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Get your house ready for a quick sale

Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2005

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If you’re planning to sell your house this spring, you’re going to have a lot of competition for potential buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors, more homes are listed and sold between February and June than any other time of the year; and 2005 will be the second best year on record for home sales. An estimated 6.54 million existing homes will be sold this year.

With so much competition, what can you do to make someone want to buy your house instead of the one down the street? “It’s simple really,” says Jerry Ritten, a real estate agent with Counselor Realty in Minneapolis, Minn. “Make sure it’s clean. When I bring prospective buyers into a clean home, it’s easy for them to envision themselves living there. If the house is dirty, the first thing they think about is how much work would be involved in bringing it up to their standards.”

Ritten says one of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is failing to keep their property in “showing” condition. “When they get a call from their agent, sellers often think they can just make the beds, clear the counters in the kitchen and bath, vacuum a little and clean the windows, but a serious buyer is going to do more than just walk through the home,” he says. “They’ll want to closely examine all the appliances to make sure they are clean and in working order; to open the closet doors to see how spacious they are; and to look inside the kitchen cabinets to see how deep they are. If they are confronted by dirt and grime everywhere they look, potential buyers often leave without giving the property a second thought.”

Rather than risk a potential sale, these days many people are hiring professional cleaning services to get their homes in tip-top shape before they even hit the market. “People who clean for a living definitely have the edge when it comes to making a property shine,” says Howard Purdy, vice president of operations for Maid Brigade, a housecleaning service with more than 365 locations in the United States, Canada and Ireland. He says the company’s “Deep Clean” service is extremely popular this time of year.

“When we send a team into a home to do a Deep Clean, they start out with the basics. They vacuum with commercial grade vacuums that pull the air and dust through HEPA filters. They also sweep, scrub the floors and toilets, and do things most people don’t have the time or inclination to do themselves. They will clean and dust the insides of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets; scrub the oven and refrigerator shelves; clean the drip pans under the refrigerator; wipe the dust off the ceiling fans, furniture and television sets; whatever the seller wants and needs to get their home in top showing condition,” says Purdy.

Once the Deep Clean is done, Purdy says it’s a good idea to bring the team back either weekly or bi-weekly -- for as long as the house is on the market -- to keep things clean. “Home owners don’t need to go out and buy supplies,” says Purdy. “Our teams bring everything they need with them, and they’re licensed, bonded and insured which gives people piece of mind.”

In addition to making sure the home is clean, other ways to improve its “show ability” include putting new paint on the walls, having the carpet cleaned, and redoing the landscaping. “I also urge my clients to do all they can to get rid of clutter,” says Ritten. “Instead of filling the drawers with junk mail and stuffing things into closets, I urge them to pack up things they don’t need right away and either move them into the garage, give them away, or throw them away. Houses that are neat and orderly show better and sell faster than those that are cluttered and messy.”

Courtesy of ARA Content

 
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