Bill Savage's Blog
One of the many challenges of putting your home on the market is keeping it clean!
That task can be even more difficult if you have kids, pets, and a busy schedule. If everyone is always rushing off to their jobs, classes, lunch dates, meetings, practices, or appointments, it's hard to keep your home in a perpetual state of cleanliness and order.
Probably the first step to keeping your house ready for real estate showings is to remind your family to clean up after themselves. While this may require more than one reminder, any amount of cooperation will help keep messes to a minimum. Implementing some sort of reward system or even a competition among siblings, can go a long way toward maintaining a semblance of order in the house. Some parents even post a calendar of assigned chores to make sure everyone does their fair share.
Professional Help May Be Needed!
Getting your home ready for real estate showings can feel like a monumental task, especially if you have a large house and a messy family! The good news is that you can hire some outside help without depleting your kids' college funds! Many households already have a house cleaning person or service that comes in at least a couple times a month to keep things looking civilized. If your house is actively being shown to prospective buyers, however, you might want to consider having your housekeeper clean the house a little more frequently than usual. That way, you only have to do some minor tidying up when your real estate agent notifies you about a scheduled house showing in a few hours or tomorrow morning.
If any of your rooms are carpeted and the floors haven't been professionally steam-cleaned for as long as you can remember, it may be time to hire a carpet cleaning service. Carpeted floors have an unfortunate tendancy of locking in stains, allergens, and ground-in dirt for months, if not years! Although you can often improve the appearance of your carpets by cleaning them yourself, it often requires the services of a professional carpet cleaning service to really get those stubborn stains out. You can often get recommendations from neighbors, friends, relatives, or coworkers, and can look for online reviews of carpet cleaners on social media websites.
Once you've cleaned, dusted, and sanitized the inside of your house, there may be one more area to tackle before you're ready to have your house shown: its exterior! Your home's siding may be covered with filmy layers of dust, grime, splatters, and environmental pollutants -- a condition which thankfully can be reversed by using the services of a local power-washing company. While not all power-washing services are created equal, a reliable one can remove years of accumulated filmy deposits from pollen, birds, spider webs, acid rain, snow blower splatters, rust, smoky emissions from backyard barbeques, vehicle exhaust emissions, and other miscellaneous air pollution.
So even though the environment, your family, and the wear and tear of normal, everyday use will take its toll on the appearance of your home, there are many things you can do to reverse that process and restore many aspects of your home's original freshness, charm, and appeal!
If your budget allows for it, hiring a good housekeeper is well worth the money. If you're like most professional couples, you probably already feel "maxed out" after you've put in 40 to 60 hours at your jobs . When you add parenting responsibilities into the mix, there's not too much time and energy left for cleaning the house! While certain basic house cleaning tasks are unavoidable on a daily basis, it's a relief to know that a paid house cleaner will be coming in to do a thorough job soon.
Finding a reliable housekeeper with whom you feel comfortable can be a bit of a challenge, but if you can get referrals from family, friends, and others you know, then your search should put you on the right track.
The Selection Process
Since the main reason you're hiring a cleaning person is to make your life easier, the last thing you want to deal with is dependability problems or substandard work. That's why it's important to get referrals from people you know and trust. It often pays to interview more than one prospective cleaning person because you want to find someone who is the best match for your budget and needs. When you have two or three prospects to choose from, you'll be in a better position to choose the one with the best attitude, top references, and the most agreeable personality.
Unless a cleaning person was referred to you by someone you know well, it's a good idea to request references and contact a couple of them before making any final decisions. Calling at least two of their current customers (or past bosses) should give you some helpful insights into their work habits, punctuality, and willingness to follow directions.
Although most customers will probably try to be complimentary, if you ask the right questions and look for "red flags" in their answers, you'll be surprised at what you can learn. While it may be too blunt to ask if their cleaning person is honest, a lot can be inferred from their responses to other questions. For example, if a housekeeper has been working for the same customer for several years and cleans their house while the costumer is at their office or other place of employment, then there's a good chance the cleaner does excellent (or at least satisfactory) work and can be trusted. One direct question that generally needs to be asked when talking with references is "Would you personally recommend this person?" Asking how their housekeeper responds to special requests, suggestions, or constructive criticism may also provide revealing answers.
When getting a quote from a cleaning person or house cleaning service, it's useful to get an itemized list of what chores or services would be covered in the price. There are two advantages to this. First of all, you'll be able to compare "apples to apples". Secondly, you'll be able to gauge your expectations to what was initially promised and agreed to. While there may be other issues to consider, like possible background checks and insurance coverages they carry, once you've found a house cleaner you like and trust, you've cleared the biggest hurdle in your search!