The most important part of listing your home for sale is making it available to show. If you have tenants in it, chances are they’re not motivated to move and won’t straighten it up the way you would if you were living there. Also, it intimidates buyers if the tenants stay for the showing because then the prospective buyers feel like they’re effectively going to make that tenant homeless if they buy the home. If you’re living in your home, then you need to keep it ready to show on a moment’s notice. There are so many times that buyers tell an agent that they’re not going a penny over $250,000; yet when they’re looking at your neighbor’s house, they often decide that your house listed at $275,000 really is within their budget, too. I know that it’s tough to keep your home show ready as I was married to a custom homebuilder for 19 years and we changed houses like some folks do hairstyles.
When I would get ready in the morning, I would lay a towel across the bathroom counter & sink to catch stray hair & makeup. Then I could toss it in the wash. I kept my makeup and toilets in containers that I could easily stow away. All medicines were locked up in the kitchen with a magnetically triggered lock – mainly because I had little kids – but it also deterred snoopers. I fed my kids breakfast & lunch on cheap paper plates that I could toss in the garbage. I kept their toys to a minimum that could be tossed in a large toy box. We made beds every morning. I had a small triangular head broom vacuum that made cleanup in the breakfast nook easier . I wish I could find another one of those Dirt Devil triangular rotating head vacuums! I emptied out the dishwasher every night so that dishes could be added throughout the day instead of being tossed in the sink. I kept the front porch swept and decorated with flower pots and friendly welcome mats. We had a yard guy that came once a week to mow, edge, blow & weedeat. I kept Glade Plug-ins going throughout the house. I minimized the number of pillows on the sofa & beds so as to speed up the 10-second tidy (Big Comfy Couch fans will appreciate that :).
Window treatments were at a minimum – only enough to insure privacy. I didn’t have an abundance of pictures on the walls for two reasons. I wanted to minimize the holes to be filled & touched up with paint. I also wanted to keep the house as neutral as feasible because buyers find it harder to imagine themselves living in your home when you have too many pictures of your family staring at them in every room. Most of my family pictures were 5″x7″ or smaller so they could be quickly tucked in a drawer.
When you have little kids, laundry is life so I kept a sorter with hanging in the utility room so that every night while I was cooking supper I could start a load. After cleaning up the kitchen, I would hang up out of the dryer. I hung up everything – even pajamas. The only thing I folded was socks & underwear. Well, I really didn’t fold underwear much either. That kept my kids from rummaging through the whole drawer to find their favorite Thomas the Tank Engine or Beauty & the Beast jammies. Plus, I found that it was faster. Have you ever put one too many items on a stack and had them fall over?
One day my Mimi remarked to me that one of my friends was so smart because she only bought white towels & washcloths. That made so much sense to me and I soon incorporated it into our home. I didn’t have to sort them by bathroom color scheme and I could add some bleach whenever they smelled kind of yucky.
I need to start this next paragraph by saying that I love animals. My doggie is going on 13 and I can’t imagine life without her. But if at all possible, when your home is shown, remove your pets and other evidence of their existence (leashes, food bowls, raincoats, etc.) Even if a buyer has 3 dogs, 2 cats and a goldfish, for some strange reason, some buyers don’t want to buy a house that has pets — especially if there are pet odors. I’ve had so many sellers deny that their house smells, yet every buyer and their agent mention it when I ask for feedback from the showing. There are so many cleaning products available that minimize the smells, but you should seriously consider a carpet cleaning and even AC duct system cleaning if you have 3 human size dogs 🙂 All the candles in the world won’t hide that.
There are also other smells that can turn off potential buyers. Non-smokers or people with allergies rarely want to buy a smoker’s house. There are special paints that block some smells and carpets, draperies, furniture can be cleaned, but an expert told me he wasn’t sure the smoke smell could be removed from the HVAC duct system. You shouldn’t fry fish in your house the night before a showing. If you stir fry alot, then please open the windows & doors and let the house “air out” or buy an air filter machine. I’ve read that you can put an apple pie in your oven on low to make a nice fragance, but that’s just too much temptation for me to eat it every time :).
Lastly, please don’t get mad if a buyer makes a low offer or saying something negative about your house. After all, you asked your agent to solicit feeback and you need to accept what they say and make some changes. Also, buyers who insist on making low offers are often like little kids trying to steal a cookie from the cookie jar. They know in their hearts that it’s “forbidden”, but they just can’t help themselves. They feel they havae to try or else they might leave money on the table. To many buyers, it’s almost a game to see what they can get away. So please don’t take it personally – although I always try to caution my buyers that it can set the stage for negotiations off wrong. Just laugh, shrug it off, and make a counter-offer close to your asking price. Most of the time, they will get the message.