There are some things you can’t change about your house. Its location, the school zone, and the size of the yard are a few features that come to mind. Chances are, you aren’t willing to change the layout or add a new bedroom if you’re moving either. The good news is that buyers already know this information about your home before they walk through the front door, so if they are there, they’re not looking at the floorplan.
So what are they looking at? Buyers are there to see the condition of the home. And the very first thing they will notice is if it is clean, since this is a good indication of how well the home has been cared for. But you’ve got kids, and clean has taken on a whole new definition, and it’s time to take a new look at what clean means. Your sale just might depend on it.
Here’s how to get things in shape when you barely have time to get yourself ready each morning.
Start with “the great purge”
The most challenging aspect of cleaning when you have kids in the house is getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need. Kids tend to form an emotional attachment to everything. But, now is not the time to provide asylum to stuffed animals and armless Lego men. Talk to your kids about the move, and let them know they can’t take everything with them. If they are resistant, it might help to decorate a few moving boxes with “Toy Retreat” signs and let the kids know their stuff is ready for a permanent vacation. Set a good example by cleaning out your own closet, craft room, and garage. Set limits on what you can keep and don’t hold on to multiples. If you do not have time to host a yard sale, contact the Salvation Army, Goodwill, AMVETS National Service Foundation, the ARC, or Habitat for Humanity, which Moving.com explains are all charities that pickup.
Plan to bring in extra hands
When you are getting ready for showings, it needs to be all hands on deck, but sometimes that's easier said than done. First things first, hire a maid service to come in and give your home a deep cleaning, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Next, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to hire a housekeeper to come in once a week to help you keep your clean home maintained. The right person will help you keep toys and clothes put away, beds made with fresh linens and the yard tidied, all ensuring your home is ready for those last-minute showings. This does not mean that the members of your family can sit back and relax – create a chore chart for the daily must-dos so you're housekeeper isn't doing all the heavy lifting.
Provide visual aids
One simple way to ensure your home stays clean is to give your family a clear idea of what you expect. But telling them is not always enough. Plan to take photos of the interior once it’s clean. Print these out and stick them where they are visible within each room -- or each section of room. You may also want to color code the toy bins to facilitate organization. Yellow might be set aside for dolls while green is sanctioned for Nerf guns. You don’t have to stop in the kids’ bedrooms, this colorful cleaning and organization hack can easily apply throughout the house.
While cleanliness is not the only thing your buyers will look for, it’s the first thing they will notice. A clean home looks – and smells – like it’s ready for its new owners, and keeping it that way may put them in place sooner than you can say, “home for sale.”
Guest Blog Written By:
Moving to a new home is a time of new beginnings and inspiration. Chances are you have already started thinking about fresh paint colors and furniture arrangement. Taking the time to plan ahead is the key to ensure a smooth move.
Reduce: Why pay someone to move stuff that you no longer use? You also don’t want these things cluttering up your new home. Several weeks before your move, take the time to go through and weed out anything that no longer serves your needs. Be sure to hit hot spots like your basement and storage areas where unused items often end up. If you have boxes that you haven’t opened since your last move, consider whether or not you really need the stuff inside them. If you are overwhelmed with where to start, or if you are downsizing to a much smaller home, consider getting help from a friend or a professional organizer. Once you have set aside several boxes or bags of items to be donated, contact a local charity such as the Salvation Army and have them come and pick everything up. These services are often provided free of charge.
Create a Moving Binder: To ensure that important paperwork is not lost during your move, create a binder for everything related to your move. Keep all estimates, receipts, room measurements, checklists etc. in this binder. Be sure to keep this binder handy at all times…don’t accidentally pack it away in a box!
Space Plan: Be sure to take measurements of the rooms and wall spaces in your new home to ensure that your furniture will fit there. You don’t want to waste time and money moving a sofa just to discover that it doesn’t fit in your new living room. Once you decide how furniture is going to be arranged, tape a sign to the nearest wall, to alert movers as to where to place heavy furniture. ie: PLACE BED HERE. This will speed up the process of your move.
Begin Packing: If you are planning on doing your own packing, begin with those items that you use infrequently. Be sure to label every box with the contents and clearly indicate what room the box is going into, not what room it came from. Clearly labeled furniture and boxes will prevent movers from wasting time on moving day, waiting for you to tell them which room to put a box in.
Pack a Suitcase: A few days before your move, have every family member pack a suitcase as if they were going on vacation for a week. This will ensure that everyone will have everything they need the first few days after your move. Keep in mind that whatever goes on the moving truck first, will come off last, so be sure to pack other essentials like bedding, towels and kitchen essentials last. Also, if you have very fragile or valuable items, put them in your car and move them yourself, don’t chance them disappearing or getting damaged by putting them on the moving truck.
Movers: If you are going to hire movers, schedule an on-site visit and get several estimates, don’t rely on a phone estimate. Research the company thoroughly before you hand all of your belongings over to them. On moving day, be sure that all of your heavy furniture is arranged exactly where you want it to go, and that all beds have been assembled before you let the movers leave. You don’t want to get stuck handling these heavy items yourself.
Unpacking: If you want things to be organized in your new home, don’t have movers unpack boxes. Leave this job for yourself or for a family member. Take advantage of your move as an opportune time to get organized. Consider hiring a professional organizer to unpack your kitchen or other important spaces to ensure that everything is stored and organized in the most functional and practical locations possible. Once everything is unpacked, you can sell your empty boxes on Craig’s List or through a local buy-sell-trade site.
While the moving process can evoke anxiety in even the most composed individuals, a bit of preplanning can ensure that your move goes smoothly and with the least amount of stress.
Written by Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing
and Relocation Services
What are the first steps a homeowner should take before putting their home on the market?
The first steps to prepare your home for the market are mostly the same things you should be doing to prepare to move. So it’s a great opportunity to hit two birds with one stone!
The main issue we see with our home organizing clients is simply too much – too much furniture, too much decoration, too much stuff. Homeowners accumulate items over the years and become immune to the first impression others get from their home.
Buyers put a LOT of weight on first impressions, and homes look larger when they have less furniture in them. This is why model homes are very sparsely decorated, with just a few select pieces of furniture.
So I recommend homeowners go through the home and look for things to donate or get rid of. There are even organizations that will come and pick up your donation free of charge like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.
If there are items that you’d like to pack in advance, make sure to write a general description the contents on the outside of the box, and store them out of the way in the garage or basement, where they won’t affect a buyer’s first impression.
What about putting items in storage while the home is on the market, and then moving those items into the new home?
I try to direct homeowners away from storage units as much as I can. Most likely that storage unit will never get 100% cleared out, and you’ll pay for it month-after-month to store things you don’t use.
Plus items like photographs and keepsakes don’t do well in non-climate-controlled units, so there’s always a chance your items will be damaged in storage.
I recommend going through your home and letting go of anything you’re not currently using. If you absolutely must use a storage unit, here are a few tips:
Keep everything off the floor.
Make sure you leave aisles, and label your bins so that everything is accessible.
For safety purposes and to avoid lower bins from being crushed, don’t stack storage bins too high.
Put everything in plastic containers to protect from critters and from water damage
Many homeowners use professional movers, any tips for working with a moving company?
Yes! We help a lot of homeowners prepare for that type of move, and we have some great tips.
First, remember movers are flexible; you can hire them for certain parts of the job, or let them handle everything. I do recommend if you handle anything yourself, it’s the UN-packing. Movers are not organizers, you will spend less time looking for things if you unpack yourself or better yet, leave that job to a professional organizer.
A quick counter-intuitive tip: Professional movers are experienced in packing and moving fragile items, so if there’s one thing you leave to the pros that would be it.
If you have very valuable items such as high end art work, we suggest you move these items yourself or hire a company that specializes in packing and moving these types of items.
Beyond that, keep your movers (or helpers) happy, provide donuts in the morning or sandwiches for lunch, drinks in the afternoon, tip them well if they did a good job etc.
Lastly, if you do your own packing, make sure each box is clearly labeled with the box’s contents, and the room it’s going INTO, not the room it came FROM. You can also put up signs on each room to match the labels on the boxes, so that everyone knows exactly which room each box goes into.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you pack first, will be the last to come off the moving truck. So do not pack items that you will need right away until the last minute.
Where can people learn more about home organizing and preparing to move?
We have some great tips for handling pets on moving day, which items to pack last, and so forth. You can visit us at www.cleanclutterfree.com or call us at 402-443-9673 and we’d be happy to answer any questions!
Thanks to the good folks at WestOmahaHomeGuide.com for interviewing us!
If you’re looking to buy a home, we highly recommend their site.
It features all sorts of useful information about West Omaha homes for sale, neighborhoods, events and local businesses like ours.
Click here to search all homes for sale in West Omaha.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.