When my siblings and I were teenagers and ready to sell our first cars, Dad taught us a clean car sells fast. I’m not talking about running it through the $1.98 car wash. Cotton swab, white glove inspection clean to be specific. The engines were steam cleaned. The inside of the bumpers were spotless, graduation tassels removed and all Exxon tiger tails retired. There was enough Rain Dance and Armor All used to buff a Carnival Cruise Liner. The vehicles always sold fast and for the asking price.
The same can be said about listing a home for sale. I am presently searching for a home along the Texas gulf coast. The houses I’ve viewed have kept me awake and freaked out at night. A prospective buyer does not want to see cabinet doors hanging from bent hinges or your foundation garments hanging from a door knob. At least hang the pretty bras out – not the dingy ones. If you don’t own a vacuum cleaner, it would be wise to borrow, rent or steal one. Improvement would be evident if some of the carpets were swept with a broom.
Depersonalizing the home is as integral to cleanliness. Walls of family photos are important to the owners but not to potential buyers. I am haunted by a professional photograph of an older woman with a crown, like Queen Elizabeth’s, on her head. She may be some type of royalty but the home was no castle. I would rather see the hideous red velvet wallpaper than a wall full of hundreds of family photos. Yes, the dog is cute and the babies are adorable but I want to see what type of dynamite it is going to take to remodel the room.
Knickknacks, tchotchkes, trinkets, miniatures, collections and doodads all need to be put in a box and removed from the home. Statues, glass collections, paper weights, CD/DVDs, magazines, newspapers minimize the size of a room. I was afraid to turn around, with my handbag on my shoulder, for fear of knocking something off of a side table. By the way, there were multitudes of small tables in a few homes. There were enough ducks, geese, eagles and cardinals displayed to represent the Audubon Society. Dead wildlife suspended above every doorway, fireplace and portal are, especially in the wild west, trophies of achievement to a specific fan club. Your prospective buyer may be a member of PETA. A neutral environment will enable a buyer to picture themselves living in your house. A Disney theme with Mickey, Goofy and “It’s a small world” piped in throughout the casa will not cut it.
As a home buyer, when I exit your home, I should have zero knowledge of your:
- College affiliation
- Pet preference – unless you have a built in wall aquarium or a farm/ranch property
- Political views
- Collection passion – e.g.: antique dolls, weapons, porn anything, dead plants, etc.
“Know your selling audience” is an understatement. Your private abode will become a public forum when your home is listed. Remember, photos tell all. Understand your communities tolerance for stripper poles, trophies from the Swingers Club, bondage equipment, etc. If applicable, it would be best to put all of your toys away!
Less really is best. Fewer pieces of furniture and a minimum number of items displayed allow the seller/home owner to maintain a super clean environment with ease. It is an arduous task to ready a home, you and your family are currently living in, for a real estate viewing.
You probably don’t live in a model home. Model homes are staged environments. There isn’t anyone dropping butter bread on the carpet or leaving wet towels on the floors. Trash is virtually non-existent. Mold will not grow on a shower curtain or glass door if the home is uninhabited. Real folks live in resale homes. Develop a routine when the house is posted to the MLS.
Instead of frying fish and cabbage, keep the food smells to an infinitesimal amount. Cereal and salad usually have no smell. If you need more than two hours notice to take Barkinowski and Miss Kitty Lion for an outing and remove all pet hair in the process, pet accommodation can be included with Agent Remarks for the listing. My dog was sent on sabbatical to a relative’s home to sell our residence. Our home had multiple contracts within seven days. Alleviate any circumstance for a potential buyer to say, “no”.
Bribe the kids. Cajole your spouse/partner/roommate/other half/better half/significant other/soul mate/lover into being on your team. Be detail oriented. Mow and edge the lawn.
Pick up tripping hazards. Dust the ceiling fans and chandeliers – including the light bulbs. Keep laundry to an extreme minimum. There is no joy in dirty sock smells. If you can pluck your eyebrows while peering intently into the kitchen sink faucet – you are on the right track.
(Please don’t steal a vacuum. This article was written with a hint of humor by an active Realtor®. Examples and experiences are real.)