Most Sellers spend a lot of time preparing their homes to list on the market. Decluttering, packing up the things they can live without and cleaning the house, all to make it ready for sale and give it that unrealistic “No one lives this way” appearance that a buyer wants to see. I laugh when I arrive at a Sellers home for a listing appointment as they profoundly apologize for the “mess” they feel their home is, I remind them that part of my job is helping them identify what needs to be done for final sale prep and that they have not seen my house.

No one lives like this. A kitchen staged for sale.

Real estate agents are trained to look past the contents and see the house, so never worry about the condition it is when we get that, instead seize that opportunity to ask us what you need to do. Be sure to have a pen and paper ready.  I am in the process of creating a check-list for my sellers to use for final prep.

What I find the most interesting though is how I find a house when I am showing it to a perspective buyer. Floors swept, carpets vacuumed and raked, counters gleaming, all the obvious details are handled, but not the overlooked “forgotten” bits that whether consciously or not are noticed by a buyer.

Before you declare your home ready for showings, stand in the center of the room and turn slowly looking from floor to ceiling and back again. I bet you would be surprised what you missed. The following is a list of the top 8 most overlooked items, in my experience, I see in many listings that should be cleaned.

Top 8 Most Overlooked in Cleaning

  1. Quarter-round molding and floor molding. People just don’t seem to notice that part of their home. They sweep, vacuum, scrub and prep the floor surfaces but don’t give a thought to the molding. The buyer notices this and psychologically it can impact their opinion of how well the home was cared for. Depending on the surface I recommend the following; wood surfaces – clean with a wood cleaning product with orange oil, it really makes it look new (careful along carpeting) spray the cleaner on to a rag or paper towel to apply, for painted wood I like Formula 409, it is a great cleaner, use a rag or paper towel, if you find a really tough mark try the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser but use it sparingly as it will remove paint.
  2. Carpet edges! Your vacuum has an edging tool for a reason. If you have never used it you might want to call in a professional as it might be beyond your vacuum cleaner at this point. I find that if you edge your carpet once a month it will keep it as clean as the rest. When you do edge be sure to also vacuum the molding thereby preventing the need for the first item on my list.
  3. Doors. Most people don’t seem to realize that those lovely 6-panel colonial doors have surfaces that will catch and hold dust. Go look at yours, I bet unless you are the best housekeeper in the world you will find dust. In bathrooms it can be worse as the moisture will congeal the dust into something more. I like using antibacterial wipes, or Formula 409 works well too.
  4. Light switches. May I just say “ick” to what I see on light switches sometimes. They are touched so often and get particularly filthy. They require a bit more work to clean – I go with my default Formula 409 but also bring cotton swabs into the mix to get the tougher to reach places.
  5. Ceiling fans. I don’t care if you keep them on at all times (I do in my house), they still collect dust. I like the Swiffer Dusters for this task, but if you have a cathedral ceiling and no ladder you might need to call in some help.
  6. Architectural details including those lovely looking yet useless ledges found in some of the newer and grander homes. Nearly every time I show one of those style homes I find a lovely layer of dust.
  7. Walls! If you have pets or kids check your walls, especially corners if you have cats. They love to rub a corner and will leave marks. I use anti-bacterial wipes on those regularly to eliminate them.
  8. Kick plates on stairs. If you have white kick plates check for scuffs from shoes. Use the Mr. Clean Magic eraser for those and stop wearing shoes in your house!

It is amazing the psychological impact these little details have, I could go on with many more but lets start with the obvious.  A few not so obvious: air intake on the refrigerator (also improves performance and energy efficiency), the oven, blinds and I could go on.

Is there anything you notice that I missed?