Cleaning your house to sell in a seller’s market
Even though we’re currently in a seller’s market, cleanliness and upkeep are still important selling points. To find the right buyer at the right price, you must keep your house clean while it’s on the market. But what are the most important things to focus on? Let’s look at some ways to clean your house to sell in a seller’s market.
First, focus on the ‘Big 3’ parts of your home
Think about the last time you went somewhere new. You likely noticed new sights, sounds, and smells. When they were good, you felt good—when they were bad, you may not have gone back.
Every single potential buyer will have that experience when they view your home.
When you put your house on the market, there are generally three parts of the home you should focus on cleaning deeply.
- Living room
Here’s what to focus on specifically.
Kitchen cleaning: Fridge, oven, countertops
The first step to take is cleaning out your fridge. Here’s what we recommend.
- Take everything out of the fridge first and throw away anything spoiled or expired.
- Wipe down all surfaces with soap and water. Use a non-scratch scouring pad or sponge to clean caked-on residues.
- Use a disinfecting cleaner after washing with soap and water.
- Put a new, opened box of baking soda in your newly cleaned interior.
- Wipe down the outside of the fridge and vacuum the condenser coils.
For your oven, be sure you clean it inside and out, not just the stovetop. Check out our detailed guide to cleaning your oven.
Finally, for countertops, you’ll want to do two specific things.
- Declutter them of any utensils, mail, or small appliances. Maximize counter space.
- Wipe them down with soap and warm water. Removed caked-on food with a non-scratch scouring pad.
Bathroom cleaning: Toilets, tubs, showers, sinks, and mirrors
Few things are a bigger turn off to buyers than a bathroom that’s anything but pristine. Of the Big 3 rooms to clean the deepest, your bathrooms may be the most important.
For toilets, take four steps.
- Use a toilet bowl cleaner, and let it sit while you complete Steps 2 and 3.
- Scrub every outer surface of the toilet, from the lid to the base.
- Scrub every outer surface again. You don’t want to miss anything here.
- Use a toilet brush to clean the bowl and flush any remaining cleaner.
For tubs and showers, take five steps.
- Start with the tub or shower. Use a heavy-duty scrub brush, along with antibacterial disinfectant or bleach, to clean the interior, including fixtures.
- Remove all caked-on grime, mold, or mildew.
- Rinse the shower/tub, and check for anything you missed.
- Do the same for the exterior.
- Replace or wash your shower curtain, if applicable.
For sinks and mirrors, take three steps.
- Use an antibacterial surface cleaner to clean out the interior bowl of the sink, along with knobs and faucets.
- Use glass cleaner on your knobs and faucets for extra sleekness after disinfecting.
- Clean your mirrors with glass cleaner and either paper towels or a squeegee. For fewer streaks, finish by wiping mirrors down with a microfiber cloth.
Living room: Floors, walls, and windows
The living room may be the first room potential buyers see in your home. To make a great first impression, focus on cleaning floors, walls, and windows.
For your floors, take one of two steps.
- If you have carpet, vacuum daily. Use a deep cleaner to remove spill stains. Be sure to remove dust and grime from baseboards, too.
- If you have hard-surface floors, sweep them up first. Then, use a mop and proper cleaning solution to finish cleaning.
- Important note: Try to avoid using soap and water to mop hardwood or laminate floors, as too much water can cause damage. Either use a lightly damp mop or a specialty cleaner. It may cost a little more in the short term, but it will prevent major damage in the longer term.
For your walls, take four steps.
- Use soapy water and a rag to remove dirt and grime on the walls, baseboards, and around door frames.
- Remove heavy, stubborn grime with a magic eraser.
- Repeat as necessary.
- If it’s in your budget, consider a fresh coat of paint.
For your windows, take three steps.
- Use soap and water to clean the nooks and crannies of your windowsills. Don’t forget to do this, as many buyers will actively search the windowsill for dirt.
- Use glass cleaner, and a squeegee or paper towel to clean the inside of your windows.
- Weather permitting, do the same for the outside windows as you did for the inside.
For more details, read our guide on cleaning your windows properly.
Declutter closets and your yard
After you take care of the Big 3 parts of your house, there are two other things you can do to attract the younger generation of buyers: declutter your closets and your yard.
Why declutter closets: The more space, the better
One of the biggest things buyers are looking for is more space. Between growing families (including pets), working from home, and other factors, the more space buyers can find, the happier they’ll be.
Decluttering your closet space is one of the most effective ways to create the space potential buyers need without adding an addition to the house.
To declutter your closet, consider creating three piles.
- Things you wear/use often
- Things you don’t wear/use often
- Sentimental items that you may not use or wear but still have meaning
Save everything from Pile 1 and pack it up. Donate or throw out everything in Pile 2. For Pile 3, ask yourself why it’s sentimental and whether it’s worth keeping in your new home. If it is, pack it up. If not, donate or throw it out.
Why declutter your yard: Yard space can be a deal maker
In general, you want to depersonalize your house as much as possible while it’s on the market. But when it comes to the yard, it may be more effective to take a different tack.
Curb appeal is always important. But younger buyers—specifically, millennials—constantly rank yard space highly on their list of wants in a home. That means that dedicating effort to keeping a tidy lawn (or xeriscape) could be a deal maker or breaker.
So, if you have a green thumb and keep up on maintenance, keep doing that as much as possible. If you struggle with lawn and garden care, you may want to hire a professional to take care of it.
Buyers nowadays put more emphasis on yard space (for kids and pets in particular) than ever before. Show your potential buyers what it would be like for them to live in a home with the kind of yard space they dream of.
One last thing to do
One last thing to do as you prepare your house for sale is consider a home warranty from 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty (2-10 HBW). When you work with an agent who partners with 2-10 HBW, you can get complimentary Seller coverage (where allowed by law) that protects you against major home system and home appliance breakdowns while your home is on the market.
Additionally, you can provide a home warranty for buyers as an incentive to sell your home. Home sellers use a home warranty as an incentive more than even cash. So, if you have trouble selling, a home warranty from 2-10 HBW can help put you over the top.
2-10 HBW offers the most comprehensive home warranty coverage for homeowners. Let us help you protect your home.
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