As a property stylist meeting many people selling their home, I provided a plethora of  recommendations during our consultation for staging their home for sale. Each home is unique so the recommendations tend to widely vary depending on the condition of the house. In some cases, you see a home in pretty good repair so the recommendation list is much shorter than others, however, sometimes there is a lot of work required to bring their house up to ‘sell-able’ standards.

I say ‘sell-able’ standards here because I feel there are definite items that should be done in order to appeal to your target buyer in EVERY unique situation. This is of course from my personal (as a potential buyer) and professional Home Staging perspective. See my recommendations below.

Top 5 ‘Sell-Able’ Standards – You should meet in every case!

1. Clean, clean, clean! – I cannot say enough to this point. Regardless of how many upgrades you have, how great your decor is, or how much you have spent on the big ticket items, if your home is dirty it will be a huge turn off!! Dirt harbors odors, insects, molds, allergens, fungus, germs and so many other health concerning issues that would stand out big time from my point of view. Clean simply means ‘well maintained’ and ‘move in ready’!

2. Get rid of clutter! – clutter not only impedes on proper flow and movement throughout the home, but it is a huge distraction! Not to mention a danger to your perspective buyer! The more items or obstacles your buyers have to navigate through the more opportunity something is going to get in the way and potentially break and injure someone. Your buyers may be someone with a physical impairment or it could be a child or senior citizen whereby they may not have the same agility as others.

You may also like our post: Tips To Organize Your Closets Before Selling

3. Collections be gone! – Do you want your home to be remembered for your collectibles or for the highlights your home has to offer? People tend to label each house they visit so they will easily remember it. They may label your home ‘the bobble head house’ or the ‘spooky dolls house’.

4. ‘Eliminate’ those offensive odors! – It has been said that a buyer will walk in and walk directly out of your house just for the smell alone! This is tragic…! You can manage the odors in your home by washing linens, keeping pet beds and litter clean, watching how much you scent your house and not cooking with strong spices (especially before an open house of viewing).

You may also like our post: 10 ways to keep your home smelling fresh

5. Weed your unruly gardens! – If you cannot distinguish between a weed and a plant, its time to get digging! Regularly monitor your gardens, after all, this is the first impression for your buyer! When they drive up, the inspection begins!! If it is too much work for you to tackle the garden, consider how your perspective buyer is going to feel when they see what their ‘To Do List’ is going to include.

Okay, so lets see what your Real Estate Professionals have to say about where you should spend your valuable $$$ when preparing your home for sale. Out of my recent pole, I received feedback from 7 different agents and here’s what they said;

Top 5 Suggestions for Upgrading Your House for Sale!

1. General Repairs – this ranked #1 for most important in ‘bang for your buck’! Why, because if the little things like; poor lighting, broken cupboard doors, dated door knobs, moldy caulking, broken tiles etc… are not addressed, then your house represents itself as poorly maintained. This is a huge Red Flag to your potential buyers! They may ask, what else is not being taken care of?

2. Curb Appeal – this ranked #2 for first impressions! It has been said by one of the Representatives that they have had clients drive away without even stepping inside because of the condition of the exterior of the house. So important to make a good first impression!

3. Paint – this also ranked #2 but for freshening up your interior. Your walls see the most wear and tear in your home and it will stand out to your buyer. It is most often the most cost effective way to upgrade a space. Especially if you choose neutral (but on trend colours) to paint. You would be surprised on the ‘new lease on life’ your living space will have simply by painting it!

4. Staging (Showcasing) – this ranked #4 in featuring your home to its fullest potential! Staging is often considered fake and phony and hiding flaws… oh how wrong that point of view is! Staging or showcasing your property as I like to call it, is so much more than making it pretty. A professional property stylist will design your home so that all of the amazing highlights of your home are featured effectively. After all, isn’t that what you want – to show off everything your home has to offer?!

5. Cleaning – this ranked #5 on the perception of a well maintained home! I obviously could not agree more as you can see in my recommendations in the list above on ‘Sell-able’ standards. I need not say more as it speaks for itself 🙂

What about Kitchen and Bathrooms?

Kitchens ranked # 6 and Bathrooms ranked # 7 which tied with flooring.

Shocked to hear this news? Most people would be because these are pretty big highlights of the home right?! True, but most people cannot afford to renovate such expensive projects like kitchens and bathrooms. It just isn’t feasible on a modest budget. So, to list your house and still impress your buyer on a modest budget the top 5 recommendations are best options.

Also, even if you did have a reasonable budget to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, most vendors will do the bare essentials and make the cheapest selections on finishes and things like flooring, counter top, tile and cabinetry. So you boast about your upgrade but with low end materials. Your buyer will notice sadly.

Finally, when making an investment of this kind, you are selecting materials based on your likes/dislikes, but will it appeal to your buyer or better said to a wide audience of buyers? Its a gamble really at a high cost. It might be better to reflect your ‘need for an upgrade’ in your price and sell your house faster with it priced to sell accordingly.

Other Considerations

Some of the other recommendations were things like;

  • odor (covered in ‘sell-able’ standards above)
  • air quality
  • new furnace
  • new roof.

All equally important in the over all picture, so this would be a point of topic with your Real Estate professional as to where it should fit in with your top 5 list of items to consider when selling. As I already said… each house is unique and so would your priority list be.

I hope you have found this article informative and useful when making your decisions to prepare your house for sale. I would love to hear from you if you have something you would like to add or comment on.

Check out our beautiful home staging gallery to see some great examples of how people like you have featured their homes using many of the suggestions mentioned here.

Feel free to contact me anytime, I value your opinion!

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

Cindy Lutes
Contact me directly at 613-286-7165 or by email at
Professional Property Stylist – Specializing in Home Staging and Interior Decorating.
Certified with APSD – Association of Property Scene Designers and Graduate of the Interior Design Institute