"The house has got be cleaner than Christmas," advises Los Angeles-based Sotheby's real estate agent Jeffrey Young.
Here's what Young and other L.A.-based experts suggest you do to clean before holding an open house.
Prior to your first open house, review each room for grime and clutter, including the garage, basement or attic, as there are multiple steps to a polished look. (The National Association of Realtors' tips for better home showings includes deep cleaning). And beware the too corny maneuver: apples baking in the oven are definitely out; the aromas of essentials oils, however, are in.
Give yourself time to prep for an open house as every surface needs to be cleaned. And just like when company comes, clean and de-clutter to impress. Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart's site provides a detailed Spring-cleaning checklist down to how-to techniques for window washing. (She even recommends replacing grungy bathroom tile grout!). Her tips dovetail with what real estate experts recommend for open houses: clean windows and screens, clean doors and finger-marked walls, move the refrigerator and vacuum the coils, and dust everything-from baseboards to the tops of doors.
"You get one first impression," reminds Young. He advises clients to rent a storage pod and not only clean out closets (buyers need to visualize where their stuff will go) but also remove everything from the garage (dust and sweep it too). You might be able to de-clutter for cash: recycling used electronics can earn cash. Bathroom (s) and kitchen must be spotless. He points to a recent success where clients followed his spit-shine clean regime: their Silver Lake-area home sold in just 12 days (with two back-up offers) after a thorough cleaning and de-cluttering. "Dusty doesn't sell -- at least not for a good amount of money," says the veteran real estate agent.
These days, buyers are positively impressed by green kept homes (as in no toxic and chemically-laden cleaning products used). In Los Angeles, professional local cleaning services, like GreenClean or Orient Express, use green cleaning products and also offer deep cleaning or de-toxing before an open house. Lisa Hall of GreenClean uses Ecover and Earth Friendly products as well as her company's own bucket wash -- a blend of natural soaps and fresh smelling citrus and mint essential oils. "If a house has been cleaned with green products, it's a selling point, especially in Los Angeles," finds Hall.
Consider avoiding highly scented cleaning products prior to your open house, recommends Dr. Larry Weiss, CleanWell's chief technology officer. "They suggest that there is something to cover up," he advises, noting that many people are sensitive to synthetic fragrances found in common household cleaning and air freshening products. And for continued clean and healthy living after your open house, don't forget to wipe down high-touch spots, such as light switches and doorknobs, when you return home, reminds Dr. Weiss.
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