is like a waltz. If you have ever been classical dancing you know there is a certain truth about keeping your arms strong, firm and up. If you are keeping your arms loose, something I call “Spaghetti arms” your partner is not going to take your lead very well and end up stepping on each others toes and end up frustrated and bruised. There will be tears, and fear of the unknown and what-if’s and ‘shoulda-woulda’s’ and seller’s remorse and the roller coaster goes up and down just like the market.
Another analogy is like spinning plates… the other realtor, the title company, the appraiser, the lender, the lies of zillow listings, the 5th 6th 7th time putting in a denied offer, the seller, the buyer, the inspector, the mortgage company, kids running around the open house and locking themself in the closet and yelling dark! dark! dark!, your wife waking in the middle of the night in tears about the closing cost, Tuesday night bible study praying you find the perfect house before your baby is due, the co-workers thinking you are crazy to even be buying a house, hhhhhhhh, TAKE A DEEP BREATH!!….. House hunting is emotional and exhausting. For the Realtor and for the buyer/seller. Those smiles on HGTV are for the cameras. However the end result is super rewarding, why be in a business I don’t like? Why take your lady whose guilty pleasure is also looking at houses on a date to see houses? All this to say, the offer DOES eventually get accepted, the file DOES eventually get closed, the commission check does finally get cashed and the closing gift to the elated new home owners does find its way to your long-awaited new address. Keep your Waltzing arms strong, and your doubts far behind you.
If you are looking to get strapped into this roller coaster called real estate or need a place to stay to ride a real roller coaster Silverwood theme park here in Coeur d’ Alene please consider staying in our AirBnb The Emerald House and we would love to talk more about the real Real Estate.