Selling a home can be stressful. It is emotional, financially draining, and physically straining. Your home staying on the market for ages without any interest will most certainly add to all the stress. The best market-ready home will draw people in and make them imagine what life is like in that space. People can usually imagine beyond your taste, but people have a hard time imagining beyond mess and dirt, particularly when it is someone else's mess and dirt. Here are 10 tips for getting the place you have called home and loved, "Market-Ready."
- Windows Have Seen It All. Nothing makes an appetite go away sooner than filthy windows covered in fingerprints, paw marks, and bird mess. Wash your windows, inside and out, on a cool, cloudy day. As you know from the car wash, sun makes windows dry too fast and then they get streaky. There are 20 different cleaning methods, but water and vinegar work best. Mix equal parts water and vinegar, and use a thick, window cleaning cloth, like the ones they use at the car wash. They are ultra-absorbent and can be used over and over, and are streak-free. PS-Clean the sills while you are admiring the view!
- Windows, Part Deux. Dirty window coverings will dial down the shine of clean windows. Wash washable curtains. If you have dry clean* only, take them outside and beat them gently on a clothes line, and spray them with vinegar to knock out the smell. Vertical blinds can be wiped down with a soft cloth and warm water or baby wipes. Horizontal blinds can be put in the bathtub with water and a drop of dish soap. Do not let them soak as the dirt will seep into the strings. Dry them outside, on a towel, flat. (*DO NOT use this method if they are silk, always dry clean silk.)
- Ovens & Stoves, Oh My! Even if the potential owners are not cooks, everyone dreams about being Martha Stewart, so make her proud, and get your oven and stove top to sparkle. There are non-toxic cleaners that will not ruin your lungs. You spray them on, leave, and then wipe away. New stove top burners are mere dollars at the hardware store, so just put some new ones in place. It really does make huge impact.
- Dusting 101. Dust can get into the oddest places. And trust us; potential owners will notice every speck. Dust all the spots left unseen in everyday life. Ceiling fans, floor trim, wall trim, tops of ranges, rails on chairs and stairs, and vents.
- Pet-Free Zones. Home shoppers may in fact have pets, but they do not want to imagine yours all over everything in their future home. Clean up dog bowl rings using baking soda and warm water, and in the times in between showings, put down a place mat from the dollar store. Put away pet bowls, dog treat jars and bags, as well as dog food cans and bags. Remove potty pad and litter boxes during showings. For the days in between, clean pads and litter boxes every day and immediately if possible, so the smell does not permeate.
- Carpets & Rugs, the Kings & Queens of Dirt. When a potential owner walks into a home, they look around then down. If they see a dirty carpet and filthy rugs, you can count on the mood changing. Nothing scares away potential owners like a gross carpet. First, toss any rug that has pet stains or obvious spots that cannot be cleaned. Next, get your carpet steam cleaned by professionals. No home carpet cleaning system will clean the way a professional system will clean, (no matter what the box reads.) Follow up by vacuuming each day.
- Bathrooms 101. A clean bathroom is truly a thing of beauty. Scrub every tub, shower, and sink until they shine. Basic and inexpensive cleanser will do the trick. Use watered-down bleach or whitening toothpaste to clean grout and the areas around faucet fixtures. Wash all rugs and toss the ones beyond help. Make sure you get the areas around the toilet bolts and the spot under a pedestal sink as they go forgotten, but can get quite yucky and keep odors.
- Light It Up! If your bulbs have those black spots that appear burned, replace them with energy efficient bulbs, (ones that fit.) Dust bulbs that can be dusted, and replace all burned-out bulbs. Keep the wattage legal, always; 40 in 40, 60 in 60, etc....
- Treasure vs. Trash. Your treasure is, as they say, someone else's trash. Box your beloved items and reduce the level of ocular distractions. People will absolutely notice an over-kill on the knick-knacks and a theme of disorganization. If you must keep it nearby, like children's toys, then buy an attractive closed basket or box and store it away. Within reach, but attractive and organized.
- "You Have the Right to Remain Shiny" If it is shiny, it takes prints that would make the FBI jealous. Use a bit of window cleaner and buff all mirrored, chrome, metal, and porcelain surfaces.
Potential owners can love a home, but have, can, and will get distracted by dirt, disorganization, and what they deem to be a lack of passion for the home in which you live. Buying a home is the biggest, most expensive, life-long purchase any person or family will make. It is emotionally, financially, and physically charged. Psychologists and psychiatrists alike rate it as one of the most stressful events in one person's life or one family’s lives. A few of the things that are known to reduce stress: Cleanliness, organization, and little clutter. These are simple, expensive, and certain ways to get a Market-Ready Home that will sell.