[This article originally appeared in The Press of Atlantic City]
Due to financial problems, a librarian of 62 is anxious to sell her white, multilevel house to cut expenses. Properties in her well-kept neighborhood, with award-winning schools, are in high demand. Her asking price is fair. But after six weeks on the market and many showings, she’s had zero bids.
What’s wrong? Sid Davis, the real estate broker handling her listing, says the librarian’s housekeeping is at fault. Due to her bad habits, he says her place is rarely in showing shape when prospects come over.
“The truth is this seller is very messy, and that can be a big issue for anyone trying to get a house sold,” says Davis, author of “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home.”An avid reader, the librarian often allows books to stack up on chairs, tables and sofas throughout her three-bedroom home. Dirty clothing and towels are often left on the floor of her master bedroom suite. And her kitchen is often unsightly, with cluttered counters and dishes often left in the sink.
As her story illustrates, the strain of keeping an unsold home looking right is a problem for many homeowners. Still, Davis says sellers who fail to keep their property clean and clutter-free often have to endure a more protracted selling process than they would if they’d kept their home spiffy.
Keeping a For Sale property orderly is important in any housing market. But it’s especially crucial at a time when there’s an abundance of housing inventory for sale.
“A well-priced creme de la creme house in a top neighborhood will eventually sell in any market – no matter how many houses are for sale there. But a junker in the same neighborhood is always hard to sell, except in boom times when buyers have very few choices,” Davis says.
- Pack away your clutter in advance of your sale.
As a professional organizer and a former real estate agent, Vicki Norris knows how tough it is to keep a For Sale home in prime showing shape. And the process is especially hard for those who must sell involuntarily.”When you’re facing a big financial challenge, it’s emotionally a lot harder to keep your house in good condition because of all the stress,” says Norris, who runs her own consulting firm, Restoring Order.
To make it easier to limit clutter during the showing period, she advises sellers to cull through their belongings before their property goes on the market. Toss out or give away any items you do not intend to keep and place the rest in boxes, which should be neatly stacked in your garage or storage area.
“It’s not necessary to empty your house completely. You just need to reduce the volume of furniture and extra things that crowd the place,” she says.
- Allocate time each morning to straighten up your home.
Home sellers who have a property on the market for a protracted period can’t count on outsiders to do the daily tasks necessary to keep their place in prime showing condition. Yet as long as their home remains unsold, they must be ready for visitors.”Nowadays, homebuyers are incredibly impatient. You’re lucky if you get two hours notice before a showing,” Davis says.
He urges home sellers to set aside 15 minutes each morning to tidy their property.
- Consider hiring a professional cleaning service at the outset.
It could be a smart strategic move for you to cover the cost of a cleaning crew to come in for a major in-depth cleaning.”Sellers who start with a professional cleaning have a much easier time keeping their place clean all the way to their date of sale,” Davis says.
Though such a major house-cleaning job can cost well over $100, Davis says the investment should hold you for at least two to three months before it needs to be redone.
- Get everyone in your household to cooperate for a successful sale.
People whose homes remain unsold for a long period can slip back into bad habits as the selling process drags on. For instance, they might forget and leave a greasy frying pan soaking in the sink while they’re away at the office.”The core of the problem is that selling a house turns your life upside down. Yet you can’t slack off, not even for one day because, as luck would have it, that will be the day a serious buyer comes over for a look,” Davis says.
He says those with small children find it especially challenging to keep the kids’ toys put away. But you can’t afford to let their playthings litter the entryway to your property or to clutter their bedrooms.
“How you decide to incentivize your kids is up to you. Maybe you could promise them a new video game if they cooperate or withhold their allowance if they don’t. But whatever you decide, you need to be sure your kids are on your team, helping you get that house sold,” Davis says.
-By Ellen James Martin
Visit The Press of Atlantic City to see the original: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/atlantic/smart-moves-keeping-your-home-neat-may-help-it-sell/article_7733c480-f236-11e0-b84e-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=jqm
See the PDF here: The Press of Atlantic City – Keeping your home neat may help it sell 10/2011