Showing a house is a lot like going on a first date: you try to look well groomed even if that's not how you normally look! The old adage about first impressions being the most important is just as true for your home as it is for you.
A clean house gives prospective buyers the impression that the whole house is well maintained including the out of sight items such as plumbing and heating.
Most sellers know that a tidy house can help their home sell faster but 'clean' is a relative term. What one person finds acceptable could send another running for the door.
Real estate agents have seen it all: ring around the bathtub, clothes on the floor, pantyhose hanging off the shower curtain, sinks full of dirty dishes, living rooms littered with toys and dust bunnies behind the sofa the size of prairie tumbleweeds.
There are three main incentives to keeping your house in perfect showing condition: your home may sell faster, you may get more money for it and by removing the clutter you will allow people to focus on any improvements you've made to your home. (It's hard to see the new tile floor in the bathroom when it's covered in wet towels!)
Long before your first showing, take stock of your home.
Do you have piles of magazines you've never read beside your couch? Are your closets and drawers overflowing with clothes you're hoping will come back in style? Do you trip over a pile of shoes when you walk in the door?
Be brave and pack up anything you don't use on a regular basis and give away whatever you haven't used or worn in the last five years - bell-bottoms couldn't possibly make another comeback!
A good guideline to aim for is the uncluttered, unobtrusive look of a hotel room.
While you may feel that achieving such a high level of cleanliness is seemingly impossible for amateurs, your efforts will pay off! Begin by washing walls, windows and doors and shampooing carpets. If you have hardwood you may want to get them professionally cleaned and varnished. Put a drop of oil in squeaky hinges. Polish brass hinges and door knobs.
Have your furnace and air serviced and be sure the service people leave stickers on the systems. Also get a legible receipt for the work done and give it to Joyce for her marketing presentation.
Label your fuse or breaker panel and dust the exterior of the furnace, water heater and electrical panel. Wash the floors and clean the ceiling of any of the unfinished sections of the basement.
Label anything you think a buyer or Realtor may not recognize....like the gas line to a fireplace.
Fix anything you can that does not work....for example: a light fixture, electrical plug or closet door.
Leave lights on when there is a showing if possible. Be sure the house smells wonderful and there are absolutely no cooking or pet odours present.
Can you leave the fireplace on for a showing...if so, do so.
In winter be sure the sidewalks to all exterior doors are shoveled and sanded...there are legal issues here. Shovel off the deck or patio area so buyers can visualize summer bbq's.
Buyers will open closets and cupboards, ovens and fridges too, so be sure all are clean and tidy....buyers make assumptions based on many factors.
Pets should be taken out with you during showings for everyone's benefit. If you have a cat, ensure that the litter is changed or cleaned daily. Cat odour can be a great hindrance to the sale of your home since people may worry that the odour will be permanent. Open windows shortly before a showing if possible. Also remove all pet dishes, beds and toys for your showings. It's best that your buyers do not know there are any pets at all.
Open windows shortly before a showing if possible. (weather providing)
For the exterior of your home, a fresh paint job can do wonders. If painting your entire home is prohibitively expensive consider making small updates such as painting the window frames in a contrasting colour or just touching up rough spots.
The garden is another outdoor area many homeowners overlook despite the fact that it is the first thing prospective buyers will see. Keep the lawn and bushes trimmed.
If you were never much of a gardener you can still have fresh flowers by cheating a bit - make a quick trip to the garden store. Most small annual flowers are available for less than $3 per plant. Choose flowers in only two or three colours to create a sense of uniformity in your garden.
Attractive flowerpots on the window ledge can be a nice touch depending on your style of house.
Don't be surprised if people also want to see the garage. Some buyers feel the garage reflects the general maintenance of the entire property.
Unfortunately, if you are like most people you enter your garage half expecting to be attacked by your belongings. If you have nowhere else to store the items you don't want to give away, at least try to put them in boxes piled neatly along one wall. Designate one area for bikes and another for sporting equipment.
If you do not have a garage park your cars a few doors away, or the street, or even in a neighbours driveway, until later in the evening, so the house can be fully seen by buyers driving by.If thats not possible, be sure you keep your cars pulled up to the top of the driveway to give an appearance of plenty of parking. If you have a small driveway it may be best to park on the street as often as possible while your house is up for sale.
Keep exterior and some interior lights burning at night so buyers who drive by can see how warm and inviting your home really is.
Once you've completed these tasks, it's important to maintain the neatness of your home (inside and out) on a daily basis while you have it up for sale. If you start with a clean house, it's easy to wipe off a counter or run the vacuum over the carpet to get it into good condition and ultimately complete the sale.
If you need the services of a professional for any of these tasks call Joyce's office and she can recommend someone. Don't forget- home staging is included in our services.