Between long workdays and childcare, there’s not much time left to devote to your home. So how can you possibly keep your house show-ready while it’s on the market?
If money were no object, you could hire everything out to professional cleaning crews, home stagers, and organizers. But when you’re on a budget, you have to get creative and find ways to keep your house looking great with minimal time.
1. Declutter before you clean
If moving all the stuff in your home to clean under and around it takes too much time, there’s an easy solution: Get rid of it. Decluttering not only speeds up the cleaning process, it also increases your home’s appeal. Buyers prefer houses that look like model homes, meaning just enough furnishings to define the purpose of each space and no distracting personal items and décor.
If you’re having trouble taking personal tastes out of the staging process, take a look at these examples of staged homes for inspiration. Notice how the neutral decor and minimal, but not bare spaces make the homes look bright, clean, and spacious. That’s the goal for your home, even if it makes it no longer feel like “yours.” You can find inexpensive neutral decor for cheap at home goods stores like Kohl’s and TJ Maxx.
Cleaning out the house doesn’t have to mean throwing everything away. Donate unwanted items or sell them for extra cash. Then, rent an inexpensive storage unit for the items you’re keeping or ask a local relative if you can take over a corner of their basement for a few weeks.
2. Let technology do the work
Buying robotic vacuums and mops, portable air purifiers, and remote-controlled window cleaners might not be as cheap as your own elbow grease, but high-tech cleaning tools cost far less than a weekly cleaning service and shave hours off your weekly chores. If a clean home leads to a higher offer, it’s well worth the investment. Don’t think you have to pay full-price either: If you wait for a sale at Best Buy and dig up some Best Buy coupons, you can get these gadgets for well below MSRP.
You can also enlist technology to manage the mental load of pre-showing cleaning for you. Instead of maintaining a mental checklist of everything that needs to be done, use a free app to assign daily and weekly chores.
3. Clean the kitchen daily
When your realtor calls about a last-minute showing, you need to get out of the house ASAP. But if you have a pile of dishes to wash, you won’t have time to address other household clutter and odors before buyers arrive.
Cleaning the kitchen every night saves tons of time and stress before showings. In addition to washing and putting away dishes, clean leftovers out of the fridge, sanitize sinks and counters, and stash countertop appliances in the cupboards. Homebuyers value spacious kitchens with plenty of counter space, and tidying up is the cheapest way to add visual space.
4. Stop Kids’ Messes at the Source
If your children are young or not accustomed to tidying up daily, now is not the time to try to change that. Rather than attempting to transform your kids into neat freaks overnight, make it as easy as possible for kids to clean up after themselves.
Instead of demanding perfect toy and clothing organization, aim for hidden organization. You might not be able to train your kids to fold their laundry or organize their toys, but you can teach them to toss everything in a hamper or storage bin before bed, especially if you turn cleanup into a fun game. If you don’t have suitable storage bins and baskets, check for sales at popular retailers like Target and The Container Store.
Maintaining a show-ready home sounds impossible when you’re first starting the home selling process. But ultimately, it’s all about routines — and that’s something you’re great at as a parent. As long as you set yourself up for success with thorough decluttering and staying on top of daily chores, you’ll have no trouble making a great first impression on home buyers.
Image via Rawpixel