When getting your home ready for sale, think of it in terms of finding a potential suitor.

House hunting is a bit like "speed dating." You’ve probably heard of this dating craze where singles meet 20 or more potential mates in one evening by having five-minute dates with each of them. The idea behind the phenomenon is that two people either have chemistry or they don't. Many of us look for a mate with a logical list of our personal criteria. But when the chemistry and emotional connection are right, who remembers logic? We follow our hearts.

If you've ever been house hunting, you can see the similarities. You can go out and view six or more houses in a single afternoon. Within minutes, you'll have a good idea which properties to return to for a second look, while rejecting most of the others.

According to property styling experts, real estate staging is all about creating the best first impression, thus paving the way for potential buyers to fall in love with your home. Creating the right atmosphere is accomplished in the overall look of your home, but it's also very much in the details. Potential buyers begin to form an opinion of your house before they even walk in your front door.

It's important to maximize curb appeal, but that same attention to detail must carry right through the rest of the house. Your goal is to romance potential buyers so they say, ‘This feels like home. We’d love to live here!’

Check out the table below to see which home improvements add the most to the resale value:

Home Gain Top 12 Home Improvements 


Here are the details of the “4 Week Updating Blitz” that will help your home be 'sale ready' for maximum benefit.



Decluttering is the most important step in this entire process!

No Clutter SignAs with anything, getting rid of clutter can be a challenge. Where to start and what to focus on first.  Sure, it’s incredibly simple: just go through your stuff, one section, closet, drawer, or shelf at a time and get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential or that you don’t use often.

Of course, a process like that isn’t very useful to many people who struggle with clutter and have emotional attachment to many items. With this in mind, here are 15 fabulous tips for decluttering from the readers of Zen Habits:

  1. Declutter for 15 minutes every day. It’s amazing how much you can get accomplished if you just focus on short time intervals that won’t get you bogged down.

  2. Don’t allow things into the house in the first place. Whether you’ve begun decluttering the living space, or you’ve just completed it, stop bringing in new stuff NOW. Even if that’s ALL you do and don’t start decluttering immediately. If you only establish one habit at a time, establish the no-more-stuff habit first. This way, when you do get to decluttering the existing stuff, you’ve already stopped making it worse. It's like bailing out a boat with a hole in it. You can bail and bail, but it won’t help the situation until you fix the leak.

  3. Donate the items you’re decluttering, so you don’t feel bad about throwing them out.

  4. Create a chart with decluttering goals on it — either daily, or 3 times a week. Check off the days when you declutter and you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment.

  5. Start at the corner by the door and move your way around the room, doing the light and superficial stuff first – like surfaces and drawers, emptying the garbage, etc. Repeat, but do more the 2nd time around such as opening the cupboards, removing heavier stuff and doing a more thorough clean.

  6. Whenever you’re boiling the kettle for coffee or tea, tidy up the kitchen. If the kitchen is clean, go to the next room – it’s only 3 minutes but it keeps the momentum going.

  7. Use the “one in, two out” rule. The rule says: whenever you bring in an item, you have to throw away two other items.

  8. Clothing rule: If you haven’t worn an item in 6 months, sell or donate it.

  9. Declutter one room (including any closets, desks, cabinets, etc.) before starting on the next one. Spending time in that one room will feel so good and it will be easier to keep clean. That will motivate you to do more!

  10. Realize there’s no value in your “stuff”. It is just “stuff”. Convince yourself that there’s more value when you share your “stuff”. Hoarding is a selfish act.

  11. Have someone else (who you trust!) help you go through things. They don’t have the same emotional attachment that you might have, but can still recognize if something should be kept. advertise.

  12. Gift everything or have a garage sale with anything that’s at all saleable.

Make sure storage areas are neat and organized. Plastic boxes are excellent for this purpose.

Use counterintelligence.
Go through the house and clear off all the horizontal surfaces like kitchen and bathroom countertops. Old magazines? Toss 'em. Knick knacks? Pack them away. Counters need to be clear and clean.

To make it easy, focus on one room at a time. And remember that this process will benefit you when it’s finally time to move out. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

GRIMY BATHROOM WALLS are a major red flag to buyers.
Here is an easy way to get rid of surface mould: Mix a spray bottle with one part water and one part bleach. Just spray it on the wall, and watch the mould disappear. There are many mould cleaning products available on the market today. Tiles can be resurfaced inexpensively, and your grimy bathroom will go from a red flag to red-hot.

Refresh your tiles with a new grout colour.
The most beautiful tiles in the world can start to look shabby when the grout gets dirty, worn or stained. This is especially true in the bathroom, which can be subject to harsh cleaners, personal grooming products and excessive moisture. It takes a little bit of effort, but recolouring wall or floor tile grout can help make it look new once again. Grout Refresh is a product by Mapei that covers stained and dirty grout areas making it look like new! You can even go with a slightly darker colour than what you currently have. It’s available at RONA or Home Depot.

  • Clean the tiles to remove dirt and soap build-up. Wash with warm soapy water or use a bathroom cleaner. Ensure that the surface is dry before proceeding.

  • Follow the directions on the Grout Refresh bottle.

  • Apply a grout sealer to prevent deterioration after 24 hours has elapsed.

Shower doors have a huge impact on a ‘clean-feeling bathroom’.
A grimy glass shower door can really wash out your sale. Hard water can streak and stain the glass and make it difficult to remove. CLR works wonders to remove the mineralization. If all else fails, it’s time to replace the glass. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your bathroom.

Pedestal sinks are a big hit with buyers.
Traditional bathroomThey show off floor space beautifully, especially in small bathrooms. If your old vanity needs to be replaced, then hook up a new pedestal sink and your bathroom will have dramatic appeal that creates a new feel and wins over buyers. This may be a bit more expensive than planned, especially if floor tiles need replacing as well. As the above table suggests, cleaning and decluttering are the items that create most value in your home.



Stain kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.
Dated wood kitchen cabinets can be a big turnoff to potential buyers. Instead of paying big bucks to replace them, just stain them. First, apply the stain in even strokes, going with the grain of the wood. Add some stylish hardware, and your kitchen will have the up-to-date look that buyers love, for less than $200. Also, if the cabinet doors are outdated, then a process called refacing is a less expensive alternative to replacing all the kitchen cabinets. Refacing involves replacing just the cabinet doors and drawers to give your kitchen a brand new look without the renovation headaches.

Save money on granite countertops.

Modern Kitchen

Granite counters are a huge selling feature, but they can be expensive. Here are a few ways to save on this investment:

First, remove the old ones yourself if you can. Call a few granite companies to see who has the best price or sale price on certain styles and colours. Remember, any money spent here will definitely be returned in the added value of the kitchen.

The second option is to use a granite resurfacer who’ll make your countertops look like new, without the high expense.

New kitchen appliances bring high returns.
Studies show that new kitchen appliances yield sellers results, so get rid of old appliances that make the rest of the kitchen look dated. Once you install the new equipment, it will scream "new kitchen," and you will see that the money spent was well worth it.

A nice outdoor deck can be a big selling feature, but an old one is a major liability.
To give your outdoor deck a new life, start by sanding all of the surfaces down to the wood. Cover it with a light-coloured stain instead of paint to give it a rustic, grainy look. Furnish the space to create the right ambience for entertaining.

Adding character to old hardwood floors is easier than you might think.
First, isolate damaged boards then cut them out and replace them with new pieces. Rent a sander from a local hardware store and give the entire floor a light sanding. Choose a rich colour stain and watch your floor go from drab to dramatic in no time.



Buyers love built-in bookshelves.
Cleaned BookshelvesThere's a fine line between filling bookshelves with clutter and staging them to sell. The trick is to arrange neutral items in clusters. Make sure that no single accessory stands out too much. That way, you'll show off your attractive built-ins and not your personal belongings. Visual appeal is vital to attracting buyers.

Use tape outlines on the floor before actually moving furniture around.
Rearranging a room to stage it for your open house? Here’s a tip to save time and effort. Instead of lugging the heavy furniture around the room to see what feels best, put outlines on the floor with painter's tape.

Let the sunshine in.
Living RoomBuyers love light and airy living rooms while dark and dingy isn't on their list. Open up your window shades to let more light in. Create a brighter environment with light-coloured paint and some artificial lighting. Stand up lamps are great for dark corners. Last, arrange the space with lightly coloured furniture and you'll have a living room that brightens your chances of a sale. If needed, a basic off-white sofa won’t cost too much to rent, and can make all the difference if your living area is dark.

Pet odours won't impress buyers.
We all love our pets, but unpleasant pet odours can make a negative first impression. Be sure to get rid of old carpet that can trap offensive smells. Replace it with fresh new carpet in a neutral colour. Plus, if you paint the walls to match, your living room will look bigger. Your place will now have a better chance of selling.

Pack up unnecessary items and furniture before you show the house.
An over-packed living room is a red flag to buyers that your home lacks storage space. Pack up unnecessary items and furniture. Move items to your garage or a nearby storage facility. Guarantee a sale by letting buyers see your square footage and not your personal belongings.



Stage rooms with one purpose so buyers will know what it is. Bedrooms add more value than an office/study.
Potential buyers are confused by extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses. To avoid this problem, first clear away clutter and excess furniture. If you have a dedicated study that has the makings of a bedroom, you’ll be adding value by taking out your office furniture and recreating the space as a bedroom for the duration of the sales campaign.

A master bedroom should appeal to both sexes.
Modern BedroomWhen selling, your master bedroom should appeal to buyers of both sexes. Get rid of features that seem too gender-specific. Paint the walls a neutral colour and choose bedding that matches. Then accessorize with items that complement the overall colour scheme.




Storage space sells!
Potential buyers love homes that have lots of storage space. Since they’ll open your closets, it's a good idea to clear out unnecessary clutter and organize your shelves to show off how much storage you really have. Plus, it gives you a chance to start packing, as you will definitely be moving once buyers see all that closet space.

Create a nice flow in your rooms.
Buyers are attracted to homes that have a good flow. Create circulation by replacing square or rectangular dining tables with round ones.

Remember, the next buyer doesn’t want to spend time fixing up the place!
If the property needs work (dated wallpaper or ratty carpet), then have it replaced so that buyers only have to focus on moving day. The more changes buyers calculate they'll have to make in the home, the more concerned they get, and the fewer offers you’ll receive.

Let there be light.
People buy space and light. One dark room OK. But if the whole house is dark, that's a problem. So open the blinds and turn on all the lights. Add lights in rooms that are dark.

If Mother Nature isn't cooperating with your marketing efforts, use more flowers and things that suggest sunlight.

One seller who really understood staging marketed her home during a spell of bad weather. Before an Open House, she threw a couple of beach towels over the rail of the deck, put up the sun umbrella and set out a jug of ice water and some glasses.

Harness flower power.
Fresh flowers have a huge impact on the ambience of your home. Have at least one vase of freshly cut flowers to create a centrepiece on your dining table or in the foyer.

Showing your home on a budget? Go for less expensive bouquets, green plants or seasonal flowers from the yard.

Keep it clean. No dust, cobwebs or trash.
People looking to buy a home are extremely observant and meticulous.

Set your house apart.
One real estate study had potential buyers shown different houses in comparable neighbourhoods, all with similar features and amenities.

The one that stood out? A home that had yellow roses on the dining room table. People not only remembered the detail, but they rated the home higher as a result.

Keep it real.
You don't have to go to the extremes and make your home look artificial or sterile. You want potential buyers to say ‘I could put myself here.’



I’m just a call away. If you need some help and guidance then call me so we can discuss the nitty gritty of getting your home ready to sell at a premium price.

For a limited time, I'll be giving away a no obligation, free home staging consultation from a professional interior designer - that's a $150 value for FREE!  Contact me for details.

You can reach me at:  403-837-8100  or  ross@rosspavl.com.



Posted by Ross PAVL on


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