Donna Coakley McGowan's Blog
When you’ve gone through the lengthy and tiring process of seeking out, bidding on, and buying a new home and then sell your home, the last thing you want to worry about is cleaning your old house before you leave.
However, there’s multiple reasons you’ll want to ensure your old house is clean before you leave. First, as a common courtesy, you’ll want the new owners of your home to have a good first experience and to maintain your rapport with them after closing day. However, there are also legal and financial issues at play.
If your contract states that your home needs to have been “broom-swept” or some other form of cleaning before you leave, then your new owners could technically postpone closing. Furthermore, some states have laws requiring that homes are cleaned by their previous owners before they move out.
Although it can be difficult to define just how clean a home needs to be, legally speaking, your best option is to do your part to leave the home relatively clean, whether that means cleaning it yourself or hiring a cleaning company.
Legal reasons for cleaning your old house
As mentioned earlier, some states state cleaning requirements in the purchase contract when you sell your home. Their definitions of clean can often be vague, but usually include sweeping floors, wiping down surfaces, stripping nails and hangers from walls, and carrying out all furniture and garbage.
These rules are mostly designed to protect people who purchase a home from getting stuck with bulk items and other surprise issues that they’ll have to pay for.
An exception to this is when your home is sold “as is” or when you have some form of written agreement between you and the new owner that some part f your home will be left as is.
Cleaning your house
The ideal time to clean your house is once you’ve moved everything out. However, if you’re moving over a long distance, you might not be able to return to the house once it’s empty to give it a final cleaning.
In this case, your best option is to have your furniture and boxes packed away neatly in the garage, or in the corner of one room. Doing so will allow you to sweep, clean surfaces, wipe down cabinets, and so on, while your belongings are still in the house.
Just be sure to keep a broom handy once you’ve put everything on the moving truck so you can give one last sweep of the floor before you say goodbye to your old home.
It can be difficult to keep track of everything you’ll want to clean before you move out, so here’s a list to go by:
Sweep all floors
Vacuum all carpets
Wipe down cabinets, shelves
Try to sweep under appliances, oven, etc.
Spray sinks and tubs, leave air freshener in bathroom
Wipe inside of refrigerator, if applicable
Remove all nails from walls
Do a final walkthrough and remove any trash you’ve missed
If you don’t have a lot of cash on hand to secure a home with a sizable downpayment, you might feel stuck. It’s quite a feat to be able to save up the 20 percent cost of a home that is generally required to purchase a home. Your options may seem limited when you want to own a home. There is one option that could be a good idea to consider when you’re in this situation. That’s the idea of finding a rent-to-own property.
How Does A Rent-To-Own Property Work?
First, know that these properties are hard to find. That’s why you may not have thought of it as a first option. When you do find a property like this that suits your needs, you should know all of the ins and outs before you commit to the home. The agreement works just as it sounds, but there are always a few bits of extra text that can make the difference in any agreement in a rent-to-own property.
Lease With A Purchase Option
With this type of agreement, you’ll need to pay what is called an option fee in order to give you the right to purchase the property at a later date. The seller is then required to sell the property to you as a tenant and apply the option fee to the price of purchase. If for some reason you have paid the option fee and decide to walk away from the property after a time, the money that you have paid as an option is simply lost. The option fee is usually a percentage of the purchase price ranging anywhere from 2-7 percent of the home’s price.
Lease And Purchase Agreement Rolled Into One
In this type of rent-to-own agreement, both the tenant and the seller agree on fixed purchase price for the home, or agree that a purchase price will be determined at a later date through an appraisal. Everything is set up from the beginning including the closing date for the home.
This type of deal in a rent-to-own situation is often considered the better choice. Know that a fixed price option may put you in a better financial position than an appraisal option. You’ll have instant equity in the property when you buy it. This is especially helpful in high competition markets. In any other types of market, you may be better off with an appraisal. This ensures that you don’t overpay for the house.
How Your Rent Payments Apply
Rent-to-own gives you an advantage in that you get the added benefit of rent credits. This is where a percentage of your monthly rent payment is applied to the purchase price of the home. The amount of percentage that’s applied will be agreed upon with your landlord ahead of time.
While a rent-to-own option to purchase a property can be a bit more complicated than other ways of purchasing a home, it can be a great way for people different financial situations to become home owners. Make sure you go over everything carefully before you sign anything so that you fully understand the agreement you’re entering into.
Dark colors can be striking in any home, but too many darks can make your home seem gloomy and depressing. Fortunately, simple changes and choices can help you create a space with a dark palette that is attention-getting, not depressing.
Lighting at various levels matters for any space; the right setup of lights from above, on tabletops and even as accents for artwork visually brightens and expands a space. This effect is even more important when you have a darker wall color and furnishings. Make sure your room has adequate light and your space will look cozy, not grim and overly dark.
Go for the Gloss
When it comes to paint for your walls, doors and trim, you have several options ranging from flat, matte finishes to shiny, glossy surfaces. Choose glossy finishes to make your walls and trim pop, even in a dark room. Flat paint will absorb light and look dull, but glossy finishes will reflect light and brighten up your space. Use satin and semi-gloss on walls and accessories, and high gloss on trim for best results.
Soften with Textiles
Dark spaces can lose their impact if everything blends together. Incorporate some texture and color using throws, pillows and other textiles. These items can pull your space together, offer some contrast and ensure your room is striking, not gloomy, too.
Choose Dark, not Black
Navy, deep eggplant and burnt umber are all dark shades that still have interest and color; use one of these rich shades instead of black for your walls and furnishings. You’ll get the striking results you want without the Halloween-like appearance.
Use Mirrors to Reflect Light
Mirrors help bounce natural light from your windows around the room and liven up the space. Mirrors or reflective metallic surfaces help add highlights and interest to your space and make it more visually appealing.
Use Colorful Artwork
Dark doesn’t mean colorless or boring. Choose bold artwork and showcase it on your darker walls. You’ll not only highlight your favorite pieces, you’ll get a look worthy of an art gallery, right in your home.
Use a Variety of Shades
Dark furniture against a dark wall on top of a dark rug will look flat and boring. Opt for a palette of colors that work well together instead of a single, unified shade. You'll create a more interesting space and avoid a gloomy, foreboding look, too.
Used correctly, dark colors can have a striking impact on any space and allow you to create a room that is uniquely yours -- use one or more of the ideas above to incorporate darker shades the right way and you'll end up with a look you'll love.
You probably know that in your home surface cleaning is much different than deep cleaning. Once you get the right spots down that need to be dusted, next, you need to vacuum up all of that dust and dirt. A well-vacuumed house is a happy house (and a dust bunny-free home!) The areas listed below are easy to miss, but once you get the hang of cleaning them, your home will be that much cleaner.
Between The Chair Cushions
Your kids may surf the couch cushions for extra change, but there’s another treasure to be had under there: plenty of crumbs and dirt. People eat on the couch and hang out there a lot. That means there’s dust, dirt, crumbs, hair, and more under those cushions of each chair in your home. Take the time to vacuum and get up all of the gunk.
You probably go up and down your stairs at least a dozen times a day, but do you always take the time to vacuum them? The problem is that it can be hard to find an outlet for the vacuum and it can be a pain to move the attachments in order to get in all of those nooks on the stairs. Your best bet is to use a separate vacuum all together on the stairs. Use a lightweight cordless unit to make your life easier.
Your windows and window treatments are most likely neglected. Take the time to vacuum these up the next time you have the vac unit out. Curtains and blinds can harbor a lot of dust that’s difficult to remove. Use the brush attachment to achieve squeaky clean windows.
You wipe your feet on it every time you come in the house, but o you remember to clean it? Start by shaking out the doormat outside to get loose debris off of it. You should take the time to vacuum up dirt and debris that collects around the doormat to keep anything leaves or dirt from entering further into your home.
This part of the house may be a less obvious place to vacuum. If your lampshade is dirty, the light won’t correctly shine through the lamp. Remove the lampshade then use a hose attachment to remove dust from the inner and outer portions of the lampshade.
The next time you change your bedding, flip your mattress, or the seasons change, take the time to vacuum your mattress. Dust mites and all kinds of things can be harbored in the mattress. It’s important to give your bed some TLC every once in a while.
If you're in the process of preparing your home for the real estate market, get ready to roll up your sleeves and make your home as irresistible as possible!
While this may sound like an enormous undertaking that you don't have the time or energy to tackle, remember one thing: When you put your home up for sale, there's a lot at stake!
Generally, the longer your house stays on the market, the less marketable it becomes. If potential buyers learn that your house has been on the market for longer than, say, a few months, one of the first questions they'll ask or think will be "What's wrong with it?" Once questions like that start arising, the overall appeal of your home begins to decline. As you can imagine, your ability to get the highest possible price for your house also weakens over time. That's why it's important to do everything possible to enhance the look and feel of your home.
Home Staging Counts
Although effective home staging can be a crucial aspect of selling your house quickly, there is a point at which diminishing returns may come into play. Few home sellers have unlimited time and money to invest in staging their home, and it's easy to go above and beyond what's actually necessary to secure a buyer.
There are dozens of variables that affect a house selling strategy, including the real estate market and the condition of your home. If it's a "buyers' market" and there are a lot of comparable houses for sale in your neighborhood, then you might have to work a little harder to make your home stand out and attract offers. If you're fortunate enough to be in a desirable area and not facing a lot of competition from other home sellers, then the law of supply and demand should work in your favor! However, it's still important to make the most of your property's curb appeal and the overall appearance of your home's interior.
The cost of home staging can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, but your real estate agent can provide invaluable guidance on how to cost-effectlively maximize the "eye appeal" of your house and property. While perfection is generally an unattainable standard in home staging (or anything else), optimal results only come from putting your best foot forward.
Several words to remember and be guided by when preparing a house for sale are "immaculate", "spotless", "manicured" (lawn), "fresh" (looking and smelling), "updated", "well-maintained", and "charming". If prospective buyers are using those words and phrases to describe your home, then you know you're on the right track! Your agent can provide you with helpful insights and suggestions for making a great impression on potential buyers -- without having to spend more on home staging than necessary!