The decision to sell a house is a big one. If the home was the one you grew up in or the first house you owned, it's probably an emotional process. Beyond the sentiments tied to selling your home, finding a buyer will bring a new source of stress. The way your home is presented will help this process tremendously.
The best thing sellers can do before they sell their home is thoroughly clean it. A spotless home is attractive to buyers. On the other hand, a dirty home can derail a sale, according to Realtor.com.
"In a rare case I had someone walk away from the sale because of the condition of the home at the final walk-through," Darbi McGlone, a real estate agent in Louisiana, told Realtor.com.
Cleaning and preparing a home to be sold is a much more extensive process than a little vacuuming and putting away the dishes. According to a local NBC affiliate, WPTZ of Plattsburg, New York, one Wisconsin man spent three months cleaning and repairing his home before selling it. This is the mindset most real estate agents will advise sellers to take on.
Clearing out clutter
There are several different aspects of cleaning a home before it's ready to be sold. Getting rid of clutter is extremely important. According to Ginger Brokaw, one of Manhattan-based Town Residential real estate's senior vice presidents, most buyers can't look past clutter.
"If they had [cleaned up], I can guarantee that the price would have been better," Brokaw told the New York Times. "I've had apartments that were incredibly cluttered, and buyers were too distracted."
De-cluttering your home means taking everything you don't need out. Go through your most important rooms - the kitchen, bathroom and entryway - and get rid of anything that should be thrown away or donated. Then move on to closets, bedrooms, the attic and basement.
Once everything you no longer want is gone, it's a good idea to pack up anything you don't need and move it to boxes in the garage. Too much stuff, even if it's in good condition, will take away from potential buyers' impressions of the house. They need to be able to envision how they want it set up. Your things will inhibit this. This includes personal items, like family photos, decorations and even toothbrushes and shower supplies.
Once all the clutter is thrown out, packed up or put away, continue keeping it tidy. The American Cleaning Institute recommends putting everything in its place each night so clutter doesn't build up throughout the selling process. This will help to keep cleaning stress down during this time.
Ceiling to floor cleaning
Taking care of clutter is very important. However, having a clutter-free home isn't enough to entice a potential buyer. A home needs to be free of dirt and mold completely.
Buyers are picky. They look at every surface and their first impression is a big factor in their decision. Dust, dirt and mold will easily turn people away, especially those with allergies. Realtor.com suggests cleaning from the top, down. Dusting ceiling fans, washing windows and lights and making sure the walls are spotless will help.
If there is mold anywhere in the house, calling a professional might be the way to go, according to Realtor.com. Mold can be an issue that goes deeper than it seems. A professional will be able to find the source of the mold and completely rid the area of it with the tools to prevent it from coming back.
A clean kitchen is not to be underestimated during the selling process. Buyers pay special attention to the quality of the kitchen, according to HGTV. The floors, walls and countertops should be spotless. To prevent residue build-up on the floors after cleaning, the American Cleaning Institute suggests using a no-rinse product or thoroughly rinsing the floor after cleaning it. The residue that some cleaning products leave behind makes the floor look dull and dirty.
Any appliances should be scrubbed clean. If the refrigerator is staying behind, the shelves and drawers should be washed and stain-free. The stove should be clear of any grease or spills from cooking. The sink should be wiped down so the faucet and handles are shiny.
The bathroom is another important room. The shower shouldn't have dirt on the floor and the shower head and tub faucet should be streak-free. A new shower curtain will also leave a good impression. The tile grouts should be cleaned thoroughly. Sabrina Fierman, the vice president of New York cleaning company Little Elves, told the New York Times that bleaching the grouts could enhance their appearance. Finally, the toilet should be scrubbed and wiped down. An air freshener in the bathroom is also a good idea.
Once the whole house is clutter-free and completely clean, there are still some things that can be done to appeal to buyers.
Any lingering smells can make potential buyers believe a home is dirty, even if it isn't. Make sure there aren't any lingering pet smells. Cat litter or wet-dog smell will take away from a potential buyer's experience.
Kitchen smells are important to get rid of. Kitchens are one of the most important rooms in the home-selling process. Cooking smells should be taken care of as well. During the selling process, try to avoid cooking foods with a distinct odor, and wash dishes as soon as mealtime is over. Trash should be taken out often.
Realtor.com suggests asking a friend to sniff-test your home. You might be blind to some smells that stick out to guests right away.
Selling a home can be stressful and emotional. But the process can be made easier and go by quicker with some hard work, careful planning and the right cleaning tools.