Let’s face it, here in New England it's tough to get your home exterior really ready for an early spring market. The trees are still bare, it's too cold to plant, and if you need painting you will be waiting for warmer days. There are things, however, that you can do to spruce up your home to get it ready for the spring real estate market – or just to have your house looking its best.
Tip 1 – Clutter is NOT your friend. Go through each room with an eye to de-clutter. When we live somewhere its easy to overlook that basket of “stuff” in the corner of the room, boxes that you meant to bring to the attic two months ago, or the collection of things that will eventually be moved somewhere else or given away. A Buyer, however, WILL notice. Find a place – and that does not mean just hiding it in a closet . . .
Tip 2 – Everyone looks for closet space. You may have listed your home as a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with a family room and two car garage – but when the buyer comes through they are curious about closet space. And yes, they will open every closet. Take the time to clean out your bedroom closets and bag up clothes to donate. Clean out the linen closet and make sure all sheets and towels are folded and stacked well – it will show much better. Kitchen closets or broom closets – look into hooks and brackets to allow mops, brooms, cleaning products and buckets to be organized and not lumped into the bottom of the closet.
Tip 3 – Unfinished basements don’t need to look “unfinished”. Even if your basement is not a finished room that you use, it can be clean, neat and organized. If you are using your basement as a storage catch-all, that is fine but it can still be done in a neat way that makes the basement accessible as someone is looking around, and appear larger. Also, a coat of paint can make a world of difference when the lights go on and people head down those basement stairs.
Tip 4 – Now REMOVE all the Unwanted Stuff. Make lists of what you are donating for tax purposes and label the bags. There are many organizations that will pick up such as the Vietnam Vets, Big Brother/Big Sister, the Epilepsy Fund, etc. You will see post cards come in the mail – assign the bags, make an appointment for pick up, and put the bags where they can be collected at the assigned day. You may have items such as books or small household items you want to drop off somewhere – get them in your car and do it! The items you plan to go into the attic or basement can be done so in clearly marked boxes so that it enters your neat basement area and keeps it looking neat!
Tip 5 – Cabinets ARE Opened. Kitchen cabinets, built in cabinets, medicine cabinets. It’s the equivalent of kicking the tires. If someone is interested in the house they will want to open the cabinets and inspect what they are buying. These are areas that you should periodically clean out anyway with your spring cleaning – throw out expired food items, box up those old things tucked away for donation, and check all medicines for expirations and prescriptions that you are no longer using. And remember: most police stations have a safe place to dispose of unused prescriptions in their lobbies.
Tip 6 – Roll up Your Sleeves and Get Scrubbing. The first real nice day throw open those windows, air out the house, and start cleaning! If you mop all the time, get down on your hands and knees and hand wash the floor – you’ll be surprised how much cleaner it comes out. Check your hardwood floors – it’s probably time for a good cleaning and polish. Clean your rugs – vacuuming is fine but you do need to clean them from time to time for stains, deep down dirt, and odors. What else can you do for a deep clean? Wash those windows and windows sills, wash down the kitchen cabinets, wash the woodwork. Take down ceiling lights and clean out the glass from debris that works its way in and can be seen when the light is on. Bathrooms are typically cleaned very well on a continual basis but to be on your best spring cleaning, put a little more muscle into it!
Tip 7 – Little Fixes Go a Long Way. Your house is now organized and scrubbed clean. The next step should be to see what little fixes are needed. Need to re-grout? Set aside a Saturday morning. Need a new towel holder or switch plate? Make a list of all items you will need – measure for the ones that require it – and head to the local hardware store. Keep a punch list of everything that needs to be done. And if you have things like new faucets you might want some help before you attempt on your own.
Tip 8 – Take a Walk around your Home. If you read my blog last fall about preparing your home because “winter is coming” – then you have already fixed or prepared some of the outside items. For the spring, look at curb appeal. Do you have loose stones or bricks in your front walk? Do you have large branches on the ground from winter that should be cleared away? Shutters broken or missing? Keep the same sharp eye as in Tip #1.
Tip 9 – Putting out the Welcome Mat. It may be too early for flowers to be planted, but pansy’s in a pot can be hardy enough in our crazy New England weather and will add a splash of color on your front porch. If you have a chair or other items on your front porch, wash them down as the winter can cause them to be dirty or dull. And wash down your front door, sweep your porch and put out a new welcome mat if needed. You want a buyer – or friend coming for a visit – to feel welcomed as they climb your front stairs.
Tip 10 – Pops of Color. Here’s the fun part. Up until now, you’ve put in most of the work and the only financial requirements have been for the most part things that should be cleaned up or fixed anyway. The last tip can be done as minimally or liberally as you want based on whether preparing your house for sale or if this is just a spring clean. You can do things like check your interior paint – I keep a small can of paint of each color for touch ups. Or, you may decide a whole room needs to be painted to freshen it up. Take a look at your bed coverings and curtains – do they need updating? In the living room – maybe new toss pillows in a bold color. Kitchens can get a cleaned up and new look with new curtains or kitchen mat and bathrooms can be updated with a new bathroom rug and sink accessories.
There is a real sense of accomplishment when you get your house in order. Don’t be surprised if it changes your overall mood or even how you feel about your house in general. After a long gray winter a spring clean will set you up for the summer enjoyment ahead.