If you’re a regular reader to the Greenest Dollar then you probably already know that I’m about to embark on an exciting journey to build a small, eco friendly shipping container home. But before we get there, we have to take the first step. We have to sell our current home.
Our home goes on the market after this weekend, and for the past three weeks I’ve been a whirling dervish of activity, decluttering, cleaning, and getting the house ready for showing. It’s been an incredible amount of work! But as I’ve gone along I’ve made a conscious effort to keep the environment in mind with everything I do, from cleaning down to staging.
If you’re going through the same thing or are thinking about selling sometime soon, then you might be interested in some eco-friendly tips to sell your home.
Tip 1: Declutter Responsibly
Every realtor and home stager out there will tell you that the best way to sell your home is to declutter. Big time. And with everything else you’ve got to do, it can be tempting to take the easy road and just toss lots of stuff in the trash.
But, this is not good! Too much usable stuff gets tossed into our landfills everyday. I believe it’s bad karma to contribute to the problem.
So, take the extra time to find homes for your items. For the stuff you definitely want to keep, box it up and put it in your garage or basement (realtors recommend putting away at least 50% of your possessions before your home goes on the market, especially personal items like photos).
For the stuff you don’t want, create a staging area with piles for each place or person it’s going to. For instance, you could have one pile for Salvation Army, one pile for your local humane society (dog rescue organizations always need things like old towels, cleaning supplies, dog toys, cushions/dog beds, etc.), a pile of giveaways to your friends, a pile of games and books for your local senior or community center…see where I’m going here?
Do some research on the non-profits in your area. Most have “wish lists” on their website that details all the items they need regularly. You might be surprised at the things you could give away. And, they’ll be much appreciated.
It’s really not that much more work to declutter responsibly. And, you’ll feel better that your things will go to organizations or people who could really use them.
Tip 2: Put Out Eco-Friendly Refreshments
Many homes that are on the market today offer a type of “refreshment bar” with bottled water, napkins, and snacks. And, it’s a great idea; after all, buyers who are thirsty or hungry while they go through your home aren’t going to pay as close attention as they normally would, and are apt to hurry through. Offer them a snack, and they’re likely to stay longer.
Instead of offering bottled water and paper napkins, however, why not put out a pretty pitcher of filtered water, a dish of cut-up lemons, some pretty glasses, and cloth napkins? Leave a small card on the table welcoming guests, and invite them to help themselves.
And instead of just having a dish of candy, why not also have a bowl or organic fruit (apples are a great choice here).
Organic fruit is often the same price as regular. I was in my grocery store yesterday and got organic Braeburn apples for $1.99/lb., and that was the same price as the regular Braeburn apples (but without the nasty pesticides).
Tip 3: Use Green Cleaners To Clean Your Home
This is another vital tip I’ve learned from the pros: if you want to sell your home in this market, then it’s got to be spotless.
It’s amazing how many people don’t deep clean their home before it goes on the market. People don’t buy dirty clothes at the store, so why expect them to buy a dirty house?
Instead of using harsh chemical cleaners to spruce up your home, go natural. Not only will you eliminate the unpleasant chemical odor that traditional cleaners leave in the air, but your home will be healthier and less polluted as a result.
I’ve been using natural, citrus-based cleaner EcoStore USA to clean my home before it goes up for sale, and so far I’m loving it.
Realtors recommend spending at least 1/2 hr. per day cleaning your home to keep it ready to show at a moment’s notice. The fresher it smells, the more appealing it’s going to be for all buyers.
Tip 4: Use Recycled Paper For Your Brochures
I created a really cool brochure about my house that I’m going to be leaving on the refreshment stand for buyers to take with them. It has plenty of photos on the house, as well as “insider information” about the wonderful town and neighborhood I live in.
I know this is a good idea; after all, buyers are looking at tons of houses right now, simply because there’s so many to choose from. Having a colorful brochure they can take with them will help keep my house at the top of their mind.
But, I dislike the thought of using all that paper. I thought about creating a simple website using WordPress, and keeping it all online, but that just gives people one more step they have to take to get information; I want to make things as easy as possible.
So the most eco-friendly alternative I could come up with was to use recycled paper for my brochures. I also put a quick note on the back asking people to please recycle the brochure once they’re done with it.
Tip 5: Tout Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Have you added insulation to your home recently? Do you have a tankless water heater, tons of CFL bulbs, or Energy Star appliances that are staying when you move?
Make sure buyers know just how “green” your home really is. The more you can convince them that it won’t cost an arm and a leg to live in your home, the more appealing it’s going to be.
Tip 6: Green Your Home By Bringing The Outdoors In
Without a doubt, bringing plants into your home is one of the least expensive ways to brighten it up.
Plants not only add life and good energy to a room, but they also help purify the air. Home stagers say that every room should have at least one live plant or flower arrangement, even if it’s something simple as a daisy stem in a small vase.
While I’m not putting plants in every single room, I do have them in almost all rooms. I truly believe that plants bring life and warmth into a home. And the fact that they help clear the air of indoor pollution is another major bonus.
Tip 7: Green Your Cookies
Yeah, you read that right. You really can green your cookies. Here’s what I mean:
Realtors and home stagers say that one of the most appealing smells to people is fresh baked cookies. So, some home sellers will bake a batch of cookies every time there’s a showing (or at least on the weekends when there will be multiple showings). Not only does this make the home smell great, but it’s yet another snack you can leave out for buyers to nibble on.
But, baking a fresh batch of cookies every day takes energy, not only from you, but also from your oven.
The eco-friendly alternative I’ll be using is my toaster oven; I’ll be baking a small batch every time there is a showing. Toaster ovens use far less energy than large ovens do. By using a toaster I’ll be saving energy, saving cookie dough (I’ll only be baking around 4-6 cookies at a time), and still getting the good smell in the house.
Post Publication Addition:
I did a “trial run” this weekend to make sure my idea was going to work, and discovered an important point: you have to adjust the cooking and temperature time when using a toaster oven to bake. My first run, where I followed the directions on the cookie tub, yielded a small batch of burnt nuggets and plenty of smoke to stink up the house.
After three trials, I finally got it down; I had to lower the temperature by almost 100 degrees, and increase the cooking time by about four minutes. So, make sure you do a few trial runs before your home’s show date.
With all the work that goes into putting a home up for sale, especially in a market like this one, I know it’s tempting to just take the easiest route to the finish line. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve had to stop myself a few times from just pitching an old jar of peanut butter because I was too tired to clean it out for recycling, or been tempted to throw away a bag of #5 plastics because I couldn’t bear the thought of driving it down to Recycle Livingston with everything else I had to do.
Yes, I’ve been tempted. But, I resisted. I knew if I cut one corner, it’d be even easier next time. And even easier the time after that.
Cleaning a decluttering a home to sell is tiring, often grueling work. But I promise that making the extra effort to do it responsibly is worth it. You’ll feel better and, I believe, rack up some good karma credits along the way.
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