Spend some time making sure sellers understand that a successful and quick sale depends on them staying in front of showings so the home really shines. Here are a few ways to make sure your sellers are putting their best house forward.

I’ll never forget the time I was showing homes with buyers, when I walked into a property and was met with a sight for sore eyes. Size 14 women’s shoes strewn across the floor, a pair of giant underpants hanging off the stair railing and, wait for it, a man sound asleep in one of the bedrooms!

Worse yet, the house was a hot mess. The kitchen sink was overflowing with dishes, counters were covered with mail, and trash was everywhere. My buyers were screaming, the seller was screaming, and we were all banging into each other.

The listing agent never let the sellers know there was a showing. Needless to say, we blasted out fast and never looked back.

We have all watched a little HGTV, so we know that we only have one chance to make a first impression. It’s incredibly important that our sellers know and understand the importance of “show-ready.”

For our clients with children, pets or both, this can be an overwhelming challenge, especially with short notice or on-the-fly showings (despite agent notes for 24 hours notice).

The best way to prepare our clients is to be upfront and firm as well as kind and helpful. The top way to accomplish this: Get an action plan in place before the property ever hits the market.

Organization is key, and it will largely depend on the expectations we, as agents, set forth with our sellers. Spend some time making sure they understand that a successful and quick sale depends on them staying in front of showings so the home really shines.

Here are a few ways to make sure your sellers are putting their best house forward:

Dust and sweep quickly

Sweep the kitchen, bathrooms and entryway. If needed, use a cleaning towel or sponge to clean any spots or debris.

Give the baseboards and window sills a quick once over, and quickly wiping down the furniture, TV screens and computer monitors can help make each room shine.

Make sure the countertops sparkle

All counters in the kitchen and bath should be clean and clear. Remove clutter as well — small appliances, knick-knacks and odds and ends should be stored.

Setting out some fresh towels is a nice touch, too!

Make the beds and fluff those throw pillows

All the beds in the home should be made. If your bedspreads have seen better days, consider updating with something fresh and neutral.

Same for throw pillows — if they are looking a little tired, some new ones will go a long way.

Remove garbage and pet supplies

All garbage cans need to be empty. Also, wash them out once a week, and give them a quick spray of disinfectant to cut down odors.

Have a special area designated for your kitty or puppy food, litter box, toys, etc.

Vacuum the carpets

Run the vacuum over carpets and rugs to fluff them up. Focus your efforts on the entry way and living room.

Let the sunshine in

A dark home is gloomy. Turn on the lights (if you are home before the showing), open drapes and blinds to brighten the rooms, and be sure your windows are clean.

Load the dishwasher and washer and dryer

Clear the dishes off the counters and out of sinks by loading the dishwasher, but do not start the cycle if it will be running during the showing.

Clothes should be picked up and either placed in a hamper or loaded into the washer and dryer.

Pick up every room, and make sure the front door, porch and patio are looking sharp. Work backward from the entry point of the home to the furthest bedroom picking up everything off the floors and counter surfaces.

Remember to set out the sign-in sheet and marketing materials. I follow up with each agent after a showing and send client feedback (unedited) as soon as I receive it.

Download a copy of this prep checklist for your seller clients.

Lauren Klein is a multimillion-dollar producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva and real estate branding expert. 

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