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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

House for Sale! Tips for Getting it Buyer-Ready

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article will appear in the January 15, 2006 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Selling a House

For sale signs appear in many yards due to many reasons. When a house is for sale, the goal is to make it as attractive as possible to potential buyers. The most cost-efficient way to spruce up a house is to clean it thoroughly. The Soap and Detergent Association suggests the following tips.

Get Rid of Clutter

Many potential buyers may not see past the dirt and clutter. If the house is crowded with the owner's "stuff," they will assume the house is too small for their possessions. Too much clutter poses a safety and buying hazard! A person who trips over items left on the stairs is unlikely to have a good feeling about a house. In addition, a clean, clutter-free environment is more attractive than a grimy, untidy one.

Begin by purging the house, including the basement, attic and garage, of items no longer needed. Things in good condition can be sold or donated to a charity. The remainder can be thrown in the trash. Rooms will appear more spacious, closets will look bigger and shelves will look roomier to potential buyers.

Time to Clean

Focus on rooms potential buyers are most interested in — living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Look at each room as a potential buyer might and see what catches the eye first. Make that the starting point for the cleaning process. Then, follow the top-to-bottom, left-to-right rule for cleaning each room so no surface is overlooked.

Give major attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. Check the labels on cleaning products to make sure they are appropriate for the surfaces to be cleaned. Abrasive cleansers provide extra cleaning power for hard-to-remove soils like food particles and grease residue in sinks. However, they may be too harsh for surfaces that easily scratch, such as laminate or solid surface countertops. In general, liquid and gel cleansers are less abrasive than powders.

Spray cleaners are easy to use for small areas, such as countertops, while powders or liquids mixed in a pail of water are more efficient for larger areas, such as walls and floors. Floors can become cloudy from cleaning solution residue, making them look dirty when they're actually clean. To prevent this, use a no-rinse product or rinse the floor well after each cleaning.

Combat Mold & Mildew

Mold and mildew are especially problematic in bathrooms. With all the publicity concerning the illnesses mold can cause, prospective buyers are more sensitive than ever about its presence. Use liquid household bleach or cleaners with bleach to remove mildew stains from shower doors, shower curtains and grout between tiles.

Use a non-streak cleaning product, such as a glass and/or multi-surface cleaner, for shower doors and mirrors. A regular routine, includes rinsing the tub, using a small squeegee on shower walls and drying faucets and handles after each use, will help prevent water spots and keep things clean.

Don't Forget to . . .

Wash the windows, vacuum carpets and drapes and dust thoroughly. Use a dusting product so the dust will be trapped and removed rather than dispersed in the air. Vacuum regularly, using long straight strokes.

If repainting is not in the budget, carefully clean surfaces to remove dust, grime and fingerprints. Painted surfaces are usually washable, but test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area first. Use a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner. To avoid streak marks when cleaning large vertical areas, start at the bottom and work up, overlapping areas and using a circular motion.

Keeping on top of the cleaning chores will make your house look its best and ready for viewing.

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