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The spring market is quickly approaching in Chicago. Traditionally March and April show the heaviest online buyer traffic, meaning buyers are starting their online property search and preparing to visit listings in person. In fact, we have already seen an increase in buyer interest in Chicago this year. January 2013 was one of the busiest starts to the year that anyone in our office has seen and February is shaping up similarly.

If you plan to list in this market it is vital to get your home in tip-top shape and pay close attention to detail so it will outshine the competition. Everyone knows the importance of decluttering, but without deep cleaning as well the shadows of your former clutter may remain. Here is a checklist of items to make sure you clean, especially if you don’t normally get to it.

  1. Baseboards and Crown Molding — Surely you’ve noticed the baseboard under your side table tends to get neglected when you vacuum. Be sure to go around the entire perimeter of each room and clean them up. Then climb a ladder and use a damp cloth to clean the crown molding. Most buyers will look up at that and if yours is freshly clean it will have a subtle but impactful shine.
  2. Air Vents and Duct Work — While you are on that ladder pull down the vent grates, if possible, then scrub them in a large sink or tub. Whether your are good about dusting them on a regular basis or not you may be surprised to find what kind of grime can still collect on them. If you have exposed duct work in your loft it likely attracts a lot of hard to clean dust. You may not be able to get it perfectly clean, but if you make a good effort with a damp cloth (or thirty) you can at least tone down the shadow that forms from the dust.
  3. Fan Blades and Chandeliers — If you have overhead fans or lights the tops of these can collect dust, just like the duct work in a loft. Carefully wipe all of these down with a damp cloth as well.
  4. Windows — The best time to clean a window is when the sun is not shining through. If the window is sunny the cleaner might dry before you get a chance to wipe it off, leaving streaks. If you have big windows or ones high up that you don’t clean often remember to tend to them too. (Hint: Windshield cleaning solution lasts longer than household window cleaner and tends to streak less.)
  5. Fireplace — Whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace it creates and collects dust and debris. Give it a through cleaning and for a gas fireplace refer to your users manual about how to clean the gas line and logs or interior accents.
  6. Cabinets and Dishwasher — Food particles, drips, and stains can find their way to the sneakiest of places. Look carefully, especially near door hinges or where the door meets the interior.
  7. Behind Large Furniture and Appliances — Buyers may not look back there, but how would you feel if everywhere else was spotless and ready to show, but then a dust bunny comes rolling out from under the upright piano just as a potential buyer walks by?
  8. Mirrors and Stainless Steel — Carefully use specialized cleaners in small areas at a time to avoid streaking.
  9. Replace/Clean Filters — Make sure your air filters and any filters in major appliances such as the refridgerator or dishwasher are fresh and working their best.
  10. Ovens — Follow the directions in your owners manual to make the inside of your oven shine like new. Be sure to do the same for all of your countertop appliances, whether they stay with the home or not.
  11. BONUS TIP: Knick-nacks and display items — Leave no silver tarnished and no crystal dull. These items help bounce light around the room and the cleaner they are the brighter they will help the room be.

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