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Before sale sign goes up, home’s clutter must go poof

Real estate » As spring nears and sellers re-emerge, cleanup should begin today.



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Less is more • Dave Frederickson, also with Keller Williams Salt Lake City and president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said that in addition to resisting the temptation of engaging in a massive makeover, "what’s needed is to start with a good hard cleaning."

Cobwebs hanging on the light next to the front door or a dirty entrance will turn off buyers. As soon as they walk into a room, they’ll look for other things to prove what they’ve already established — that the home is dirty.

At a glance

Selling your home in winter

Crank up the heat » If potential buyers shiver at your open house, they aren’t likely to stick around, let alone make an offer. Keep the thermometer at least at a steady 70 degrees.

Get shoveling » Keep the walkways clear. And make sure at an open house that people have a place to park. Don’t clear just the driveway — shovel out some spaces on the street, as well.

Build a snowman » With a Frosty in the front yard, you could even dress him up with a real-estate T-shirt or put a for-sale sign in his hands.

Become a weather freak » Be prepared for outside temperature changes when planning for an open house. If a big storm is headed your way, reschedule or push a morning open house into the afternoon.

Decorate, but don’t go overboard » If your house is cold, empty and sterile, you could be sending the wrong message. Focus on a few light, classy seasonal touches.

Source: Bankrate.com

Checklist to sell your home

Make minor repairs:

Replace cracked floor or counter tiles

Patch holes in walls

Fix leaky faucets

Adjust doors that don’t close and drawers that jam

Replace burned-out light bulbs

Consider painting walls neutral colors

Make it sparkle:

Wash windows inside and out

Pressure-wash sidewalks and exteriors

Clean out cobwebs

Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks

Polish chrome faucets and mirrors

Clean out the refrigerator

Vacuum daily

Wax floors

Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures

Bleach dingy grout

Replace worn rugs

Hang up fresh towels

Clean and air out any musty-smelling areas

Curb appeal:

Keep the sidewalks cleared

Mow the lawn

Paint faded window trim

Plant flowers or group flower pots together

Trim bushes

Make sure your house number is visible

Source: homebuying.about.com

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Inside, replace cracked floor or counter tiles, fix leaky faucets, polish chrome faucets and mirrors, adjust doors that don’t close and drawers that jam, and replace burned-out light bulbs.

For homes that are older, sellers may consider getting a modified home inspection. This shortened version is as not as costly as a full inspection, but prices vary by home.

If one is not in place, sellers also should consider getting a home warranty as a way of offering peace of mind to potential buyers.

Outside, shovel the walkways. When the weather clears, pull out weeds poking out through cracks in the driveway. And clean that grimy front door.

Also, depersonalize. Take family photos and pictures of sports teams off the walls so that the buyers can mentally place their own mementos on or in open spaces.

"A buyer will purchase only one home, but they’ll will look at multiple properties — and they find their dream home by process of elimination," said Frederickson. "Don’t give them a reason to take your home off their list."

Almost every home shows better with less furniture, so remove big pieces that block or hamper paths and walkways, and put them in storage. Messy homes and yards appear much smaller than they are, and buyers have difficulties envisioning themselves in such untidy, cluttered settings.


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Being prepared • If you plan to sell your home in the spring, be sure to clean off all the winter gunk from your home and yard. Clean outside walls, trim bushes and green up the lawn as soon as possible. Clear gutters and downspouts, mow the lawn and sweep the walkways.

Spring is a popular time to list a home for reasons old and new. In the past, corporate executives got their bonus checks in January and began to house hunt, while others received tax refunds. A spring purchase also gives buyers time for the kids to settle down over the summer before heading to a new school in September.

Melisa Bennett put her Draper home on the market in December, and she’s been working ever since to keep it ready for potential buyers — even those who drop by at a moment’s notice. The task of making the house look like a model home isn’t easy, she added, particularly when small children are living there.

"Putting your home on the market forces you to complete all the projects you were meaning to do through the years," she said. "It’s also good to get the advice of a Relator, who’ll give a fresh eye to all the things that you’ve grown accustomed to having around. To someone else, it may look cluttered, or not as good as you thought it did."

McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this story

dawn@sltrib.com

Twitter: @DawnHouseTrib



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