Want to Clean Up at Closing? Clean Your House NOW!
Updated: Jul 9
The idea of getting a fresh start by selling your home can be exciting (I'm going through it right now, myself), but the process of actually selling your home can be exhausting, from the constant intrusion by strangers into your space, which has been complicated even more by COVID-19 (😒), and if you don't already have one, the anxiety about find a new place in a tight market can be stress-inducing for sure.
But before we even get there, you have to get your house market ready, and that means cleaning like you've never cleaned before, organizing, and finishing the home projects you've ignored up until now. The clutter and half-cocked shutters that have become a part of the mise en scène that is your life in the space will be seen afresh by buyers who are essentially trying find reasons to eliminate your home from their list and narrow their search. First impressions MATTER.
In this article, I'm highlighting three essential things to address before you allow one buyer to view your home.
1. Curb appeal
When most people think of "curb appeal," they think of freshly planted flowers, manicured shrubs, etc. All those are great, but let's back up, though. Things like loose handrails and shutters, fallen mailboxes, rickety, squeaky fences and doors that need painting, are not only distracting and unattractive- they indicate that a home has not been cared for and immediately diminish that home's value in the mind of a buyer, and adds to the list of things they will have to fix once they move in. Do a full walk around your home's perimeter, inside and out and identify any cabinets that don't close properly, loose tiles, blown light bulbs or broken fixtures and triage the work.
It does not have to be fancy, and most of these things can be addressed with minimal cost, but effort. Use your weekends wisely, people.
There's so much that can be said here (whew), but in general, when you're showing your house, you should deep clean it at least once, and all high traffic areas should be cleaned daily, especially bathrooms and kitchens. There should be no evidence of your "activities" in those rooms. Wash your dishes before you leave, and place all non essential appliances under or inside your cabinets. Make up your beds every day and make sure the kids' toys are placed in a toy box or closet as well. You do not want that buyer sitting across from you at closing, judging you for your filth!
Even for people who clean regularly, one often neglected space in the home is the baseboards. They collect all the dust, hair, and general ick that comes from living in a place for a while. As a dog owner, it's a constant struggle for me to keep this space clean. Even if
you don't do a great job normally, now is the time. Also, your baseboards probably not only need cleaning, but touch up paint. This video gives you some great tips on cleaning your baseboards without killing your back.
3. De-clutter and Depersonalize
You never know what may trigger a buyer and excessive family photos, sports paraphernalia, and your "Live Laugh Love" decals can shift a buyer's mood unexpectedly or change their perception of your home. What if they're a recent divorcee and pictures of you and your spouse smooching sets them off? I'd recommend that you take most of them down.
Some family photos are fine, but the idea of a showing is to help the buyer see themselves in the space, and if there is too much "you," then it might just "you" for longer than you'd hoped. Same goes for really taste- specific paint colors and weird, gaudy furniture.
In short, the sale of a home is a purging process by its nature, and has emotional and metaphorical aspects for you as well, and can also be a time for you, as a seller, to take account of what you've accumulated, whether its still meets your needs, and if it needs to come with you to your next home. There are lots of charities, and young people getting their first apartment that might love some of the things you probably need to part with. You've decided that it's time to move on, and the sooner you address these unfinished projects and get your property ready for its next owner, the sooner your new chapter can start. Happy cleaning!