Smart Ways to Prepare Your Home for Selling

The presentation of your home can leave a lasting impression on potential buyers as they look around for their dream purchase. To get their attention, it’s a great idea to make a few minor updates here and there, because it can really make a difference in the final result you get.  With the high inventory of homes on the market today, homebuyers can afford to be choosy.  They are looking for the best, so a home for sale can easily slip through the cracks if it's not in pristine condition.  As anxious clients might be to quickly list their home for sale, taking time to properly prepare it for selling might make the difference between catching the attention of the right buyer and languishing on the market, unsold.  Making the home clean, inviting, and organized might seem labour intensive, but these details rarely escape a buyer's critical eye.   Use these handy tips to whip your home into shape and wow potential buyers, and attract higher offers.


Repair.  Fix any defects that you are aware of prior to a buyer purchasing the home.  Determine these potential fixes before listing your property instead of during the negotiation process.  In a buyer's market, you want your home to be in the best condition possible.  Take care of major defects like broken windows or a leaky roof that could discourage buyers.  Even things as small as a chip in paint in an interior wall could detract from the overall feel for the home.

Clean, clean, clean.  From ceiling fans to floors and everything in between, clean your home until it sparkles.

Tackle that honey-do list. All those little things you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to? Buyers will notice them, and they’ll detract from the value of your home. So set aside a weekend to tighten those loose doorknobs, fix that leaky faucet and paint over the scuffs from when you first moved in your sofa.

Remove Clutter and Depersonalize:   Buyers want to envision themselves and their belongings in your home.  Clean up by arranging storage for photos, extra furniture, and other personal items. So go ahead, and that stack of mail from the kitchen table and anything else that detracts from your home’s gorgeous features.

Do a faux “renovation.” Little tweaks can make a big difference in the overall feel of a room. Kitchen a little outdated? Replace the fixtures, faucets, and hinges.  Family room furniture beaten up?  Throw some slipcovers over it.

Organize your closets. Storage space is a huge selling point, and if your closets are stuffed to the brim, buyers will think you don’t have enough of it. Invest in some boxes, dividers, and other solutions that will help you make your stuff look more organized, and remove extra items you don’t need immediately (you can stow them away until you move).

Clean the outside. A sloppy exterior will make buyers think you've slacked off on interior maintenance as well. Be sure to clean the gutters and pressure wash your home's siding.

Take color down a notch. Paint your walls a neutral color like tans and whites that allow buyers to focus on the spaces themselves, not the color of the walls.

Keep the décor simple. To help buyers imagine themselves in your space, get rid of any art or other décor that might turn off people with different tastes. A classic landscape painting? Totally fine. Your zebra print leather couch?  Might want to slipcover that for showings.  Remember to try and keep it as neutral as possible.   A prospective buyer wants to imagine his/her own decor in the room.

Let there be light!  Buyers love natural light.  Rooms that are light and bright feel more open, spacious, and inviting. Open up all the windows, blinds/curtains to let in natural light and add floor or table lamps for extra illumination to areas that are dim.  Replace the light bulbs where needed.  And, needless to say, if you’ve got an evening viewing, make sure all lights (including exterior lights) are on before buyers arrive.

Bring nature inside. Potted plants or a few pretty buds in a vase can help bring energy into space, fill in empty corners, and even draw attention to features you want buyers to notice. Just make sure the plants are in good health (and bug-free!).

Get rid of bulky furniture. Your furniture should fit the scale of the room, so get rid of any extra or oversized items that could make your space look smaller than it really is.

Pay attention to smells. Hide the litter box and spray air neutralizer throughout your home. When showing the home, fill it with inviting smells by putting out fresh flowers,  and baking a batch of cookies or a lightly scented candle.

Give each room a purpose. That spare room you’ve been using as an office/guest room /dumping ground won’t help sell your home unless you show buyers how they can use it themselves. So pick a use (office, guest room, crafts room) and clearly stage the space to showcase that purpose.

Turn the bathroom into a spa. Create the feel of a relaxing, luxurious bath.  Stack a few pretty washcloths tied with ribbon, add some scented candles and faux plants, and buy bathmats and towels in neutral co-ordinating tones.

Turn the living room into conversation central. Help buyers picture themselves relaxing with family and guests by grouping your furniture into arrangements that inspire conversation.

Keep the flow going. The last thing you want is people bumping into furniture as they tour your home; it disrupts their focus and makes your space look cramped. Do a dry run as though you’re seeing your home for the first time and tweak anything that interrupts the “flow.”

Make it look “lived in”. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by adding deliberate vignettes that showcase how your home can be lived in. An inviting armchair and a tray with a coffee cup and book can turn that empty corner into a reading nook. Pretty soaps in a decorative tray can make your tiny half-bath more appealing.

Highlight focal points. Draw buyers’ eyes towards any special features with bright colors or accents like plants. A pop of  colourful throw pillows can draw a buyer’s attention to that lovely window seat.  A striking fern on the mantle can show off your fireplace.

Hide Yourself and Let the Estate Agent get on with it.   Remove any personal elements that will prevent a buyer from seeing the home as “theirs.” Store away family photos, kids’ artwork on the fridge, and (as hard as it may feel) the hash marks in the doorframe that show your children’s heights at different ages.  Some buyers may find these touches cute, but others will find them to be distractions or even turnoffs. You should also make yourself scarce during viewings.  Buyers feel pressured when the homeowner is present and may not be entirely honest about how they feel about the house—and their feedback is essential if your home has any stumbling blocks you’ve missed.  

Hide Your Pets.  Not everyone is a pet person, so make sure Fido and Kitty are away when buyers are scheduled to stop by. Remove any tell-tale signs of pets, particularly smell and fur, although it also helps to corral all their toys and accessories into a tote placed discreetly in the back of a closet.

There's a lot more to it, of course, but this is a great place to start!

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).