So you’re selling your home, which is great, because that probably means that you’re entering an exciting new phase of life complete with fresh scenery and some new opportunities. The challenge, however, is that your house isn’t just “a house,” it’s your home. Which means life happens there. Which means that it probably looks like it.

Because we have busy lives and busy schedules, the reality is that, on any given day, most of our homes are not going to look like something out of a magazine spread. We eat meals on the go. We have kids, or pets, or both. The bed isn’t always made and yesterday’s socks aren’t always in the hamper. It’s part of being human. And it’s understandable.

Unfortunately, potential home buyers won’t always understand that. The reality is that prospective buyers don’t simply see your house as “a house.” They see whatever they see when they walk through the door, and that could be a major hindrance if your tidiness isn’t up to snuff.

In this article, we want to give you six clean-up tips that you can easily put into practice today to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Step #1:  Eliminate the Clutter

Clutter is a major turn-off for potential home buyers—newspapers, magazines, knick-knacks, overstuffed bookcases, and the like. Going through each room and eliminating all the dust accumulators is your simplest and most powerful weapon for creating a spaces of refuge that give you the freedom to soar.

Take special note of any random heaps or stacks of things piled on top of each other. Do they need to be there? Were they put there “for now” six months ago? Rather than saying “Welina Mai”—which means, “Welcome, come in!”—random piles or pointless items mask the beauty of the room.

Tip: If you find you no longer love the recipes or the articles from a magazine, now is a great time to cancel those subscriptions.

Step #2:  Purge Non-Essential Decoratives & Furniture

It’s easy for rooms to get overcrowded. That’s life. We’ve all been there and done that. But you’re selling your home, and that means it’s the perfect time to scale back.

Go through each room and make a list of any furniture, fixtures, rugs, and any other decorations that are necessary for daily life in that room. Now, go back and add to that any treasures that matter—you know, the things that make us smile. Then take everything else and purge it. Get rid of it—or at least get it out of the room. Box it up for donation to the local second-hand store or just put in storage, but have the courage to purge.

If it isn’t a sentimental prized possession, or if it isn’t part of day-to-day living in that space, it isn’t contributing—either to the room or to your life. More than that, it’s going to be a hindrance for potential home buyers. So give yourself permission to let it go.

You don’t need to worry about cleaning yet. That will come later. But by all means, if the fixtures and treasures you’re keeping have collected dust or cobwebs, clean now and save yourself some time later.

Tip: Excessive furniture—especially multiple large pieces, like dressers, bookshelves, or chests—can make a room look much smaller than it actually is.

If it isn’t a sentimental prized possession or part of day-to-day living in that space, give yourself permission to let it go.

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There is nothing more attractive, satisfying, or welcoming than a clean home

Step #3: Clean, Clean, Clean

There is nothing more attractive, satisfying, or welcoming than a clean home. If you’re too busy to deep clean—which is ok, most of us are—consider hiring someone to help. And yes, we mean deep. Top to bottom, ceiling fan to baseboards, and everything in between.

Nothing tells a buyer to “stay away” like unsightly grime, unpleasant odors, or unkempt bathrooms or kitchens.
Fewer things can have a bigger influence on potential buyers, whether positively or negatively, than a clean home. Think about it: when you were a potential buyer for your home, did the former owners keep it tidy? Did it smell nice, or not? And how did that make you feel? Welcomed and comfortable, or gross and repulsed.

If you’re selling your home, giving it a thorough cleaning—or hiring someone to do so—is going to be one of your easiest wins.

Step #4:  Mind the Fabrics!

Imagine again that you’re walking through a potential new home. If you’re anything like me, tops on the radar is going to be any dirty fabrics: grimy towels and sponges, stained pillows, ratty blankets, old carpets, dingy upholstery. Nothing makes buyers wonder what they don’t see like the dirty fabrics that they do see.

Towels, Sponges & Drapes

When it comes to towels and drapes, and the like, run them through the wash, or swap them out for some clean ones. Sponges are easy. Spend 99¢ on a new one and toss the old one. In the kitchen and bath, consider setting out guest towels and soaps. In all likelihood, a visitor or two will even need to use them.

Rugs, Carpets & Upholstery

For carpets and upholstery, if you can’t borrow a shampooer from a neighbor, you can usually rent one for a good price. It’s also not a bad idea to go ahead and hire a professional carpet cleaner if the DIY route isn’t working. And definitely hire a professional for any custom upholstery.

Take a good look at your throw rugs and carpets. If carpets are badly stained, consider having them replaced. If rugs are tattered to the point of being a trip hazard, it may be that you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of them and can safely throw them out. Re-carpeting a room or purchasing a new area rug can be a tug on the pocketbook, but it could also transform a space for a potential buyer and be a nice transition in preparation for your new digs.

Sometimes we use rugs in unnecessary areas, like in a house full of beautiful wood floors. Take a second look at your entry way. Does it really need that runner? Accents should enhance the beauty of the room. If they’re functional, even better. But if they feel like they’re hiding something that shouldn’t be hidden, go back to the drawing board and consider whether less is actually more.

Bedding & Pillows

The focal and envy of a bedroom is a made bed. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to be clean and presentable. Worn, stained, or tattered bedspreads may seem like a small thing, but they can kill the feel of a beautiful room. At the very least, make sure they’re washed and smelling fresh. Clean, comfortable, and inviting is not only preferred, but necessary.

Tip: We typically spend 1/3 of our time in bed. If the bed is not kept up, this tells buyers that the rest of the house probably isn’t either.

Step #5: Rearrange

Well-placed furnishings can open up a space to a big, beautiful smile. If you’ve been thinking about rearranging, there’s no better time than when you’re trying to sell your home.

In the living areas, include an area for cozy conversation. Or, if space allows, an out-of-the-way corner for reading is marvelous. Many times, our tendency is to line furniture along all four walls. Instead, consider placing a piece or two on an angle to create interest as well as a unique arrangement.

Tip: If a room has a focal point like a fireplace or bay window, arrange furniture to emphasis and enhance it.

Step #6: Let Your Lighting Shine

Light makes a room happy, so show your rooms in the best possible light. Natural light is by far the best of all worlds, so if you’re lucky enough to enjoy good ol’ fashion sun light, you’re definitely more fortunate than most. Or, it may be worthwhile to consider a new lamp or even new light fixtures. Lighting is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways of transforming a room.

If heavy drapes or curtains block the view, you can always leave them open or consider switching them out for something lighter. Select a material that lets the sun light shine through. The same goes for any kind of blind.

While you’re at it, make sure to clean windows and screens. Like the perfect pair of shoes, a beautiful strand of pearls, or a handsome tie, clean windows can take a house from ordinary to extraordinary, inside and out!

Tip: Arrange lamps in threes, and if possible, in a triangle. This will allow light to extend throughout the room. Don’t forget about candles, which can add intimacy when other lighting options aren’t possible or realistic.

What’s Your Buyer-Wooing Super Power?

We’ve given you our two pennies on how to encourage potential home buyers, but we want to hear yours! Let us know what you think in the comments, and feel free to share any tips, tricks, or how-to’s that we haven’t mentioned.

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