The Definitive Guide of What to Remove When Selling Your Home

30 Things to Remove When Selling Your Home


Remove the following:

~ All live animals from the house during a showing.

~ Cat or dog hair from all surfaces.

~ Dog or cat toys from the house and yard.

~ Pet smells. It’s possible you’ve become nose-blind.

~ Pet stains from rugs or furniture.

~ Dead or taxidermy animals, tusks, horns or even items made from ivory which might offend buyers.

~ Political books or paraphernalia that indicate your political views. This should not cloud the judgment of someone viewing your house.

~ Mold or mildew smells. Consider investing in an Ion air purifier, odor removers based on the source, and natural odor removing sprays.

~ Excess furniture and storage boxes from all areas.

~ Portable heaters from rooms. You don’t want your buyers to think you need additional spot heating.

~ Dead branches from the yard and any fallen trees.

~ Religious statues or fixtures.

~ Photos of famous or well-known people. You don’t want your buyer to stop looking at the house to look at your photos.

~ Dirty laundry. It’s okay to have dirty laundry neatly stored in storage baskets, as long as it doesn’t stink up the laundry room.

~ Garbage from the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms.

~ Even the slightest hint of smoke from a cigarette, cigar, pipe or fireplace. Charcoal odor absorbers work great. Never ever smoke in the house if you’re selling it.

~ Strong cooking smells. If you know you have an upcoming showing, try to consider that when preparing meals.

~ Fresh garlic and onions from your countertops because they do make a house smell. Place them in a sealed container. Remove older bananas because they give off a horrible smell and don’t ever leave banana peels in the garbage. Consider having fake lemons on hand, or even better, fresh lemons and oranges which can be cut up and used as a freshener for your garbage disposal system when they become overripe.

~ Old food from your fridge or freezer which can be a huge source of smells in the kitchen.

~ Plungers and toilet cleaning tools from the bathrooms.

~ Anything from the yard, driveway or garage that could be a potential hazard to a buyer, especially to small children. Consider your garden tools, pesticides and where and how they are stored.

~ Dog droppings from the yard. Place litter boxes in the garage or out of the way for a showing and even then, make sure they are clean.

~ Any ratty looking doormats. Invest in fresh doormats for both inside and out. Not only will they look great but they will protect your floors and carpets.

~ Dead lightbulbs. Replace with the highest wattage possible. This is not the time for dimmed lights.

~ Get rid of any dead cars, wheelbarrows, trailers, etc from the driveway if you have them.

~ Any and all medications from drawers and cabinets, especially if you’re having a broker or public open house.

~ Remove and/or properly secure jewelry in a unmovable safe or to a safety deposit box off-site.

~ Silver flatware or small objects if they are in an obvious place, again especially for any public or broker open houses.

~ Small and valuable objects that can easily be picked up or broken by accident.

~ Dead plants or wilting cut flowers. Add fresh flowers if possible, but don’t use any “funereal” type flowers or those with a heavy scent.


Coming soon: Cleaning tools I can’t live without!

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10 Clear Signs That It’s Time to Downsize

When is it the right time to downsize? 10 signs that tell you it’s now.

I’ll start by saying that I dislike the word “downsize.” It makes me think of a corporate employee becoming obsolete. But in the real estate world, downsizing takes on a completely different meaning. I prefer to call it “simplifying.”

Here are 10 things that are more than evident that it’s time to start thinking about simplifying your life and about moving to a smaller home.

1) You find that you are living in only 3 rooms in your house – the kitchen, family room and bedroom. How many times do you walk past your living room and say “Oh, that’s pretty. Too bad we don’t use it more.” Or look at your dining room and think about the 4 times a year you actually sit at the table with guests. What’s the point of having rooms you don’t need?

2) The kids are gone and they’re starting their own adult lives. The kids might still come home, but as their own lives get established and their own families grow, so will their need for privacy as well as their expectation that their bedroom will remain the same. There is no law that says you have to maintain a shrine to your kids and keep an otherwise good room as-is for their return. I think you might be surprised at how flexible kids/adult children can be. And it’s not a bad thing to treat them more like a guest once they move out. It helps them feel grown-up and helps you move on with your life.

3) You’ve had a bone break, surgery, or an injury and you realize you need a first-floor bedroom. I am of the belief that every home should have a first-floor bedroom or at least a room with a full bath that can become a temporary bedroom if you need it. With aging parents and the possibility of your own joint issues, this is a must. It might be time to buy a ranch or a house with a first-floor bedroom for an aging parent or even for yourself if you’re thinking ahead. If you think you’re too active to need this, think again. It’s usually the more active middle-agers that need exactly this.

4) Your local real estate market is strong. Maybe now is the time to cash-out and put some money in the bank for your retirement. If it’s a bad market and you don’t need to sell yet, then don’t, and wait for a stronger market. But if it is strong, take advantage of it because you have no way of knowing what will happen in the near future. It’s always better to sell because you want to and not because you have to.

5) You expect major repairs in the near future. Everything, including every utility and appliance in your home has an expected life span. This is generally 10-15 years. If you think that major upgrades will be needed soon and you either can’t afford it or simply choose not to undertake their replacement, it may be time to sell. Legally you must disclose what is currently not working, but you do not need to disclose that you think the appliance is at the end of its expected life span. A buyer’s inspector will almost certainly advise the buyer of the above, but if properly disclosed, you may not need to pay or credit for that. I am happy to answer specific questions about this subject. Email or call me if you have an issue you are concerned about.

6) You feel overwhelmed by “stuff.” I always tell my clients to take a look at one room at a time, then one cabinet or dresser at a time. I think you would be shocked by what you don’t need and don’t use. I like the top-down approach. See my organizing article for what to do with the excess “stuff.” There are many needy people and organizations out there, and who doesn’t need another tax deduction? I was recently helping my mother decide about what to keep in her closet, and she had clothes dating back more than 20-years because she thought there was a possibility she might someday wear them again.

7) You’re ready for a change. You might have dreamed of living in other areas of the country or even the world, but your ties and responsibilities to your current hometown might have made that previously impossible. Now might be the perfect time to start over in a new town or in a new state and see what that new life has to offer you.

8) You want to try a new style home. Are you tired of that 4-bedroom center hall colonial that you’ve lived in for the last 20 years? Maybe now is the time to live in a completely different style of home or even a condo. Have you dreamed of a contemporary “adult” home with tons of windows and light? Why not consider something different. If not now, when?

9) You want to travel more and need a turnkey house that someone else can watch over and maintain. This is when a condo becomes more and more desirable. Leave the exterior maintenance up to others and travel till your heart is content. Another option is to hire a professional property maintenance company to help you both when you’re home and when you travel. Ask me for resources. I have many qualified people in my contact list.

10) Aging parents: In this sandwich generation, our responsibilities go well beyond caring for ourselves and our own homes. It might be a good time to simplify your life if you may need to help out an aging parent. This might include financial help or simply the ability to drop everything at a moment’s notice and go to them. If you have an organized life and an organized home, it will be far easier to be able to do this.

Downsizing might have been a dirty word many years ago, but my bet is that when you do it, your friends and colleagues will be envious that you were smart enough to think ahead and take the first step to simplify your life


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10 Critical First Steps For Preparing Your Home For Sale

There are hundreds of articles out there telling you what to do to organize, prep and stage your home for sale. Many of them don’t address the key initial things I think are needed to get your home ready for sale.


Stock photo - piles ofpaper


1. Dump and Sort: Paper and junk piles up and no one is immune to this. We all get busy and create piles. Even sorted piles look messy and can make your house appear sloppy and unorganized. I like the dump and sort approach. Take a basket or a plastic container and clear the decks, so to speak. Empty everything into the container then sort out what you want to keep, donate or throw out when you have the time. This gives you an immediate sense of cleanliness and the ability to do the actual sorting later. You might even find that once you experience the calm of clean and organized surfaces around you, you might be more brutal with what you want to put back.


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2. Top Down: Once the dump and sort is done, take a top down cleaning approach. Start at your highest level and work your way down. That usually means you’ll end up in the basement or in your storage space, which works out perfectly. By the time you get to this lowest storage level, you may realize that what you’re keeping can now be thrown out and/or donated.


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3. Clean It: Start with your ceiling and wall light fixtures then go to the top of doorways and high furniture, clean all of your artwork and mirrors, TVs, blinds, draperies and rods, then head to the furniture which you need to move to clean under and around it. Keep going until every surface is clean. Every inch. Most people wait to have their windows cleaned in the spring, but if you’re selling your house, this needs to be done immediately, weather dependent. I recommend cleaning the blinds and draperies just prior to having your windows cleaned.


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4. Attack the Baths: Take a good look at your bathrooms and decide what work needs to be done. Most people overlook this hot-spot of mold, grime and mildew. If you have a shower curtain, replace both it and the liner. For a glass shower door, check the plastic seals and the hinges to see if they need repair or replacement. For soap scum, check out my Pinterest page for numerous ways to clean it with homemade products.


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5. Lighting: This is very important. Make sure that all your lightbulbs work and that they are all the same high wattage. If you need to add a dimmer switch or two, do it – it makes a world of difference at a low cost. If your table or floor lamps are outdated, consider purchasing new transitional lamps or simply replace the shades if the lamps  are updated enough.


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6. Artwork: Again, this can be a simple fix. Many sellers don’t realize what an impression artwork can make to a buyer. It should be consistent in style throughout the house. While Grandma’s art may be sentimental, it’s best to store it when your house is for sale. Artwork sets a tone and can help give buyers a feeling of what your home is all about.


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7. To Stage or Not to Stage: So, what does staging really mean? It can run the gamut of a complete makeover to editing your belongings, having you purchase household items, or have you rent the items you need for as long as your house is on the market. Each house is individual in its needs and only a professional Realtor or stager can help you decide which is the right path for you.


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8. Landscaping and Curb Appeal: This is the first impression that both your buyers and the agents who show your house will have. If your home doesn’t look appealing and well-kept, both will likely pass on it and go to the next. Even in the dead of winter you can clean up the yard and have beautiful planters filled with winter greenery at each primary entrance to your home.


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9. The Front Door: So, think about it – while the real estate agent is opening up your door or lock-box, what is the buyer doing? They are looking around at everything in sight. They can be looking at cobwebs and dirt, peeling paint and mold, or they can be looking at beautiful planters and accessories, a new door mat and a welcoming entryway.

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10. Smell: We all love our pets, spicy food and fish dinners, but this is no time for any of those smells to be overwhelming or obvious. A beautifully scented candle is great, but don’t overwhelm your space with strong scents. Suspicious buyers will think you’re trying to cover up something more evil than last night’s dinner.


Keep visiting this site for more steps to prepare and sell your home!


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© 2017 Rachel Walsh Homes. William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty | 26 Cherry Street New Canaan, Connecticut 06840.
Realtor Licensed in the State of Connecticut. Residential License #0751748.