Selling your house, unfortunately, is akin to a typical grocery experience for buyers where they go to the store, pick out what produce they like, inspect it for freshness and quality, and then determine if they’d like to make an offer. Except your house is both the store and the produce, and it means that, at the drop of a dime, you could get a call from your agent asking if now is a good time for some potential buyers to come see your house.
“NOW?! What do you mean now?!” Well, in the next ten minutes, or the next thirty minutes, depending on how far out the buyers are and how long it takes to commute to your home.
It’s okay: you have thirty seconds to panic! Grab a pillow, scream a little, get it all out.
Now that it’s all out, let’s get down to business. Whether you have two hours to tidy up the house, thirty minutes, or ten minutes, these are the essentials that should be tackled in that time frame. (Ideally, you already have a routine set in place for keeping your house clean. This will help make those last ten minutes of tidying up significantly easier.)
Stage Your Home in 10 Minutes:
If you have little helpers at hand, such as children or super intelligent animals, recruit them! The more hands available to stage the house, the quicker the process will go.
1. Put away your personal information! If you do nothing else, this is one of the most important things to do. You have no idea who is going to be walking through your home. Yes, an agent will be accompanying them, but an agent can’t make them un-see the bank records or mortgage statements or social security card you left out on the kitchen table.
2. Grab a laundry basket and toss clutter into it. There’s not time to do a thorough cleaning, so do what you learned to do as a children: toss everything into a bin or laundry basket and take it with you in the car. If you’re staying in the house, then just put the basket in the car anyways.
3. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, put them in the oven. Potential buyers won’t think to open the oven and look in there for dirty dishes during their tour of the house.
4. Flush toilets and close toilet seats.
5. Close all closet doors.
6. Turn on all the lights in the house and open all the curtains. Your home will look its best when it has proper lighting. Also, if you have old CFL lights, they take a while to warm up and provide sufficient lighting, so it’s important to turn them on before buyers arrive.
7. Make the beds, if they’re not already made.
8. Wipe down all countertops and sinks with a damp cloth.
9. Take the pets with you! Or put them away. Maybe your dog is super friendly to strangers, but you have no idea what kind of day your dog is having, much less if the coming buyers are afraid of animals. If you’re not taking your pets with you, then put them in their kennels, in the backyard or the garage, and be sure your agent knows.
10. Get out of Dodge! How many times have you considered buying a house where the sellers stalked you from room to room, preventing you from sharing with your family what your thoughts were on the home? Exactly. Give the buyers the space they need to determine if they want to buy the home or not, and give yourself some peace of mind by taking the opportunity to relax outside of the house.
Stage Your Home in 30 Minutes
Do everything in the above “Stage Your Home in 10 minutes” list plus the following:
1. Clean up the yard. First impressions are lasting: if there are toys in your front yard, dispatch the children to collect them quickly. If you were in the midst of doing yard work, put away the rakes, the lawn mower, the hose, and anything that could be considered a tripping hazard.
2. Empty the garbage cans and take the trash out.
3. If you have cats, clean the cat litter box(es).
4. Toss dirty laundry into the washer. Don’t worry about turning the machine on, you can do that when you get back. Also, the noise of a washing machine might distract buyers from appreciating the remodeled look of the laundry room.
5. Light candles and spray some air freshener in the rooms. People will see the lit candles and assume the scent comes from them, so if they are normally averse to air freshener and prefer candles, they will react to the pleasant scent more positively.
6. Sweep the hardwood or tile floors and spot-clean anything that looks suspiciously sticky or gross.
7. Vacuum the carpets.
8. Put up your “show” accessories, if you have any. For example: a vase of fresh flowers on the kitchen table, the bathroom towels that are meant for when guests are over, etc.
Stage Your Home in 2 Hours
You lucked out! You have two full hours to get the house ready. Be sure to get everything in the above two lists done plus the following:
1. Clean all glass and mirrored surfaces.
2. Put clutter away as much as possible. You don’t want your emergency laundry basket overflowing too much! For example: pet toys should go in their proper place, magazines should be stacked and put away, books back on the bookshelf, the throw blanket should be folded neatly, etc.
3. Scrub toilets and sinks.
4. Wipe down kitchen cupboards.
5. Wash and put away the dishes (or run the dishwasher). Be sure to start the dishwasher first so it has time to run through the noisy cycles before the potential buyers arrive.
6. Fold and put away clean laundry.
7 Dust everything.
8 Sweep the porch and walkways.
Selling your home doesn’t have to be stressful or headache-inducing. At Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, our goal is to simplify the home buying and selling process for you, and help you make Home Happen Here.® With our one-stop shopping, we offer real estate services, mortgage services, title and escrow services, and insurance services, taking the worry out of moving by walking you through your entire home buying or selling experience.
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