Keep It Clean

Author: Steve Sherman | May 2, 2017
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When Selling Your House…Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Whether you are a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or avowed Atheist…the old saying about keeping it clean is never truer than when trying to sell your house. The Iowa City real estate market is experiencing a very hot market. Especially, the condos and Zero-Lot Duplexes. They are selling virtually overnight and at full price.

Recently, I showed a Zero-lot on one of the most popular streets in our area. The price was perfect and matched comparable properties. It had only been on the market a few days, but was not sold. In our hot market, that should have been my first warning that something was amiss. 

I scheduled a showing for my very excited and pre-approved clients. I arrived a few minutes early and approached the house to unlock the front door and wait for my clients to arrive. I started to worry as I noticed a couple five gallon buckets haphazardly lying under the front steps. I opened the front door and my worries turned to concern. The tile in main entrance was dotted with an uncleaned-up spill.

I knew this showing was heading south and my clients were just pulling up.

I hoped things would improve as we kept moving on through the house. The layout was sensible and the house appeared sound. This should have been an easy sale, it was exactly what my clients wanted, but things did not improve.

I literally felt the dirt on the switch cover as I turned on the lights in the next room we entered. I looked closer. A simple wipe down would have made all the difference. 

 

This may seem trivial or nit-picking, but I assure it is not. The cleanliness of a home that is for sale is paramount.

An obviously dirty house immediately begins to sow the seeds of doubt in a buyers mind.

If the current homeowners care so little about cleaning the obvious things…then how have they cared for the rest of the property?

I am not without compassion. I understand the difficulty of keeping a house clean. My wife and I have four kids, two dogs and a fish in our home. I assure it isn’t always clean. Life is busy. We are in school, working, and rushing to this event and that event. It’s tough to keep a house clean, but when it is being shown to potential buyers, it has to be clean if you want it to sell for top dollar.

The showing continued on its downhill trajectory. The lights that came on had only two working out of six sconces on the dining room light.

 

Replace ALL light bulbs. A bright house shows better, unless you’re trying to hide how dirty the place is! The fact that this many lightbulbs are out in the main area of the house only adds to suspicions about overall care.

Is something wrong?

It would seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many Remedy Requests I have filled out that contained a requirement…to replace all non-working lightbulbs. 

When the bulbs are left dark people wonder…is something electrically wrong with that light or do the current homeowners just not care? Both bad thoughts.

Next, is just general cleaning. Vacuum the carpets, sweep the floors, dust everything. Wipe down ceiling fans, and don’t leave trash lying about. You would think that seems pretty standard practice, but it’s not. 

   

Once you have the house clean…let’s put things away. This is part of the cleanup process. Things left out look bad. Everything should be in a logical place that shows a level of care for your possessions as well as your home. This goes both inside and out. 

They say common sense is not as common as it used to be. If you use good old fashioned common sense when getting your house ready to sell you will experience success. 

Clean everything!

Change light bulbs. Pick it up. Fix broken stuff. De-clutter. Get rid of pets. Make it generic …Less personal items on display. Put away laundry and make beds. Dishes put away. And did I mention clean everything.

  

My clients decided against making an offer on this place. Not because it was too big or too small. Not because it was overpriced. It was well under their maximum. Not because of the neighborhood. Not because of anything other than it was filthy and plain as the nose on your face the current owners didn’t really care.

Even in our strong seller’s market this is key. I suggested to my buyer that we require a professional cleaning as part of the deal. They considered putting in a very low offer, but ultimately, they still said no thanks and made no offer at all. We kept on looking.

This house should be sold, but it isn’t and it is the Seller’s fault…or perhaps the Seller’s Realtor for not telling them these things.

Keep it clean and demand top dollar. Dirt and grime don’t sell well.