Clutter-Free and Clean Is Key to a Quick Home Sale

The “For Sale” sign in your yard is imminent, but you kick shoes out of the way every time you walk through the back door, the edge of your bathtub is a melee of shampoo bottles and tub toys, and the last time you looked, your son’s closet door wouldn’t shut for all the stuff spilling out of it.

In today’s challenging economy you want to be the person who gets a contract on your house the first week it’s on the market. A positive first impression is crucial, and that happens when a potential buyer walks into a non-cluttered, clean home that smells good. Notice the word “clean” comes after “non-cluttered.”

As a seller of four homes and buyer of five, I’ve learned elbow grease and garbage bags go a long way. Work room-by-room, focusing primarily on the kitchen, bathrooms, closets, and the main living area of your home. Your primary goals are to stash or trash most small personal items – shoes, jackets, pictures, mail, papers, magazines, calendars – and to only have a few decorative touches on every surface.

Closets, however, require extra scrutiny. Buyers always want lots of storage, and a partially empty closet says that you have plenty. Take time to clean your closets because a serious potential buyer will look in every single one.

Businesses like U-Haul and Ryder sell moving supplies, and it’s worth the cost to buy sturdy, uniform boxes to pack as you clean. Be selective – toss worn, broken or soiled items. Box up usable items for donation or for a garage sale. If you have a large number of boxes, ask a friend with extra room to store them temporarily or rent a storage facility for a short term.

A few specific tips:

In the kitchen, clear and clean your counters. Only put necessities back: a toaster, a coffeepot, perhaps your knife block. Clean off the front and top of your refrigerator. Completely. No magnets, calendars, or pictures. Clean your stovetop. Clean your pantry. This is just like a closet.

In the bathroom you should put hygiene items out of sight, buy a new shower curtain and bath rugs, keep a set of new towels to display for showings. When you get the call, put towels you’re using in the washer or dryer. No one looks there.

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