Sure, you might love your knick-knacks and piles of magazines. Gives your home that personalized, lived-in look right? Well that’s exactly what buyers don’t want to see. They prefer to inspect the house for what it is, not everything that’s in it. They’ll want to feel comfortable and be able to imagine themselves living there. This means you need to get your stuff out of the way. And clean like crazy. Check out our tips and get cracking.
FACT: Spending a few bucks on de-cluttering and cleaning a home results in an 872% return on the investment when it sells.*
* According to a 2009 HomeGain® Real Estate Agent Survey on Top 12 Home Improvements For Sellers.
Rent a Storage Space
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Professional stagers will often remove 50% of a home’s contents to make it feel more spacious and immaculate. You’ll need somewhere to put all of that stuff.
Remove pieces of furniture that are in the way of walking paths and put them in storage. If you have bookcases, plan to pack up half of its content and store them. And remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and give plenty of room to move around. The rest goes in storage until you move.
Here’s where you can really go to town. Remove, discard or give away seldom used and mismatched appliances, utensils, and pots and pans. (Be honest, have you ever actually used that crepe maker? How does one actually make a crepe, anyway?) Clear off the countertops, stovetop and refrigerator. Clean out the pantry and reorganize to show the space potential. Only keep what is absolutely necessary to use during this time and plan to store the rest.
Nothing will turn a buyer off more quickly than a cramped or dirty bathroom. So clear off the countertop, tub and shower and remove or put away all personal items. Throw out frayed, torn, stained or old mats and towels. Streamline the medicine cabinet. Scrub everything spotless. And make a point to keep it that way every day.
Bedroom, Dining, Family and Living Rooms
Don’t discriminate. Get rid of everything possible to open up these rooms. Visible clothes, shoes, magazines, books and toys should be put away, donated or discarded. Over-sized or out-of-place furniture and exercise equipment should be stored. Knick-knacks and personal items like photos and trophies must be kept to a minimum.
You might be tempted to stuff everything into your closets like when you were told to clean your room as a teenager. But trust us, potential buyers will open those closets to inspect for coveted space. So clean them out and keep them organized. Clothes, jackets and/or linens should be hung up or folded in baskets or on shelves, with space between so it doesn’t look crammed (a crammed closet appears much smaller than it actually is). And shoes and all other items should be neatly arranged. If it’s out-of-season, like bulky winter coats and boots, store it.
It’s notorious for clutter buildup. Just like the rooms inside the house, you’ll want to maximize this space. So clear it out. Discard all broken or outdated tools and materials. Consider removing and storing your out-of-season tools, outdoor toys, sports equipment and car repair supplies. Organize — use shelves to store common items, cabinets or bins for less frequently used items. Neatly display your things and clean all visible surfaces.
See that car idling by the curb? In it are potential buyers, sizing up your house from the outside and deciding whether they even want to come in. When on the market, your home’s first impression is vital. Clean out flowerbeds and gutters, clear off porches and keep the lawn manicured. Mulch where needed, sod or seed bare areas and roll up or put away all hoses. Add or fix shutters, borders, mailboxes and planters. Paint as necessary and put away children’s toys. Trash and recycling cans should be stored neatly out of sight.
Attics and Basements
Likely to be your home’s historical archive of outdated clothes and furniture, school yearbooks, holiday decorations and other family “heirlooms,” which means they can also be a scary mess. So take this opportunity to organize and clean out what you’ll never use. Donate items that could be used by other families. Get rid of damaged, broken or unusable items. Then, most importantly, store much of the remaining items. Highlighting the non-living areas of your home can become a great selling feature.
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