Dear Home Ec 101,
I am trying to get my house on the market to sell. Any cleaning/organizing advice? My house is atrocious! I hope you can call that comment a “Sunday Confessional”. I have a 20 month old baby, work full-time, and no one in the house cleans up after themselves. I can’t keep the house clean or get it ready for sale.
Frantic in Fresno
First off, I hope the market in your area is better than ours or you may be in for a long ride. I’ve been toying with the idea of selling for 5 years, but the market just hasn’t made it worth the hassle. When you list your home, you do have the option of asking for 24 hours notice for showings. It is important to note that this will make your home less appealing to real estate agents as they now have to factor this into their schedules. Just remember, it IS an option.
From the sound of your email, I’m guessing you are not a single parent, that there is at least one other adult who shares the responsibility of getting the house real estate ready. Sit down with your partner in crime and have a pen and paper at the ready. The two of you are going to make a prioritized list of what needs to be done to be “showing ready.” Start working on that list as soon as possible and keep reminding your partner, it’s a team effort. It’s not just your house for sale.
If you’re looking to get your house ready for the market, put the Home Ec 101 Weekly Chore List into effect and over the next few weeks, it will come together. It does take consistency, though.
Having a toddler in a home does make selling a home far more interesting, but there are ways and means to contain their mess and for better or worse the responsibility for this falls on your (the parents’) shoulders.
Until the house has been sold:
- Food and drinks stay in the kitchen or dining room. No exceptions. NONE. It’s a hassle, but it is not child abuse to have a specified areas and times for food and drinks. (Water can be available at all times)
- Use a tarp below the high chair to reduce the number of times a week mopping is necessary.
- Have a basket in each room for the toddler’s toys and make sure the toys are put away before leaving the room.
See Cleaning Up with Preschoolers
If you’re already in crisis mode and the house is on the market and you’re just waiting for the phone to ring, start working through the following.
Get rid of clutter
All counters should all be clear as humanly possible, this means both kitchens and bathrooms. In general people won’t be going through your drawers or cabinets in a walk through, so try not to stress over the hidden clutter (except closets) at this time, worry about that when you move.
NO DIRTY DISHES.
Few things are as big a turn off as crusty dishes in a sink or left on the counter. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Clean dishes drying in a rack are tolerable, but put away is best.
Hampers for Laundry
There is no way you can always have all of the laundry done, all of the time. Make sure it is at least contained in clothes hampers to reduce the chance of strangers seeing your dirty underwear.
Make the Beds
Get in the habit of making the beds every morning. It’ll be one less thing to worry about in the final run through.
Close the lid on the *clean* toilet and make sure the mirror and sink are shining. This means no dried toothpaste spatter. And try to make sure your personal care items are not sitting out.
Make sure tub toys are at least in a mesh bag and hanging.
Should be swept or vacuumed just before the showing. Spot mop if necessary (this is why I suggested a tarp, so it won’t always be necessary).
Make sure there aren’t any burnt out bulbs in your light fixtures. It makes a big difference.
Those are your biggies, you can read up on curb appeal or watch shows on the DIY network to get ideas on staging, but I have a feeling just getting the house in order will be enough of a task. I know there are some real estate agents who read Home Ec 101 and I would love for them to chime in anything I miss in this list.
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