messy bedroom

Selling your house? Make sure it's clean, advises Jen Kirchhoefer.

Erma Bombeck once said, “Cleanliness is not next to godliness. It isn't even in the same neighborhood. No one has ever gotten a religious experience out of removing burned-on cheese from the grill of the toaster oven.” I will have to say a big amen to that. However, if you want to sell your home, it would really serve you better to go ahead and scrub the cheese off.

It is either by some cataclysmic coincidence or merely the fact that there is minimal inventory on the market right now, but nearly every listed house I have toured with buyers lately has been a far cry from tidy. If this is just my experience, it certainly is a bizarre fluke. My guess, however, is that many other Realtors are having the same experience with their buyers.

People tend to have varying definitions of “clean.” I get that. When I ask my 4-year-old nephew to go wash his hands, for example, he deems them clean once the water in the bathroom has been running for an inordinate amount of time, despite the fact that his hands never actually come in contact with said water. Either that, or he has the dog lick them. Neither of these renditions fit my own qualifications of clean.

It feels like a lot of sellers are just “letting the water run.” Yesterday I showed a run of six mid-range priced homes. With every single one of them we literally had to look past the grime, grunge and clutter. Being a recovering clean freak myself, I had to almost tie myself down to not grab a damp cloth and some soap and start scrubbing. It’s really the little things that make a big difference; such as, wiping last month’s bacon grease off of the stove top, or putting yesterday’s underwear (I hope it was just yesterday’s) in the dirty clothes basket.

The last home of the day that we toured, I made a small mental list of the things that, at the very minimum, should not have been overlooked. At the risk of offending (again), I would like to share a few of those things: Wipe down the front door; eliminate all evidence of pets (yes, that includes the pet hair all over the furniture and baseboards); do the breakfast dishes, or at least hide them someplace; clear the plastic alphabet letters off the fridge; be sure the toilet is flushed and has had some sort of bowl cleaner poured into it at some point; clear off all items from the kitchen and bathroom countertops; and, at the very least, if you’re going to take a toke on some weed, even if you don’t inhale, at least open the windows.

Besides the more obvious things such as using soap, a cloth and the proverbial running water, vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping can go a long way as well. Not to mention, any kind of grass, even weed-infested, brown crab grass, looks better with a haircut.

Unfortunately, these untidy sellers are right — for now. They probably can sell their begrimed home in this market. But the market isn’t always going to be this easy for sellers. It’s never a good idea to set a standard that is so low that the most effort anyone has to expel is to turn the faucet on.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor with Ascent Real Estate. She can be reached at 801-645-2134

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