A few months ago I was out with a buyer looking at homes, when we stumbled across what can only be described as a “perfectly staged” home. This home stood out so incredibly well, I was almost embarrassed for all of the other homes we saw that day. And you know what? The buyer took notice!
The days of throwing a sign up and having competing offers come flying in on the first day a home is listed are gone. It’s competitive out there, and to win, you HAVE to stand out amongst all the other homes that buyers are visiting. It’s kind of like a first date, you wouldn’t throw on some sweats and run out the door… would you?
- The kitchen is the most important room in the house. Make it bright and attractive.
- Remove all appliances and containers kept on your counters. Clear counters make the kitchen appear cleaner and larger.
- Clean the burners and oven. Clean the ventilating hood and replace the filter.
- Put up bright, new window treatments. Repair or replace worn flooring and loose tiles.
- To rid yellowing, mix together 1/2 cup bleach, 1/2 cup baking soda and 4 cups warm water. Apply with a sponge and let set 10 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Instead of commercial waxes, shine with rubbing alcohol.
- Use club soda for quick cleanups. It cleans and polishes at the same time.
- An inexpensive overnight oven cleaner: Set oven on “warm” for 20 minutes; then turn off. Put a small dish of ammonia on the top shelf, a large pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf, and close the oven. Next morning, air out the oven and wash off even hard, baked-on grease with ease.
- Pour in a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda, followed by a kettle of boiling water.
- Coffee grounds are a no-no! Put them in the trash.
- A box of baking soda absorbs odors.
- A little vanilla on a paper towel or cotton ball to import a clean, sweet smell.
- To really whiten a porcelain sink, spread paper towels in the bottom and saturate with bleach for an hour or so.
- Remove water spots from stainless steel with rubbing alcohol or with vinegar on a sponge.
- Club soda will shine up stainless steel in a jiffy (bartenders trick).
- Bathrooms help sell homes. Make sure this room looks and smells sanitized. The sink, handles, and toilet bowl should sparkle. Remove all stains using commercial cleaners. If you cannot get rid of the stains buy a new toilet or sink.
- Repair dripping faucets and running toilets. If the sink or tub drains slowly, unclog it.
- Hang clean and matching towels. Inexpensive bath room sets, which include rugs and a tank set, add charm and appeal.
- Scrub the shower curtain. Replace it if torn or stained.
- Put shower curtain in the washing machine in warm water with 1/2 cup each of detergent and baking soda, and toss in two large bath towels. Add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle only, and hang the shower curtain immediately without spinning dry or washing out the vinegar.
- Open the shower curtain to enlarge the room.
- Replace a worn or broken toilet seat.
- Remove wet towels and washcloths.
- Check and repair caulking in the bathtubs and shower.
- Glass shower doors shine up in a hurry with white vinegar on a sponge.
- Polish metal fixtures with plain kerosene on a rag. Smell disappears quickly; shine stays on.
- Clogged metal shower head? Try boiling it in 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 quart water for 15 minutes. For plastic shower heads, soak in equal parts hot vinegar and hot water.
Closets and Garage
- Straighten up the closets. Get rid of or store excess items. A nearly empty closet will appear much larger.
- Box and store seasonal clothing.
- Adjust and lubricate doors and hinges with paraffin or candle wax.
- Use air freshener to eliminate musty odors.
- Clean out the garage and dispose of everything you are not going to take with you. Package everything you won’t need until you move. Buyers often visualize the garage as the only storage area and want to see lots of room.
Lights and Windows
- Turn on all the lamps and light fixtures, even the ones in the closets and basement.
- Pull open all curtains and raise all blinds. This makes the home appear larger and more inviting.
- At night, turn on the porch light and any other exterior lighting that’s available.
- Illumination is like a welcome sign. Keep high-watt bulbs in all fixtures.
- Keep windows sparkling. Clean windows make a house feel light and airy.
- Replace broken or cracked glass and thermoseals. Mend torn screens.
- Clean all light fixtures and light bulbs. Replace any burned-out bulbs.
- Brighten any dark rooms with white or off-white paint.
- Drapes and curtains should be clean. Pull up shades and open all curtains to allow in more light.
Easy Cleanup for Furniture and Upholstery
- Shaving cream is a good upholstery cleaner for fresh stains and “ordinary dirt.”
- Don’t use oil on vinyls to make them shine; it can make the vinyl permanently hard. (Body oil, by the way, has the same effect.) Use a commercial vinyl cleaner or vinegar on a coarse, damp cloth.
- Sagging cane seats tighten up when given a hot water bath and placed in the sun to shrink-dry.
- Vaseline will remove many minor scratches from wood. Apply a generous amount and let it set awhile.
- Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt. Spray on discolored copper, let stand, rinse off.
Slick Trickery for Floors and Carpets
- Heel marks surrender quickly to kerosene or turpentine on a rag. Or try an ordinary pencil eraser.
- For carpet stains, blot up as much as you can FAST. (Don’t rub; this will spread the stain.)
- For fresh stains, plain club soda is amazing. Shaving cream is also good; rinse it with club soda.
The Quick Pick-Up
- Have an empty laundry basket available that you can use to quickly gather up any clutter before a showing.
- If you don’t have time to wash all the dirty dishes, put them in the dishwasher or even under the kitchen sink.
- Empty all trash cans, especially the one in the kitchen.
Pets and People
- Buyers can feel like an intruder when the owners are present during a showing. If at all possible, run an errand or go for a walk.
- Put all pets outside. Better yet, take them with you on your walk or drive.
- Leave the showing to the professional agent and don’t tag along. Answer questions candidly and truthfully, but don’t offer answers to unasked questions.
- Never try to sell furniture or other personal property to a prospect before a sale is complete. It can kill the sale.
Make Showing Easy
- Please cooperate with agents when they call for an appointment. Sometimes it may be inconvenient for you to have the house shown, but you may never get a showing opportunity with that buyer again.
- Many times buyers are on tight schedules and can only view properties during set times. Allow your agent to place a Key box on your property to make sure your home gets shown to every available buyer.
- We apologize in advance, but occasionally an agent will stop by unannounced and ask to show the property. This often is your only chance with these buyers. If possible, you should accommodate them. Ask for a few minutes to straighten up and let them in.
The Little Details All Around the House
- If at all possible, send cats, dogs, and other pets to a friend or relative from the day the house goes on the market until the day it’s sold. Remove all odors. Many buyers are either allergic to, afraid of, or simply dislike animals.
- Remove all ashes from the fireplace. Lay some logs to make it look inviting.
- Water all plants and dust the leaves. Get rid of any dying plants.
- Shampoo the carpets. If carpets are worn or torn, spend whatever you can on soft, neutral replacement carpeting. Many buyers do not have the funds to update after closing.
- Put a fresh coat of paint in living areas. Stick to white or off-white. Change the furnace filter and clean vents.
- Remove excess furniture, personal knickknacks, posters and any item attached to the ceiling or walls you plan on taking with you. Buyers will not purchase a home unless they can visualize their possessions in the house.
- Never apologize for appearance. It only accents or distracts.
- Throw a loaf of frozen bread dough in the oven (on low heat) a few minutes before a showing.
- Grind a lemon in the garbage disposal.
- Turn off the TV.
- Tune the radio to a light jazz or classical station and leave on low volume.
- Remove any excess furniture to make the rooms appear larger. Clear refrigerator magnets, fronts of messages, pictures, etc.
- Make the beds, straighten the towels, and do the dishes.
- Check the front yard and remove all bikes, wagons, or other toys. Coil any hoses.
- Remove musty odors from a trunk or from drawers by placing an open coffee can filled with kitty litter inside overnight.
- Try “dry cleaning” your dog with baking soda. Rub well into the coat; then brush out. Goodbye, doggy odor.
- Landscape to enhance the features of your home, not hide them. Cut back shrubs and bushes to the height of the bottom of the windows. Trim any that look scraggly.
- Prune low hanging tree branches high enough to walk under.
- Rake and bag leaves as frequently as needed.
- Water and fertilize the lawn. Repair broken sprinkler heads. Hand water dry spots.
- Mow the lawn twice per week during the summer months. Edge the walks and trim the hedges at least once per month. If you do not have the proper equipment, rent it or pay to have it done.
- Remove disabled autos, lawn furniture in disrepair, toys, bikes, and other items from view. You will be moving soon, so discard or store now, if possible.
- Hoses should be coiled or placed inconspicuously when not being used. Store lawn equipment out of sight.
- Clean and deodorize trash cans. Keep out of sight.
- Repair, paint, or remove any fencing that is in disrepair.
- Paint the trim or even the entire house if needed. This will probably do more for curb appeal than anything else.
- If the roof leaks, fix it. Remove any and all evidence of leakage by whatever means possible. (Be sure to save the receipts.)
The Front Door
- The front door gives a vital impression while the agent and buyer wait for you to answer the bell. Scrub and clean the door or repair it, if necessary.
- Thoroughly clean the door bell. Use a toothpick, if necessary, or even consider replacing the button. Repair the bell if not working.
- Cleanly sweep the front porch and steps and add plants or pots of seasonal flowers.
- Remove any decorative items that you plan to take with you.
- Keep cars in the garage.
- Remove grease spots from the garage floor and driveway with a commercial cleaner.