Once you’ve decluttered, depersonalized and arranged your furniture, you’re ready to start showing your home. But how do you maintain a staged home and keep it in show-ready condition for buyers while also living in it?
When it comes to maintaining a staged home, it helps to be proactive. Creating your own checklists and schedules and delegating chores to members of the family who are willing to help is a great way to get started.
Messy homes give buyers the impression that the owners don’t care about the house and don’t take good care of it. Some minor daily maintenance will go a long way to keeping dirt from piling up and small behaviors like returning items to drawers will help you prevent clutter.
Do staged homes sell better?
There are no guarantees when selling a home, but you should always aim to put your home’s best foot forward. Staged homes eliminate clutter and personal items in order to let potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.
According to Forbes, “a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. That is statistically 87% faster than non-staged homes.” If you want the best shot at selling your house quickly and for top dollar, you should stage the home and keep it clean in between viewings.
Can you live in a staged home?
You can absolutely live in a home once it is staged, but be prepared for a potentially stressful situation. When you first stage your home, you’ll be doing a deep clean and purge of excess and personalized items. This is great if you plan to have a big open house or a full weekend of showings, but after the initial burst, showings usually come in one at a time, and often at the last minute.
You will need to keep your home as clean as possible and clean up as you go. Also, plan to develop a quick cleaning routine so that you’re able to get your home ready for last-minute showings. It might help to establish a staging area – like the attic or garage – to put a couple of big boxes to hold things you want to remove from your house. Just remember, potential buyers could open any closet door or check out the garage or attic, too.
It is equally as important to be realistic with your real estate agent about your availability for showings. A lot of real estate agents use apps to allow buyer’s agents and sellers to coordinate showing requests. Many agents will pressure you to accept any requested showing. However, if you have a strict work schedule, kids on a tight bedtime routine, or any other specific needs, you need to be clear in advance so they can mark those times as unavailable on the schedule. And if something comes up, you don’t have to accept a time, no matter what your agent says.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep your staged home maintained to sell once your home is decluttered and ready to present to potential buyers. Remember – hopefully you won’t have to do this for long.
- Plan Your Week
Many areas of your home don’t need to be cleaned daily, so try designating those areas to specific days of the week. Maybe you clean the hardwood floors on Monday, the tile on Tuesday, baseboards on Wednesday and glass surfaces on Thursday.
This is a great system for keeping your home at a certain base level of clean, but also be prepared to do some spot cleaning right before showings.
- Stay On Top of Landscaping
The front of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will notice. No matter what season it is, make sure that you have stunning curb appeal and buyers can easily access the front door. Keep the grass mowed and the sidewalk clear of leaves. Keep fresh flowers on your porch and don’t forget to water them. Sweep of the porch and shake off the doormat as needed.
- Keep the Entryway Clear of Clutter
Place mail, shoes and jackets in the proper place every time someone enters the home. Get out of the habit of tossing items on the table or ground and leaving them there to build clutter. You never know when you might need to quickly evacuate for a showing, so having this space clean and clear will make that process much easier.
- Clear and Wipe Down Surfaces
Every night before bed, take 10 minutes and remove items that don’t belong on your countertops, tabletops and vanities. This keeps the home looking cleaner and when you wake up in the morning there’s nothing to put away. Also take the time to wipe off countertops and the kitchen or dining table so there aren’t crumbs. Crumbs won’t make or break the sale of your house, but you want potential buyers to see a clean slate and not think the house is a mess.
- Keep the Floors Clean
Doing some light sweeping and vacuuming on a daily basis is extremely valuable. If you live a busy and active lifestyle it may be a good idea to invest in a robotic vacuum to take care of some of the mess while you’re at work. That way if a buyer calls and wants to see your home that evening, it won’t be a mad dash to get home and clean. Regardless, try to sweep up after any messes immediately to make getting ready for showings easier.
- Cover Up Lingering Odors
Avoid cooking smelly food in your home while it’s on the market and dine out for those foods instead. Run your garbage disposal with a little white vinegar or half a lemon to help kill odors. Always take the kitchen trash out with you when you leave for a showing.
If you have pets, don’t forget to manage their needs as well. Make sure you empty litter boxes regularly, scoop the poop in the yard and regularly bathe your furry friends. You can also add aromas that buyers find pleasing but don’t overdo it. Strong air fresheners can bother people’s allergies and make it seem like you are covering up a problem.
- Clean Dishes and Remove Garbage
Never leave dishes out when potential buyers are coming. Empty the sink and the drying rack. It’s actually best to put your drying rack away under the sink as they often look kind of gross and take up a lot of counter space. You want your kitchen to look clean and spacious and a drying rack can make it feel cramped and dirty.
You might also want to consider using paper plates while showings are going on if doing dishes becomes a problem for you. Always take out the trash before a showing and get in the habit of dumping any small trash cans, such as in the bathroom, into your larger kitchen trash can regularly. You don’t want your buyers focusing on your used tissues instead of on your beautiful bathrooms.
- Pick Up Your Clothes
Keep the laundry constantly moving throughout your home. Wash clothes as soon as you have enough for a load. Clothes should either be stored in a hamper or in your closet or drawers. Don’t leave clothes on the floor left or lying around because it shows buyers that there isn’t enough storage room in the home. Expect that buyers will look in your laundry room, so clean up the bottles or supplies that you have on the shelf and don’t leave dirty or clean clothes laying around.
- Make Beds Daily
You can instantly make the bedroom look put together when you make the bed. Make the beds neatly and place pillows each morning, so you don’t have to worry about it if there is a last-minute showing. If your kids have a lot of stuffed animals, arrange them neatly on the bed or place them in a basket in their bedroom.
- Keep Bathroom Clean
Make sure to wipe down the shower and surfaces daily so you keep mildew away. Pull shower curtains closed, but be prepared that buyers will likely peek inside. Be sure to use a toilet brush to clean your toilets regularly and put down the seats. Hang or stack towels. Many agents recommend picking up any bathmats so that potential buyers don’t get them dirty with their shoes and so that they can see the floors better.
- Store Personal Items
Store personal items out of sight whether it’s shampoo, jewelry or medication. You don’t want to distract the buyer or risk anything going missing from your home. Try to clear off the counters in your bathrooms of all toiletries as well as any dresser tops or vanities that might have a lot of small items on them. Consolidate and minimize for a streamlined, buyable looking home.
- Prepare the Living Areas
One of the most important rooms to many buyers is the family room. Take the time to lovingly arrange any blankets or pillows on your sofa. Put remote controls in a basket or drawer and clear off the coffee table. Make this space feel homey and inviting – but not like you just walked into the other room to get a snack – to make potential buyers feel at home.
These crucial tasks could make or break the sale of your home, so have the whole family pitch in to do their part. Consider making a game out of cleaning or have a reward system. Remind them this situation is not permanent, but it could be good practice for when you move into your new home.
Remember that you’re in competition with many other homes for sale and buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in your home despite your occupancy. Focus on these tips to keep your home in good condition and show-ready.