Friday, June 19, 2009

Ready for Sale (Part Three of Four)

Most home owners know what they would look for in a home, if they were shopping for a new place to live. The problem comes when the home seller tries to second guess what qualified potential buyers are looking for when they schedule a tour of a home. In this, the third installment of the four-part series we will address a couple of “inside the home” topics that can make all the difference in how your home shows.

Even before potential buyers can appreciate how the inside of your home looks, they are already making judgments by the way your home smells. Just like people we know who smoke and then douse themselves with cologne or perfume; covering up inside home odors doesn’t work either.

There are products on the market that claim to absorb and eliminate odors when sprayed on drapes and upholstery. I’ve used these in my home. At the risk of getting into trouble with my wife let me say that we have a very clean home. But it seems we have to use these products on a somewhat frequent basis to once again remove the odors that were supposed to be eliminated in the previous application. Perhaps it’s just our home, or we aren’t applying the product correctly. I don’t know.

“If you have indoor pets, smokers, frequently cook spicy fried foods, or clean fish in the kitchen sink (yuck!), a thorough carpet and upholstery cleaning is recommended”, says Steve Dowling, owner of Oklahoma Steam Clean and Restoration ( “Regardless of who the homeowner contracts to do the job, they need to make sure the company uses the right equipment and the right products to remove the source of odors, not cover them up” Dowling said.

Of course home owners do have the option of renting carpet cleaning equipment from the grocery store. And who hasn’t done this? Dive to the store, load up the equipment, unload it at home, figure out how to work the thing, push and pull it for a couple of hours, work on high traffic areas and tough stains, empty the water collector several times, load the equipment back up, drive to the store, unload it and then wake up the next morning to carpets that are still wet.

But perhaps the most frustrating things about the do-it-yourself route, is that often too much of the cleaning product is left in the carpet, which when dry attracts new dirt like a magnet. Within weeks the carpet can look worse than it did before the do-it-yourself self-torture.

Another important area of the home is the tile and grout. This area is more often overlooked than it is addressed by sellers. “It’s just plain bad to go into a house and immediately be knocked out by a mildew odor coming from the bathroom” said, Brad Womack, owner of Integrity Tile Services ( “Grout that has molded or mildewed in and around the tub and shower areas is usually the culprit for mildew odor” Womack added.

Besides replacing broken, chipped or missing tiles anywhere (including kitchen counter and backsplash areas), all tile and grout should be thoroughly cleaned in order to eliminate stains and odors and to make the home look its best.

Womack suggests, “If you choose to clean/seal the tile and grout yourself, make sure that the surface to be sealed is very clean; you don’t want to trap any dirt under the sealer.” There are a number of products on the market that effectively seal grout. But if you don’t have time or the energy to do the job yourself, Womack suggest calling a professional who has the knowledge, skill and equipment to do the job quickly and effectively.

After you have done everything you think needs to be done in order to make your house shine, try this. Shoot a video of your home as if you were a potential buyer. Begin filming by driving up to your home and continue the shoot as you walk up the sidewalk, enter the door and tour the home. Once the video is complete (and unedited) sit down and watch it with your realtor. Then humbly and calmly accept their suggestions.

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