Clean your home

clean your home
Top renovations when selling your home (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

“Clean your home” is one of the most underrated activities when preparing to sell your home.  Although it’s seemingly the easiest thing to do to get a higher price and faster sale, it’s often misunderstood or shrugged off. because there’s so much going on when selling a home.  Besides getting the home ready to list, you’re likely planning a move.  With so much on your mind, it’s easy to put it off. 

A New York Times piece by Tim McKeough (Market Ready; nytimes.com; July 25, 2012) gave advice from a real estate broker and a cleaning professional on properly cleaning before listing a home.  The real estate broker commented on cleaning windows and floors; as well as polishing furniture.  Paramount is the condition of home entry, kitchen and bathrooms.  The entryway is important because it’s the area where the home buyer gets their first impression of the home.  The kitchen and bathrooms get much of the home buyers’ attention, and should also be a focus of a deep cleaning.  It’s advised that the entryway be decluttered, and the kitchen and bathrooms should be “spotless.” 

Attention to detail is important, such as cleaning the oven/range, clean tile grout and a new shower curtain.  Because dirty grout can leave a bad impression with home buyers, consider regrouting.  “Horizontal surfaces” (such as windowsills, picture frames, baseboards, and shelves) should also be a focus of cleaning.  Also, a deep cleaning should focus on areas where cleaning finger prints are found, such as light switches and door knobs.  When showing the home, the sink should be clean and dishes put away, as well as putting away toiletries and making the beds.

When your agent recommends to clean your home, they mean to get a deep cleaning. However, home sellers often misconstrue “deep cleaning” as a routine cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong, cleaning your home anytime is positive.  However, a deep cleaning goes after dirt and grime that has accumulated while you lived in the home.  A deep cleaning includes and goes beyond the basic cleaning.  A deep cleaning typically includes (but isn’t limited to) shampooing rugs and carpets, cleaning grime from oven and range burners, cleaning bathroom grout, cleaning windows, cleaning baseboards and corners, and ceiling fans.  If you have a pet, your deep cleaning should also focus on removing pet hair, dander and lingering odors. 

Most home sellers hire a cleaning service for the “deep clean.”  The Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) offers these tips when hiring a cleaning service: 1) Research the company. Ask friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations.  Interview at least three companies.  Check if the company has complaints.  2) When interviewing the service, ask to also meet with someone who will be doing the cleaning to understand their process.  Also ask what cleaning products are used, especially if anyone in the home has sensitivities and allergies.  3) Most important – check credentials. Check if their operating license is in good standing.  Ask for proof of their bond and insurance.  Request or conduct your own background check.  4) Ask for and contact past client references.  5) When talking about the cost, consider the time that will needed for the cleaning.  Make sure that the service includes everything that you need to be cleaned.  A home walkthrough is recommended to provide a service estimate.  Although it’s typical to be attracted to the least expensive service, it may not be the best value.  6) When you decide on the service, get it in writing and make sure it’s specific as to what the service will do and the time they will be in your home. 

By Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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