Stephanie Butler clean houseClean homes sell faster and for more money, it’s that simple. Listing a dirty, unkempt home for sale can hurt your home’s perceived value. Clean impresses buyers and sends a message that a home has been well maintained. Buyers prefer making offers for clean homes because the perceived condition gives them confidence that the home won’t have unforeseen problems after closing. And since cleaning is generally not expensive, it pays sellers’ dividends.

To illustrate my point, think about the last time you checked into a hotel. I don’t know about you, but when I check in, the lobby is the first thing that I notice. If the lobby is well appointed and immaculate, I look forward to a comfortable stay. Clean is beautiful and many people will pay more to stay at a hotel that is squeaky clean. The same holds true for home buyers, when they are impressed by a home’s cleanliness, they will often pay more for that home. It is a subliminal message that works, so why not use it to your advantage?

Home buyers look for certain things and their initial online view can put your home on or off their short list. So, give your home an advantage over other homes in its price point and “clean stage” it. A staged home with furniture placed to fit the spaces is what buyers look for. A home whose floors, walls and windows are detailed can cause a buyer to linger longer. And, if one buyer wants to linger, it is likely that multiple buyers will do the same which is good news for a seller. If a home is filled with light, and it is scrubbed down to the corners, that is a winning combination. Buyers will compete for homes like this and that makes negotiating more favorable for sellers. In 2018, it frequently meant multiple offers over list price with many homes being sold for thousands of dollars more.

Help buyers check their boxes and want to select your home over another. Consider that a clean home begins with the condition of the front door, the front yard and the front walkway. These three things create anticipation that the inside will be like the outside. If the front door has a fresh coat of paint that coordinates with the siding color, buyers notice it. If the landscaping is trimmed and free of weeds, and the front step is broom swept clean, it says welcome and come on in. If the interior walls and woodwork have a fresh coat of neutral paint that carries throughout the home it is easier to say “yes,” to a home like this because it says the home is move in ready. If the home has a fresh smell and has been cleaned with green products that are free of harmful chemicals, buyers notice and appreciate that. Few buyers will pay more for a bad smelling home or one that has lingering pet odors. And when key items such as the electrical, furnace and roof are newer buyers feel confident that they will not be hit with unplanned expenses after their purchase.

Consider doing a pre-inspection before listing your home. This can save you thousands of dollars and can also prevent a transaction from going sideways. Buyers typically will also conduct their own inspection, but if you know in advance about issues with the home, a pre-inspection can help prepare you for negotiations. It also gives you some additional time to address deferred maintenance because not completing repairs in advance of listing can cost you more once you have an offer in hand.

Alternatively, you can ask a trusted friend or realtor to walk through the home with you. Make a list of items that may need repair, need to be cleaned or need to be updated. Prioritize that list and decide how much you want to spend on home sale preparation. This is a balancing act, so work within your budget. You don’t want to invest heavily in updates if you cannot get your investment back. On the contrary, cleaning is cheap and should be at the top of your list. Cleaning is always a good choice and will attract more buyers. More buyers mean more competition and likely a higher sales price. So remember, cleanliness really matters, clean homes sell faster and usually for more money! It’s that simple.