No Pain, No Gain!

Most buyers are attracted to ‘move in ready’ homes, it’s like fly to fly paper. After all, the move is already overwhelming, not to mention adding painting, repairs and/or cleaning to the list. You can do several things to prepare your home to be put on the market. Most of it takes elbow grease and time. Trust me it will be worth the effort! If you do these things, you will position yourself better in the market place. This is >KEY!! After all, isn’t having that competitive edge in your marketplace, what every seller wants!

  • A Dirty House… I cannot say enough about this one point. If there is only one thing you do to get ready for your listing date, my first recommendation would be to have a clean house! Cleaning removes odours, which is a ‘big turn off to your buyers’. This means the whole house, including textiles. Make sure that you have clean linen on all bedding. Towels, shower curtains, even drapery should be vacuumed and washed (especially if your drapery has not been cleaning in a while). You would be amazed at what odours live in your textiles. You don’t notice it, because you are conditioned to the smells in your home. But buyers, can smell them almost immediately. Vacuum your furniture also.
  • Clutter…  This will create overwhelm for most buyers and it also creates visual noise! It becomes distracting and is also dangerous. You never know who is going to be walking through your door… children, aging adults or people with physical challenges. Ensure your home is safe and clutter free!
  • Improper use of space… If any of the rooms in your house are not clearly defined, it cause confusion for your buyer. You create a guessing game for your buyer, such as; is this the dining room or is it supposed to be the living room? Are these rooms reversed? Questions, questions… 90% of buyers cannot visualize past what they see.
  • Pets that ‘rule’ the roost… I would recommend removing pet beds all together, or at the very least wash them. Ensure that there are no pet toys, or bones lying around, both inside and out. Litter box odours are a ‘huge’ deterrent for your buyer. If they smell your litter box, your buyer will be turned off and potentially view the house as unmaintained.
  • Purge your children’s toys… This is a great time to donate/sell toys that your children no longer use or have outgrown. Keep their favourites and pack the rest. Explain to them that it will be fun to unpack those toys, in the new house and rediscover them. I know, easier said than done. But, it will go a long way in the end.  I would also keep toy areas to one room in the house. Toys create visual clutter in your photos. Better still…tuck them neatly away in a toy cupboard, trunk or closet, or in storage bins, so that they are neatly stored.
  • Unruly Gardens… Gardens (although beautiful) can be a negative component, if your buyer doesn’t have a green thumb. If they are well maintained, they will notice the beauty, and overlook the maintenance initially. If your garden has gotten away from you, it will just be perceived as maintenance and scare off
  • Dirty Appliances… No one wants to tackle cleaning the grime from the previous owners fridge, oven or any appliance for that matter, when they move in. In fact no one, wants to clean the fridge or oven ever! So, make that a bonus! People do look into your oven and fridge for its size, when it’s included in the listing. Hire a professional if you do not want to do the job, but get this done!
  • Cramped Cupboards/Closets… I see this all of the time and it is such a shame. When I go through people’s homes providing feedback and I open a closet or cupboard and I see it stuffed to the gills with stuff, all I can think of is they ‘cleaned’ and ‘decluttered’ and put everything in here! I hate to put it boldly, but it says ‘lazy’ and what else are they neglecting?? This is a question you cannot afford. Cupboards and closets should be clean and tidy!!
  • Dirty Fireplaces… For such a simple task, this should always be on your checklist. Make sure that it is free of ashes and clean the glass. Again, it is the ‘well maintained‘ aspect we are going for. During the colder seasons, it is fine to have your fireplace lit for ambiance, but it should still be cleaned prior to your viewings and on an ongoing basis if in use during the time your house is on the market.
  • Entrance Disaster Areas… Okay, so very important area!! This is your WOW factor zone. If it looks like every shoe you own, is on the floor, this will totally deter you buyer! Not to mention that it creates a tripping hazard.  If you cannot close your closet door for the coats, pair down your seasonal items! Safety is key here and immediate appeal is absolutely necessary!! Get this done!
  • In the dark… Lighting is essential in all listings. It is important that all of your bulbs are maximum wattage allowance for the fixture and that all bulbs are in good working order. Also, remember that task areas need to have ample lighting. Keep window treatments open during photos, open houses and private viewings.
  • Yuck Stuff… Okay so believe it or not, I have seen many listings online, where there are piles of dirty dishes in the sink, garbage cans are full of garbage or laundry baskets are overflowing.  All of these things, represent dirt plain and simple and harbour nasty odors. This is one of the simplest and most expected of items that should be crossed off your to do list!
  • Steamy or Cluttered bathrooms… Nobody wants to walk into a stranger’s bathroom and feel the humidity, or perhaps step in a puddle or wet bath mat, upon entering the bathroom. A general rule is, don’t shower before a viewing. Also, I always advise my sellers, to have a container to house all of your toiletries and tuck it someplace neatly out of sight when people are visiting you home. Another good idea is to remove towels or bath robes from behind the door.
  • Cooking Odours… The smell of food can be offensive to some people. Agents have told me that there have been times where a buyer will walk straight out, and not give your house a second chance if they are turned off by the smell of your food. Try to prepare foods with little to no odour prior to an open house or viewing. Remember, scenting a room to mask odours from food smells will only make matters worse.
  • Broken Glass or Ripped Screens... A house well maintained, is an investment to your buyers peace of mind. Don’t overlook getting these repairs done. You buyer can perceive broken glass as a possible break and enter. They want to feel safe in your neighbourhood, so be sure to repair these important items and remove any wrong perceptions.
  • Dirty Eavestroughing… Okay, so if you have weeds growing out of your eavestrough, or a very happy squirrel camping out in your eavestrough because you have an abundance of leaves left over from last fall, get to work and clean them out! I have literally seen this! Nothing says poor maintenance like weeds growing from your eavestrough. 


I could seriously go on and on. The list making, as you can well imagine can be endless… But these particular points are pretty important on the priority list AND they are mainly things that can be done with little to no major cost to you. It is taking serious look at ‘The Business of Selling your House’ and getting it done right the first time!

I would love to know what you think about your experiences while touring an open house, or what you have encountered were your toughest things to get done on your list.

For professional advice on how to prepare your home for sale, give me a call (613-286-7165) or message me right here through our contact form.

As always, helping you in caring for your Total Home!

Cindy Lutes

Professional Property Stylist