As January nears its end, homeowners around the country who made cleaning the house their New Year's resolution may be considering handing in the towel. For those trying to sell a property, though, cleanliness is not an option: a tidy home is more likely to sell.
Consider it from a buyer's perspective: viewing a property that has mess everywhere is not only less impressive, but also harder to picture yourself living in. As a result, buyers are less likely to purchase an untidy home, or less likely to pay the amount you are asking.
It is no surprise, therefore, that a HSBC survey from 2012 found that nine in 10 estate agents said tidying a home was a crucial factor in selling a property. Many sellers, though, do not bother to clean up at all before a property viewing, leaving their chances of a successful sale much slimmer.
With work routines back to normal and the weather still cold, spending hours or days on cleaning is not going to be top of many homeowners' to-do lists. There are tricks, though, that can make sticking with your New Year's resolution less stressful and less time-consuming.
Here are five shortcuts to de-clutter your home for 2015:
1. Get on with it
If you are already struggling with getting out of bed on a cold, January morning, you will have learnt the hard way that putting it off never helps: the best way to deal with it is to get on with it. The same principle applies to cleaning, especially on a cold, January morning. Write a to-do-list, play cheerful music, recruit friends to help you; anything that will help you to begin. Once you have started cleaning, it is a lot easier to continue - and, eventually, finish.
2. Give everything a home
Repeat the mantra. Everything in its right place. Any clutter is a result of not knowing where to put things. Try to allocate everything in your home a set home and you can keep objects crowding out surfaces to a minimum. Once you know where things should be placed, it is a lot easier to keep your home looking neat: simply walk around the house with a basket, throwing in anything that is out of place. Then, put them all away in one single move. No more apologising for bric-a-brac getting in the way of a property viewing.
3. Organise your office
You may not have an office or study, but every home has paperwork. Whether it is household bills, appliance manuals or even information about your title deeds and mortgage, bits of A4 everywhere can turn even the most pristine property into a wasterpaper bin. Do not have the time to sort through everything? Simply straighten any loose piles of paper so that things appear organised. Any visitors will be much more impressed by your professionalism.
4. Dust, doorways and duvets
When was the last time you dusted your home? It is a habit that is rare among homeowners, but a quick run through the home with a microfiber cloth will give your property a cared-for impression that will inspire confidence in the state of the rest of it. The same applies to your bedroom, as well as the tops of door frames; make your duvet every morning and you home will appear looked after and, as a result, more desirable.
5. Keep doing it
You never know when an impromptu buyer might suddenly ask to see your property, but if you can get into a pattern of performing some - or all - of the above regularly, you will always be ready for them.