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Want to sell your house? Clean up the dirty walls, floors and more

Perhaps a few "pending" signs have encouraged you to put your home on the market. But you need to get it sale-ready. But such an ambitious plan requires a strategy, because depending on the upgrades your home needs, it could be time-consuming to complete them between your job and family activities.

We're not talking major overhauls like redoing bathrooms and kitchens. But there are changes you can make that will give a good return on your real estate investment. The most significant changes you can make include updating the flooring, adding a fresh coat of paint, decluttering and cleaning like there's no tomorrow.

These sound easy to accomplish on paper but getting them done is another matter. Begin by assessing the updates and set an action plan that's six to eight weeks before listing your home. And consult with your Realtor and seek his or her advice on considering a professional home stager.

Updating wood floors

If resanding will do the trick, plan time for professionals' visits and estimates. For partial or complete replacements, visit home improvement stores or flooring specialists to see samples. Allow time for measuring, choosing flooring and getting written quotes for cost comparison. Flooring professionals need lead time to order your product and to book their service crew. Some will book you within a couple of weeks while others will need more time.


Although hardwood flooring appeals to buyers, replacing existing carpeting is less costly than laying hardwood. A carpet professional can help you choose something current, inexpensive and suitable for showcasing your home.


If you're hiring a professional painter, allow time to get estimates. Color selection takes time when trying to find a happy medium between neutralizing your home's colors, keeping them modern and complementing existing or new furniture and fixtures. Choose colors, and then bring home samples and apply to the walls to make a more informed decision. Get input from your Realtor. If you're doing the painting, plan time for removing and repainting floorboards, repairing cracks, applying drywall tape, priming and repainting ceilings, if discolored by smokers.

Declutter and removal

Once the walls are painted and the flooring laid you will need a day or two to finish decluttering closets, the garage and so forth. You may want to rent a portable storage unit to temporarily remove items from view. You'll need a day or even a week of lead time for delivery of the bin, a day or two to load it and another appointment to have it taken away to the storage facility.

Extreme cleaning

The more you can clean, the better. But to save time and energy, hire a cleaning service to thoroughly clean the kitchen, its appliances and bathrooms. Hiring a professional window washer who cleans both the indoors and outdoors results in extra sparkle.

Tina Fountain is the Top Ten Atlanta Real Estate Deals concierge agent and broker-owner of Atlanta-based Tina Fountain Realtors. To read more about the real estate market, including Top 10 lists and real estate market guides, go to


Your timetable

• Start by choosing your desired listing date, then work backward.

• Allow six weeks to have flooring completed.

• Set a two-week to four-week period before flooring completion for painting.

• Allow several days to declutter and clean.

• You'll likely stage your furniture just before showing — but consult with your Realtor for guidance.

Tina Fountain

Want to sell your house? Clean up the dirty walls, floors and more 06/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2011 2:53pm]
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