Keeping your house clean for showings can be stressful, I get it. But if you start with a clean slate and follow these 3 tips every single day I promise your house will always be show ready.
Get in the habit of re-setting every room. If you brought in a cup of water, take it out. If you snuggled in with a blanket, put it away. I could go on, but I think you get the point. If you used it, put it away when you’re done.
At the end of the night take 15 minutes and make sure there are no dishes in the sink, the dishwasher has been started, the floors have been swept and the trash has been taken out.
Before you leave the house make sure the bed has been made, the breakfast dishes have been put away, the window treatments have been opened, the kitchen and bathroom surfaces have been wiped down and you’ve flushed all the toilets.
When you break down the cleaning to manageable chunks it shouldn’t get overwhelming. Last piece of advice, if you live with others, delegate and the process of keeping your house clean for showings gets even easier.
Preparing your home for the world to see is hard work. I wish I could say it’s easy but it’s not. And the one thing I’ve realized after helping so many of our clients through this process is that you you can’t do this work until you disconnect from your home and see it as a buyer would see it.
That means taking off the rose colored glasses, seeing beyond the cute little quirks you’ve grown used to. The door that doesn’t quite close in the bathroom, the broken cabinet in the kitchen and that outdated paint color in the foyer. Making the repairs and sprucing up the home by adding a few extra special touches even if you think they’re silly go along way in creating a memorable experience for the buyer.
Let’s start with the Exterior
But where do you start? Let’s break it down and let’s start at the exterior, after all that’s where a buyer will start too. Take a good hard look at the trim, is it in need of paint? How about that front door? The landscaping? Do you have any dead overgrown bushes? If the house is in good repair buyers will think it’s been well maintained and if they like the way the outside looks they’ll naturally want to go inside.
You’ve heard this advice no doubt 1,000 times. The key to making the interior shine is to clean and declutter. And then clean and declutter again. Space is everything to a new home buyer. If you’re stuff doesn’t fit in this house how will theirs? And if you don’t know what to do with a room, they won’t either. A few things to ask yourself as you move around your house. Is this piece of furniture necessary? Is it blocking the flow of the room, a window? How do the walls look? When is the last time they’ve been painted? Oh and don’t forget the trim, trust me when I tell you that when you paint the walls, the trim that you thought was ok before will no longer be ok. One things leads to another when you rip the band-aid off.
Now let’s set the stage
Now that you’ve identified all the necessary repairs, fix them and let’s move to setting the stage. This is the fun part. Or at least this is the fun part for me. Let’s start again outside by placing a couple pots of flowers or winter greens by the front and back door. If you have a deck be sure to put some flowers on the table. Get a new welcome mat, sweep and lay fresh mulch if necessary.
When you move inside don’t forget to continue with the flowers. A few of my favorite spots; the dining room table, the kitchen island and the bathroom counter. Make sure the kitchen sink is empty, take out the garbage, wipe down the sink and the counters – don’t forget the stainless steel appliances. Fluff the pillows and add a throw to the sofa. Make sure the beds are made. Hang new towels in the bathrooms. Please make sure the toilet seat is down. Sweep or vacuum. Open up all the window treatments and turn on every single light. And finally check the temp of the home. The buyer should be comfortable, never too cold or too hot.
And I know this sounds like a lot but it will make for a successful showing. I promise. Also please never ever ever turn down a showing. Multiple buyers can view your home at the same time, the Realtors will work it out. If you turn them down you most likely will never see that buyer again, they’re quick to move on.
Over 90% of prospective home owners start their home search online. 90%. That’s a lot of people making decisions about your home based on the listing pictures they see online.
You get one chance for your homes listing pictures to make a great first impression. If the buyers like what they see they’ll set up a showing if they don’t they move on to the next one. So how do you make your homes listing pictures shine online? A good photographer is a key element but it’s also important for you to consider how things will look in pictures. What we see in real life can often be distracting in a picture.
Still not sure what to do? Follow these tips below.
Don’t do this on your own. Even if you’re a professional like I am. We all get too attached to our homes and we don’t see them the way others will see them. That bright pink flower in the office, I don’t even see it anymore, except when I got the pictures back, it was all I could see.
Block out a significant amount of time to do this. Because it’s going to take longer than you think. You’re not only removing items, you’re cleaning. Every surface needs to be wiped down and the floors need to be cleaned because you can see dirt in the pictures. Trust me on this one if you can see the dust on the floor and the smears on the window the camera will too.
Remove everything from your kitchen counters and then remove one more thing. Yes that includes the coffee maker. And then add in 1 or 2 pretty things so it’s not completely empty. Do this in the bathroom too.
Make your bed really well, a messy, rumpled bed does not look good. Once the bed is made add a few decorative pillows. Skip the draped throw at the end of the bed, if it’s not done right it looks odd.
Remove all the tchotchkes from the window sills and that pile of books next to the couch. Despite what we’re led to believe on Instagram those things don’t translate well in pictures.
Remove all items hanging from the ceiling.
Make sure all the window treatments are open. Nothing looks worse in a picture than heavy drapes covering a window.
Remove the rugs from your kitchen. Rugs tend to stop the eye and break up the space. Removing them will make the space appear larger.
Make sure the art work is centered and not hung too high.
Paint your rooms a neutral color. Listen I love color, and I’m not afraid to use it. But if I was really going to sell my home I would paint my bright orangey/red family room a neutral color. Because I’m not even sure I like the color when I see it in pics. It was distracting and it doesn’t match the rest of my home.
We stage a lot of homes. And before we get too far please note I am not a professional stager, although I am certified, staging is not our business. We don’t bring in the furniture and the pretty decor to stage your home, we work with people who do that. Instead we work with the home owner and use their belongings to stage the home and get it ready for sale.
Here are my most frequently recommended staging tips.
Remove the rugs in the kitchen and in the bathroom. They distract the eye and they break up the space. This makes the space feel smaller than it is. Removing them makes the space appear larger.
Clear your countertops of everything useful. And yes that includes the coffee pot. I know it’s a pain but we’re selling countertops in the kitchen. A clear countertop will look clean and larger than it is. It says to the buyer there’s plenty of room to make all the cookies and prep for dinner.
Remove all the decor above your cabinets. It takes the eye up exactly where we don’t want it to go.
Buy clean new fluffy towels, a candle and some fresh flowers for the bathroom. They give the bathroom a spa like feeling and they don’t cost a lot.
Put a bouquet of fresh flowers on the dining room table. If you don’t like fresh flowers a houseplant will do. And at the moment they may be a better, trendier option. Just be sure to buy a hardy houseplant if you have a black thumb.
Open all the window treatments and let the light in. And while you’re at it replace all those awful fluorescent lightbulbs. Yes I know they save energy and last longer but they give off a horrible light.
Paint. I recommend Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter or Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige over and over again. Because they’re neutral and paint is one of the easiest things you can do to freshen, update and modernize the look of your home.
Not everyone needs a professional stager but every home needs to be staged. Staging your home for sale is simply highlighting your homes best features by removing all the unnecessary distractions. This helps potential new buyers focus on the features of your home instead of getting distracted by your ‘stuff’ and that to do list they started putting together the minute they walked through the front door. Not sure where to start. It’s easy, just follow these five simple home staging rules in every room of your home.
De-personalize your home. A few personal pictures in your bedroom or your kids bedrooms are fine but a whole gallery wall dedicated to your littles in the living room or your wedding picture hanging over the fireplace are too much for potential buyers. Personal pictures distract the buyers from everything but that picture. Do you really want the buyers to admire and remember your wedding picture or would you prefer that they remember the fireplace?
Declutter your home. Simply put we all have too much stuff. Less is more when it comes to selling. Less stuff makes spaces feel larger and that’s exactly what you want. If the buyer feels like your stuff doesn’t fit how will there stuff ever fit? Pay particular attention to closets and storage spaces when decluttering.
Clean. Now that all that extra stuff is out of the way it’s time to give your home a really deep clean. I mean it, wash down every wall, every cabinet and pay particular attention the kitchen and bathrooms. Dirt, grime and strange smells have turned off plenty of buyers.
Make all the required repairs. Every single one. Now that your house is clean and the clutter is gone the things that need to be done will be noticeable. That piece of missing tile in the entry you covered with a basket. The chipped paint in the living room, the broken window pane in the bathroom. I could go on but I think you get the point. Deferred maintenance says to the buyer that the home was not well taken care of and well that’s just not true, right?
Neutralize and modernize. The days of everyone wanting a fixer upper are gone. The majority of the buyers don’t have the time or the money, they want to move right in. If needed replace the avocado green appliances, paint that red dining room a neutral color and replace that shag carpeting in the basement.
I love design trends and selling houses is what we do. So it’s no surprise I’m a fan of Zillow’s latest research on paint colors and how they impact the sale price of a home. If you’re thinking about selling in the near future you may want to pay attention. Todays buyers want what they are seeing on Pinterest and Instagram and all the features they highlight in their research can definitely be found there.
Here’s a quick recap of my favorites with pictures I found on Pinterest for inspiration.
Homes that feature charcoal gray or black doors typically sell for $6,271 more than expected. And why not, statement doors are beautiful and increase curb appeal. I’m in love with the traditional look of a white house with a black door, it appeals to a wide variety of buyers and if you’re selling you’re home that’s exactly what you want. I found this one on Pinterest.
Houses with kitchens that have a different color for the upper and lower cabinets known as tuxedo cabinets sell at a $1,547 premium. When you consider how much it costs to re-do a kitchen I’m not sure this offers as much bang for your buck as painting the front door but it’s good information to know and an indicator as to what’s coming.
As for bathrooms, light blue or periwinkle blue paint increases the selling price by $2,786 according to the research. Like painting the front door this one’s a no brainer if you ask me. A fresh coat a paint will freshen up the space and make it feel clean. I should note here that cleaning is another huge selling feature that does not go un-noticed, especially when staging the bathroom.
And finally, this last one kind of surprised me, considering all the gray walls we’re seeing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul real estate market. Homes with light taupe living rooms, with tan, peach or pink undertones sold for $2,793 more than expected.
All the images pictured were found on Pinterest and are saved to our Matt Engen Group Pinterest page. If you’re on Pinterest too be sure to follow us there.
Decluttering continues to be the number one thing Stagers and Realtors recommend when you start getting your home ready for sale. If the buyer feels like you don’t have enough room for your stuff they won’t either. So once you rid yourself of all the mis-matched cups and things you don’t need. It’s time to organize what’s left and make it look pretty.
Here are 3 really easy and fairly inexpensive things you can do to beautify your clutter.
Add shelves to your garage or your basement and purchase matching clear bins. Clear bins make it easy to see what’s inside and matching bins are pleasing to the eye. Mis-matched containers look messy.
Purchase pretty baskets to gather all the loose items in your closets like your mittens and hats. Pretty baskets are also great in the bathroom, use one as a catch all under the sink for your cleaning products or hair products/tools.
Matching hangers. I really didn’t think this would have as big of an impact as it did but it works. Matching hangers are kind of like the matching bins, they are easy on the eye they also help you save space by eliminating bulky and inefficient hangers.
The bathroom, it’s usually not the biggest room in the house but it should not be overlooked when staging your home. Because the bathroom is where you start and end your day it’s important to buyers. It should feel fresh and luxurious. Not sure how to accomplish that? Here are five simple things you can do to stage your bathroom.
Clean. And then clean again. And then clean again. There is absolutely nothing worse than a dirty toilet or bathtub. It will immediately turn off buyers.
Remove everything from the counters. Yes I know you use that every day but no one wants to see your toothbrush. Try to think of the prettiest bathroom you’ve ever been in and how it made you feel. Was there a toothbrush on the counter?
Remove your towels and rug. If you have a small bathroom do not put the rug back down. It only clutters the space and makes it feel smaller. Wash and hang fresh towels. If you do not have matching towels head to Target and get some. And while you’re there you may want to pick up a new shower curtain and some fancy soaps.
Remove all your cleaning products, take them to another room or get a pretty basket to store them in and hide the wastepaper basket.
Now it’s time to bring back in a few accessories. Think about creating a spa-like experience with fragrant soaps, bath oils, natural loofahs, candles and fresh flowers or a plant.
This is a very common question. Especially when you’ve just sold your home and you’re moving out because everything must go. Yes, all those old paint cans need to go, even if the previous owner left them for you. The only way they can stay is if you ask your new buyers Realtor if they would like them and they say yes. If they don’t want the old paint cans it is your responsibility to remove them from the home prior to moving out. Do not assume the new buyers will want them. This will almost guarantee a last minute stop to the old house to remove them prior to closing.
So where can you take your old paint cans to dispose of them? If you live in Hennepin, Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties you have two very easy options. All you need is your ID or a utility bill to prove you’re a resident.
Hennepin County Recycling Center and Transfer Station
8100 Jefferson Highway, Brooklyn Park,
(612) 348-6500 or (612) 348-6509
South Hennepin Recycling and Problem Waste Drop-off Center
1400 West 96th Street, Bloomington,
(612) 348-6500 or (612) 348-6509
Both facilities listed above accept household hazardous waste like paint cans, automotive fluids, pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that I’m guessing you don’t want or know what to do with either. For additional information on items accepted, like old TV’s and computers etc., visit Hennepin County’s website.
If you live outside of Hennepin County I just found a great new website that can help you figure out what to do with your leftover pain cans. It’s called Earth 911 https://search.earth911.com/ All you need to do it enter the material you’re trying to recycle, your zip code and click search.