I vividly recall the time I was showing a house and was surprised by a smelly “deposit” the owner’s dog left in the middle of the living room carpet.
The entire house reeked of dog, and, as my client and I walked through the rest of the home, it became obvious that Bowser had not been house trained. Needless to say, my client did not make an offer on that house.
You’d be surprised at the things that send prospective home buyers sprinting the other direction. It’s the little things that often kill a sale.
If you’re planning to put your home on the market, here are 44 things you can do to present your abode in the best possible light:
1. Driveway, Sidewalk, Entryway: Check the cracks in your driveway, sidewalk, and entryway. Are weeds creeping through the cracks? Has slippery green moss wedged itself into every crevice? Pull the weeds and/or invest in organic weed killer. Loosen moss with a scrub brush and rinse with a power sprayer.
2. Lawn: Keep it neatly mowed and watered.
3. Trees: Make sure they are pruned and looking as shapely as possible.
4. Garden: Weed it thoroughly, and deadhead spent blooms.
5. Gutters: Clean your gutters and downspouts.
6. Front Door: Give it a fresh coat of paint or stain. After all, the prospective home buyer will most likely enter through the front door. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
7. Brass Doorknobs: Clean unlacquered brass doorknobs with Worcestershire Sauce. Dribble some sauce on a rag and rub away the tarnish.
8. Wood or Composite Deck: Sweep or hose off.
9. Patio Furniture: If you have patio furniture on your deck, give it a good scrub-down.
10. Spray WD-40 on the hinges of squeaky doors.
11. Wipe fingerprints and scrape marks off doors and cabinets.
12. Clean window tracks of debris.
13. Check weather stripping and replace as needed. Clean all windows, inside and out.
14. Make the bed(s).
15. Put piles of dirty clothes into a closed bin.
16. Hang up clothes (color-coordinated hangers are a nice touch) or fold and store clothes in dressers or closet.
17. Shine mirrors.
18. Re-caulk tiled countertops, backsplashes, and showers (this applies to tile in your kitchen, as well).
19. Check shower heads for leaks and clogs. For shower heads that are clogged with mineral deposits, place white vinegar in a plastic bag, unscrew the shower head and put it in the bag for at least two hours.
20. Check shower, tub, and sink drains for clogs.
21. Replace mildewed, sagging shower curtains with fresh ones. Close the shower curtains.
22. Put a fresh roll of toilet paper in the dispenser.
23. Scrub the toilet and CLOSE THE LID!
24. Clean all stainless steel surfaces with stainless steel cleaner to erase fingerprints.
25. Thoroughly clean oven, fridge, microwave, stovetop, and dishwasher inside and out.
26. Wash and dry dishes and store them out of sight, in cupboards. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink!
27. Take all magnets off the refrigerator.
28. Move small appliances off countertops to give the appearance that you have abundant counter space.
29. Fix leaky pipes under sinks (this also applies to bathrooms and the laundry area)
30. Attempt to keep your clothes freshly laundered, so the laundry closet/room isn’t piled high with smelly socks. Temporarily store dirty clothes in bins with lids that close.
31. Close the washer and dryer lids.
32. Fold and stack towels like they do in stores, sorting them by color, with folded edges facing out.
33. Place your most pleasing items at eye level, and tuck personal items out of sight.
34. If at all possible, relocate your pets while your home is on the market. At the very least,
35. Keep cat litter boxes out of sight and cleaned.
36. Put away food and water bowls.
37. Put away pet toys, cat trees, cages, carriers – pretty much anything that shouts, “Pets live here!”
38. Remove pet stains from carpets and floors (this often requires hiring a professional).
39. Remove pet odors with an enzyme cleaner, or call a professional ozone company (this goes for cigarette odors, as well).
40. Empty the garbage cans in each room.
41. Replace all burned-out light bulbs, inside and out.
42. Keep floors vacuumed and swept.
43. De-clutter each room. For example, if you store dozens of bottles of nail polish in a bathroom drawer, group these small items in one bin. One container makes a better impression on a prospective home buyer than a jumble of small items in a drawer (and yes, they will peek in your drawers!)
44. Take EVERYTHING out of the attic and garage. Sort through it, and donate as much as possible to charity (trust me; if it’s been hibernating in your attic for years, you probably aren’t going to use it again. Why not let someone else enjoy it?). Box up your must-keep items and store them neatly, or rent a storage unit.
I realize this to-do list can sound overwhelming. But it is doable. Before you put your home on the market, tackle one room at a time, giving each a thorough cleaning. Take care of the big jobs first – caulking, painting, removing moss and nasty odors.
Then, after your home is on the market, spot clean and tidy up daily.