Your agent has told you that you must keep your house as clean and "show ready" as possible. We have also told you to accept showing requests as much as possible with as little advance notice as possible. And of course you want to sell your home quickly, so you have no choice but to keep it clean.
Most sellers find this daunting at best. If you weren't showing your house, you'd probably keep it reasonably clean, wouldn't you? Maybe clean once a week and straighten a bit in the evening? But now, we're asking you to maintain that magazine gloss all the time.
Between preparing three meals, accumulating laundry, and generally living in the house, a house needs constant upkeep to be "show ready." Here are a few things you can do to minimize the stress:
- You've already "de-cluttered" to get the house ready for the photographer. Now keep an eye on those places where clutter accumulates. Don't put anything there. At all. Ever.
- Eat out if you can. Or order in to minimize dish usage. Use a crock pot which has the advantage of giving you time to clean up while the meal is cooking. At the very least, keep the kitchen clean while you're cooking. Wipe up spills immediately, put away ingredients you're not using. If you keep something like a toaster or a vase on the counter, wipe it down every day.
- Don't cook smelly foods. The day you cook with tons of garlic or curry, you're bound to get phone calls!
- Wipe the bathroom after every use. We use Lysol sanitizing wipes - they're easy, inexpensive, disposable, and one wipe cleans the sink, counters, and toilet. Clean the mirror.
- Dirty laundry goes straight into the washing machine and clean laundry goes straight into your dresser or closet. No intermediate steps at all.
- If you can afford professional help, consider a housekeeper for 30-60 minutes every other day. If not, elicit the help of your family. Everyone should be responsible for their own bedrooms - make the bed and put away clothes every day. Divide the rest of the responsibilities among the family. Young children can fluff pillows and take out the garbage. Older children can run vacuums, wash windows, and mow the lawn.
- Do a walk through of your house every morning before you leave. It's not unusual for there to be a few showings during the day, especially if your home was recently listed. Be sure it's in show ready condition every morning. It will be easier to maintain this if you spend 15-30 minutes every evening putting things away and wiping down surfaces.
Last minute fixes - What do you do when an agent is on the way?
- The kitchen is a prime attraction to buyers. It needs to sparkle. The inside of the dishwasher doesn't need to sparkle, however. If you've got dirty dishes around the kitchen, get them into the dishwasher now. Spray and wipe the faucet, the inside of the sink, the stove top, the counters, and any appliances you have visible. Empty the garbage. Put dirty dishtowels in the washing machine.
- Bathrooms are also prime attractions. When you get the phone call that an agent is coming, wipe down the bathroom and change the towels. Close the shower curtain, toilet lid, and medicine cabinet.
- If you have a pet, remove the pet's bowls and toys. We used to hide them in the dishwasher or the oven. We had a client who hid them in the washing machine.
- Make the beds if they weren't made already and pick up any clutter.
- Put away remote controls, mail, cell phone chargers, lunch boxes, whatever items you normally leave out but don't want to distract from the showing.
- Open the windows if weather permits. This allows in fresh air without giving it a chemically perfumed smell from air fresheners.
- Any clutter you simply can't put away neatly in time? Throw it into a laundry basket and take it with you.
Got an extra half hour? If the agent gave you a little more notice and you've got the time to do a better job, here are some bigger items you might want to tackle.
- Sweep, mop, and vacuum floors, especially corners where dust collects.
- Sweep the front porch and walkway.
- Wipe the front door.
- Set the table with pretty placemats and dishes.
- Mow the lawn.
Can you live like this for a few weeks? The good news is that your home will always be clean!