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A Tidy House Sells

First impressions are everything. Is keeping a house clean an unreasonable expectation for homeowners who are hoping to sell?

Being a part of the second largest relocation company in the world means we often cater to clients who are relocating to our area from all around the world. Working with a relocation client is different than working with any other client. For instance, sometimes there is only one weekend to find a home that fits the needs of this type of buyer, negotiate an acceptable price, and complete an inspection. Coffee houses truly become a friend on these types of weekends.

Since relocation clients are not from the area, the first outing usually consists of an introduction to several communities. After that, the clients begin home tours.

On a weekend like this, first impressions mean everything. Some relocating clients only have a matter of two or three days to choose their new place to live. One of my agents recently went out with a relocating client on Memorial Day weekend. The appointments were actually quite easy to schedule because many homeowners were away, so with no one to bother, the homes were easy to obtain access to.

The clients were eager to view some potential homes. Their flight was on Monday, and they had to make a decision on which home to purchase by Sunday morning. These clients were certainly no tire kickers.

The first home they saw was a 5-bedroom Colonial-style home which was walking distance to the train station, a definite must on the “want list” for these clients. My agent explained to me that as soon as they entered the house, they were hit with a powerful odor. As they walked further around the home, it looked like a bomb had gone off. There were clothes everywhere- on the couch, the floor, and even in the kitchen.

The client asked, “Is this usually how most homes look when they are on the market?” In short, the answer is, they certainly should not.

While many families may have rushed with the children to their Memorial weekend destination, a home for sale should still try to remain as clutter-free and clean as possible. While this is often difficult, as it can take hours to clean a home and seconds for children to mess it up, for the most part, a home should remain as clean looking as possible.

These clients, who literally had just one viewing on which to base their decision, decided this home was not the one for them. Unfortunately, it was exactly in their price range, close to the train and school, and had the layout they were looking for. However, they became so distracted by the mess and odor, it became impossible for them to imagine themselves living there. In the end, the only thing they could actually remember about the house was the mess- they completely missed all the great features it had to offer.

Life gets in the way sometimes, we all know that. But a serious seller should always have the goal of leaving a home as clean and organized as possible for potential buyers to view. Buyers can be picky, and there are more homes for them to choose from in this market. By leaving a home with clothing on the floor, towels lying in the bathroom and food left out on the counters, sellers are re-focusing a buyer’s attention to all the wrong places.

Since keeping a home tidy can often be difficult for those who have such busy lives, I spoke with Sonia, a home cleaning professional and asked her for some easy tips.

“There are six essential things you can do to tidy up a house in less than 15 minutes,” said Sonia.

First, fly around the house with a trash bin in one hand, throwing away all trash. Start on the top floor and make your way down. Trash makes up about 50% of all household clutter. Empty any small trash cans into the larger one you are carrying.

Secondly, go around the house with the laundry hamper in one hand, throwing all laundry in it. Don't worry about sorting any of it- just get it off the floor and furniture. Put the hamper in a closet or laundry room.

Next, close all drawers, doors, and cabinets in every room. Fluff the sofa pillows and cushions, fold throw blankets, and push chairs into tables. Make sure any dirty dishes, glasses and silverware are in the dishwasher.

Finally, bring the air freshener with you as you go and spray each room. Done!

For the person who cannot fathom doing all of the above, Sonia offered one last tip-the use of storage chests or boxes.

“Somewhere in the rooms where it will fit, place a storage chest. Whatever clutter doesn't belong in that room, put it in the box,” advises Sonia. For those who do not have storage chests to use, or do not wish to buy new ones, children can often have fun decorating large cardboard boxes which can also be used.

“Buyers will peek and look in closets, cabinets and rooms, but they will not open boxes or chests, so these are a good place to hide things,” said Sonia.

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