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Cover story: Cleanup for sale includes storage areas
The experts agreed that the attic does not need to be pristine, but the items in it must be boxed neatly. Ms. Ebrahimi noted that a messy, crowded attic makes potential buyers leery about the homeowners’ intent to sell.
“It doesn’t look as if the sellers are serious about moving because it would take forever to get that stuff moved out,” she said.
Don’t forget, too, that the home inspector will have to have access in the attic, Ms. Muffler added. “So you may as well get that in order.”
Ms. Muffler said the cleaner and neater a home is, the faster it will sell and the closer the owners will come to getting their asking price.
“You want to be proactive, not reactive,” she said. “If a house sits and sits, the owners will come around and start taking necessary steps, but by then the house is stigmatized, and they’re going to get a lower price.”
The two weeks following Labor Day mark the start of the fall real estate market, Ms. Muffler noted.
“Call in a professional organizer if you don’t have time to declutter on your own,” she advised.
Professional organizer Ms. Ferraguto explained that she won’t take on any jobs less than three hours long (at a rate of $195 and $45 for each additional hour) and that she also won’t go longer than six hours in any given day. The total decluttering duration depends on the size and scope of the home and its contents, she said, adding that it is faster and easier if the homeowner assists her.
“I’m not comfortable throwing away anyone’s possessions,” she said. “It’s better if the homeowner is there to make the decisions.”
Hiring a professional organizer before a move is a sound decision, Ms. Ferraguto said.
“Let’s face it, no one wants to open moving boxes at their destination and think: ‘I just paid someone to move THIS?!’ ” she said.
Patricia Turgeon, a stay-at-home mother in Ashburn, Va., agreed that it’s smart to purge before a move.
“Get rid of the Christmas tree that’s not going to fit in the new house, get rid of old clothing, think about how unrealistic it is that your kids are going to want their old cribs,” she said, pointing out that all of those items are good candidates for donation. “Think about the needy in your community. Times are tough right now for a lot of people.”
Ms. Turgeon added that cleanliness — in all areas of the house — has been a huge factor for her family in terms of both selling and buying houses.
“Our last house sold in less than a week, and the offer was within $5,000 of our asking price,” she said. “I wanted everything to be as clean as possible because I assume the person buying the house will want the same things I want.”
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