Before You Put Your House on the Market
Before I put my condo on the market, I read this article, How To Prepare Your House For Sale, plus dozens of others. Some of the tips are a bit over the top. I didn't alphabetize my spice jars ;-) But I did remove half the books from my bookshelves and stuffed them in my storage locker. I put away all personal items, cleared everything off of my refrigerator door and stuffed all of my smaller appliances under the sink/counter. When my realtor dropped by for an initial walk through, she told me that our goal was to make the place look like as if no one lives there (i.e., a model home). So she pointed at various things that I needed to hide/put away (for example, she told me to remove all loose papers, magazines and books from the living room area and my desk). And this was after I had already made an initial pass at 'decluttering' my place. She also suggested that I straighten all of the bottles of detergent and cleaners in my laundry room. And she stressed that everything needed to come off the floor, under the theory that if you have stuff on the floor, buyers will assume that you don't have enough storage space. Big sigh. As I've mentioned in the past, I'm somewhat vertically challenged. But I dutifully moved all of my clothes and shoes and miscellaneous food items onto the top shelves of my closets and pantry. My two step ladder saw more use in the past month and a half than in the last 3 years combined.
As for repairs, I had to patch and repaint a small 6"x6" area on each side of the shower stall. And I had to recaulk the bottom of the shower stall and around the kitchen sink. I also adjusted the master bathroom door and a closet door in the second bedroom that didn't close properly. And I used a magic eraser to remove some minor scuff marks on the walls in the hallway.
As for staging the place, I didn't do very much in the way of rearranging furniture. But I did buy a new comforter set for the master bedroom and added some fluffy pillows to hide the fact that I don't have a headboard. I also put a single pillar candle on the coffee table and the dining room table, artfully arranged a new set of towels in the guest bathroom, and set out fresh cut flowers on the kitchen island. And as the article suggests, I put some organic, scented soap in the master bath. The funny thing is that when my realtor showed the place to another agent in the building, she asked if my place had been professionally staged.
In terms of daily maintenance and cleaning, I had a pretty extensive and exhausting routine. I would make my bed, arranging the pillows and sheets and comforter as you would in a hotel room. After taking a shower and getting ready for work, I would start with the kitchen by clearing all of the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, wipe down the counters and faucets, and store everything under the sink. Then, I would move to the bathroom, wiping down all of the faucets, mirrors and counters. I would rearrange the towels, vacuum the bathroom floor and around the kitchen garbage can. Every other day, I would toss out the garbage and vacuum the kitchen, living and dining area. Every Sunday, I bought a fresh bouquet of flowers (usually from Costco). And every other week, a professional cleaning crew would come in and do a more thorough cleaning of the floors, stove, bathrooms, etc.
Let's just say that I'm relieved that my place sold quickly.