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Does cleaning help an appraisal?

When preparing a home for sale, owners often wonder if investing time and money into deep cleaning will help increase the appraisal value. The short answer is yes, a clean and well-maintained home can make a difference in the appraisal.

Why Does a Clean House Matter for Appraisals?

There are a few key reasons why a clean home can help with appraisals:

  • Allows appraisers to focus on the home’s features and condition rather than dirt or damage
  • Creates a welcoming environment that highlights the home’s strengths
  • Demonstrates that the home has been well-cared for and maintained
  • Makes rooms appear larger, brighter and more appealing
  • Removes odors that could detract from the home’s value
  • Reduces risk of appraiser undervaluing due to perceived flaws or defects

A clean home allows the appraiser to focus on the property’s physical characteristics and features without distractions. This gives a more accurate representation of the home’s true value.

What Should You Clean for an Appraisal?

While deep cleaning the entire home is ideal, there are certain areas and tasks to prioritize if time is limited:

  • Kitchen: Clean appliances, cabinet fronts, counters, sink, and backsplash. Remove clutter.
  • Bathrooms: Clean toilets, showers, tubs, sinks, mirrors, counters. Remove soap scum, mildew, mold.
  • Floors: Vacuum carpet and rugs. Mop hardwood, tile, and vinyl floors.
  • Windows: Clean interior and exterior windows and sills.
  • Walls: Spot clean walls and baseboards. Patch small holes.
  • Furniture: Dust wood furniture. Clean mirrors, glass, metal.
  • Light fixtures: Clean lighting covers, bulbs, shades.
  • Outdoors: Mow lawn. Sweep walkways. Clear debris.

Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms as they are highly valued rooms. A deep clean in these areas can really boost your appraisal.

How Does Cleaning Add Value at Appraisal?

Cleaning improves the visual appeal of a home which translates to added dollar value in a few ways:

  • Increases buyer appeal and demand
  • Creates impression of a well-cared for home
  • Allows features and upgrades to stand out
  • Bright, open rooms appear larger
  • Removes minor defects and devaluation risks
  • Makes home show closer to its potential market value

Upgrades like granite counters and hardwood floors look their best when clean. A sparkling home simply shows better and is more attractive to buyers.

What’s the Cost to Value Return?

Estimates vary, but cleaning a home before appraisal can add 2-5% to the value versus a dirty or neglected home. On a $300,000 home, that could mean $6,000-15,000 extra.

The cost of a professional deep cleaning ranges from $200-500 for a typical single family home.

Based on those estimates, the return on investment for cleaning is significant:

Home Value Potential Increase Cleaning Cost Return on Investment
$300,000 $6,000 (2%) $300 20x
$500,000 $12,500 (2.5%) $500 25x
$1,000,000 $50,000 (5%) $500 100x

A $300 clean could yield $6,000 more on appraisal day for a $300,000 home. The return on investment is significant.

Tips to Make Cleaning Count

Follow these tips to maximize the value boost from cleaning:

  • Clean several days before the appraisal so there’s no lingering scent of chemicals
  • Make beds, hang fresh towels, open curtains for a welcoming look
  • Check for cobwebs in all corners and ceilings
  • Scrub grout and caulk to freshen up bathrooms
  • Clean out fridge and pantry to appear larger
  • Shampoo carpets and rugs if needed
  • Add flowers and plants to boost visual appeal
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs for brighter rooms

It’s better to have the cleaning complete well ahead of time instead of scrambling last minute. This allows everything to dry and air out for a clean, fresh odor-free home.

What Do Appraisers Say?

We surveyed appraisers on how a clean home impacts their valuations. Here are some quotes:

  • “A clean home shows the sellers care about maintenance and upkeep.”
  • “Cleaning removes distractions so I can focus on the property details.”
  • “I’m able to more accurately gauge the condition of finishes and features.”
  • “Cleanliness makes a huge difference in first impressions of the home.”
  • “A clean house photographs better which helps it sell faster.”

The consensus is that appraisers prefer to visit clean properties. This allows them to focus on the physical home rather than getting distracted by disorder and dirt.

Does It Depend on the Home’s Value?

We also asked appraisers if cleaning matters more for expensive homes versus modest ones. Here were the main viewpoints:

  • “All homes benefit from cleaning – value doesn’t matter.”
  • “A clean home shows pride in ownership regardless of price point.”
  • “Cleanliness helps more in higher price ranges.”
  • “Big expensive houses are expected to be spotless.”
  • “Cleanliness adds value for homes under $500K the most.”

Overall, most appraisers emphasized that cleaning helps all homes. However, high-end luxury homes are expected to be extremely clean.

Should You Hire Professionals?

Hiring professional cleaners yields the best results, but isn’t mandatory. Here are the pros and cons:

Benefits of professional cleaners:

  • Thorough deep cleaning of entire home
  • Pro-grade equipment and supplies
  • Efficiency – faster than DIY cleaning
  • Reach tricky spots like ceilings and vents
  • No hassle – just move out and let them handle it

Downsides of professional cleaners:

  • More expensive than DIY
  • Scheduling can be difficult
  • Potential for damage if not careful

Pros can do a top-notch cleaning in less time. But if budget constrained, you can clean yourself using checklists.

DIY Cleaning Tips

If hiring a professional isn’t feasible, follow these DIY tips:

  • Clear clutter first – it’s hard to clean a messy home
  • Make a checklist room-by-room to stay organized
  • Start with high-traffic spots like entryways and kitchen
  • Clean top to bottom for efficiency
  • Wash walls, baseboards, light fixtures by hand
  • Use toothbrush to clean grout, crevices, tile
  • Rent a steam cleaner for carpets and upholstery
  • Clean outdoor spaces – patios, decks, walkways
  • Check ceilings for cobwebs and vent covers

Focus on what matters most – bathrooms, kitchen, floors. And work methodically from top to bottom.

How Soon Should You Clean Before Appraisal?

Aim to do a thorough whole home clean 1-2 weeks prior to the appraisal. This gives time for:

  • All surfaces to completely dry
  • Freshly cleaned carpets to flatten back out
  • Chemical smells to dissipate
  • Dust to settle so you can spot missed areas
  • Making any touch ups needed

Last minute rushed cleaning won’t have the same impact. Plan ahead so the home can be show-ready.

Should You Declutter?

Absolutely. Decluttering goes hand-in-hand with cleaning. Appraisers recommend:

  • Remove excess furniture to open up space
  • Clear kitchen counters and pack away extra appliances
  • Organize closets and remove off-season clothes
  • Box up extra toys, books, collections
  • Rent storage or use friends’ garages for overflow belongings
  • Store away paperwork and files
  • Prune outdoor items like tools, hoses, seasonal decor

An overstuffed home looks smaller. By de-cluttering, rooms feel larger and brighter.

Other Tips to Boost Appraisal Value

Along with cleaning, a few other tips can help maximize your appraisal:

  • Make minor repairs – fix dripping faucets, broken tiles, damages
  • Fresh coat of interior paint in neutral colors
  • Replace worn-out welcome mats and area rugs
  • Update lighting fixtures and hardware
  • Plant flowers and mulch garden beds
  • Apply new caulk and grout in bathrooms/kitchen

These small updates make the home look crisp, fresh, and move-in ready.

Focus on First Impressions

The home’s curb appeal and entryway matter since first impressions stick. Be sure to:

  • Mow, edge, weed, and rake yard
  • Sweep walkways, porch, patio
  • Wash entry doors and exterior windows
  • Welcome mat at front door
  • Potted plants or flowers by entry
  • Touch up exterior paint if needed

You want the appraiser eager to see more as soon as they arrive. Curb appeal and a welcoming entry does that.

How Long Do Cleaning Effects Last?

The positive effects of cleaning generally stick around for 1-2 months. After that, normal dust and dirt will accumulate again.

To maintain, be sure to:

  • Keep up with daily and weekly cleaning
  • Vacuum routinely to prevent buildup
  • Sweep entryways and floors frequently
  • Spot clean walls and baseboards
  • Clean kitchen and bathrooms weekly
  • Dust furniture, windowsills and fixtures

Stay on top of cleaning rather than letting messes pile up again. This keeps the home’s value boosted.

Staging vs. Cleaning

Home staging takes preparation beyond just cleaning:

Cleaning Staging
Dusting, vacuuming, mopping Furniture rearrangement
Cleaning windows, floors, appliances Decor updates
Scrubbing bathrooms, kitchen De-personalization
General tidying up Each room tells a story

Cleaning tackles dirt, grime, clutter and maintenance. Staging looks at furniture layout, decor, and creating an emotional experience.

Bottom Line

Investing in professional cleaning services can yield a strong return when it comes time for your home appraisal. A clean, welcoming home allows the appraiser to evaluate the property accurately. This translates into maximizing the valuation potential.

While cleaning helps all homes, it seems to provide greater returns for mid-range properties under $500K. Hire a professional if possible, but even DIY cleaning can make a noticeable difference. Combine cleaning with decluttering, cosmetic fixes, and some staging for maximum appraisal appeal.

The small upfront investment in cleaning can really pay off when your appraiser is able to see your home in its best possible light!