It’s all about first impressions. The best approach is to recognize and accept that “less is more” and the house should be “white-glove test” clean.
Ample storage space is a draw for most home buyers. If they see too-full cabinets or stuffed closets it gives the impression that the house doesn’t offer enough storage space. Closets and cabinets should be no more than half full. Nothing should be on the floor that isn’t essential (remove stacks and piles). Bookshelves should be sparse and decorative items should be minimal. Basements and attics should be empty, but in my opinion garages can become your storage unit-as long as there is a path to move through. Basically, your home should look like a hotel suite.
Try shifting your perspective from “what should I get rid of” to “what should I keep?” Arm yourself with a list. Go room to room and write down items that really matter, those you’re not willing to eliminate. Collect those “essential” items in boxes and move to your new home or temporary storage location.
The rest of the items can be placed into three piles: throw Away, donate and sell. If this task is too overwhelming, hire someone who specializes in organizing or handling estates.
If you plan to stay in your home while it’s on the market to sell, purchase a few baskets to put in kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and place your “essential” items in those. This makes straightening up easy when you get that call to show your house.
Once you’ve trimmed down to the “hotel suite” theme, consider paying for a Seller’s Home Inspection. Buyers love information and this report will give them that. Consider repairing anything major or unsafe that is called out in the home inspection report.
Now it’s time to clean. Think spring cleaning on steroids! You may do deep cleaning once or twice a year, but few people ever clean their home to the extent required to properly prepare it for sale. I suggest you hire professional cleaners to do a top-to-bottom cleaning (this includes ceiling fans, floorboards, windows, etc.) While you’re at it, hire a lawn company to spiff up your lawn. Set some silk flowers in a pot next to your front door and you are ready to sell.
I realize that preparing your home to sell is an emotional and tiring experience potentially involving other life decisions. For the least stress and best success, ask for assistance, and give yourself plenty of time to complete the task.
Editor’s note: Kelly Myers is a licensed real estate broker with RE/MAX of Los Alamos and can be reached at 505.662.6789 x33 and firstname.lastname@example.org